Friday night saw a pace that would be expected when a first place team plays the second place team, with a little extra on the side.
The Fort St. John Flyers and Spirit River Rangers game Friday night did not ease into excitement. The game hit fifth gear as soon as the opening face off took place and continued at that pace until the game ended with a score of 6-0 for the Flyers.
The night started off with the sound of rubber hitting metal, as Fort St. John wrung one off the post only 15 seconds into the game on a quality scoring chance.
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The first period saw fast and furious hockey by both clubs and it didn’t take long for the intensity to effect the Flyers. Only one minute and seven seconds into the game, Flyers forward Mitch Strang took a slashing penalty. However, the Flyers were successful in keeping the puck to the outside, preventing any quality scoring chances and successfully killing the first power play of the game.
The Flyers looked determined after the penalty kill, driving the puck hard to the net and crashing for rebounds. Fort St. John’s tenacious play would eventually pay off, as Adam Horst opened the scoring with a tip in from a Jeff Fast pass for the only goal of the period.
Fort St. John entered the second down a man due to a Tyler Loney penalty taken at the end of the first. Penalty killing must have been discussed by the Flyers at the intermission, because they executed the kill to perfection and Spirit River was unable to generate any offense with the man advantage. The lack of chances must have frustrated the Rangers, who took two penalties shortly after being up a man.
It did not take long for the Flyers to capitalize. Some crafty puck movement resulted in Matt Shuya receiving the puck alone in the slot and firing it on net. Rangers goalie Darin Allen made the initial save, but the rebound came right to Mitch Strang at the side of the net, who made no mistake in making the game 2-0.
Rather than sit back with a 2-0 lead, the Flyers upped the intensity with a solid forecheck and physical play. The forecheck worked wonders for the Flyers, who managed to cause multiple turnovers by the Spirit River players. The tenacity would eventually pay off, as a turnover, followed by some nifty passing by Donny Lloyd and Todd Alexander resulted in a Jeff Fast Goal. Fast’s goal would give the Flyers a 3-0 lead.
Although the second period did see some controversy. Adam Horst was ejected from the game, as the referee labelled him as the culprit of a hit from behind. Although, when speaking to Horst after the game, he discussed how the refs must have been mistaken, as he was lying on the ice from a hit he himself took when the hit from behind occurred.
The play would also see Flyers coach Darrel Leahy get ejected from the game, for arguing in defense of Horst.
The Third period saw much of the same. The Flyers scored three more, thanks to goals from Tyler Loney, Munro and Fast, beating the Rangers by a score of 6-0. Troy Hunt made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season.
After the Game, Hunt talked about how he was impressed with Spirit River’s intensity off the bat and how the Flyers were able to "weather the storm." He also talked about the quality effort his defense provided, negating most of the scoring chances from Spirit River.
Coach Leahy also talked about his pleasure with the Flyers’ effort, especially with regards to their physical play. He also mentioned how happy he was for Flyer Donny Lloyd, who had a terrific game against his old team.