FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Northern Metalic Bantam played their final two regular season games against two of their arch-rivals this past weekend.
First up, the Bantam Flyers hosted the Peace River Sabres at home on Saturday. Noah Lang scored the first goal of the game just six and a half minutes into the first period, assisted by Owen Floriant. However, the Sabres would tie things up just fifteen seconds later at one apiece. John Herrington made it 2-1 Flyers 1:45 into the second frame, assisted by James Kitney and Henry Kehl. Once again however, the Sabres would answer back, this time with three straight goals as each of the Flyers’ lines went -1 in that stretch. Justin Brownlee got the Flyers back on track with an unassisted tally, stealing the puck at the blue line and going in on a breakaway. Before the second period was over, the Flyers struck quickly again with goals from Hunter Brown and Herrington’s second of the game. The Flyers won the third period as Devan Minard and Hunter Brown added two more to secure a 7-5 victory and a season 4-game sweep over Peace River.
On Sunday, the Flyers met another rival that they have not had as much success with, when they travelled to Grande Prairie. The Flyers came out blazing, trying to even up the season series and send a message to a team they will face in playoffs this coming weekend. John Herrington scored back-to-back goals, with assists going once to Jaydon Viens and twice to Devan Minard, who had a tremendous give and go with Herrington for the second tally. The Flyers started the second period killing a 4 minute penalty and gave up the first with 2:09 left in the double minor. They gave up another in the second half of the second 2:00 penalty kill . The Flyers then got their own chance on a 5-3, where Herrington picked up a hat trick after a scramble in front. Six seconds into the third the Storm pounced on an opportunity and tied it up again at 3. But, Noah Lang wrapped the puck around to put the Flyers up again but with 2:13 left to go in the game the Storm replied with a desperation goal. Then came one of the most exciting finishes of the season. With 19.6 seconds to go in the game Herrington won the draw straight back to Nathan Brownlee, fed a pass across the blue line to Duncan Ross. Ross then sent a saucer to the corner back to Herrington who again found Brownlee on the point, who walked the line and let a howitzer go as all four other Flyer skaters created havoc in front of the net. With 2.8 seconds remaining it was Duncan Ross who got the deflection and game winner, capping off a five over .500 regular season for the Flyers.
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Coach Craig Brownlee says that he feels that the team has momentum going into their regional playoff tournament against Grande Prairie, Peace River, Fort McMurray and host city Whitecourt after beating three of those teams in their last three games. Teams will play a round robin tournament with the top two teams playing in the final for the Alberta North Regional Championship. Sadly, if the Flyers win, they will be unable to continue in Alberta but will be off to Powell River March 19-22, representing Northeast BC at provincials.