For the third time this series, the Huskies outplayed the North Peace Navigators. But, after a dramatic finish, it was the Navigators who won game 5, to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Fort St. John opened the scoring, when Kole Norris’s backhander was stopped by Bretton Stewart, but the rebound came right back to Norris, who worked his way back into the slot and fired a wrist-shot past Stewart to give the Huskies first blood, and the only goal of the opening frame.
A minute into the second, Bretton Stewart made the save of the game, when he denied Dylan Apsassin, who tried to stickhandle around the netminder after taking a nice feed from Cody Kalb on a Huskies 2-on-1. 3 minutes into the second, Kyle Smith got North Peace on the board, when, with Jesse Disher in the penalty box, he wrapped a Mitch Kohut rebound around Zack Blain.
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With about five minutes remaining in the second, the game’s turning point arrived. The Huskies third line put extended pressure on the Navs, with Peace River unable to get a change, or clear the puck. But, finally, they dumped it out, and out jumped the Navs’ top line (Kyle Richardson, Mitch Kohut, Kyle Smith on this night), who took advantage of a mismatch against the pups fourth line, creating a 2-on-1 chance of their own, converted by Kyle Smith (his second) who again slid in a Mitch Kohut rebound.
The Huskies would soon tie it up, with their only powerplay goal of the game. With Lance Rapson in the box, Jon Spence’s point shot found its way through Stewart. But, less than a minute later, PR retook the lead, when Tyler Lemire fired past Zack Blain (with M. Kohut drawing an assist – his third of the game). With less than a minute remaining in the second, Luke McInerney missed what may have been the chance of the game, when he fired wide with Stewart down, on a nifty feed from Robbie Sidhu. Sidhu was playing his third straight game for the Huskies, and seemed to struggle more than in the previous two games, failing to find the scoresheet, and getting pushed around a little by the bigger Navigators.
After the second period had been incredibly fast-paced and dynamic, things slowed a little in the third, as the Navs tried to clamp down on the Huskies comeback effort. And, it wasn’t until the final minute that the pups really got any quality chances. And, with 20.9 seconds remaining, and Zack Blain on the bench for the extra attacker, Kole Norris gave Fort St. John the desperately needed goal, firing a wrister from the right face off got past Stewart, to send the Huskies and their fans into jubilation.
But, the party wouldn’t last. 6 minutes into a ten-minute overtime frame, Chase Bagan found some open room on the left hand side, took a feed from Bryce Allen, and blasted it five-hole on Blain, to give the Navs the win.
It was a momentus win for North Peace, who needed to find a way to win in Fort St. John to win the series. Equally, it was a tough loss for FSJ, who had controlled much of the game, but had failed to convert on a lot of quality scoring chances, including a couple of hit-posts, and some stellar goaltending from Stewart.
And so, the Huskies now have their work cut out for them. They have their backs against the wall, and must win game six in Peace River, in order to force a seventh game. The Huskies have lost both of their games so far these playoffs in Peace (games 2 and 3), and gave up leads in both games.
Game Six goes Thursday evening in Peace River, at 8pm local time. That means 7pm Fort St. John time, with the game to be broadcast live on MooseFM, with the pregame starting at 6:45.
If the pups win, game 7 will be back in Fort St. John on Friday night.