The 2013 – 2014 NPHL season kicked off Saturday night at the Coca Cola Centre as the Grande Prairie Athletics hosted the visiting Fort St. John Flyers. A little bit of rust showed in the early moments but both teams eventually settled down and played another close contest as expected.
With an abundance of new faces in the lineup compared to last years roster the Athletics weren’t sure how things would click in the early going. Turns out it was better then expected as all four goals scored on the evening would come off the stick of those newcomers.
The first period seen a handful of chances by both clubs with both goaltenders standing tall in the early moments. It wasn’t until just after the midway point that the A’s would strike first when Blaine Bablitz would knock home a rebound behind Fort St. John starter Jared Andersen following a point shot from defensemen Dustin Gould.
Things opened up in the second period of play with both teams scoring two goals apiece. Fort St John rookie Robbie Sidhu would tie the game up on the powerplay at 15:34. The tie was short lived as just a few minutes later Nick Reilly finished a nice 2 on 1 with Paul Larocque. The A’s would score once more when Larocque would find the puck on his stick in the slot making no mistake to push the lead to 3 to 1. As the seconds winded down it looked as if the A’s would head into the dressing room with a 3 to 1 lead but Trevor Fitzgerald would score with 5 seconds left in the period to pull within one.
With four goals scored in the third period the A’s clamped down defensively and got the goaltending they needed from starter Dave Larson. At one point in the third it appeared as if the Flyers had tied the game on a strange goal but the referees called it off keeping the Athletics lead in tact. That would be all they needed though, with just under two minutes to go the Flyers would add the extra attacker and after a couple big shot blocks from the line of Bablitz, Boytinck, and Labbe the A’s would eventually add an empty netter off the stick of Boytinck to seal the win and gain that important two points.
8:55 – Grande Prairie #22 Blaine Bablitz from #5 Dustin Gould and #4 Tyrell Mason
15:34 – Fort St John #91 Robbie Sidhu from #41 Wes Reusse and #9 Trevor Fitzgerald
10:25 – Grande Prairie #55 Nick Reilly from #20 Paul Larocque and #12 Shane Mudryk
5:22 – Grande Prairie #20 Paul Larocque from #12 Shane Mudryk and #55 Nick Reilly
0:05 – Fort St John #9 Trevor Fitzgerald from #91 Robbie Sidhu and #27 Bryan Lewis
0:24 Grande Prairie #24 Adam Boytinck (en)
Shots on goal
Grande Prairie 28
Fort St John 23