It took a couple of periods to pull away, but the Huskies outplayed Beaverlodge on Friday night, and got the two points they wanted.
It was the Blades who opened the scoring, when Taylor Jones picked up the puck in his zone, on a Huskies powerplay. Jones poked the puck around Linden Apsassin, soared down the left wing, and buried a shot low to the glove side on Ty Gullickson.
But, the Huskies still had time remaining on the powerplay, and evened the tables just 16 seconds later, when Tyson Pederson found the puck on his stick in the slot, and rang it off the back bar. “I had lots of time and lots of room after a good pass from Darcy Bell” Pederson said. The defenceman fired the puck home like a natural goal scorer, and says his confidence is riding high early in the season. “I’m totally healthy now, and good to go” he said.
A few minutes later, Pederson again found himself alone in the slot. This time, the pass was in his skates, so he calmly dished it to Cody Kalb, who deposited it past Beaverlodge goalie Cody Gayse. Before the second period was out, Beaverlodge evened the score on the powerplay, when Aaron Dumas fired a point shot through traffic and past Gullickson, to make it 2-2 after 20 minutes.
In the second period, the Huskies seemed to find their groove, and controlled the vast majority of play. For extended periods, the pups cycled the puck, and almost made even-strength hockey look like a powerplay. But, the Blades goaltender and defence withstood the attack, and it remained 2-2 after two periods.
Finally, in the third period, the flood gates opened, and the Huskies pulled away. Cam MacKinnon got things going, when he took a Robbie Sidhu feed and fired it past Gayse. Seven minutes in, Sidhu set up another, when he brought the puck into the Blades zone, and delayed long enough to find Cody Hildebrand driving to the net.
After Hildebrand’s goal, Huskies Captain Payden Wongstedt fought Blade Josh Majoros. Majoros fought well, but was favouring his left arm afterwards. He was eventually treated by paramedics, diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder.
On the ice, the Huskies continued to pressure. Cody Kalb scored his second of the game when Dylan Apsassin stole a puck in Beaverlodge territory, and gave it to Kalb, who banked it off Gayse and in. Kole Norris and Kyle Porter added two more quick goals, sending Gayse to the bench, and Beaverlodge backup Brett Hommy into the game.
Hommy allowed just one goal, when Brighton Campbell busted down the left side, and found trailer Carter Sali, who notched the first goal of his rookie season. Beaverlodge would add a late consolation goal, when Bobby Bailey banged a rebound past Gullickson for Beaverlodge’s second powerplay goal of the game.
And, as the final horn sounded, Cody Kalb squared off with Blade Nick Fitzpatrick, giving Kalb a ‘Gordie Howe hat-trick’, and giving the North Peace Arena crowd one last reason to cheer.
The Huskies won the game 8-3, in a game that was likely their best so far of the season. Their coaching staff seemed duly impressed with their performance. “I thought it was a good effort for 60 minutes” said Coach Bob Kalb after the game. “They battled hard” he said, “but we’re so much bigger and stronger that I think they just wore down finally.” [asset|aid=1978|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=341b4f482c3b0f17317596e068d3b182-bob-inevitable_1_Pub.mp3]
Coach Kalb was also happy with Tyson Negus’ effort, in his first game as a Husky. “He was a little excited at times, running around and out of position, but he did some good things” said Kalb, adding “I like the way Tyson skates, and competes, and he’ll only get better.”
The Huskies will hope to match Friday’s performance when they visit Whitecourt on Saturday for their first matchup of the season against the vaunted Wolverines. Whitecourt beat Slave Lake 6-4 on Friday, meaning the Wolverines (5-0) remain one point ahead of the Huskies in the NWJHL standings. Coach Kalb knows Saturday’s game in Whitecourt is a big test for his club, though he thinks his team is prepared. [asset|aid=1979|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=341b4f482c3b0f17317596e068d3b182-bob-tomorrow_1_Pub.mp3]
In other Huskies news, Payden Wongstedt has been officially named the team Captain. Brennan Billey is also expected to join the team soon, likely next weekend.