The Huskies showed their depth in Sexsmith on Saturday night, as they beat the Vipers 5-2.
The Huskies hit the ice with a number of changes to their lineup, including a top line of Cody Kalb, Dan Pappin, and Luke McInerney, and a second line of Owen and Cam MacKinnon with Robbie Sihdu.
Dan Pappin had an immediate impact, when he opened the scoring with a powerplay goal 7 minutes into the game. Luke Heiken got the Vipers onto the scoresheet with three minutes remaining in the first period, when he converted a deake on a mini 2-on-0.
But, less than a minute later, Ryan Stickel’s scored his first goal as a Husky, to make it 2-1 Fort St. John after 20 minutes. “It was a pretty good play by Payden” Stickel said after the game. “Robbie Sidhu made a good screen, and I tried to shoot for him, and it just went over the pad.”
Dan Pappin again opened the second period scoring, on a nifty feed from Luke McInerney. Soon after, Captain Payden Wongstedt was ejected for a hit behind the play on Cory Rondeau. The hit was behind the play, and the referee hadn’t seen it, but after a discussion with his linesman, Wongstedt was served a five-minute elbowing penalty, and ejected from the game.
“Anytime we lose Payden it’s hard” said Coach Bob Kalb after the game. “He definitely is a quarterback for us back there with his great skating ability and his ability to get the puck out of our zone” he said, adding “the other guys have to suck it up a little and pick up their game when he isn’t there, that’s for sure.”
“He’s our leader, he’s our captain, but he does all the little stuff so well too” added Ryan Stickel. “When he’s not there, we really notice it, but I think everyone also puts pressure on themselves to pick up their game … but it felt like everyone did a pretty good job of picking up the pace.”
The major penalty hurt the Huskies right away. Right off the opening face-off, speedy Nolan Trudeau darted into the Huskies zone, created a mini breakaway, and beat Garrett Muir, to get the Vipers back within one. But, the Huskies killed the rest of the major powerplay off easily.
With four minutes remaining in the second, Owen MacKinnon scored his first goal as a Husky, when he took a pass from his brother Cam, and fired a sharp-angle shot under Justin Jarvis.
“He looks a lot like his brother Cam, and they played well together” laughed coach Kalb afterwards. “He’s another depth guy who can play a couple of different positions for us, and you can stick him out in a number of different situations and he never hurts you.”
The Huskies defence lost another body when Linden Apsassin fought Calvin Shlemp. Fortunately, Cory Langdon had started the game as a forward, and he jumped back to re-stock the blue-line contingent.
Robbie Sidhu scored the lone goal of the third period, when he spun and fired a shot that fooled Jarvis, seemingly surprising everyone that it had gone in. Sidhu’s goal would spell an end to Jarvis’ night, as he was replaced by Caleb McGuire. But, though the Vipers did take some chances late in the game, and allowed some odd-man rushes as a result, McGuire and Muir both held the fort from there on out.
In the dying moments, Ryan Stickel dropped the gloves with Rick Bohning, in a fight both players seemed more than willing to engage in. “He was kind of picking on some of our smaller guys over the game” Stickel says. “He was hitting guys that were questionable hits, and then he threw an elbow at Owen [MacKinnon] while they were skating down the ice. We went out there at the same time after the whistle, and I just skated up to him and said ‘we’re going’, and he said ‘okay’, and we went at it, and after the fight he said ‘good fight’ and I said same to him.”
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Saturday’s game. [asset|aid=2131|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=3debb719dad2b154f06ae23fcf357738-Huskies Vs Sexsmith Vipers_1_Pub.mp3]
The Vipers were playing only their second game since losing promising rookie Joel Zahara to a car accident. Before the game, Sexmith coach Neil Magill spoke to Jon Zacks about how the team has been coping: [asset|aid=2132|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=3debb719dad2b154f06ae23fcf357738-Niel Magill_1_Pub.mp3]
The Huskies’ next action is Wednesday night in Dawson Creek. They also play on Friday at home to Peace River, and visit Grande Prairie on Sunday. Both of the road games will be broadcast live on Moose FM.