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Flyers blow third period lead, fall to Pirates in OT in Game 3

#19 Rick Cleaver celebrating his goal in the third period, in Game 3 vs the Pirates on March 9, 2018. Photo by Brady Ratzlaff.
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Flyers blew a three-goal third-period lead and fell in overtime in Game 3, to the visiting Falher Pirates on Thursday night.

In a fairly even first period, it was the visitors who opened the scoring on the power play at 8:30. That lead was short-lived as Reid Campbell fired home a shot from the point through a screened Pirates netminder Talon Walton to tie the score less than two minutes later, assisted by Justin Fillion and Rick Cleaver. Then with 2:23 to play in the period Adam Horst buried a rebound from in tight off a shot from Rylan Sideroff. The home side skated into the first intermission with a 2-1 advantage.

The middle stanza saw each team trade plenty of chances as a total of 26 shots were fired on the goaltenders, but it was the Pirates who scored the equalizer with less than three minutes remaining in the period. The score after forty-minutes of action had the teams deadlocked at twos.

The third stanza was a roller coaster ride for both teams in terms of goals scored. The Flyers grabbed the lead not even a minute into the period as Brady Busche beat a screened Walton from the point with a high slap shot off a feed from Joey Massingham and Jake Ebner. Then at 5:21, Rick Cleaver took a Jeff Shipton pass in the neutral zone, skated down the left wing and ripped a shot under Walton’s blocker. That was followed by Jake Ebner finishing off a pretty passing sequence between Austin Braid, Brandon Millin and himself to put the Flyers up 5-2 with 13:26 left to play, as the home side had complete control of the game. However, the veteran Pirates slowly chipped away as they scored two goals within a two-minute span in the final ten minutes of play to cut the lead to 5-4. Then with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker they tied the game after a mad scramble in front of Travis McLean. Sixty minutes of play wasn’t enough to decide a winner in this crazy hockey game as overtime was required.

The visitors carried the momentum from the final ten minutes of the third period and scored the game-winner at 2:14 as McLean couldn’t find the loose puck in the crease and the Pirates forward tapped it into the empty cage for the 6-5 goal.

Cleaver and Ebner led the charge with two points each, while 11 players chipped in with at least a point.

“We weren’t ready to play tonight,” said head coach Andrew Leriger. “I could tell from the warm-ups that the team’s mood wasn’t right and we might be in for a long night. When we were up by three goals in the third period, guys were more focused on the sweep, then actually closing out the game. We need to come to play in Game 4 if we want to regain our two-game lead in the series.”

The Flyers lead the series 2-1.

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Game 4 is set for Saturday night in Falher. Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m.

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