Flyers Defeat Royals in Playoff Preview

Updated: January 25, 2014
Western Royals | Newfoundland Hockey Talk

After taking it on the chin the last few weekends in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, the Gander Flyers dug deep on Friday night, defeating the Western Royals by a score of 4-2 at the Hodder Memorial Stadium in Deer Lake.

The last few weekends have not been kind to the Flyers.  They took a pounding and were massively outscored by their opponents.  However, they managed to salvage their dignity, showing the heart that this organization has by winning in a shoot-out last weekend against the second place Clarenville Caribous.  When the rolled into the Hodder this weekend, it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen.

Missing some of their key players such as Campbell, Van Hoof and Flynn, the Flyers brought only 14 skaters to the game on Friday.  Talking to those at the arena, it looked like it was going to be a Royals cake-walk but the purple and gold kept their heads in the game.

The Flyers Chad Locke opened the scoring at 15:51 of the opening period on a goal that was assisted by Rob Mignardi and Steve Brazil.  Struggling at times to get the puck out of their own end in the first, the Flyers took three penalties and with a short bench, it meant extra work for their penalty kill and this set the early tone to the game.  The Flyers players showed true grit, putting their bodies in the shooting lane and blocking shot after shot.  Despite the Royals best effort, outshooting the Flyers 18-8 in the first period, the Gander squad took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

Starting the second period, the Gander team again struck early, capitalizing on a power play when Chad Locke scored his second of the night assisted by Steve Brazil and Brad Slaney, making the score 2-0.
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  The Royals veteran Mark Robinson scored shortly after closing the gap to just a single goal, making it 2-1.  The Flyers team would not give up, scoring again on the power play on a goal by Sean Wadden, assisted by Steve Pearson and Matt Squires.  The goal would ultimately end up being the game winner.

Despite taking another three penalties in the second frame, the Flyers held their own and were only outshot 13-10 in the period.  Spectators at the game indicated that it appeared that every second shot directed at the Flyers net was either blocked or stopped by the Flyers’ goalie, Patrick O’Brien.

The third period was all Western Royals as they outshot the Gander team by a 26-3 margin.  However, the distinct difference was between the pipes as O’Brien continually stonewalled the hometown team, making save after save.
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  It was obvious throughout the third period that the Gander team was feeling the effects of the short bench, especially when they were bottled up inside their own end.

Thins look bleak when Darren Langdon scored on the power play to make it 3-2.  With the Royals pressing, the Gander players kept their heads and despite taking four penalties in the frame, hung in there until Sean Wadden scored on the power play to add a cushion to the score, making it 4-2.

The big difference at the game was between the pipes and special units.  The Gander Flyers goaltender stopped 55 of the 57 shots he faced.   The Gander power play unit was firing on all cylinders, going 3 for 3 on the power play, while the team’s penalty killers kept the Western Royals to 1 for 9 on the power play.

With this likely being a preview of the upcoming playoff matchup in the eastern division of the NLSHL, the fans are definitely in for a treat and the Western Royals may find themselves with an opponent hungry for victory.

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