The Huskies remain in second place in the NWJHL, after a convincing win over Grande Prairie on Saturday night.
Cody Kalb opened the scoring ten minutes in, when he found the puck at the side of the net, and deaked it past Wheelers goaltender Tyler VantErve.
Soon after, Kyle Porter busted down the left wing, beat a Grande Prairie defender to the outside, and fed Colby Ames in front of the goal. Ames tapped it past VantErve for his first goal as a Husky.
Payden Wongstedt made it 3-0 Fort St. John, when he faked a slap-shot to buy himself some time, and then ripped a slapper through VantErve.
Late in the first, with both Tyson Pederson and Luke McInerney in the box, Grande Prairie broke onto the scoresheet, when Keith Comeau won a draw to Cory Littman, who rifled it off the bar and in.
It was the only goal the Wheelers would get past Ty Gullickson, who played his best game of the season to date. “He’s actually been really solid lately” said Coach Bob Kalb after the game. “Tonight we didn’t give him all that much help sometimes, and he played very well for us.” Gullickson made a couple of brave poke checks over the course of the game, as well as a few excellent saves late in the game, to prevent the Wheelers from mounting any kind of comeback. “It’s not like it was unbalanced game” said the netminder afterwards. Gullickson suggested his team just did a better job of capitalizing on its chances, adding “our powerplay was really clicking tonight” – the Huskies scored two powerplay goals on the night, as well as a short-handed marker.
Cody Kalb again opened the scoring in the second period, converting a beautiful passing play between he, Dylan Apsassin, and Dan Pappin. Kalb registered two goals, an assist, and a fight in the game, after being held off the scoresheet a week ago in Beaverlodge. “I let them know last weekend that they’d played very poorly” said coach Kalb of his top line. “You’ve got to challenge guys like that. They’re supposed to be your leaders, and it’s a matter of pride, you’ve got to step up” he said, adding “they did play a lot better tonight.”
After Dylan Apsassin fought George Bradshaw, Brighton Campbell found himself joining Cody Kalb and Pappin on the top line. He soon notched a powerplay goal, when Ryan Stickel’s point shot hit him in front, and bounced to his feet, for an easy tap-in. Cam MacKinnon rounded out the second period scoring, when he spun and fired a shot underneath VantErve, bringing his night to an end, and bringing Kris Dika into the Grande Prairie goal.
Dan Pappin scored the lone goal of the third period, when he jammed home rebound on a Cody Kalb miss. Kalb finished off his ‘Gordie Howe hat-trick’ when he fought Landon Delay, while Cam MacKinnon also fought Alain Doucet, and Payden Wongstedt fought Kael King.
When the final buzzer sounded, both teams were left with short benches, after four fights, as well as numerous casualties of the flu. “We had a couple of guys out before the game” said coach Kalb, adding with a laugh “we lost two or three more during the game.” But, the coach doesn’t seem too worried, suggesting his team has plenty of bodies, and admitting other teams around the league are dealing with the same problem.
Ty Gullickson also admitted his team’s health and fatigue played a factor in his decisions on the night. “Of course, always cover the puck” said Gullickson. “We were short-handed a lot that game too, so I’m just trying to give our guys breaks. I know everyone’s tired, everyone’s sick, but we all battled through it.”
Though the 7-1 scoreline would indicate a strong game from the Huskies, coach Kalb also admitted his opponents had looked a little lacklustre on Saturday. “They just didn’t seem to have a lot of get-up and go” he said. The Huskies outshot the Wheelers 34-26.
The theme of team discipline popped up again, with the Huskies conceding 9 powerplays. The Huskies went 2/7 on the powerplay, while the Wheelers scored once, and allowed a short-handed goal (to Dan Pappin in the third).
The Huskies’ next game is next Saturday (Nov 14), when they visit Sexsmith. The game will be broadcast live on MooseFM.