FAIRVIEW — With just ten days left until the end of the NWJHL regular season, the North Peace Navigators and Fairview Flyers are set to go head-to-head for the eighth and final time this season.
The Navs enter tonight’s game looking to rebound from four straight losses, with their most recent defeat coming at the hands of the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings on Saturday night. Despite their last victory coming back on January 20th against Dawson Creek, the Navs still currently sit comfortably in third place in the NWJHL standings, but will need to put together a strong effort down the stretch in order to hold of the JDA Kings.
The County of GP is currently just three points behind the Navs for third, and still have a game in hand. In order for the Navs to control their own playoff destiny, they’ll need to split their last four games and hope for the JDA Kings to drop at least two of their last five games overall.
For the Navs Levi Pichette has been hot, registering four points over the last two games, while Calvin Sanders and Robert Lemay have also been on a hot streak for North Peace. Lemay, who’s ranked sixth in league scoring, has racked up six points in the last five games while Sanders has put up seven points including six apples.
Navs’ goalie Ryan Noble has seen the majority of the goaltending duties for North Peace this season, with Noble currently ranked first in the NWJHL in goals against average (2.83), save percentage (.919), and he’s tied for first in wins with Dawson Creek goaltender Matthew Ens. Noble will need to continue to be the backbone for North Peace if the Navs hope to do any damage this post-season.
As for Fairview, any hopes of home ice advantage in the playoffs have been all but dashed. The Flyers 12-18 record this season has them just five points up on last place Sexsmith, and trailing the JDA County Kings by five points with only three games left on the Flyers’ schedule. Despite sitting second to last in the league Fairview has played some of it’s best hockey of the year as of late, winning three of their last four games including a 4-3 shootout victory over the second place Huskies on Saturday.
For the Flyers, Tyler Wirth is on a hot-streak with four goals in his last four games, while Fairview’s leading scorer Logan Mazerolle has been cold with no points in his last four outings. Flyers’ goaltender Alex Sawchuk stopped 42 of 45 shots during Fairview’s last victory on Saturday night, including six shots in overtime, and all 3 shootout shooters. Sawchuck has been a work horse for the Flyers this season, leading the league in games played (30) and minutes played (1748).
The two teams have a storied history, as Fairview and North Peace appeared in three straight league finals between 2014 and 2017, with their most recent post-season encounter seeing the Flyers defeat North Peace for the 2017 NWJHL championship after a hard-fought six game series. This year the Navs currently hold a 4-3 edge in their regular season series with Fairview, despite being outscored 25-20 by the Flyers over the seven games so far.
Tonight’s game gets underway in Fairview at 8:00pm.
–Alex Rodgerson, Trending 55