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A’s and Rangers Preview

Grande Prairie Athletics (8-1-0) 1st in West vs Spirit River Rangers (5-2-1) 2nd in West

It’s been nearly a month to the day since the Grande Prairie Athletics took 4 points from the Spirit River Rangers.

Grande Prairie hadn’t looked back in the month of November winning every game they played and jumping out to an impressive 7 and 0 record leading into the month of December. Faced with tumultuous weather conditions throughout November Grande Prairie was forced to cancel two of it’s games which found themselves in a rare Wednesday night matchup in Fort St. John to start the month of Decmeber. Unfortunately for the A’s this month didn’t start the way they had hoped as they finally dropped their first game of the regular season.

With little time to dwell on the first “L” Grande Prairie responded by squeezing out a win the following night at home to the Dawson Creek Canucks to help improve their record to 8 and 1.

Yet now, the A’s are once again tasked with a stiff challenge as they face off against another streaking team in one of the NPHL’s toughest places to play.

The Spirit River Rangers entered the NPHL season on somewhat of a rarity as they dropped three straight (one of those losses in OT). Since their final loss in Dawson Creek the Rangers have responded by winning five straight and jumping up to second place in the NPHL standings.

There is little doubt tonight’s game will be another entertaining one.

The Big Story:There isn’t much to say when it comes to a Spirit River and Grande Prairie game. Both teams don’t get along and despite the playoffs being 2 months away when it comes to trying to secure home ice advantage in the playoffs for either team it tends to come down to the regular seasons head to head matchups between both.

For Grande Prairie the big story may be the fact they find themselves entering their third game in four nights…which for most people familiar with the NPHL is a rarity when it comes to the regular season.

The A’s found themselves playing a makeup game Wednesday in Fort St. John (5 – 4 loss), Thursday night at home versus Dawson (6 – 4 win), Friday night off and Saturday in Spirit River.

Spirit River on the other hand has had just one game on tap this past week but it was a lenghty one. The Rangers found themselves in Fort St. John last night with the game going to overtime and a shootout. A late game and road conditions more then likely had Spirit return home late.

Fatigue for both teams being a factor will remain to be seen.

Team Scope:Tis the season! The Christmas season that is. With team lineups always in a blender because of current Christmas holidays, work hours and of course horrible weather it’s unsure of what kind of lineup either team will field. It’s best to bet however with this being an important game both clubs will be icing the best lineup possible.

Andrew Buote, Adam Boytinck and Blaine Bablitz continue to lead the way for the A’s offensively. Returning forward Morgan McLean has returned to the lineup and chipped in offensively adding to an already deep A’s forward core.

Outlook:Grande Prairie currently holds a 5 point lead over the Rangers with one more game played. With three games left to play every game gets that much bigger between both clubs. For the A’s a win tonight could be the difference between separating themselves by 5 points or just 1.

Previous Matchups:
Thursday November 7th: Spirit River 4 at Grande Prairie 5 (OT)
Saturday November 9th: Grande Prairie 7 at Spirit River 3

Gameday:If you feel brave enough to endure the weather and roads make your way to the Spirit River Arena and join us as the A’s take on the Spirit River Rangers. Feel free to join us on Twitter (twitter.com/GPAthletics) for intermission updates. Game time is set for 8:30pm.

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