For the second night in a row, the Huskies got off to a flying start. And on Saturday night, they managed to keep their opponents at a distance, and posted a 7-4 win in Grande Prairie.
Dan Pappin opened the scoring just 38 seconds in, when he converted a three-on-two between he, Cody Kalb, and Dylan Apsassin. Three minutes later, the same line teamed up, with Pappin again finishing off the play. Jesse Disher made it 3-0 Huskies, when he found himself all alone in the slot. Disher’s shot was gloved by Ryan Brausen, but the puck trickled out of the goaltenders glove and over the line.
In the second period, things began to heat up, with a constant parade of players heading to the penalty box. By the end of the second period, there had been three fights, with Brighton Campbell squaring off with Bobby Forster, Cam MacKinnon duking it out with Chad Sutherland, and Cory Langdon fighting Cory Littman. Also in the second, Dylan Apsassin took a shot on the inside of the knee, and limped off, unable to continue. Apsassin wasn’t the only player unable to finish, as midway through the second period, Wheeler Liam Moon crashed into Huskies starter Garrett Muir. Muir was helped off the ice, and replaced by Ty Gullickson, who himself had been replaced by Muir the night before, after sustaining a minor concussion. “He wasn’t that thrilled about it” laughed coach Bob Kalb after the game. But, Kalb was impressed with Gullickson’s courage. “He did the job, especially that late breakaway [from Cody Atkinson in the third] that they had. If they’d have scored there, it would have been a one-goal game, but he came up with a big save there, so he did what he had to do.” Gullickson, meanwhile, says his head is doing ok. “It’s hurting, a little shook up, but nothing too serious” he says. Muir was shaken up on the play, and had a sore neck and head, but neither his nor Dylan Apsassin’s injury appears to be too serious.
But, with two players injured, and three players kicked-out for fighting, the Huskies had to dig deep to withstand a resilient Wheelers team. Fortunately for Fort St. John, the Wheelers also lost three players, and were also playing for the second night in a row. Grande Prairie did outscore their guests in the second, with Patrick Pearson notching a pair of powerplay goals for the Wheelers, and Robbie Sidhu converting on a scramble in the G.P. crease, for a Huskies powerplay goal.
In the second period particularly, the teams rarely played five-on-five hockey, with penalty after penalty seeing teams trade shortened powerplays back and forth. By the end of the game, the Huskies had been served 103 minutes in penalties, compared to 87 for Grande Prairie. By the end of the game, the Huskies were 2/13 with the man advantage, while the Wheelers were 2/8.
But, despite the shortened bench, tired bodies, and stream of powerplays, the Huskies managed to withstand the Wheelers attack in the third, though Grande Prairie didn’t go down without a fight. Kole Norris opened the third period scoring, with a powerplay goal 1:20 in. Just nine seconds later, Jacob Brown stepped over the blue line and fired a slap-shot past Gullickson, to get the Wheelers back within two. Six minutes in, Dan Pappin took a feed from Cody Hildebrand and fired a quick shot past Brausen, for his third of the night, making it 6-3 Huskies. Landon Deley again pulled Grande Prairie back within two, when he redirected a nifty slap-pass from Keith Comeau past Gullickson, but that was the last offence the Wheelers could muster. Cody Kalb added an empty-net goal with the dying seconds, and the Huskies took a 7-4 win.
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Saturday’s game: [asset|aid=1950|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=99442f19f34d8d472f7d2a84a5d2078e-Huskies win 7-4 over The Grande Prairie Wheelers_1_Pub.mp3]
The win gives the Huskies 7 points in 4 games played, with the only blemish on their record the overtime loss to Sexsmith a week ago. “I’m a lot happier with them this weekend than last weekend” said coach Kalb after Saturday’s victory. “Still too many penalties” he said, “but a whole lot better work ethic, and just a better effort all around.”
The Huskies next action is Friday October 9th, when they host Beaverlodge. The next night, the Huskies visit Whitecourt for their first matchup of the season against the defending champion Wolverines.