Pirates rally to take series lead

A hungry band of Falher Pirates [in white] surround the Grimshaw Huskies net looking for a rebound in the first game of their North Peace Hockey League playoff series Feb. 4. Left-right are Huskies’ goaltender Ryley Medvez, defenceman Alan Mazur, and Pirates’ forwards Jay Anderson and Kris Desjarlais.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

“Eight is enough!”

Sound familiar?

The 1970s TV series may well have been the battle cry of the Falher Pirates after dropping the first game of their NPHL Preliminary Series 4-2 to the visiting Grimshaw Huskies Feb. 4.

It marked the Pirates eighth straight loss and left them winless in the 2020 calendar year.

But the Pirates rebounded to win 5-3 in Grimshaw Feb. 6 and 4-3 in overtime Feb. 8, to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five affair.

The Pirates can end the series Feb. 11 at Grimshaw, or back on home ice Feb. 13, if necessary. The winner advances to play the Lawrence Cup champion Dawson Creek Canucks.

The Huskies came to town in the opener hoping to do what only one team in NPHL history has even done: be a three-win team or less in the regular season and win a playoff game. But it’s exactly what the Huskies did with the win. Only the 1965 Manning Comets, who won one game that season, opened the playoffs with an 11-7 win at Fairview Feb. 11, 1965 before losing three straight.

Could the Huskies suffer a similar fate?

Trevor Tokarz’s second period goal gave the Pirates the lead after a scoreless first period.

However, Alan Mazur and Tyler Brenner countered to give the Huskies the lead after two.

Ty Wiebe made it 3-1 just before the midway point of the third.

But the Pirates continued to press. Kris Desjarlais scored with 5:50 left and it was game on.

However, Colter Wiebe’s goal with 2:25 left sealed the win.

As they have done during their losing streak, the Pirates outshot their opponent but just could not score. The Pirates outshot the Huskies 39-22 including 30-13 in the final two periods.

In Game 2, the Pirates finally found their scoring touch. After scoring only 23 goals in eight games – a paltry 2.88 average – they erupted for five in a big 5-3 win to get back in the series.

The game didn’t start well however. Cole Diewert and Josh Peters gave the Huskies a 2-1 first period lead with Walker Cote replying for the Pirates.

In the second period the game changed. Dakota Conroy tied the game 2-2 with a power play goal before Peters scored his second goal of the night.

But then the turning point in the game, if not the series, occurred.

Seventeen seconds after Peters’ goal, Darren Brochu found himself in the penalty box for high-sticking and the Huskies had a chance to take control.

However, Darren Kramer scored short-handed to tie the game 3-3.

Later in the period, Conroy added his second of the game, then Kramer scored his second goal in the third period to give the Pirates the win.

Ironically, the Pirates were outshot 40-34.

The third game of the series saw the Pirates fall behind again after one period. Wiebe and Brendan Hawryluk scored while Jay Anderson’s early goal was erased as the Huskies led 2-1.

Anderson scored his second of the game to tie the game after two periods, then Cote gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead with 7:33 left.

Mazur scored with exactly four minutes left to send the game into overtime when Anderson netted his third of the night only 10 seconds in to give the Pirates the series lead.

The Pirates outshot the Huskies 54-26 with only the outstanding goaltending of Bud Dyck keeping the game close.

Share this post