Bring on the hated Huskies!

Pat Rowan scores a third period goal at Falher on Jan. 25 as the Falher Pirates clinched first place over the High Prairie Regals with a 5-2 win. Sprawling to attempt the save is goaltender Kent Ryan. At the far left are Falher’s Craig Anderson, who drew an assist on the goal, and Regals’ defenceman Damian Cardinal. The Regals lost three straight to end the regular season last week.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Enough of that nonsense! Let the playoffs begin!

No team will be more pleased to start the playoffs than the High Prairie Regals, who limp into the postseason after three losses in three nights Jan. 25-27.

The Regals began play last week with a faint hope of placing first in the NPHL’s East Division, but the hometown Falher Pirates took care of business winning 5-2. As it turned out, had the Regals swept, they would have placed first.

The next night, the Manning Comets rested star goaltender Braden Gamble and played a forward in net. Although he did play some goal in minor hockey, Mason Blais was outstanding stopping 50 of 54 shots as the Comets defeated the Regals 7-4.

The Regals ended the regular season Jan. 27 at home against the Grande Prairie Athletics. The gassed Regals lost 9-7 despite leading 5-2 after one period.

The playoffs begin tonight (Jan. 30) at the Sports Palace when the Grimshaw Huskies come calling to start a best-of-seven East Division Semi-Final series.

It is not hard to know what the club needs to address to be successful. TO make any playoff run, they have to shore up the league’s worst defensive record.

“We have to be responsible,” says coach Jim McLean. “Everyone has to do their job and play the position.”

It means supporting each other in defensive zone coverage and hustling back in the zone to help the defence.

No team has even won the league title with the worst defensive record.

On the positive side, the Regals have a roster loaded with experience and firepower. Each team scored 101 goals this season but the Regals should be able to outgun the Huskies.

However, McLean cites caution noting the Huskies do have the third, fourth and fifth leading scorers in the league this season in Bond Hawryluk, Ty Wiebe, and Corson Fairless, plus former league scoring champ Brendan Hawryluk.

“They are an explosive club, too,” says McLean.

To keep the Huskies in check, the Regals will have to play smart and keep defensive breakdowns to a minimum.

Discipline and special teams may also be a factor. The Huskies had the league’s best power play unit at 30.39 per cent while the Regals penalty killing was a league worst 73.15 per cent.

The Regals host the first and third games of the series Jan. 30 and Feb. 3 at 8:30 p.m. at the Sports Palace.

 

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