In an exciting back-and-forth game that saw multiple lead changes, it was the Athletics that struck first. Grande Prairie’s Shane Mudryk scored the lone goal of the first period, providing a 1-0 lead for Grande Prairie entering the second.
Flyers head coach Darrel Leahy must have stressed offense in the first intermission, as the Flyers scored three times in the second.
Dave Burke, a newcomer for the Flyers, was using his legs well in Saturday’s game. Number 25 was flying all over the ice and got the ball rolling for Fort St. John’s offense by scoring their first goal at the 7:51 marker, with assists going to Paul Wiens and Todd Alexander.
That goal must not have satisfied the Flyers, who scored another roughly 30 seconds later. Todd Alexander scored the go-ahead goal for the Flyers, with assists going to Burke and Mitch Kerr.
Still in the second, The Flyers would further add to their lead by scoring their third goal of the frame. The Flyers worked hard along the boards while in the Athletics’ zone, eventually getting the puck to rookie Cody Kalb in the slot. Kalb, a former Fort St. John Husky, got the puck in the slot using his big body to shield it from Grande Prairie defenders, eventually snapping the puck low to beat Athletics’ goalie Dave Larson. The goal made the score 3-1 for Fort St. John.
However, the period would include a bit more drama, as the Athletics scored with only 59 seconds left in the frame to enter the third down by a single goal. A turnover caused by a mid ice saucer pass, led to a quick counter attack by the Athletics, who moved the puck quickly and efficiently, creating a one-timer chance that would beat Troy Hunt.
The third period showcased the talents of both net minders, who were tested often in the final frame of the game.
The Flyers showed some strong defense in the third, as well as some excellent penalty killing, to maintain the one goal lead. Unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t last, as Grande Prairie tied the game at 3-3, 12:23 into the third period.
Grande Prairie’s Jake Goldsmith received a pass entering the Flyers zone with speed, ripping a low snap shot from the left face-off circle, beating Hunt for the game-tying-goal.
As the third progressed, so did the physicality, as both teams refused to shy away from the rough stuff, with bodies flying everywhere. One player in particular, Flyer’s Forward Matt Shuya, was among the game’s top hitters, as it seemed the big bodied forward would lay a hit at any opportunity he could.
With the game still tied at 3-3, Flyers forward Dave Burke was sprung on a breakaway, as he was the recipient of an ally-oop pass, which sailed over all ten players on the ice. Burke used his speed to receive the floating pass and was sprung on a breakaway with the game-winning-goal on his stick. Unfortunately, Burke shot the puck high and wide, and the game would eventually need to be solved in overtime.
Overtime would not prove friendly to Fort St. John. Only 1:47 into the extra frame, Grande Prairie set up the cycle in the Flyers zone and Brock Clement would beat Hunt from the right goal line with a low shot.
The loss was the third straight for Fort St. John, who has yet to win a game this season.
Following the game, Fort St. John head coach Darrel Leahy said he was impressed with the effort his team put forward and thought they played a hard fought game. He discussed how a few defensive mistakes seemed to be the determining factor, and that the team still needs to improve on their first outlet pass, which needs to be more consistent.
Leahy also made mention of the Flyer’s short bench, saying it’s tough, especially with a new team to continuously be undermanned.
Despite the loss, credit must be given to Fort St. John goaltender Troy Hunt, who for the second game in a row looked solid at the North Peace Arena. Hunt faced 47 shots Saturday evening, while Fort St. John registered 35 shots.
Flyer’s assistant captain Todd Alexander also spoke about Saturday’s game, saying his team “needs to tighten up through the neutral zone”
He also spoke about facing defensemen and former team-mate Donny Lloyd, who played for the Flyers last year. When asked what it was like to play against the former Fort St. John blue liner, Alexander jokingly responded “it’s easy, I know where he is going to be and what he is going to do.”
The Flyers will next take their 0-3 record on the road, when they travel to Spirit River on Thursday, Dec. 8. They will be back home Saturday, Dec.10 to play Dawson Creek, which will be the Flyers annual Teddy Bear Toss.