By Jon Zacks
The sold-out crowd at the North Peace Arena got its wish, as the Fort St. John Flyers beat the South East Prairie Thunder 7-3 on Friday night, to advance to the Allan Cup final.
Near the end of a very evenly matched first period, the Flyers drew first blood, when Chris Stevens knocked the rebound of a Donny Lloyd point shot past Prairie Thunder goaltender Justin Harris. The powerplay goal came with 38 seconds remaining in the opening period, and injected even more energy into the already raucous crowd.
Early in the second period, the Flyers pounced. 4:42 into the frame, Bryan Lewis took a pass from Nathan Waberski and beat Harris through the legs, to double the lead. 37 seconds later, Chris Stevens converted a nice give-and-go with Rod Stevens, followed by Rod Stevens’ first of the game less than three minutes later, while the Flyers were shorthanded.
With his team reeling, South East Coach Rob Friesen called a time-out. His words seemed to work, as the Prairie Thunder began to fight their way back into the game. Soon after, Paul Wallman scored a beautiful end-to-end rush, to finally get South East on the board. With five minutes remaining in the second, Travis Kornelson slid the puck past Flyers goaltender Clayton Pool after a nice feed from Kyle Luschinski, to get the Prairie Thunder back within two after 40 minutes.
Early in the third, veteran defenceman Kip Noble scored his first goal of the tournament, when he fired a rocket past Harris from the point. On a Gerard Dicaire high-sticking minor soon after, Captain Ryan Smith deflected a Dane Crowley point shot, to again give life to the Prairie Thunder.
But, with eight minutes remaining in regulation, Chris and Rod Stevens assured Fort St. John’s victory, as they scored the 6-3 and 7-3 goals just 21 seconds apart. The goals were the second of the game for Rod Stevens and the third of the game for Chris Stevens, with their centreman Kimbi Daniels playing the part of set-up man all night long.
Click here to listen to a highlights package from the Moose FM broadcast of the game.
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Click here to listen to Matt Sales’ post-game interview with Flyers player-of-the-game Chris Stevens.
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Click here to listen to Matt’s interview with Flyers Coach Adam Brash.
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And so, the host Flyers advance to the final, in their first-ever Allan Cup appearance. They will take on their arch-rival Bentley Generals on Saturday at 2 p.m., for the Canadian Amateur Championship.