The Flyers posted a 7-2 win in Grande Prairie on Thursday night.
Once again, it was the Flyers blue-liners leading the way offensively, with a continually improving defensive corps allowed plenty of time and space to strut its stuff.
Fort St. John arrived in Grande Prairie with 7 forwards and 8 defencemen, meaning Andrew Derton and Luke Middleton both played on a forward line with Adam Horst. Derton had played up front in the previous week’s game in Dawson Creek, and made the most of the opportunity, scoring twice in the first period, and once late in the game, for a 3 goal, 1 assist night. “I enjoy it, actually” Derton said after the game. “I played a good portion of the season last year in Holland as a forward.” Derton’s hat-trick helped tie him with Adam Horst for the team lead in scoring. “You get out there and get the legs moving, and work up a good sweat – it’s fun.”
The Flyers led 3-1 after the first period, 4-2 after the second, and 7-2 at the final buzzer. Other Fort St. John goals came from Arlo Hadland, David Alexander, Donny Lloyd, and Gerard Dicaire. It was Dicaire’s second game since returning to the Flyers lineup after a season off. The former AHL defenceman looked comfortable and poised with the puck all night, though he is naturally a little rusty. “He’s taking baby steps and trying to get back in it” said Flyers Coach Adam Brash of Dicaire. “Taking a year off when you’re a little older, and trying to get in shape is hard” he said, adding “he’s approaching it properly … he knows the game, and he doesn’t need me telling him what to do.”
Colin Lloyd also played his first game as a Flyer on Thursday night. The forward had played his junior hockey with Andrew Derton in Powell River, and joined a short-staffed Fort St. John squad earlier in the day. “He struggled tonight, but that’s his first game in a year or so” Brash said of Lloyd (no relation to Donny Lloyd). But, Brash admits Lloyd has a tall assignment trying to crack the Flyers roster moving ahead. “He’s got to come to the rink over the next couple of weeks and try to take away someone’s spot, essentially.”
Grande Prairie goals on Thursday were scored by Brennan Jones and Kelly McLeod, who converted a sensational feed from Jordan Bombier.
David Larson stopped 44 of 51 shots in the Grande Prairie goal, while Troy Hunt posted the win for the Flyers.
It was another chess-match of a game in Grande Prairie, with only 7 minor penalties served, and no fights. A few times during the game, the Athletics looked like they might try to force things physically, but tempers never boiled over. Coach Brash, who makes a point of badgering his players to keep their feet on the gas, and remain focused for 60 minutes, admits that can be difficult in such a game. He concedes the Athletics play a passive style, and says he sometimes wishes they would fight harder. “Secretly I do” he said, “we need that – we need a challenge. We need a team that comes to the rink and decides that they want to kick the crap out of Fort St. John, and they abuse us physically and take it to the net and score goals.”
Brash was satisfied with his team’s overall play on the night, considering his team arrived late, and short-benched. “We never came out with a whole bunch of energy, so there was nowhere to go but up.” But, Brash says he was happy to see his team get better as the game went on. Brash was also impressed with his team’s defence on Thursday, which allowed very few goal-scoring chances. “We stayed composed defensively, under pressure, and got the puck out as a unit.”
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Thursday’s game. [asset|aid=2237|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=54a344e2763cc169c1a68440508ba082-Flyers win 7-2 over the Grande Prairie Wheelers Dec 10_2_Pub.mp3]
The Flyers face the Athletics again next Friday night (Dec. 18th) at the North Peace Arena. They host Alberta’s Augustana College for a pair of exhibition games on January 2nd and 3rd.