Two games this past week/weekend and two more wins for the Grande Prairie Athletics. More importantly both wins came against the Spirit River Rangers…the defending Campbell Cup Champions and a team that should challenge for first in the West and once more prove to be a contender come playoff season.
With a win coming Thursday night 5 to 4 in overtime and another Saturday night 7 to 3 in Spirit River the Athletics now sit alone in first place in the NPHL with eight points and a perfect 4 and 0 record.
The 2012-2013 season saw a Jekyl and Hyde story of special teams. The A’s set a record on the PK but struggled to maintain any sort of consistency on the powerplay. While having been strong early on the penalty kill it’s been Grande Prairie’s powerplay that has started to click.
Spirit River outshot the Athletics by a 14 to 9 margin in the opening frame on Saturday night but the Athletics got off to a strong start thanks to two power play goals from Captain Kelly McLeod and rookie Adam Boytinck.
The second period wouldn’t start strong for the A’s as two goals in the span of 13 seconds would tie it at two just three minutes into the middle frame. Insult to injury Grande Prairie found themselves shorthanded just a few minutes later as Spirit looked poised to take the lead. The A’s penalty kill had other ideas.
Both Tanner Labbe and Adam Boytinck (his second) would score shorthanded 51 seconds apart to push Grande Prairie’s lead back to two goals. They wouldn’t look back.
Labbe and defensemen Matt Quigley would score on the powerplay to push the lead to 6 to 2 heading into the final twenty minutes. Both teams would add one more goal each in the third before the final horn sounded.
With the powerplay clicking at 33% and the penalty kill resuming from where it was last year at 92% the Athletics have been happy with their start on special teams. Still the club knows it’s early in the season and a lot of work is left to do.
That work will be put to the test this week as Grande Prairie will play two more games this week.
Thursday the Hythe Mustangs come to the Coca Cola Centre for an 8:30pm start and Saturday the A’s find themselves on their first road trip to Fort St. John.
GP – 14:42 #9 Kelly McLeod from #22 Blaine Bablitz & #67 Tanner Labbe (PP)
GP – 6:20 #24 Adam Boytinck from #22 Blaine Bablitz & #12 Shane Mudryk (PP)
SR – 17:26 #49 Colin Lefley from #11 Mike Lefley and #7 Faron Duthie
SR – 17:13 #49 Colin Lefley from #17 Alex Curran
GP – 14:22 #67 Tanner Labbe (SH)
GP – 13:31 #24 Adam Boytinck from #22 Blaine Bablitz (SH)
GP – 12:20 #67 Tanner Labbe from #22 Blaine Bablitz and #12 Shane Mudryk (PP)
GP – 9:24 #49 Matt Quigley from #9 Kelly McLeod and #11 Grant Rix (PP)
GP – 17:36 #21 Kevin Poston from #20 Paul Larocque
SR – 16:37 #11 Mike Lefley from #16 Mark Bradbin and #33 Dustin Sather