Pirates stumbling toward finish line

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Over the last two weeks, the Falher Pirates have seen their rather large lead evaporate as fast as a glass of water in the Sahara Desert.

Another loss last week coupled with the Manning Comets weekend sweep over the Grimshaw Huskies has the two teams tied for third place in the NPHL standings with 6-10 records.

Each team has two games left. The good news is Falher still holds the advantage as they win any possible tiebreaker with Manning after already having won three of four games this season.

But the bad news is Falher goes to Manning Jan. 31 and closes the regular season at Grimshaw the next night. Manning makes the tough trip to Dawson Creek, who has already clinched first place, Jan. 31.

It may be ironic that the teams are battling so hard to place third and receive a bye in the first round while the fourth and fifth place clubs do battle. Waiting the “loser” of the series is 2-12-1-2 Grimshaw. A series pitting Grimshaw against either Manning or Falher would certainly draw crowds and the teams would make money.

However, there is always the risk of upset.

The Pirates lost at home 5-1 to Grande Prairie Jan. 25. It wasn’t a case of Grande Prairie’s top scorers dominating, but other players.

Riley Boomgaarden’s second goal of the season gave GP a first period lead. Riley Jebb’s first goal of the season in the second period proved to be the game-winner. Later, Tyler Hartman made it 3-0.

The Pirates did not score until the third period, when Pat Rowan’s power play goal made it 3-1 at the 1:08 mark. Robbie Sidhu and Jay Anderson assisted.

With 3:26 left, Kelvin Neustaeter, who also added two assists on the night, scored to give GP a 4-1 lead, then Adam Boytinck scored into an empty net to end the scoring.

The A’s outshot the Pirates 33-30 with goaltender Keifer Smiley stopping 29 shots to record the win. Ty Gullickson stopped 29 shots and gave up four goals in the loss.

Each team was 1-for-6 on the power play.

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