UPDATE: NPHL Finals
The Spirit River Rangers are 60 minutes away from winning yet another North Peace Hockey League championship. Rangers defeated Grimshaw Huskies 6-3 at home last night taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the best of seven series.
Now the big question: Can the East division champions conjure the same magic to just sneak in one win and save their 2015-2016 season? Will a little pep talk after three straight losses and historically insurmountable odds get Grimshaw out of this big hole?
Rangers, who outshot their opponents 56-26, had a well balanced scoring effort from Ryan Trudeau, D’Lane Sather, Ryan Albrecht, Marco St. Pierre, Mike Lefley and Jordan Hack. C.J. Wass got the nod in goal for the winners who have peppered the Grimshaw net with over 100 shots in just two games. Take note that Mike – another member of the Lefley family scored. Carson Ewing and Bond Hawryluk scored for the Huskies.
According to assistant coach and GM Mel Vollman
“The Team played a strong game Tuesday. We had the territorial play and by puck possession we dominated - where we didn’t do as well as we would have liked is finishing our scoring chances. I have to credit the Grimshaw team and the Goaltender Szamata who played great and was the reason the game was closer than maybe it should have been. Grimshaw is a good Hockey club and will not lay over and die. It is their home rink and they have great fans! I expect Thursdays game to be a close affair, our expectations is for us to keep rolling four lines, make sure we finish our checks and capitalize on our chances when they present themselves. If we do that we should finish the series.”
Mel’s son Tyler is the head Coach this season.
The series returns to Grimshaw on Thursday. Suddenly, the Huskies are facing elimination, and if they don’t win Game 4 in front of nervous home town crowd, their season is over. Game on!
This is “down home” Canadian hockey at its best.
On Thursday night ½ the population of Grimshaw will be on the ice and the other half of the town will be in the stands and the noise when the hometown boys score will threaten to bring down the arena. Seriously, although Spirit River (1,025) has half the population of Grimshaw (2,515) it seems to have by far the stronger of the two teams but you can be sure that if the Huskies lose it will not be without a gallant effort to extend the series. After all - like the Spirit boys they are of tough pioneer stock. Grimshaw is named after a pioneer Doctor dating back to 1914 and was incorporated as a village in 1930. It is mile zero on the MacKenzie Highway system - gateway to the vast North West Territories and mineral rich Yellowknife, 1000 kms via road.
Spirit River had its beginnings in 1891 as a fur trading post and was incorporated as a village in 1916 – about the same time as Grimshaw. Both communities are surrounded by rich agricultural land and supported by mixed farming. By nature the residents of both communities reflect the tough, gentle and generous spirit of their pioneer ancestors but you would not know that by watching the highly competitive and boisterous players and crowd at a hockey game. One would think it is a life or death contest.
Check in on Friday to view the results for what threatens to be the last game of the season that brings together these two colourful northern communties.
The Rangers have decided not to participate in the Senior AA/A Provincials but Marty Tingstad will report on the upcoming Senior AAA Championship between the Bentley Generals and the Stoney Plain Eagles.