QUESNEL, B.C. – The Fort St. John Northern Metalic Flyers were in Quesnel this past weekend, taking part in the Bantam Invitational Tournament at the Quesnel Twin Rinks.
The Flyers started the tournament in a tough game against Prince George on Friday afternoon, and went up 1-0 halfway through the first period. After a scoreless second period, Fort St. John scored a pair of quick goals in the third to give the team a 3-0 lead. Though the teams traded a pair of goals late in the game, the Flyers prevailed 4-1.
On Saturday the Flyers played a pair of games against Williams Lake and Vanderhoof. Game two against Bill’s Puddle was a chance for the Flyers to exorcise some demons, as they beat the Flyers in the gold medal game in Quesnel in 2015. After scoring to keep the game a 1-1 stalemate, both teams opened the taps in the third. The game was tied at three apiece before the Flyers managed to break through with a pair of goals in the final five minutes to secure a 5-3 victory.
In their final round robin game against Vanderhoof, it was once again the same script: the Flyers scored a pair of late goals to take a 7-5 win to earn the right to play Sunday.
Coming out strong in the semi-finals against host Quesnel, the Flyers had a 3-1 lead thirty minutes into the game. Quesnel came back to even the score at 3. The Flyers took a 5 minute major for checking from behind, allowing Quesnel to score a pair of goals on that powerplay. A short-handed goal then saw Quesnel double up to a 6-3 lead late in the third period. The Flyers scored twice looking for the comeback before Quesnel caught a break to add an insurance goal for a 7-5 victory, sending the Flyers into a rematch with Prince George in the bronze medal game.
The Flyers got a 1-goal lead before trading goals with Prince George back and forth until the two teams were tied 4-4 midway through the third. Prince George got the go ahead marker and added a late power play goal to lead 6-4 with less than 2 minutes remaining. Fort St. John battled back, pulling the goaltender and scoring with the extra attacker to make it 6-5. With 7 seconds left the Flyers tried to send the game into overtime, but Prince George held on to take bronze, leaving the Flyers with a 4th place finish.
Coach Craig Brownlee stated that, “the season is long and adversity will come throughout, whether it be penalties, injuries, or general wear and tear. Yet teams that end seasons with success will see these early challenges as opportunities to grow and benchmarks to overcome.”