By Matt Robinson/Valencia Flyers Junior A Hockey 2/9/2014 1400 EST
For the second season in a row the Flyers went up to Fresno and took it to the Monsters, narrowly missing sweeping them again, proving to anyone that they are as dangerous as can be with the playoffs rapidly approaching.
The Friday night game started out with a quick pace and Fresno jumping out the first lead of the weekend. The Flyers though would battle back and score two goals late in the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
Blake Aguilar got the scoring started for the Flyers after Wil Barnett sprung him on a breakaway, allowing him to beat the Fresno goaltender on a wrist shot to even the game at 1-1.
Austin Ehrlich then continued his strong play against Fresno, giving the Flyers the 2-1 lead by sniffing out a loose puck and punching it home for his 8th goal and 21st point against the Monsters in his career.
The score would remain that way until the third period when Fresno would find a way to even the game at 2-2 and send the contest into overtime.
The Flyers would not miss out on the opportunity for two points as Wil Barnett scored his sixth goal in as many games after a pass from Jakob Kranabetter found him driving to the net. Barnett was denied on the first tip in chance but stuck with the puck and was able to bang it home as he was falling to the ice, giving the Flyers the 3-2 victory.
Saturday would tell a slightly different story but end once again with a Flyers victory. Valencia started the scoring when Adam Papayoanou beat the Fresno goaltender for his 10th goal of the season.
The Flyers would extend the lead to 2 on an Aharon Lara goal just after killing off a penalty partway thru the second period. Lara stole a puck just inside his own line and streaked down the right wing, sliding by a defender and lifting the puck over the goaltender for the goal.
Fresno would battle back, scoring two goals late in the second, sending the teams into the locker room for the second intermission even at 2-2.
The Flyers would regain the lead once again just two minutes into the third on Jakob Kranabetter’s 10th of the season, putting the Flyers ahead 3-2. Fresno would once again even the game, but Blake Aguilar was able to give the Flyers the lead for good with 3:53 remaining in regulation.
Mark Becica made multiple saves in the closing moments to preserve the victory, his 19th of the season and handing Fresno back to back losses on home ice for only the second time this season.
Sunday would look much the same as Saturday as it was a back and forward battle, however this time the end result would be different.
Fresno jumped out to leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 but each time the Flyers would battle right back.
Papayoanou was the first to even the game for Valencia when he tapped home a nice pass from Nik Giers to make it 1-1. Barnett then extended his goal streak to 7 games by jamming home a rebound evening the game 2-2.
Lara would net his second of the weekend, a shorthanded goal on an off angle shot, evening the game at 3-
3. The Flyer then found themselves behind with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation before Blake Aguilar was able to drive a puck home to even the game at 4-4. Neither team would be able to find the net before the end of regulation or through one overtime period, sending the game into a 3 on 3 double overtime. The Flyers were forced to kill an early penalty in the 2nd OT and after went on the attack of their own.
With the ice in bad shape after being skated on for nearly 30 minutes of game time, Fresno saw a fortunate bounce lead to a breakaway and eventually game winner as Luke Thompson, who was once again solid despite little defensive help at times, could not seem to find another big save allowing Fresno to take the 5-4 double overtime victory.
Still, despite the loss, Valencia picked up 5 of a possible 6 points on the weekend and once again solidified themselves as a Thorne Cup contender. Next week the Flyers will have another tough test as they head to El Paso, TX to take on the Midwest division leading Rhinos.
Notes: With his 19th win of the season, Flyers Goaltender Mark Becica now holds the Valencia Flyers Franchise single season record for wins by a goaltender. Wil Barnett is currently on a 7 game goal scoring streak.
Matt Robinson is the Play-by-Play Voice of the Valencia Flyers. In addition, Matt also handles the Valencia Flyers Social Media accounts, produces stories and content for valenciaflyers.net and does Play-by-Play for College of the Canyons Ice Hockey.