Pirates still control destiny in battle for first

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Is the glass half full or half empty?
Depending on your view, it’s a good way to look at the Falher Pirates season as the battle for first place in the East Division with the Manning Comets will go down to the final two days.
On one hand, the Pirates blew a chance to lock up first as they lost 6-2 at Manning Jan. 28.
However, the Pirates still control their own fate. With two games left and the clubs tied with 22 points each after 18 games, the Pirates hold any possible tiebreaker with the Comets. The trouble is, the Pirates travel to Dawson Creek to play the 16-2 Lawrence Cup champion Canucks Feb. 2. Two nights later, they end the regular season at home against the Valleyview Jets.
Meanwhile, the Comets end with a Friday-Saturday home-and- home against the last place Grimshaw Huskies. Not that they are sure wins, but an easier road to travel. The irony is, if the Comets sweep and Falher loses at Dawson Creek it sets up playoff matchups where the Comets play the Huskies and Pirates draw the Jets, meaning Saturday’s season-ending games will both be playoff previews.
In Manning, the Pirates outshot the Comets 40-29 but Comets’ goaltender Braden Gamble was the difference stopping 38 shots.
The Comets led 1-0 after one period on a goal from Payton Proskurniak. They increased the lead to 3-0 after two periods on goals from Isaiah Letendre despite being outshot 22-17.
In the third, Letendre completed his hat trick – the first of the season for the Comets – while Neil Simpson added his first to make it 5-0.
The Pirates finally solved Gamble with 9:31 left as Kevin Monfette scored. Twenty-three seconds later Joseph Sylvain scored but the rally was far too late.
Deklin Whillans added an insurance goal with 3:08 left into an empty net to compete the scoring.
The Pirates had their chances. They were a miserable 0-for-10 on the power paly.
On a brighter note, the Comets were 1-for-6 against the Pirates’ league-leading penalty killing units, which were still sailing along at over 90 per cent by week’s end.
The marquee match of the week in the league occurred at Falher Jan. 27 when the Canucks rolled into town to play the Pirates, who were a perfect 8-0 at home. Once again the Pirates had the better of the play through two periods as they outshot the Canucks 27-18 but only had a 1-1 tie to show for their efforts. Walker Cote’s first period goal gave the Pirates the lead while the league’s leading scorer, Wes Shipton, tied the game in the second.
In the third, Alex Hanson gave the Canuks the lead until Sylvain tied the game 2-2 with 12:34 left.
However, only 13 seconds after Sylvain tied the game Dustin Bahm scored the game-winner.
Again, the Pirates had their chance. Anthony Gilbert was sent off for hooking with 5:56 left putting the Pirates on the power play, but Brett Norman’s short-handed goal 50 seconds later gave the Canucks a 4-2 lead.
The clubs split four third period goals with the Pirates outshooting the Canucks 12-6 and 39-24 for the game.
The Pirates were scoreless in seven power play chances. They are a terrible 0-for-17 since scoring three times in a 6-4 win at Grimshaw Jan. 21.

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