The Grande Prairie Athletics may be sipping champagne from the Campbell Cup on Thursday night.
The A’s stole home ice advantage away from the Dawson Creek Canucks with a 4-1 win in the BC city Tuesday night, giving them a chance to clinch the NPHL title on home ice Thursday.
Sam Boseck’s third period goal at 4:40 proved to be the game-winner and goaltender Kiefer Smiley stopped 36 of 37 shots to lead GP to the win.
Morgan MacLean’s first period goal was all the scoring in the first two periods.
After Boseck made it 2-0, DC crawled back into the game with Matt Schmermund’s goal.
However, Mackenzie Caron restored the two-goal lead with an unassisted effort with 5:30 remaining. Dennis Rix’s goal with 22 seconds left into an empty net sealed the win, and gave Rix the lead in playoff scoring with 21 points.
GP can wrap up its second NPHL title at home Thursday. GP won its only title in 2009-10.
DC is trying to win its third NPHL title, having won back-to-back titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Game 7, if necessary, is back in DC Saturday night.
History not on DC’s side in Game 6
NPHL.com research reveals that GP is the 19th team in NPHL history with the chance to clinch the NPHL title on home ice in Game 6.
In the previous 18 games, the home team is 13-5.
However, if DC is able to win, history suggests the advantage shifts back to DC. If the road team wins Game 6, they have won four of five Game 7 deciding games on home ice. The only team to win on the road was the Falher Pirates in 2011-12 in Grande Prairie.
DC has faced elimination in Game 6 only three times in their team history. DC lost 3-0 at Spirit River in 2000. They then defeated GP 7-4 at home in 2010, and lost at home in 2011-12 to SR 5-4 in overtime.
GP has also only had two chances to clinch a series in six games in their history. GP won 5-2 at Peace River in 2006 and lost 7-4 at DC in 2010.
Incredibly, this is the first time GP has had a chance to clinch a playoff series in six games at home.
Athletics 4 at Canucks 1
Tuesday, March 19
[Athletics lead series tied 3-2]
1. GP, Morgan MacLean 9 (Sheldon Hubbard, Alex Curran) 16:33
Penalties: Sheldon Hubbard GP (kneeing) 7:40, Ryan Friesen DC (high-stickign) 10:40, Colin Mathieson DC (boarding) 17:45.
Penalties: Parker Sharp GP (interference) 8:42, Kelvin Neustaeter GP (hooking) 16:03, Matt Schmermund DC (slashing) 17:51, Evan Weaver DC (kneeing) 18:18.
2. GP, Sam Boseck 1 (Parker Sharp) 4:40
3. DC, Matt Schmermund 2 (John Wayne Howes, Dolan Bjornson) 8:32
4. GP, Mackenzie Caron 7 (unassisted) 14:30
5. GP, Dennis Rix 7 (Morgan MacLean) 19:38 (en)
Penalty: John Wayne Howes DC (slashing) 15:29.
Shots on goal:
Grande Prairie 18 13 13 -44
Dawson Creek 12 16 9 -37
Goaltenders: Athletics, Kiefer Smiley; Canucks, Kenton White.
Power Plays: GP 0-5; DC 0-3.
PIM: GP 6; DC 10.