The Grande Prairie Athletics advanced to the second round of the NPHL playoffs following a 4 to 3 win over the Dawson Creek Canucks on Tuesday night.
With the win the A’s made it four straight and swept the Canucks and while a sweep may indicate an edge towards one team it would be hard pressed to find anyone who could say it was an easy series for the eventual winners.
Last night showcased much of the same story we’ve seen all series as neither team could gain any type of significant advantage or momentum. The Canucks led after the first 2 to 1 before the A’s took the lead in the second scoring twice to make it 3 to 2. Dawson would tie it in the third only to see the Athletics score once more in the final 10 minutes to push ahead 4 to 3. That would be all they could get and all they would need.
Grande Prairie defeated Dawson 4 to 3, 2 to 1, 2 to 1 and 4 to 3 respectively. According to league statistician Chris Clegg it is the first time in the 61 year history of the NPHL that a series was that close but over that quickly. As another indication as to how close this series was, the only two goal lead in the series came way back in game one when Grande Prairie would hold a 3 to 0 lead before the Canucks would score 3 of their own to tie it.
The win puts Grande Prairie into the Western Final against their long time rival the Spirit River Rangers.
Spirit River is coming off a sweep as well as they defeated the second place Fort St. John Flyers and are looking like they don’t want to give up their title as champion quite yet.
Last season both clubs met in similar circumstances with Spirit River defeating Grande Prairie 4 games to 2 and eventually would go on to win the Campbell Cup.
Both teams will have some time to recover and regroup as it’s expected the next round will begin next Thursday.
Three of the four series in the opening round have concluded. In the West, as mentioned, both the Grande Prairie Athletics and Spirit River Rangers advanced following 4 to 0 series wins.
In the East the Manning Comets moved into the second round after sweeping the High Prairie Regals. The Comets now await the winner of the Grimshaw Huskies/ Falher Pirates series. Grimshaw opened up a 2 to 0 series lead but the Pirates have bounced back to even the series at 2. Games 5 (Thursday) and 6 (Saturday) go this week with a potential game 7 looming Tuesday the 25th.