NPHL Semi Finals
February 12, 2016 NPHL
By Marty Tingstad
The fans will get there a little earlier, the grill and coffee pot will be turned on a little sooner, and the tape will be wound a little tighter. The NPHL semi-finals are set to begin.
The marquee matchup should be the Spirit River Rangers playing the Falher Pirates. Perhaps their Jan 21st game provides us with a preview of what is to be expected when there were 172 minutes in penalties, including several fighting majors. The physical play can be expected to continue when the puck is dropped Saturday night in Spirit River. Both teams have better than average goaltending and are well coached. While the Pirates might have the edge in overall team speed, look for the Ranger’s combination of team toughness and a slightly better defense core (Spirit River allowed the fewest goals against this season but Falher allowed the second fewest) to take this series. The Rangers also have Alex Curran, the player voted in as the league’s best defenseman manning their blue line. Look for a Sprit River victory, likely in 6 games.
Also on Saturday night, the Grimshaw Huskies will be hosting the Ft St John Flyers. Perhaps the most remarkable fact from this series is that Grimshaw went from going winless all of last season to finishing first in the East Division this season. As a result of this, Huskies Coach Sheldon Szamata is this season’s Coach of the Year. Of course it does not hurt when you have the league’s leading scorer and unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, Tyrin Wiebe (24 goals and 33 assists), on your team. The Huskies are young and they are quick. They led the league in goals scored and have decent goaltending. However, there is plenty of hardware in the other dressing room as well. The Flyers have league MVP Rick Cleaver who scored 19 goals with 20 assists in 20 games played. They also have West Division All Star Goaltender Troy Hunt between the pipes. The Flyers are big and they are physical. Look for the “a good defense usually outlasts a good offence” adage to hold true in this series as well. I would predict a Flyer’s series victory in 5 games.
Chris Clegg is the NPHL Statistician and does an amazing job keeping track of every kind of record in this league.
NPHL Semi-Final Schedule
Chris Clegg, NPHL Statistician
Falher Pirates vs Spirit River Rangers (Best-of-Seven)
Sat. Feb. 13 Falher at Spirit River
Tue. Feb. 16 Spirit River at Falher
Thu. Feb. 18 Falher at Spirit River
Sat. Feb. 20 Spirit River at Falher
*Tue. Feb. 23 Falher at Spirit River
*Thu. Feb. 25 Spirit River at Falher
*Sat. Feb. 27 Falher at Spirit River
(*) if necessary
Fort St. John Flyers vs Grimshaw Huskies (Best-of-Seven)
Sat. Feb. 13 Fort St. John at Grimshaw
Tue. Feb. 16 Grimshaw at Fort St. John
Thu. Feb. 18 Fort St. John at Grimshaw
Sat. Feb. 20 Grimshaw at Fort St. John
*Tue. Feb. 23 Fort St. John at Grimshaw
*Thu. Feb. 25 Grimshaw at Fort St. John
*Sat. Feb. 27 Fort St. John at Grimshaw
(*) if necessary
Note by Stan Neufeld
This GP Hockey Legends Blog is a further extension of the GP Hockey Legends Web site. In terms of subject matter the blog is intended to deal with a wide variety of hockey related events – social, political, economic etc. Our first “blogger” is Marty Tingstad: a member of the GP Legends of Hockey Committee. He has an extensive and distinguished record as a referee. In 2014 he was selected “Official of the Year” at the Northwest Alberta Sport Excellence Awards. In 2010 he was awarded the “Ernie Boruk Award” by Hockey Alberta. He is past Zone Chairman of the Peace Zone Referees and Past President of Grande Prairie Referee Association. He is in his 33rd year as an active referee. Imagine the stories he could tell.