Chris St-Pierre

For The Community Press

KAPUSKASING – The Kapuskasing Flyers renewed pleasantries with their hometown crowd for the first time in two weeks as the GNML semi-finals took center stage last weekend. Sudbury’s Nickel Capital Wolves would be first to take a crack at the Flyers in post-season action in a two-game weekend at the Sports Palace.

Saturday’s game was a bad start to what would be a disappointing weekend. The Flyers would start off the first period with weights in their skates. Kap would let the Wolves bury two pucks past rookie goalie and minor midget callup Patrick Boivin in the first four minutes of the game. For the rest of the frame, the Flyers tried their best to impose their style of play. Sam Lambert landed a thunderous clean hit on a Sudbury player at their blue line yet earned two minutes in the box for head contact.

Signs of life were shown in the second chapter. They may have been a little unlucky, but the Flyers were hitting posts and missing wide open nets by mere inches. Unfortunately, it was those same signs that would cost them by being too aggressive in certain areas. Chris Innes and Cameron Walker would score two powerplay goals on the same four-minute penalty that sent Kapuskasing’s Alex Antoine to the box for spearing. Patrick Boivin would go one to make some fantastic saves in this period that kept the Flyers alive in a game that could have easily been dominated by five or six goals at that point.

Heading into the third period, Kapuskasing finally got their game plan to work. By crashing their forwards to the net in the first sixty seconds, Brendan Aubertin managed to score on the powerplay to give the Flyers their first playoff goal of the 18/19 calendar. Team captain Alex Lapointe would follow suit a few minutes later, scoring once again with the man advantage. The death of the Flyers that night would come at the hands of Zach Dubé, who got called for a tripping minor with two minutes left on the board. Nicholas Fought would score on the ensuing powerplay to secure the win for Sudbury, despite Kapuskasing pulling their goalie to mount a comeback in the very end. Flyer Alex Blais would add a meaningless goal with 22 seconds to go, ending game one with a final score of 5-3 for the visiting team.

When asked about the slow start to the game, Flyers captain Alex Lapointe said “we had to make sure they guys were ready and in their heads. It’s gotta be hockey and nothing else in there.” On a more positive note, he attributed the team waking up in the third to a few speeches from coaches Glen Denney and Michel Lachance-Grzela.

Lapointe was also very happy with the play of both newcomers, Alex Antoine and netminder Patrick Boivin. About their chemistry with the Flyers’ roster, the captain said “they both got along well with the guys. They didn’t talk much in the room, which is normal when you’re the new guy. On the ice, Antoine is very present. He takes up space like very few do. Boivin made some incredible saves tonight ofand I’m really proud of their first performances.”

Sunday afternoon, the Kapuskasing Flyers shot out of the gates with great energy. Alex Lapointe scored in the first minutes of the game, giving his team the lead for the first period. Not much else would happen in the first frame, but fans were in for a wild ride in the next one.

Flyers goalie Josh Dubeault would be beat for the first time that day twice in a row by Draper MacLean, scoring once at 5v5 and once on the powerplay. Dubeault was caught out of position on the first goal, as a bouncing puck ricocheted off the board behind him, hitting his back then entering the net. With Sudbury gaining the lead, the crowd cheered on the Flyers. Zach Dubé would steal a puck at the Wolves’ blue line to score unassisted on a breakaway. Another rookie, Jakob Beauvais, would go on to score three minutes later off an attempted clear by Alex Lapointe. Kapuskasing’s lead would be short lived since Jakob Fahey would go on to beat Dubeault on a two on one, making it 3-3 going into the third.

The Flyers would keep battling hard in the final chapter, but panic started to settle into it’s defensive core. As time went on, players started to play touch and go rather than take their time and move the puck as they usually would. A shell shocked blue line crew and some bad passing made for a less than successful powerplay. Young Zacharie Giroux would go on to use his dangerous shot to score a shorthanded game-winning goal from the right circle. Despite once again pulling the goalie, Kapuskasing was unable to tie it up. Game two would close with another win for the NC Wolves, this time 4-3.

After the first matchups of the series, Flyers head-coach Glen Denney wasn’t too pleased with what he saw and hopes to change a few things come this weekend.

“It just comes down to compete level and having everybody ready. The challenge for ourselves was playing against a team that just came out of playing a first round. It’s sad to say, we haven’t played a meaningful game since December. We sat there and we were locked up in second place. For me as a coach, I have to take a huge level of responsibility of not having these guys prepared.”

At the very least Kobe Barrette will return to the lineup this weekend after serving a two-game suspension. Now the Flyers must do the impossible by winning three straight matchups. As Kapuskasing faces elimination, game three will start at 7pm Saturday night in Sudbury.