After a loss on Saturday night in Stony Plain, the Flyers got up early on Sunday and hit the bus to Onion Lake, Sk. This time out, the Flyers tightened the screws, and defeated the Lloydminster Border Kings.
Saturday night’s game was one that saw the Flyers make too many mistakes – a product of rust, and the product of switching to a new defensive system. But, in just a day, the Flyers managed to iron-out a lot of the kinks. A tired Fort St. John squad allowed very few odd-man rushes, and never allowed the Border Kings much time with the puck.
Newcomer Ryan Manitowich opened the scoring, when he took a feed from Ryan Carter and snapped it over B.J. Boxma. Manitowich also scored in his Flyers debut on Saturday. After winning an Allan Cup with Bentley last season, Manitowich was convinced by his friend Ryan Carter to join the Flyers this year, and the two look like they will play on a line together whenever they are in the lineup (they played this weekend with Tyler Brough). “We’d always wanted to try to meet up and play a little more hockey together” said Manitowich. He and Carter play on a rec league team together in Calgary, but he adds the chance to play in another Allan Cup was appetizing. Manitowich also says having Carter on his line had made his transition more natural. “ Plus just knowing someone on the team makes it a little easier coming in.”
Aaron Scheppers scored the lone goal of the second period. After a good cycling shift from youngsters Jeff Fast, Jeff Shipton, and Adam Horst, Horst found Scheppers all alone in the slot. Scheppers, playing defence for the weekend, beat Boxma five-hole, to make it 2-0 Flyers after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Flyers continued to control the lion-share of puck possession. Despite giving the Border Kings several chances on the powerplay in the final frame, the Flyers’ penalty kill did a tremendous job. After a four-point night in his Flyers debut on Saturday, Donny Lloyd iced the game, when he scored a powerplay marker from the point through Boxma, giving the Flyers a 3-0 win.
After being disappointed with the outcome on Saturday, Troy Hunt earned the shutout in goal, and says the differences between Saturday and Sunday were clear. “The Forwards did a better job of getting back into our zone” says Hunt, admitting that his team was still getting over off-season rust.
The 3-0 win gave the Flyers a .500 weekend, but also confidence going ahead, and the sense that the weekend was well worthwhile. “50/50” said Hunt, when asked his opinion on the weekend. But, Hunt also echoed the comments of his team mates on Saturday, saying many of mistakes that the team had made the night before were a product of rust. He says the team looked a lot better even one day later, and says the Flyers are optimistic about having a strong team this year. “We’re right there with the Stony Plains and Bentleys, we just need a little better conditioning at this point of the season. It was a disappointing game yesterday [in Stony Plain] but the boys had a better effort tonight, and we really tightened things up in our defensive zone.”
One thing that the Flyers excelled in all weekend was their play on special teams. Fort St. John added another powerplay goal on Sunday, giving them a weekend powerplay efficiency of 3/10, and a perfect 15/15 on the penalty kill.
Coach Adam Brash says the weekend on the whole was “positive.” He says his team played a fairly complete game “about 52 minutes of good effort” he says. The coach was concerned with the penalty trouble his team got into late in the game, but also admits that is a product of early-season conditioning.
Click here for a highlights package from Sunday’s game. [asset|aid=2043|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=70294d9fb3c5708a605258fd54afb3ac-Flyers won 3-0 over the Lloydminster Border Kings_1_Pub.mp3]
Next up for the Flyers – the bus ride home.