Monarchs stun drillers

The Fort McMurray Monarchs defeated the Calgary Gators 42-37 in Calgary over the weekend, securing their first win in franchise history against the defending Alberta Football League champions. Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

The Fort McMurray Monarchs defeated the Calgary Gators 42-37 in Calgary over the weekend, securing their first win in franchise history against the defending Alberta Football League champions. Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

Robert Murray – Fort McMurray Today – Monday, June 27, 2016

Winless against the Calgary Gators since entering the league, the Fort McMurray Monarchs finally got the better of their rivals this weekend.

A last-minute touchdown pass caught by Pascal Tshilambo helped secure a 42-37 victory for the Monarchs, temporarily pulling them into second place in the Alberta Football League with a 4-1 record.

“The game was back-and-forth for the most part,” said head coach Dave Spence. “The guys just hung in there and never gave up.”

Recovering the ball with less than a minute to play, the Monarchs took a shot at the endzone and completed the play to knock off the defending AFL champions.

“It does give us a little bit of a confidence boost,” added Spence. “Calgary hasn’t lost a game in Alberta in about four years.

“Being the first team to give them a loss was special. They’re a great club; they play really good football. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

The win comes at a strategic point in the Monarchs’ season. Their final three games are scheduled for every two weeks until Aug. 9, when they close out the season at home against the St. Albert Stars.

Spence said he had no concerns of the break harming the team’s momentum, noting they would be taking some small breaks, but resuming their practice schedule during the off weeks.

The Monarchs return to the field July 9, when they face the Lloydminster Vandals on the road.

rmurray@postmedia.com