The Falher Pirates are moving on to the Campbell Cup final, after seven battles with the Grimshaw Huskies.
For coach Mathieu Maisonneuve, the East Division final was gruelling and the team can’t rest on their laurels.
“We came out on top,” he said with a smile. “It was a battle to the end. We’ll enjoy it briefly.”
The Pirates were leading three games to one, when they travelled to the Mile Zero Regional Multiplex for game five on February 25.
However, they lost to the Huskies by a score of 4-2. So it was back to Falher for game six on February 28.
Game six proved to be a very hard battle for both teams. It would come down to a goal in double overtime and force game seven back in Grimshaw March 2.
Dan Aubin scored for the Pirates at 19:07 in the first period, following an intense scramble in front of the Huskies’ net. Denis Rochon and Dallas Brochu received the assists.
But the Huskies turned the tables on the Pirates in the second period, with two goals.
Mitch Kohut put the puck in the basement at three minutes, with Carson Ewing and Lowen Lambert collecting the assists.
Then at 6:39, Brendan Hawyrluk put his team in the lead. Bon Hawryluk and Kevin Monfette received the assists.
The Huskies led 2-1 at the end of the second period.
The third period and double overtime would prove to offer some of the best and closest plays for both teams in this series. Many times, both teams came very close to scoring on wild plays in front of the net, or on breakaways.
Denis Rochon tied the game for the Pirates at the 3:16 in the third period, putting puck in the net on the approach. Rolly Gladue and Perron received the assists.
Then Al Anderson put the Pirates in the lead at 8:30, with a power play goal. Craig Anderson and Joel Pelletier shared the moment with him.
However, soon it was the Huskies’ turn to score on the power play. Kevin Monfette scored at 9:51 to tie the game 3-3. Lowen Lambert and Corson Fairless received the assists.
The third period ended with the tie. There was no score in the first overtime period, so the game went into double overtime.
It was Brendan Hawryluk who broke the deadlock at 11:01, giving the Huskies a 4-3 victory over the Pirates.
Shots on goal for the game were 35-34 in favour of the Pirates.
The Pirates returned to Grimshaw on March 2 for the seventh and final game of this series.
The Huskies had the drive from the outset in the first period, with strong forechecking and defensive play, giving them two goals in the process.
Bond Hawryluk scored the first at 7:56 with help from Ty Wiebe. Then Taylor McNabb scored at 14:49 with assistance from Corson Fairless and Brendan Dickson.
But the Pirates came on strong in the second period.
Jason Bouchard scored at 2:03 with Mike Gillen’s help. Then Gillen scored a power play goal at 4:59, courtesy of Josh Rutherford and Pat Rowan.
Then Bond Hawryluk put the Huskies in the lead again at 15:30, slipping the puck in from side.
But the Pirates had the last word of the second period, as Dallas Brochu scored the team’s third goal at 19:33. Craig Anderson received the assist.
The battle for puck became more intense in the third period, with each team seeking the edge to win this seventh and final game of the series.
Craig Anderson scored the Pirates’ fourth goal at 3:45, with Al Anderson sharing the spotlight.
However, the Huskies were able to capitalize on a two-man advantage a few minutes later. Brendan Hawryluk scored a power play goal at 5:18, with Ty Wiebe receiving the assist.
Then, just over a minute later, Jay Anderson put the Pirates ahead again with a power play goal. Craig Anderson and Jason Bouchard received the assists.
Yet again, the Huskies come back. At 13:05, Chris Houlder tied the game at 5-5, which would send the game into overtime. Mac Putio received the assist.
Nonethless, Jay Anderson of the Pirates scored the sixth and final goal of the game at 18 seconds into overtime, to the cheer of their fans. Jason Bouchard and Craig Anderson shared the moment with him.
But it wasn’t very long before their other team mates joined them on the ice to celebrate their victory. A few minutes later, both teams shook hands on the ice.
While the Pirates can celebrate their win in the East Division, they cannot rest on their laurels. Straight away, on March 4, they hosted the Spirit River Rangers for the first game of the Campbell Cup championship series.
Watch for coverage of that series in next week’s Smoky River Express. Also, look for action photos of this series on our website, at smokyriverexpress.com