Grande Prairie Athletics forwards Tanner Labbe (#33) and Lyndin Lewis (#14) in action during North Peace Hockey League playoff play versus the Falher Pirates on Saturday night. The A’s are in Falher for Game 3 on Tuesday night. The Pirates picked up a 5-2 win on Saturday night to even the series at 1-1. Game 4 is Thursday at the Coca-Cola Centre. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m.
Gordon ANderson / Daily Herald Tribune
Long after the game had ended—and the animosity from a vicious game had a chance to subside—there was plenty of verbal taunting going on behind the black curtain separating the two teams at the Coca-Cola Centre.The Falher Pirates were likely feeling energetic, savouring the win as they were the only ones casting verbal bait. Meanwhile, there was nothing but silence from the Grande Prairie Athletics dressing room.While the relationship between the two is only circumstantial at best, the Pirates seemed to go quiet just after the four post-game pizzas were delivered.The visiting Pirates picked up a 5-2 win over home town Athletics in Game 2 of the North Peace Hockey League semifinal on Saturday night.“The battle [from us] wasn’t there [on Saturday],” Athletics forward Tanner Labbe said. “We didn’t compete hard enough and we didn’t deserve to win. The outcome showed on the ice. We had too many passengers. We weren’t ready to play.”For large portions of the first period, and for spells of the second period, the A’s were in a ‘devil may care’ mode on offence, creating a number of quality of chances with their team speed and penchant for slick passing. But the appealing quality in their game ended as soon as they started taking too many trips to the sin bin.The A’s penalty kill was spotless on Saturday but they racked up too many minutes that would have otherwise been best spent playing even strength, something this team excels at.In Game 1, the A’s tallied six minors in the first 40 minutes and totalled up seven penalties in the third period alone. Saturday night wasn’t much better as the green and black went to the box eight times.That’s four minutes short of an entire period spent defending and that’s too much, hinted the forward.“Every time you get a penalty you don’t have any momentum going into the next period or in to the next shift,” Labbe said. “It showed on Saturday night with our discipline. We have to stay out of the box, play five on five, because that’s when we’re at our best.”The home side entered the third period trailing 3-2 and the promise of come back was well within the range of hope but the Pirates shut it down and scored the only two goals.Dakota Mason scored on a partial breakaway with less than five minutes left and the other goal came from Trevor Mazurek, the empty-net variety with 74 seconds left in the game.Labbe didn’t think the club created enough high-quality chances to threaten the Pirates when the game was well within reach.“We were chasing the puck all night from start to finish,” Labbe said. “We didn’t play hard enough. We were chasing the puck instead of taking the play to them, especially when we were down by a goal. That can’t happen again.”The scene now switches back to Falher for Game 3 and Labbe knows the series has a solid hate-on after 120 minutes of play.“It’s heated out there,” Labbe said. “I think that’s the game they want to play but we have to play our game and not worry about that anymore. It’s a five-game series now and we’ll be ready to play on Tuesday, I’m sure of it.”Game 3 is set for Tuesday night in Falher and Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday night at the Coca-Cola Centre. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. The A’s opened up the series with a 6-5 win last Thursday night.Apparently, if the A’s want to bring the series back to town with a lead, it’s time for them to bring the body back into their game.“In Game 1 we were the more physical team and took a lot more of the play to them as opposed to Saturday, where we just weren’t ready to play, to be honest,” Labbe said.Mackenzie Caron and Morgan Maclean scored for the Athletics. Kiefer Smiley took the loss, stopping 26 shots.