P.A. Pirates tied for 1st in Bantam division

Prince Albert Pirates forward Gabe Klassen puts a deke on Battlefords Barons’ goalie Ype Elgersma in the Pirates’ home opener in SBAAHL action on Oct. 14, 2017. Emily Gay/Submitted

Seven games into the season, Prince Albert’s AA bantam boys hockey team is undefeated and tied for first place in the 11-team North division of the provincial AA Bantam Hockey League.

The Venice House Pirates won their home opener game over the weekend, defeating the Battlefords Barons 7-2. With the win and a tie-game on Sunday, the Pirates now sit at 6-0-1, tied for top spot in their division with the West Central Wheat Kings.

In the league overall, the Pirates and Wheat Kings are tied for second place behind Swift Current (7-0-0), which plays in the 11-team South division.

The Saturday tilt saw the Pirates take a commanding 4-goal lead in the first period, going up 5-1 on the Barons after 20 minutes.

Pirates’ skaters Nathan Flodell, Linden Gamble, Gabe Klassen (two goals) and Matthew Henry all scored for the home side through the game’s first 11 and 1/2 minutes.

The Barons’ Cameron Becotte got his team on the scoreboard with a powerplay goal at 19:43 of the frame.

Flodell, who notched four points in the game, scored the second period’s lone goal, assisted by Kade Beaton and Kayden Clarke.

The Barons could only muster one more goal – a powerplay marker in the third period from Rhett Dennis and assisted by Jordan Grill at 5:42.

The Pirates iced any possibility of a Barons’ comeback with Klassen earning a hatrick and his third goal on the night, thanks to a powerplay setup from Flodell and Clarke at 17:04.

The home side dominated the shot count throughout the game, too: The final shot tally was 41-18 for the pirates, and they fired double-digit shot counts in each period, besting their opponents in the category in each frame.

The Pirates were particularly undisciplined in the game. The referees called nine penalties on the team, while the Barons were called six times.

Prince Albert converted three of its six powerplay chances, while Battlefords only went two-for-nine on its man-advantage opportunities.

On Sunday, neither the Pirates nor the visiting Humboldt Broncos could find the win column. The teams played to a 4-4 draw, with each team’s goalie stopping four shots in overtime to secure the tie.

Based on the shot count, the Pirates’ offensive production dipped considerably: They only mustered 20 shots through the four periods, including a meagre three and two shots in the second and third periods, respectively.

The Broncos fired 42 shots on goalie Mason Hawkes. His 38 saves gave him a .904 save percentage.

Klassen continued to find scoring success: He earned four points on three goals and one assist. Logan Cox scored the Pirates’ fourth goal, assisted by Klassen and Ben Lefebvre.

The 14-year-old Klassen leads the 22-team league in points so far this year. He has 19 points on 14 goals and five assists. He’s averaging 2.7 points per game.

The Pirates’ forward is the only player from his team ranked in the top-20 point scorers in the league.

Prince Albert’s next game is Oct. 26 at home against the Martensville Marauders. Game time is 6:15 p.m. at the Kinsmen arena.