As 2013 came to a close life seemed great for the Grande Prairie Athletics. The first half of the season was exactly how it was drawn up. Undefeated in the opening month of the season Grande Prairie never suffered their first loss until a December 4th makeup game in Fort St. John. Despite the loss December continued much like November. Winning. As they paced themselves to a 12 and 1 record that was good enough for first in the West and first in the NPHL the A’s would enter the Christmas break in control of their division.
Since the New Years has arrived the A’s have found themselves simply put in a slump. Three games in the opening week of the second half saw the A’s lose three times in the process dropping them from first to second in the competitive West Division.
The hardest part, losing all three games to divisional rivals (Fort St. John, Spirit River & Dawson Creek).
A comfortable lead in the standings has almost all but dissipated for the A’s as they now find themselves in “must-win” situations moving forward if they expect to retain home ice advantage in the playoffs.
The good news for Grande Prairie is they control their own destiny. Trailing Fort St. John by three points they have the added luxury of three games in hand on the Flyers and one game in hand on the third place Spirit River Rangers.
Despite the good news of games in hand if the Athletics don’t find a way out of their losing ways in 2014 it won’t matter regardless.
Grande Prairie Athletics (12-4-0) 2nd in West vs Hythe Mustangs (4-11-0) 5th in West
With questions and concerns mounting Grande Prairie will have a chance to put some doubt to rest when they travel to Hythe tonight to take on the fifth place Hythe Mustangs. Grande Prairie hasn’t seen a three game losing streak in some time dating back the 2010-2011 playoff campaign.
This will be the first trip for the A’s to Hythe and Grande Prairie won’t expect an easy game.
Hythe is coming off an emotional 7 to 5 win over the Grimshaw Huskies and a win tonight over Grande Prairie would be a huge boost as they cling to the hope of obtaining a playoff spot. The Mustangs currently sit ten points back of the fourth place Dawson Creek Canucks and will need some help along the way combined with some wins over higher seeded opponents if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
A win tonight over the visiting Athletics could just be the turning point.
Join us tonight in Hythe for NPHL action beginning at 8:30pm. If you can’t make it follow us on Twitter (@GPAthletics) for the latest game updates.