The Huskies scored two powerplay goals and tightened their defensive screws, in a 4-1 win over Peace River on Friday night.
After Peace River’s Brendan Dickson scored the lone goal of the first period, Fort St. John got two powerplays early in the second, and cashed in on both. On the first, Cody Kalb curled behind the Navigators’ net, and found Dan Pappin in front for a one-timer. On the second, Payden Wongstedt walked in from the point, and beat Cole Robert on a hard slapper.
“I think our powerplay’s coming along, said Wongstedt after the game. “We’re actually starting to get some progress out of it.” The Huskies have gotten their powerplay above 25%, after struggling with the man-advantage early in the season. Coach Kalb was thrilled to see better mileage out of his specials teams. “We incorporated a little bit of quickness in our game, whereas the last little while we’ve been kind of sluggish, and trying to slow things down” he said, adding “ when you slow things down, it doesn’t work. Our forte is speed and puck movement.”
After taking the lead on Wongstedt’s goal, the Huskies kept pushing into Navs territory. Third string goaltender Cole Robert soon gave them a gift, when he miscommunicated with his defenceman, then mishandled the puck, then got it caught in his equipment, then fumbled it into the net. The goal went to Dylan Apsassin, and was as much insurance as Fort St. John would need.
Late in the second period, penalties to Cody Kalb and Dylan Apsassin gave the Navigators a full two-minute two-man advantage. But, a shot-block from Kyle Porter, then another from Wongstedt negated the only two chances Peace River could muster.
“Payden saved my butt” Garrett Muir said of Wongstedt’s shot block. “He’s unbelievable – I’m impressed.”
Midway through the third period, tempers flared after Jesse Disher was hit from behind by Colter Wiebe only 30 seconds after Wongstedt was hit from behind by Alex Balfour. Both players would be okay, and both resulted in minor penalties.
Cam MacKinnon scored the lone goal of the third period, firing into the open net after a nifty pass from Robbie Sidhu.
Five on five, the Huskies continued to lock up its own zone, and for the second straight game, the team allowed only one goal against. “Our offence does what it has to do … but our defence is what we need to work on” said Wongstedt, “and once we do that, we’ll be a solid hockey team.”
Garrett Muir posted fifth win of the season, making 22 saves on the night. “Flawless game by him, that’s for sure” said Captain Wongstedt of Muir’s performance, with Coach Kalb chipping in “You’ll go as far as far as your goaltending will take you, and right now they’re as good as any two in the league.”
The Huskies wrap up the week on Sunday afternoon in Grande Prairie. The puck drops at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on Moose FM.