Chris St-Pierre

For The Community Press

KAPUSKASING – Flyers fans were in for a wild ride last weekend as the GNML regular season came to an end. It was a battle of heavyweights at the Sports Palace as Kapuskasing squared off with the league leading and undefeated North Bay Major Midget Trappers.

The two-night series began Friday as both teams looked to end the season with a bang. North Bay quickly let loose in the first 13 seconds of the game as Gavin Brown took Carson Boutin by surprise. Justin Dauphinais followed a minute and a half later to make 2-0. Despite earning four powerplays in the opening frame, the Flyers couldn’t capitalize. At the end of the first, Trappers forward Noah Lagrandeur crashed the net and knocked Boutin to the ice. The second-year goalie didn’t take kindly to the hit and answered with a few shots of his own, loosing his helmet in the process.

When asked about his reaction to the incident, Boutin said “in the heat of the moment you don’t really think of anything. You’re just mad. If he hits your teammate, you want to go after him and protect yourself. Other than that, it was pure instinct.”

Nathaniel Lalonde would add a third goal to the board for North Bay 3:08 into the second period. The Flyers would finally reply thanks to an excellent play by a returning Patrick Gagnon. Shooting out of a cannon, the number 51 went end to end, accepting a pass from Ryan Maynard between the dots to bury it past NB goalie, Reece Proulx. This moment of hope wouldn’t last long, as league-leading scorer Zach Lefebvre would score his 45th goal of the season a few minutes later.

In the final seconds of the 2nd, Kobe Barrette broke away from the pack during a penalty kill and managed to undress the Trappers goalie to score, but his goal was waved off as the timer had already reached zero before the puck crossed the line. The Flyers’ centerman was fully committed to make the play happen.

“I started going down, it was like tunnel vision. I wanted to score a goal and I wasn’t worried about what was going on around me. I was actually gonna shoot the puck at first and then I saw how far out he (Proulx) was and then I thought ‘you know what, I’m just gonna deke and put the puck in the net’, “ explained Barrette.

During the last chapter of Friday’s game, Jack Stockfish sealed the deal to give NB the 5-1 victory. At first glance, Flyers head coach Glen Denney was hopeful that some weaknesses were found ahead of the following night.

“When we started finishing checks, it’s funny how the puck started bouncing around, they wanted no part of the physicality. It’s not about going out there to hit guys for the sake of hitting, it’s about being part of a hockey play and finishing a check, and when we did, strangely enough, we got a lot of opportunities. […] So for us, it really is about: what’s the chink in their armor, where’s the weak spot in what they have.”

Little would Denney know, the following game would be their worst performance of the season, simply from a scoresheet standpoint.

Saturday night, the Trappers would once again treat themselves to a litany of goals in the first period, scoring four unanswered goals in various situations such as 5v5, on the PP and shorthanded. Flyers goalie Josh Dubeault got the start but it was becoming apparent that things needed to turn around fast in the second chapter.

NB would open the following period with two more goals to make 6-0 before finally seeing a spark in the Flyers. Sam Vachon would score unassisted on the powerplay halfway through the game, but all hell broke loose after the celebration. Blane Boissonneault would get two minutes for roughing up Gavin Brown in the corner, which amounted to a pair of scraps. Kobe Barrette would go toe to toe with Robert Brisson while Vachon stood up to Cameron Pariseau. All four would be sent to the dressing room and subsequently suspended for fighting.

With emotions boiling over, the Flyers were unable to rebound with two of their top forwards now watching from the stands. Throughout the last half of the game, the North Bay Trappers would score another six unanswered goals to win 12-1, even though Carson Boutin took Dubeault’s place in the third period.

Following this crushing defeat, not a single member of the Flyers’ coaching staff would comment on their performance and understandably so. A lot of questions need to be answered before Kapuskasing jumps into playoff action. Boutin and Dubeault both recorded loses in what was a very difficult weekend.

As the regular season comes to an end, the Kapuskasing Flyers earn a first round bye due to their 2nd place finish. Since the playoff format remains unchanged from last season, they will face the winner of the first round pitting the Sault St. Marie Major Midget Thunderbirds against the New Liskeard Cubs.