Sheldon Longson almost stole a win away from the Fort St. John Huskies on Sunday afternoon.
It took 50 shots before the Huskies could beat the small netminder from Beaverlodge. He made 23 saves in each of the first two periods, many of them of the spectacular variety. He got some help from his best friends too, with Fort St. John hitting the post at least 3 times in the second period alone.
But finally, in the third period, with the team trailing Beaverlodge 2-0, they crashed the net, and Cam McKinnon slid a loose puck past him.
Then Cody Hildebrand did the same, jamming home a Payden Wongstedt rebound.
Then Dan Pappin got in on the act, roofing a loose puck from the side of the net, for a powerplay goal to put the Huskies in front.
The three goals came in a span of just 2:06.
Though the flood gates seemed to have parted, the Blades would still fight back. Nick Fitzpatrick fired a point shot through traffic, to tie the game at three. Unseen by Andrew Van der Merwe, it still led to the end of his night, replaced by Zach Blain, who was coming off a solid performance against North Peace on Saturday night.
Finally, midway through the third period, Kole Norris would roof another loose puck over Longson, to put the Huskies in front for good.
At game’s end, the score was 4-3 FSJ, with a staggering shot count of 64-24.
Fort St. John’s Jesse Disher only played the first 22 minutes of the game. Early the second, he was called for a suspect interference penalty, after a small battle for a 50/50 puck. Disher took exception to the call, and earned himself a gross misconduct, meaning he will likely be suspended next game. While he agreed the call may not have been warranted, coach Kalb was still unimpressed with his defenceman’s meltdown. "That cost the team," he said. "We’re trying to have discipline, and get ready for the playoffs, and you just can have outbursts like that and expect to have a favourable outcome"
But without a doubt, Sunday’s story was Sheldon Longson. All game, it seemed like it was a matter of time, but heading into the third, Longson had been impeccable. "I just told the guys to be patient" says Kalb. "That young man played a real good hockey game, so congratulations to him," he said of Longson, "but once we burst their bubble, we knew the goals would come".
With the win, the Huskies lay a solid claim to second place in the league. They now sit 3 points ahead of Dawson Creek, with a game in hand, as well as 8 points ahead of Peace River, with 2 more games played than the Navigators. For full standings, visit http://www.northwestjr.hockeyleaguestats.com/?go=standings&order=pts&did=11&sid=10
Brandon Smith earned player of the game honours for FSJ, adding two assists to some solid defensive play. He says the team was confident it could come back. "It was just two goals," he said. "You’ve just got to keep your head up, not get down, and keep doing the simple things". It certainly worked today.