Fort St. John Flyers stamped out a strong 7-3 victory over Whitehorse Huskies in the Coy Cup semi-final last night, earning them a spot in the finals against Terrace River Kings tonight at 7 p.m.
It will be a tight re-match for the two final teams, who tied 3-3 in their round robin game in this year’s tournament and who went head to head in the finals last year, with Fort St. John edging the River Kings out of the 2015 Coy Cup.
The atmosphere of last night’s semi-final game was much different than the intensity that was expected after the close, hard battle both teams fought in their round robin game on Thursday.
Whitehorse Huskies came out strong, scoring an early goal less than a minute into the first period. Huskies’ Evan Campbell and Kane Dawe came down the centre together, and Dawe fired a shot off the crossbar and in.
But the Flyers tied up the game 1-1 three minutes later, with a goal by Rick Cleaver.
Both teams played an even, strong back and forth game in the first period, until Huskies took a penalty and Jeff Shipton scored to earn the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Two minutes into the second period, Huskies got a power play and went on an offensive push, moving the puck around the attacking zone, and even bouncing a shot off the crossbar.
Finally, Kevin Petovello got the puck off a rebound and shot it in from the left side, tying the game 2-2.
The fight continued back and forth for five minutes, until the Flyers got two back to back goals. The first was scored by Brady Busche, and the second was a slapshot from the left side by Josh Bruha, which landed top corner.
The second period ended with the Flyers up 4-2, and that was when the game started to turn.
Flyers scored again one minute into the third. Bruha shot the puck from the left side and Adam Horst rebounded and scored.
The Huskies managed a power play goal eight minutes later, making the game 5-3 and earning a bit of a second wind, but they could not manage to score.
Flyers slammed out two more goals in the last five minutes of the game, nailing down their victory to a final 7-3.
The player of the game went to Rick Cleaver from the Flyers.
Flyers coach Andrew Leriger said he was happy with the game.
“Whitehorse is a good team, we knew they were a good team, they’re very skilled but they don’t have a lot of games under their belt,” he said.
“When we play four games in four nights [here in the Coy Cup], it is to our advantage, as we’ve played over 30-some games this year verses only nine.… We’re prepared for that. We had to do it last year, we won five games in a row and this year we’ve got to do it again,” he said.
Looking forward to the final, Leriger said the Flyers will have to match the energy of the River Kings who had a rest thanks to their round robin bye.
“They’re a great team,” said Leriger of the River Kings. “This will be the fourth time we have played them in the last two years. We’re starting to know each other, and we know what we have to do.
“We’re prepared,” he said.
The Coy Cup final starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the Sportsplex, where Terrace River Kings will face Fort St. John Flyers for the second year in a row for the provincial senior men’s AA championship.