The Huskies blew a lead in Sexsmith on Friday night, and dropped their second straight game.
The Huskies got exactly the start they wanted, with a goal from the third line just two minutes into the game. After Owen MacKinnon poked the puck ahead on defensive-zone face-off, Brian Gilbert raced down the right wing, and fed Cody Hildebrand, who one-timed it past Vipers goalie Caleb McGuire.
Nolan Trudeau got Sexsmith onto the board five minutes later, but the Huskies had a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Tyson Pederson and Cam MacKinnon.
The Huskies were missing a fleet of players on Friday, with leading scorer Cody Kalb and Captain Payden Wongstedt just two of those missing in action. Fort St. John was also without Linden Apsassin, Ryan Stickel, and Darcy Bell on defence, as well as Brighton Campbell and Brennan Billey up front. They dressed only ten forwards and five defenceman, and the absences quickly showed.
Sexmith outscored their guests 2-1 in the second. The Vipers got goals from Calvin Schlemp and Carson Ewing, while Dan Pappin deflected a Kyle Porter point-shot for the lone FSJ marker.
Trailing 4-3 heading into the third, Sexsmith got a goal just five seconds in, when Brendan Deveaux fired a long knuckleball that eluded Garrett Muir, to tie the game. Six minutes later, the Vipers took their first lead of the game, on Nolan Trudeau’s second of the game, and 16th of the season.
And, though not for a lack of chances, the Huskies could not fight back, and they watched as the clock slowly ticked away, and left them with a 5-4 loss.
“We have not been a good hockey team as far as I’m concerned” said a disappointed Bob Kalb after the game. Kalb suggested the losses in the past two games are symptomatic of much bigger problems in the Huskies dressing room. “We’ve got too many guys who are just not putting in an honest effort” he said, adding “we’re getting what we deserve right now, and it’s not pretty.”
“We’re not working as a team” said Kyle Porter after the game. Porter played as a defenceman on Friday night, but says it was a lack of chemistry and effort, rather than a lack of numbers and skill, that cost the team in Sexsmith. “Everyone knows that Payden and Cody are a big part of our team. We all had to step it up tonight, we said that to each other in the intermissions … but there were a lot of individuals out there.”
Both Porter and Coach Kalb admitted that the missing players were a big factor in the loss, though they both felt the Huskies should have been able to muster a win. “Obviously it has impact when you’re missing guys like that, but it’s no excuse” said Kalb. “As far as I’m concerned, we had more talent on the ice than they had tonight, but we just gave it to them.”
On Saturday night, the Huskies get a chance for redemption, when they play on home ice against Beaverlodge. Kalb hinted that there will be some changes coming on Saturday. “Our best players, guys in our own zone, are our third and fourth liners, and so those guys are going to be getting more ice time, and are going to be on different lines.”