The Spirit River Rangers came into Thursday’s game with the best record in the league, and for the first ten minutes, they played like it.
But soon, the Flyers were too much, the Rangers were undisciplined, and the scoreboard showed it.
The Rangers scored the first goal of the game, only 1:16 into the first, when a Craig Venhola point shot was tipped in front, and past Chad Vizzutti, who came up from Powell River to join the team for another couple of games.
Over the course of the first period, the Flyers slowly turned the tables, but it took until the end of the first period for the Flyers to get on the board, with a powerplay goal, on a recipe Flyers fans have seen before – Kip Noble setting up Ryan Carter for a one-timer. The goal prompted a deluge of Teddy Bears showered onto the ice, all to be donated to the Salvation Army. Carter came up from Calgary for the 2-game series, and though he was fighting a bit of a cold, he was still comfortable and confident.
The second period was all FSJ. It began with a nice goal from Jeff Shipton, who took a drop pass from Jeff Fast and buried it to put the Flyers ahead. Ryan Carter soon scored his second of the game, while Tyler Loney scored a short-handed goal on a beautiful behind-the-back drop pass from Shipton (Mike Shipton was still a scratch with a shoulder injury – though he will be back soon). Before the period was out, Jeff Shipton had his second goal, which led to a tantrum from Rangers captain Faron Duthie which saw him ejected from the game.
In the third, Spirit River had another good start, and looked like they might fight back into the game. Goals from Kyle Reiman and Trevor Mazurek made it 5-3, but the Flyers quickly put the game away, with three more of their own – scored by David Alexander, Clayton Bahm, and Bryan Lewis.
On the whole, the game was a pretty chippy affair. The Rangers took a lot of penalties, making their life even more difficult. Their coaching staff was continually upset – at times deserved – at the parade of Rangers heading to the box. But, Coach Brash says chippy play is Spirit River’s specialty, adding the officiating didn’t cost them the game.
Ryan Carter on Spirit River’s discipline:
In the end, the highly anticipated game didn’t really live up to its billing.
Spirit River ended up with 49 minutes in penalties, compared to FSJ’s 13. That includes 5 minutes each for a late fight between Tyler Loney and Trevor Mazurek. The Flyers scored 3 times on the powerplay, and added a short-handed goal.
But there is still hope for Saturday. The Rangers pushed the Flyers to overtime in both games in Spirit River last year (winning one) and hope to have a slightly fuller bench and supportive crowd.
Catch Saturday’s game live on Moose FM, with the pregame show starting at 8:15.