The Huskies played their most complete game of the playoffs on Monday night, and got a lop-sided win to show for it.
Needing a win to even the best-of-seven series, the Huskies spent the first 10 minutes or so playing chess with their opposition, with neither team getting any quality scoring chances. Soon, the ice began to tilt in North Peace’s direction. The Huskies struck twice in the opening period, with Dylan Apsassin firing a slap shot past Bretton Stewart from just inside the left face-off dot, and then Cody Hildebrand firing a wrister underneath Stewart from just inside the right dot.
6 minutes into the second, the Navigators would get one back, when Gerry Young took a Mitch Kohut pass all alone in front, and outmanouvered Zack Blain to make it 2-1.
In the previous two games, the pups had coughed up 2-0 leads after the first period. But on this night, Young’s goal would be the only highlight of an otherwise long night for the visitors. A minute after Young scored, Robbie Sidhu got tied up with Kelsey Dyck, with the latter served an extra 2 minutes. On the ensuing powerplay, a Payden Wongstedt point shot missed the net, and bounced off the end boards right to Dan Pappin, who banged it home, to make it 3-1.
From there on out, it was simply all Huskies. Pappin got his second, when he jammed a loose puck in, after a steal from Dylan Apsassin. Steven Fast got his second of the playoffs, when he tapped in a tic-tac-toe passing play from Norris and MacKinnon. MacKinnon played trailer on a 3-on-1, and fired a puck into the top corner after passes from Fast and Norris. Dan Pappin made it a hat-trick on more forechecking success from FSJ, with an assist on the play going to call-up David Green, who also had a solid game on defence.
As he did in game one, coach Haugan replaced Bretton Stewart with Mike Bauer to start the third period. But the goals kept on coming. Dan Pappin scored his fourth of the game, when he took a pass all alone in front, and slotted it home with time to spare. Robbie Sidue scored his second goal in as many games in a Husky jersey, when he fired a Tyson Pederson pass into the top of the net. Cody Kalb converted a cross ice pass from Dylan Apsassin. Cody Hildebrand got his second of the game, when a Linden Apsassin dump-in took a hideous bounce off the end boards, fooling Bauer and leaving Hildebrand an open net. And, Cody Kalb scored his second, on another feed from Dylan Apsassin.
But it wasn’t just the offence, as the Huskies did the little things they hadn’t done in the previous two losses in Peace River. The Navs hardly penetrated the slot area all night, and were given very few goal scoring opportunities. Fort St. John successfully cleared the puck when under pressure, and worked an effective breakout, albeit against a less aggressive Navigator forecheck.
And they were disciplined. Until the final minute of the game, the pups had conceded just two powerplays – both killed.
With 20 seconds remaining, there was some rough stuff. Kyle Porter jumped Gerry Young, and while Young tried to cover himself, Porter kept feeding him punches. Soon, Trevor Boyko rushed in to his teammate’s defence, but the officials soon pulled the pile apart. While coach Kalb has been unimpressed with his team’s discipline this series, he hinted that Young had it coming, after a head-shot earlier in the game to Robbie Sidhu (not to mention the hit on Kole Norris on Feb. 13th).
The Navigators, on the other hand, gave up five powerplays, and conceded a goal each time.
It was a good night for the offence, with the top line scoring 7 goals (Kalb 2+2, Pappin 4+1, D. Apsassin 1+4) and the second line 2 and the third line 3.
"It brings a lot more confidence to the team" said Pappin. "It’ll maybe make things better for next time we go on the road."
Zack Blain posted the win, stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced, in one of his easier outings this season.
And mercifully, the final horn sounded, giving the Huskies a 12-1 win. The series is now tied 2-2, with game five set for Wednesday night in FSJ.