The Huskies rebounded from a Friday loss, by beating the Sexsmith Vipers on Saturday night.
But it wasn’t pretty.
The Vipers opened the scoring 2 minutes in, when Justin Milstead potted a breakaway on Huskies starter Andrew Van Der Merwe. Minutes later, Cody Kalb wristed one home to even the score, but the Huskies were already falling apart. With Jason Arnouse in the box for interference, Ryan Gow scored the put the Vipers back in front. And then, a Rick Bohring slapshot from outside the blueline eluded Van Der Merwe, sucking the life out the NPA, and putting the struggling Huskies further behind. Another Vipers 3 on 1 ended with a shot off the cross bar, while the Huskies fought to connect passes and find a higher gear.
With 25 seconds left in the first, Brian Gilbert went to work behind the Sexsmith goal, and found Dan Pappin open in front. Pappin buried it for his first of the game, and gave the Huskies life heading into the dressing room.
Zach Blain led the Huskies onto the ice for the second period, and the change of direction seemed to work. First, Steven Fast was robbed by Vipers goalie Brent Trarback, after a nice pass from Cody Kalb. Then, Trarback stopped Dustin Heitman on a nice feed from Riley Apsassin. Finally, a rebound on a long shot from Jon Spence was knocked in by Cody Kalb, and the Huskies were back to even.
Dan Pappin soon scored his second, to put the pups in front. Then, newcomer Cole Norris pushed a faceoff straight ahead, and fed Steven Fast, who put the Huskies up by two. Norris and Fast soon went to work again, working a two on one, on which a rebound came to Kyle Porter, who, playing defence for the night, fired a slapper home from the point, to seemingly put the game away.
But the Huskies soon fell asleep again. Before the end of the second, Nolan Trudeau scored the make it 6-4. Early in the third, a Dan Heiken goal put the Vipers within one, and before the Huskies could realize what was happening, another Ryan Gow goal tied the game at 6.
With 7 minutes left in the third, Dan Pappin fed Jason Arnouse in front, and with time to spare, he beat Trarback, to put the Huskies in front.
The rest of the third was dominated by the goalies, with both Brent Trarback and Zach Blain making excellent saves, several of Trarback’s of the miraculous variety. Late in the period, Jon Spence drove into the Sexsmith zone, and took a slash from Nolan Trudeau. The ensuing penalty meant the Vipers would have to play the rest of the game short handed. The Huskies managed the clock well, and a penalty to Linden Apsassin with 12 seconds left would not be enough to allow Sexsmith back, and Fort St. John held on for a narrow 7-6 win.
For Sexsmith, it was a frustrating loss, after coming so close. The Vipers scored 6 goals, after notching only 8 in their previous 5 games.
For the Huskies, it will be a week of work and introspection, before an important weekend next weekend, with a home game against Beaverlodge (Fri), and road games at Whitecourt (Sat) and Slave Lake (Sun).