Pirates stumble

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Last week it certainly looked like the Falher Pirates were a lock to finish in third place in the NPHL standings.

But what a difference a week makes!

Two losses by the Pirates coupled with a Manning Comets’ win over the Grimshaw Huskies and all of a sudden the Comets trail the Pirates by only four points with one game in hand.

The good news for the Pirates is they would win any tiebreaker over the Comets as they have already clinched the season series with three wins in four games. The Comets would have to surpass the Pirates in points which still seems very unlikely.

On the ice, the Pirates lost at Dawson Creek 7-3 on Jan. 16 and 5-3 at home to the Huskies 5-3 Jan. 18.

A poor start in DC was the difference although the feisty Pirates battled back.

Brett Norman and Kevin Hope gave DC a 2-0 lead only 63 seconds in the game. After Dallas Brochu opened the scoring for the Pirates, Stephan Wood and Joey Massingham gave DC a 4-1 lead.

Pat Rowan’s power play goal at 14:37 pulled the Pirates to within two goals after one period.

In the second period, Trevor Tokarz’s goal just before the midway point at 9:56 pulled the Pirates to within one goal at 4-3. Little did they know that would end their scoring on the night.

Massingham and Norman each scored their second goals of the night before the end of the period and DC had control at 6-3.

Liam Craig added the final goal in the third period just past the halfway point.

DC peppered Pirates’ goaltender Ty Gullickson with 59 shots including 21 in each of the final two periods. Gullickson stopped 39 of the 42 shots after surrendering four on just 17 shots in the first period.

The Pirates returned home to lose a stunner to the Huskies, who won for only the second time this season, although the Huskies have lost an incredible seven one-goal games in their first 14 games this season.

Cole Diewert opened the scoring with the first of his two power play goals on the night.

However, Robbie Sidhu tied the game and Morgan MacLean gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead with a short-handed effort before the end of the period.

In the second period, the Huskies rallied. Ty Wiebe tied the game before Bond Hawryluk’s short-handed goal gave the Huskies the lead.

On the same power play, however, Marco St.-Pierre tied the game 3-3.

But only 1:04 later, Josh Peters gave the Huskies the lead they would never surrender. Peters also added three assists on the night.

Diewert’s second power play goal of the night was the only scoring in the third period.

Play was fairly even with the Pirates outshooting the Huskies 34-30. Gullickson again took the loss with Ryley Medves stopping 31 of 34 shots to record the win.

The Pirates get a week off before playing their final home game of the regular season Jan. 25 against Grande Prairie. The Pirates close the regular season with road games at Manning Jan. 31 and Grimshaw Feb. 1.

Should the Pirates place third, they receive a first round bye and will play the second place team in the standings. Grande Prairie and Dawson Creek are tied for first place with 12-1-1-0 records. The two clubs play three times in the final two weeks to decide first place.

The Pirates can place no worse than fourth and would host a first round series against Manning or Grimshaw. Grimshaw can place no higher than fourth as they lose any tiebreaker with Falher.

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