For Smoky River Express
No one ever thought the season would end this way.
The Falher Pirates were eliminated from the NPHL playoffs March 5 after suffering a 9-0 pasting at the hands of the home ice Grande Prairie Athletics.
It was the second worst shutout suffered in the Pirates’ long playoff history. They were blanked 11-0 at home against the Grimshaw Huskies just over 58 years ago on Feb. 17, 1961.
For the A’s, who advanced to the NPHL Final against the Dawson Creek Canucks, it was – incredibly – their first playoff shutout in franchise history in 148 games.
Alex Curran and Devin Bell each scored twice in the whitewash and Kiefer Smiley made only 16 saves to lead the win.
Braden Cone’s goal only 23 seconds into the game was all the A’s would need. Bell’s first of the night at 4:57 made it 2-0. Just past the midway point of the period, the A’s took two penalties but the Pirates could not score despite the overlapping of the penalties giving them a two-man advantage for 34 seconds.
It seemed to take all the wind form the Pirates’ sails. The A’s blitzed the Pirates for five second period goals and outshot them 25-3.
Other A’s goals were scored by Lyndin Lewis, Brock Clement, Tanner Labbe and Parker Sharp. Lewis, Mark Stojan and Sam Bosek each added two assists.
Overall, the A’s outshot the Pirates 54-16.
The Pirates forced Game 6 with a strong come-from-behind effort in Game 5. Darren Kramer spent the night putting pucks into the net while Huston Buffalo kept them from going into the net as the hometown Pirates avoided elimination with a 4-2 win.
Kramer scored three goals – his second straight hat trick of the series – while Buffalo stopped 40 of 42 shots as the Pirates lived to fight another day.
The A’s led 2-0 after one period on goals from Andrew Buote and Mackenzie Caron.
However, the Pirates had some fight left in them. Darren Brochu scored at 7:47 of the second period and Kramer scored his first of the night with 3:13 left to tie the game.
In the third, Kramer scored at 4:41, then added a third goal with 6:24 left to seal the win.
The NPHL Final began in Dawson Creek March 9.