For the first 40 minutes, the Huskies stuck right with the Whitecourt Wolverines. But, as so often happens with elite teams, a few missed chances and the odd mistake ended in disaster, as Whitecourt skated to a 5-1 win on Saturday night.
After an excellent first period, including 2 crossbars, the Huskies appeared to draw first blood 16 minutes in, but a long-shoot in had deflected in off an off-side Jordan Hartnell, and was called back. With one minute remaining in the first, Rod Lavoie provided the screen in front, and then tapped home a rebound, to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Early in the second, Whitecourt showed their strength on the counterattack, as Jeff Chalifoux scored a tap-in, on a beautiful pass from Mitch Ternan, after some extended Huskies pressure. 5 minutes into the frame, Jon Spence fired a point shot past Ryan Demharter, to break the ice for Fort St. John, and keep the Huskies in the game. In the final minute of the second, Whitecourt’s Jordan Stead was ejected, apparently for chirping at the referee, with Whitecourt also assessed a bench minor for delay-of-game on the play.
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Early in the third, the only chance on the powerplay came for the Wolverines, as Rod Lavoie was sent in all alone, but was denied by the left pad of Zack Blain, one of several clutch saves of the night.
A backbreaker for the Huskies 7 minutes into the final period, as a seemingly innocent Devin Lindquist shot deflected off Linden Apsassin and into the top corner of Blain’s goal. 2 minutes later, Payden Wongstedt, who’s speed had been a menace to the Wolverines all night, was given a suspect boarding minor. Wongstedt lost his composure, and earned 2 10-minute misconducts for his ungentlemanly words for the ref.
Wongstedt’s absence would hurt the team, as did the ensuing powerplay, which was converted by Brandon Anderson, for a 4-1 Whitecourt lead. The Wolverines would add one more-powerplay marker, as Rod Lavioe scored his second of the game (and third point), when he deflected a Mitch Maisoneuve point shot past Zack Blain.
Coach Bob Kalb’s reaction to his team’s effort.
And so, while the Huskies put in another great effort against Whitecourt, they would again come up short. They will get one more crack at the Wolverines on Sunday, with the final game of the season at 2pm at the North Peace Arena.
Elsewhere in the NWJHL, the big game of the night, between the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks and Peace River Navigators never happened, because the officials didn’t show up. Uncertainly abounds as to why, but the game will need to be made-up as soon as possible, as it will determine which of the teams will finish third overall.