FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Rick Cleaver lived up to his nomination as the NPHL’s MVP during the regular season last night, in what ended up being the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks’ final game of the season.
Things got off to a bit of a quiet start in the first period with only two penalties assessed, both of them to the Sr. Canucks. Cleaver didn’t need the an advantage to put Fort St. John up 1-0 just past the seven minute mark, assisted by Adam Horst and Dan Pappin.
An early Flyers Interference penalty helped Dawson Creek tie it up just a minute and a half into the second frame, but Cleaver scored two minutes later to once again give the Flyers a one goal lead after getting a pass from Robbie Sidhu. Four minutes after that, Adam Horst made it 3-1 on a feed from Marshall Sidwell and Daylen Pearson. Though Dawson Creek did manage to gain some slight momentum with 8:03 left after scoring to move to within one, the wind quickly left the Sr. C’s sails. Josh Bruha restored Fort St. John’s two goal lead with 2:26 left, assisted by Sidhu and Joey Massingham. Shots on goal during the second were 10-7 in favour of the Flyers, while this time it was the Flyers getting two penalties called against them.
In the third, penalty trouble meant that the Sr. Canucks couldn’t get anything going. Massingham extended the Flyers’ lead to three just 25 seconds into the third act. Bruha and Taylor Greatrex tallied the assists on the Flyers’ fifth goal. After Dawson Creek’s Reid Smith was sent to the sin bin for a pair of minor penalties, Rick Cleaver made it 6-2 just 27 seconds later with a hat-trick goal, assisted by Horst and Brady Busche. Things continued to look grim for the Canucks, and Arlo Hadland materialized as the Grim Reaper. Hadland made it 7-2 on the power play with only 3:22 left to play, assisted by Bruha and Massingham. Though the shots were close at 29-25 in favour of the Flyers, Travis McLean stopped 23 shots to backstop the Flyers to the 7-2 victory to win the NPHL West Division semi-final in five games.
The Flyers will now wait to see who they’ll play in the West Division Final, as the other semi-final between the Grande Prairie Athletics and the Spirit River Rangers will require at least six games. Spirit River leads that series three games to two, with Game 6 taking place on Saturday night in Spirit River.