Flyers win 9-6 over the Spirit River Rangers
To call Saturday night’s Flyers / Rangers game dramatic and intense would be underselling it. On the opening faceoff, Spirit River’s Shane McCormick went after David Alexander, leading to 14 minutes in penalties for each player. By the end of the first, more than 100 minutes in penalties had been assessed. And there were also seven goals.
Craig Venhola opened the scoring, firing a point shot past Troy Hunt, to give the Rangers a lead, just 30 second in. The Flyers would fight back, with 3 in a row, from Jeff Shipton, and a pair from Jeff Fast. Goals from Mike Lefley and Mark Wallman would get Spirit River back to even, but before the first was over, Clayton Bahm put the Flyers back in front.
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In the second, tempers continued to boil over, and 3 of the games 4 fights broke out. Aaron Scheppers fought with DJ Barbarich, Matt Shuya took exception to a hit from behind from Colin Lefley, and dropped with gloves with Lefley, and David Alexander stuck up for his cousin Todd, after Todd took a nasty high-stick from Chad Wilchynski, though Wilchynski seemed uneager to fight. By the time the second period was over, there were 224 minutes in penalties on the scoresheet. 3 players from each team had been thrown out of the game. And, while Todd Alexander got a concussion from the Wilchinski high-stick, Matt Shuya got a broken nose and put his bottom teeth through his bottom lip, and earned a trip to the hospital.
There was also more scoring in the second, as the Flyers got goals courtesy of Kip Noble (2), and Mike Shipton, all three of which came on the powerplays assessed to the Rangers for thier stickwork. Spirit River got just one goal, scored by Mike Lefley, his second of the game.
Finally, things settled down in the third, possibly because both teams were getting a little short-benched. Spirit River looked like they might make a game of it, after scoring two straight goals (Shane McCormick and Trevor Mazurek). But, within minutes, Kip Noble shelfed a backhander over Rangers goalie Darin Allen, to complete his hat-trick, and put the Flyers back up by 3.
But, before the final horn sounded, there would be one more fight, between Tyler Loney and Trevor Mazurek. The two had tried to scrap late in the second, but the fight never really developed before they crashed to the ice, and the referee assessed the pair only minor penalties, allowing them to stay in the game, and have one more crack at some fisticuffs. After the game, Loney said was glad the ref allowed them to come back and finish what they had started. "We played in midget against each other, so it’s just an ongoing battle," adding "He doesn’t mind that stuff, and I sure don’t."
Likewise, coach Adam Brash wasn’t too surprised with the physicality of the game. "You always expect coming to Spirit River it’s going to be a physical game – anything can break out at any time." But, Brash was more than happy to have a fight on his hands. "We’re all competitors, and you want to compete every night, and if that means the gloves come off, then that happens." "It was a great team-builder for us," he added, "We needed this."
In the end, the final score was 9-6 in favor of the Flyers. The total penalty minutes between the two teams was close to 300. And there was plenty of bad blood remaining for a potential semi-final matchup between the two teams.
Listen to this highlights package
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And so, the NPHL regular season comes to a close. The Flyers finish the season with a 24-1-1 record, and will await the winner of the first round mini-series between Valleyview and Lakeland.