Pirates await winner of Jets-Comets series

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It goes without saying that the Falher Pirates will be heavy favourites when they face the winner of the Valleyview Jets vs Manning Comets series in the NPHL East Division Final in two weeks.

Winners of 10 straight games, and the hottest team in the league, the Pirates have found their stride at just the right time.

While some may want to keep playing while on such a roll, the Pirates have earned the bye.

“The goal during the season, with lessons learnt from last season, was to finish first overall for home ice advantage,” says coach Dan Aubin.

“Dawson Creek had a great season (Lawrence Cup champions for placing first overall), and we stumbled out of the gate (no wins in their first four games). We are happy to have finished first in our division, and get the bye through the first round, the players worked hard to get that advantage.”

Each team always has a few bumps and bruises incurred during the season and the Pirates are no exception.

“There are some minor injuries/bumps and bruises that need to be healed and the bye should give us that opportunity,” says Aubin.

“There are no major injuries that we are concerned about.”

So, what does a team do to improve during practice while awaiting the winner of the Jets-Comets series?

“We will be practicing twice a week until the next round to be prepared,” says Aubin. “Just want to iron out some details in our game.”

Specifics not disclosed!

Pirates’ brass will be attending some Jets-Comets games to further gauge what they are up against.

“We will do our due diligence and attend some Jets/Comets games for sure,” says Aubin.

“Both teams will have a different look come playoffs and it will be important that we prepare appropriately for their game.”

Aubin says the team is taking a cautious approach as they gun for their fourth NPHL title in franchise history.

“Our team is focussed and know that if we slip up and don’t take care of the details any team can beat us, we saw that in the regular season,” he says.

“We lost to Manning twice and Valleyview once, all in our rink,” he remembers. “We won’t be taking anyone lightly. The only concern may the be rust over rest debate and the intensity that playoff hockey brings.”

One advantage the Pirates have this year is better overall depth. It will be much-needed to win the title as last year’s playoffs was a war of attrition, especially the seven-game final.

“We learnt last year that the cards we have at our disposal are valuable and that the 28 players that are signed will all be used. The injury bug can bite hard at any time in playoffs.

“Our roster is deeper, but a couple of injuries can change that in a hurry. It was important for us to find some quality affiliates that could help us in an injury situation. We have affiliates from the (Peace River North Peace) Navigators and (La Crete) Lumber Barons that are willing to step in, if need be.”

Aubin refuses to consider looking past the Jets or Comets to the final.

“Part of not taking an opponent lightly is not looking past them. We will take care of the task at hand before planning the next round,” Aubin concludes.

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