The Huskies played some of their best hockey so far this season on Saturday night. Unfortunately, they only did it for half the game, and against the Whitecourt Wolverines, that isn’t enough.
The Huskies held their own in the first period, perhaps even outplaying the defending champs. But, they were unable to capitalize on their chances, and the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.
It was a different Huskies team that came out in the second period. Suddenly, the Huskies went from forcing the play to reacting. Suddenly the Wolverines were controlling the play. And before they knew it, Whitecourt had pulled away. Tyler Stubbs, the Wolverines’ new captain, put the first cracks in the façade. Stubbs scored in the first minute of the second, and added a second six minutes later. Mitch Ternan added another with six minutes remaining in the second, and the Wolverines led 3-0 after 40 minutes.
The pups did try to fight back in the third. Dylan Apsassin broke the goose egg when he converted a partial breakaway on a feed from Cody Kalb. The goal was a powerplay marker, but the Huskies struggled all night with the man advantage. Fort St. John finished the game 1/7 with the extra man, while Whitecourt finished 1/2. The pups got the discipline they needed, but couldn’t take advantage of their chances on the powerplay. “The powerplay wasn’t great tonight – I guess you’ve got to give them credit, they pressured us quite well” said coach Kalb, adding that Wolverines goaltender Ryan Demharter had been a difference maker. Indeed he had. On a night where the pups did their best to break through a stingy Wolverines defence, Demharter seemed to have an answer for every opportunity.
After Apsassin had given the Huskies life, the Fort St. John squad seemed re-energized. But, the resurgence didn’t last long, and Whitecourt repelled the attack. Wolverines Trevor Brophy and Mitch Rose added insurance goals, for a final score of 5-1 Whitecourt.
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Saturday’s game. [asset|aid=1981|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=767df002340edad79713d7a9ba0e46f0-Huskies Vs. Whitecourt Wolverines _1_Pub.mp3]
After the game, the team lamented the one that got away. “We were skating well, and being real physical, and I thought took the play to them pretty well, and maybe could have had a lead coming out of that period” said Coach Kalb of his team’s start. “The second was a complete turnaround, and we just quit working” Kalb said, “that was the difference is that they played 60 minutes, and we only played 40.”
Captain Payden Wongstedt echoed his coach’s comments. For Wongstedt the difference between the Huskies of the first period and the Huskies of the second was clear. “Effort” he said. “We slacked. We were playing the body hard and making them cough it up in the first, and then in the second period we came out and started pokechecking them.”
But, coach Kalb still found positives in his team’s effort. Kalb believes his team has the talent level to compete with Whitecourt, if they can make fewer mistakes, and play a complete game. “These guys are the benchmark in the league right now, and if we want to compete with them, we have to do it for 60 minutes, and we have to eliminate those defensive errors” Kalb said.
If that isn’t simple enough, Payden Wongstedt broke it down further. “We’ve got to play 60 hard minutes like they do” he said. “And if we do that, we’re guaranteed to come out on top”
The Huskies play their next game on the road, on Sunday October 18, in Peace River. But they won’t have to wait too long to get another crack at Whitecourt. The following weekend, the Wolverines invade the North Peace Arena for round two of the season series. It promises to be a heck of a game.