After coughing up a 4-1 lead in game one of their exhibition series against Augustana College on Saturday, the Senior Flyers kept their feet on the gas in Sunday’s game two, and held on for a 3-2 win.
The Flyers took a 2-0 first period lead, on goals from Ryan Manitowich and Blair Lefebvre (his first as a Flyer). Lefebvre’s goal was short-handed, scored on the first of four consecutive penalties the Flyers killed in the first period.
The Vikings scored the only goal of the second period, when Dean Prpick converted a two-on-one, to give Augustana its own short-handed marker. But, unlike in the previous night’s game, and some recent NPHL games, the Flyers didn’t fall apart in the second period, and still led heading into the final frame. “I just had a talk guys before the game about competing” said Coach Adam Brash after the game. “I just want the guys to go out there and give 45 seconds” he said, acknowledging that his team’s work ethic seemed much improved.
After 19 minutes of scoreless play to start the third period, Tyler Brough scored an important insurance marker, when he slid the puck into a vacant Augustana net. Then, with Paul Kalida still on the bench for the extra attacker, Aaron Hareuther beat Troy Hunt to get the Vikings back within one. But, Troy Hunt and the Flyers defence held the fort for the remaining 30 seconds, and Fort St. John earned a 3-2 win.
After a pair of one-goal games, the Flyers players and coaching staff seemed to agree the weekend had been a valuable one. “It was a good weekend all around, I think we learned lots, and got our feet back in the water after the break” said goaltender Troy Hunt. “A bit of a letdown in the second period in game one, but today we bounced back. I think overall it was a real positive weekend.”
For Coach Brash, the weekend earned a rating of 7.5 out of 10. “As far as our play goes, I though we did a really good job of executing our game plan” he said. Brash dressed seven different players for Sunday’s game, hoping to give ‘AAA’ experience to as many players as possible, and also to experiment with different lines and looks.
“Our line of Manitowich, Brough and Carter is definitely our number-one line” Brash also admitted. “They certainly take ownership of the play when they get control.” The top-line scored 5 of Fort St. John’s 8 goals over the two games, and controlled the puck in the Vikings’ zone for extended periods of time. “I guess I’d like to say it’s our strength” figured Ryan Manitowich afterwards. “Maybe they don’t have quite the experience we do fending off the puck.” Manitowich and Carter both now live in Calgary, and the former Iona College teammates have played a lot of hockey together. Tyler Brough seems a lock to centre the pair whenever he’s in the lineup, on a line that will be counted on for offence in the Allan Cup. “He’s just an all-around centre” Manitowich says of Brough. “He just works hard and he’s in all the right spots.”
The Flyers now return to regular season NPHL action, with a pair of home games this weekend against Dawson Creek (Thu. Jan. 7) and Hythe (Fri. Jan. 8).