Pirates lose Battle of Beetown finale

Spirit River Rangers’ captain Rylan Yaremko hoists the Campbell Cup after their Game 7 win over the Falher Pirates.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It was not the history the Falher Pirates were hoping to make!

The visiting Spirit River Rangers won the seventh and deciding game of the NPHL Final 3-2 March 26 to win their 12th NPHL title.

In doing so, the Pirates became the first team in the 71-year history of the league to lose back-to-back Game 7s in consecutive years. They also failed to win their fourth title in an incredibly hard-fought and physical series.

Despite the disappointment, head coach Dan Aubin was proud of the team which fought against the much bigger Rangers team who slugged back at every opportunity and did not back down.

“We have a room full of warriors that pushed back when called upon, they were never intimidated and drove most of the play in this series,” says Aubin.

He remains optimistic for the future believing better days are ahead for the club.

“The team grew again through this process and I truly feel that we were the better team,” he says.

“Our guys played their hearts out all playoffs long. The core of this team is relatively young and they have a lot of great hockey ahead of them.

“We’ll be back of that I’m sure.”

Mike Lefley scored twice and was named playoff MVP, but it was Jace Weegar’s goal with 5:57 left that proved to be the difference.

Darren Kramer’s goal in the first period tied the game 1-1 after Lefley opened the scoring.

After a scoreless second period, Joseph Sylvain’s power play goal gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

However, Lefley’s power play goal tied the game before Weegar’s winner.

The Rangers outshot the Pirates 45-44 in the game.

Not making excuses, but the flu bug hit the team at the worst possible time.

“We had a couple guys with the flu doing what ever they could to stay in the game,” says Aubin.

“We had IV bags going in the room and tried to use everything at our disposal to get the guys ready for game time.”

Number one goaltender Ryan Noble tried to play, but left the game with 3:02 in the first period.

“Noble was a warrior, tried battling through it but couldn’t finish the first period,” says Aubin.

Key replaced Noble and held the fort despite difficult circumstances.

“The team had confidence in him,” says Aubin.

“Chris has played well all year, in particular at the end of the year when Noble was hurt and we were chasing home ice advantage.”

Key was told to be ready to play given Noble’s illness.

“Chris was notified on the previous day that he may be playing and came prepared to play if called upon,” says Aubin.

“It’s not easy coming into a Game 7 in the finals when you haven’t played in close to two months. He really stepped up and he certainly gave us a chance to win the game,” says Noble.

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