Pirates find success on home ice

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Venice House Pirates forward Matthew Henry makes a move in front of Yorkton Terriers goaltender Michael Malinowski at the Kinsmen Arena this past season.

It took a little bit, but the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates are starting to come together as team.

After two games on the road to start the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League season over Thanksgiving weekend and a 5-4 loss to the West Central Wheat Kings in their home opener Friday at the Dave G. Steuart Arena, the Pirates entered the win column Saturday with a 4-1 triumph over the Yorkton Terriers at the Kinsmen Arena.

They then followed that up with a 4-2 win over the Regina Aces Sunday.

“I think we’re really starting to see come chemistry develop with the guys,” Pirates head coach Shawn Phaneuf said.

“The biggest key to our recent success is how everyone is buying in. They are accepting their roles and working hard to do whatever it takes to win.”

That was especially true in Sunday’s win over the Aces, as the Pirates were playing with a shortened lineup.

“We had one of our players serving a suspension and two players out due to injuries,” Phaneuf said.

“Our role guys really stepped up to block shots and willed themselves to help us get the win. It was a real proud moment for me as a coach and a great performance to watch.”

Zach Svenson scored a pair of goals in Sunday’s triumph while Ryan Leptizki had two goals and an assist.

Larry Flett had a two-assist performance and netminder Nicolas Jensen made 37 saves.

Lepitzki and Matthew Henry had a goal and two assists in Saturday’s win over the Terriers, which also saw goals from Svenson and Jonathan Tucker to go along with with a 17-save showing from Frank Chaboyer.

“Our guys stayed focused and they basically willed the puck to go in,” Phaneuf said.

“We played well in our Southern road trip a week earlier (in Weyburn and Estevan) but we just didn’t get the bounces in those games. We ran into some penalty trouble Friday against West Central, but everything went our way to finish up the weekend at home on a strong note.”

Henry led the offence in Friday’s home opener against the Wheat Kings with a goal and two assists.

Roper Blanchard, Theran Lysitza and Lepitzki also scored for the Pirates in the loss.

The team will look to improve upon their 2-2-1 record Tuesday when they’ll visit the Saskatoon Outlaws and on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against the Battleford Barons at the Kinsmen Arena.

Their first tournament of the year will be the Graham Tuer Bantam Challenge from Oct. 25-28 in Regina.