Weekend split drops Pirates out of first place

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

For the second straight week, the Falher Pirates experienced the highs and lows of an NPHL season.
The Pirates defeated the visiting Fort St. John Flyers 6-3 Nov. 25 but lost the next night at Grimshaw 6-5 to the Huskies. The loss dropped the Pirates (5-2) out of first place in the East Division as the Manning Comets (5-1-1) were at home defeating the Spirit River Rangers 4-2. It was the first time Manning defeated Spirit River at home in nearly 19 years since a 3-1 win Dec. 20, 2003. In fact, any Manning win over Spirit River in 19 years.
On the bright side, the home ice win over Fort St. John completed the season sweep for the Pirates over the Flyers, something that the Pirates had never done in their history. They defeated the Flyers twice in the 2014-15 season but the teams played four times and split the season series.
The Pirates never trailed against the Flyers as Joseph Sylvain and Pat Rowan scored first period goals.
In the second period, the last place West Division Flyers (1-5 after weekend games concluded) rallied to tie the game on goals from Jeff Shipton and Nolan Legace in the first five minutes.
Dallas Brochu gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead less than a minute later but just before the midway point Dawson Phillips tied the game 3-3. It would be the last Flyers goal on the night.
Rowan scored his second of the game with 5:45 left in the period. Trevor Tokarz scored shortly afterwards and the Pirates were up 5-3 heading in the third.
Sylvain’s second of the night capped the scoring.
Dyson Loewen stopped 27 of 30 shots to record the win for the Pirates while Ty Gullickson took the loss stopping 30 of 36 shots.
In Grimshaw the next night, the Pirates stormed out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals from Dallas Brochu, Rowan and Cruz Cote. It looked like the Pirates were cruising but Ty Wiebe started the comeback with 7:41 left in the period. The goal stopped Pirates’ goaltender Ryan Noble’s streak of not allowing a goal 122:19 into the season. It would also be his first loss of the season.
In the second period, the teams traded four goals with Darren Kramer and Dallas Brochu scoring for Falher and Cole Basnett and Eric Sorenson for Grimshaw.
The Pirates held their 5-3 lead until late. Bryton Wagner closed the gap to 5-4 with 7:41 left on the power play. Brendyn Hawryluk tied the game with 4:46 left before Sorenson’s game-winner with 2:05 left.
The loss left a bitter and unexplained taste in the Pirates mouth as they bucked the trend in three stats categories. The loss was the second for the Pirates (4-2) when scoring first while the league is 19-7. But is even stranger is the Pirates now hold a 4-2 record when leading after the first and second periods. Teams leading after the first period this season are 19-4 and an even better 21-3 when leading after two. The loss was also Falher’s second straight at Grimshaw after five wins.
The Pirates play twice on the road this week. Dec. 1 they are at Grande Prairie (4-2, second place in the West Division) and Dec. 2 they play at Valleyiew (1-5, last in the East Division).

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