After shelling the Jr. Canucks in the preseason, the Huskies may have taken them a little bit lightly in the opening game of the regular season.
The Huskies dug themselves a hole on Friday night, and had to rely on some of their high-end talent to bail them out.
Dawson Creek opened the scoring, when John-Wayne Howes buried a sharp-angle shot past Ty Gullickson. Before the first period was out, Dylan Apsassin added a short-handed marker, unlikely to be his only one of the season.
Just 22 seconds into the second, Ewan Weaver gave Dawson Creek another lead, when he missed the net, but found a rebound off the end-boards, and shoveled it home before Gullickson could recover. 4 minutes into the second, Cody Kalb dangled his way through the Jr. Canucks zone, to retie the game. It was a tough night for Gullickson, who made some strong saves, including a post-to-post beauty early in the third. But, he also let in six goals, and took a ten-minute misconduct for removing his mask trying to dispute one of the second period goals. Oddly, Cash Brinkworth was forced to serve the penalty. With Payden Wongstedt and promising rookie Ryan Stickel both out of the lineup, Brinkworth’s absence made life difficult for an already stretched FSJ defence. Jesse Disher ate a lot of minutes on the night, and proved one of the best players for the Huskies.
With the pendulum continuing to swing, Robbie Sidhu soon gave the Huskies a lead,. But again the Huskies would let off. John-Wayne Howes soon notched his second of the game, sending the teams into the dressing rooms tied 3-3 after 40 minutes.
Early in the third, D.C. would again take the lead, on a Cole Calliou marker. Cody Kalb scored his second of the game 3 minutes into the third. With Jesse Disher serving a tripping penalty, Dawson would regain the lead again on a Tyson Keen powerplay goal. Reid Smith gave the Jr. Canucks a little breathing room just a minute later.
And finally, with the high-expectations staring them in the face, the Huskies would awake from their slumber. Ty McLeod gave them the opportunity they needed, when he was served 2+10 for a hitting-to-the-head penalty. Tyson Pederson fired a point shot past Cody Garnett to get the pups within one.
Cody Kalb made it an opening-night hat-trick, when he tipped a Disher point shot past Garnett to tie the game. And, with just a minute and a half remaining, Kalb’s final drive to the net was denied, but his rebound banged home by Dan Pappin, to give the Huskies a late lead.
They made it interesting, with a late penalty to Robbie Sidhu, but killed off the powerplay without any danger, and escaped with a narrow 7-6 win.
It was a spectacular start to the season for 2008/2009 team MVP Cody Kalb, who says his team didn’t bear down enough early in the game, but remained confident a win was in the cards. [asset|aid=1910|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=bf6a7352b8e57cc299652fa5732f27d3-CodyK-confident_1_Pub.mp3]
Fort St. John Assistant Coach Jeremy Clothier, in his first game behind the Huskies bench, admitted his team’s effort was not where it should have been, but also praised the desire of his top line, particularly Cody Kalb.[asset|aid=1911|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=bf6a7352b8e57cc299652fa5732f27d3-Jeremy-cody_1_Pub.mp3]
The drama didn’t end at the final whistle, however. As the horn sounded, and both teams headed on to the ice to congratulate their respective goaltenders, the referee assigned game misconducts to Huskies coach Bob Kalb, and Dawson Creek player Lorne Weaver, effectively banning them from the next game. Kalb’s post-game reaction will remain off-the-record.
After dominating Dawson Creek in the preseason, the Huskies certainly didn’t play as well as they could have on opening night, and Clothier admits it all started in their own zone. [asset|aid=1912|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=bf6a7352b8e57cc299652fa5732f27d3-Jeremy-breakouts_1_Pub.mp3]
But, while the Huskies may have overlooked their opponents, credit certainly belongs to the Jr. Canucks, who brought a far superior effort to what they had shown in the preseason. Rookie head-coach Mike Lazinchuk was disappointed to lose a late lead, but felt his team is moving in the right direction. [asset|aid=1913|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=bf6a7352b8e57cc299652fa5732f27d3-Lazinchuk-improving_1_Pub.mp3]
The Huskies take on the Sexsmith Vipers on Saturday night at the NPA, a game Clothier says his team will be prepared for. "You’ll see a different team tomorrow" he says, adding "We’ll go hard the full game."