It may be a cliché to say that you’ve saved your best for last but the Fort St. John Flyers certainly did that in their championship winning game against Terrace in the Coy Cup. The Flyers defeated the host team 3-2 in a rematch of last year’s final giving the Flyers back-to-back titles.
Head coach Andrew Leriger said players tend to forget bumps and bruises that they’re dealing with when the stakes are as high as they were.
“The guys, it wasn’t about how tired you were anymore, it wasn’t about how sore you were. It was about one 60 minute game and you had all summer to heal and the guys took it to that and gave it everything they had. I’m proud of the boys. Nothing fazed them all week. As a hockey player or an athlete what’s better than to play in an arena whether they’re for you or against you. It’s an awesome feeling,” he said.
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Facing pressure over the final 30 seconds from the River Kings while up one, simplicity was key for the Flyers. They did a great job making the smart and safe play while killing time in the process without actually being able to clear the zone.
“We have a young D core, not as experienced as last year so we did a lot of things in practices this year and playoffs to keep it simple. That last 30 seconds, it’s not about just dumping the puck out of our zone and trying to clear it. It’s about getting it to the safe areas and the safe areas are the corners. The guys would chip it to the corners and then go after it and fight. As long as they’re in the corners they’re not scoring goals. Brady Busche I think held that puck for 25 seconds in that last 30 seconds in the corner. It was amazing,” Leriger said.
It’s not often that you see a loss being a positive turning point for a team in any sport, but after dropping a game to Whitehorse on Thursday where the Flyers had a third period lead, it seemed to invigorate the club the rest of the way. The Flyers and Huskies met in a rematch the next night in the semi finals which Fort St. John took easily, and the momentum carried over into Saturday’s win in the final.
“The guys knew that they had to tighten up a little bit. Whitehorse was talented; very talented but they had the worst goals against the whole tournament. We knew we could score goals on them, we just had to figured out how to stop their top two lines and tighten up our defence. The guys took care of their zone first and we scored the goals we needed to score,” Leriger said.
Tyler Loney was named the MVP of the tournament, and Joey Massingham was the player of the game against the River Kings.