Noble out – Stevens in

The Senior Flyers have confirmed defenceman Kip Noble’s injuries are significant, and will keep him out for the rest of the NPHL playoffs.

Noble took a big hit from Spirit River’s Mike Lefley, in the dying seconds of the third period, of Saturday night’s game four. The game went into overtime, where it was won by the Flyers (Jeff Shipton with the winner), giving Fort St. John a 3-1 series lead.

The hit happened when the Rangers dumped the puck out of their zone, after tying the game up 3-3. Noble raced back to retrieve the puck, after icing was waved off by the officials.  He was hit into the end-boards, and lay on the ice for several minutes before skating off on his own steam.

He was taken to hospital, where he remains, as of Monday morning, according to GM Rob Larson.

Noble is suffering from a seperated shoulder, a broken rib, and a collapsed lung.

Postings on the Peace River Stampeders message board suggest Mike Lefley has called Noble in hospital to apologize for the hit.

If he is unable to return to the team this year, the loss would be a big blow to the Flyers team hoping to qualify for the 2009 Allan Cup. Noble’s second year with Fort St. John earned him his third NPHL MVP award, as well as his seventh ‘best defenceman’ honour, and his seventh first-team all-star selection.

While he admits it hurts the Flyers in the Campbell Cup playoffs, coach Adam Brash remains optimistic. "He’s out for the playoffs, but Kip could still return for the MacKenzie Cup, which doesn’t start until April." Brash says the MacKenzie Cup, and possible birth in the Allan Cup is the team’s focus this year, and at this point, Noble remains part of that plan.

Brash says there’s also more good news for the Flyers, who have signed former pro Rod Stevens. Stevens, a Fort St. John native, has played various levels of hockey, including in the AHL (Syracuse), and various pro leagues in Europe. In 1993-94, he scored 109 points (51+58) for the Memorial Cup-winning Kamloops Blazers (WHL) team that included Jarome Iginla, Darcy Tucker, Shane Doan, Rod Branch, and more. Stevens has been signed to the Flyers, though, because he signed after the January 10th deadline, he is ineligible for the NPHL playoffs.

Instead, he, along with affiliate players Mike Hofstrand and Greg Lakovic, will join the team for the MacKenzie Cup (and the Allan Cup if they qualify) in April.

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