South Peace News
Entering 2020, the Falher Pirates were challenging for top spot in the NPHL standings with a 6-5 record. They were six points clear of the fourth place Manning Comets and ready for a second half surge.
Then the wheels fell off.
The Pirates have yet to win in 2020 as they concluded the season with seven straight losses after a 4-3 loss in Manning Jan. 31 and a 5-3 loss in Grimshaw Feb. 1.
Meanwhile the Comets, who were 3-7 at the Christmas break, were 4-4 down the stretch and passed the Pirates on the weekend to earn a first round bye.
Playing the Grimshaw Huskies is not the worst thing that could happen to the Pirates. The proximity of the towns makes for the possibility of good crowds and the Pirates still hold home ice advantage in the best-of-five series. The Huskies were a miserable 3-12-1-2 this season albeit they lost 10 one-goal games and beat the Pirates 5-3 in the season finale and 5-3 in Falher Jan. 18.
However, the Pirates get to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Dates of the series were not available at press time. Check NPHL.com for the schedule.
The Pirates began the weekend with a 4-3 loss at Manning Jan. 31.
Josh Rutherford, Taylor Paulovich and Layne McLean scored first period goals to give the Comets a big early lead.
In the second period, McLean scored the eventual game-winner, his second of the night.
It wasn’t until the third period that the Pirates rallied. Trevor Tokarz scored at 4:01 and 12:19, then team scoring leader Darren Kramer scored with 95 seconds left to pull the Pirates to within one.
As usual this season, the stats favoured the Pirates everywhere but on the scoreboard. They outshot the Comets 38-26, including 25-17 in the first two periods but saw them behind 4-0. As usual, Comets goaltender Braden Gamble was up to his old tricks in leading the Comets to the win stopping 35 of 38 shots.
The Pirates were 0-for-3 on the power play but held the Comets scoreless on their four chances.
In a similar script to the night before, the Pirates fell behind early at Grimshaw Feb. 1 and could never catch up. The Huskies led 2-1 after one period and 4-3 after two.
Brendan Hawryluk and Ty Wiebe each scored their ninth goals of the season to put the Huskies up 2-0 at the halfway mark. Wiebe’s was a power play marker.
Robbie Sidhu replied with his second of the season late in the period for the Pirates.
In the second period, newcomer Mitch Topping gave the Huskies a 3-1 lead on a power play 95 seconds in.
However, it only took Jacob Anderson 30 seconds to pull the Pirates back to within one goal at 4-3.
Wiebe’s second power play goal of the night, scored on the power play, gave the Huskies as 4-2 lead.
In the third period, the teams battled back and forth without scoring until Dallas Brochu bent the twine with 5:23 left to make it 4-3.
However, another newcomer to the Huskies roster, Mike Bayrack, scored into an empty net with 10 seconds left to seal the win.
Again, the stats favoured the Pirates. They outshot the Huskies 40-25, including 29-17 in the first two periods which saw them trail 4-3.
Special teams were the difference. The Huskies were 3-for-6 on the power play while the Pirates concluded the two-game weekend road trip up north without a power play goal, going 0-for-2.