A big win for the Huskies on Saturday night.
Facing their old foes, the North Peace Navigators, and clinging to second place in the NWJHL standings, coach Bob Kalb conceeded it was a must-win.
Both teams came into the game charged, knowing the importance of the game. It seemed like that energy might go to waste, when the referee took a puck in the face during the first play of the game, leading a lengthy delay. But the Huskies remained focused, and played their best first period in quite some time.
Luke McInerney opened the scoring 7 minutes in, when he found his own rebound, and beat a helpless Bretton Stewart.
A couple of minutes later, the Huskies put the pressure on, and after cycling the puck for at least a minute, Jason Arnouse came off the bench, straight into the play, and fired home a Dan Pappin centring pass to make it 2-0.
Still more in the first, when Jon Spence snuck in from the point, and hit a one-timer on a pass from Steven Fast, to send the Huskies into the room up 3-0.
In the second, the pups continued their aggressive play, though the scoring sheet may not have been so kind.
Cam McKinnon made it 4-0, on a Jon Spence rebound, bringing to an end Nav’s starter Bretton Stewart’s night.
But then Peace River would fight back. A Lance Rapson point-shot hit the skate of Justin Vedress and trickled over the goal-line.
Mitch Kohut made things interesting, when he fired a shot underneath Zach Blain’s arm, to make it 4-2.
The Huskies added another, when Luke McInerney stuffed a puck underneath Tavis Clark.
But before the period was out, Justin Vedress scored his second of the game, potting a Rapson rebound after Jesse Disher missed a check on Rapson, to make it 5-3 after 40 minutes.
But in the third, while the parade to the penalty box continued, the Huskies put the lid on the Navs, killing 7 minutes of third period powerplay time.
The only goal on the third came late, when Kyle Richardson took a hooking penalty, and then the Navs bench argued, leading to a two-man advantage for FSJ, converted by Cody Kalb.
Special teams were the name of the game this night. 7 of the game’s 9 goals were scored on the powerplay, though the defining moment for Fort St. John came mid-way through the third, when they successfully killed a five-minute major penalty to Payden Wongstedt, who brought his stick up on Gerry Young, and earned 5 + a game.
Zach Blain earned the win in goal for FSJ, playing a solid game, including a couple of remarkable saves in the third.
The team went 4/10 on the powerplay, while PR was 3/6 with the man advantage.
Luke McInerney also impressed, earning player of the game honours, for his solid 2-goal performance.
The win gives them a 6 point cushion on Peace River, as well as a three point gap on Dawson Creek (not counting the results of Dawson’s game in Slave Lake).
The race for second place continues on Sunday afternoon, when the team hosts Beaverlodge on Sunday afternoon, at 2pm.
Asked what the team needs to do to finish in second place, Luke McInerney has a simple answer. "Win all our games," he smiled. "Just work hard".