An accident on the roads meant the Grande Prairie Wheelers showed up late on Friday night. When they did arrive, only 13 skaters climbed off the bus. It would be a long night for them all.
The Huskies made a change to their lines for the game, with Dylan Apsassin dropping onto the second line, along with Cam MacKinnon and Kole Norris, and Robbie Sidhu jumping up to play with Cody Kalb and Dan Pappin. The changes had an immediate impact, when Sidhu scored just a minute into the game. Sidhu’s goal came after the Wheelers had been unable to clear the puck – a theme that would dog Grande Prairie all night long.
By the end of the first period, it was 4-0 Fort St. John, though Grande Prairie did fight back in the second, outscoring their hosts 2-1, for a 6-2 Huskies lead after 40 minutes.
But in the third, the Huskies pulled away, and when the final horn sounded, Fort St. John had avenged a loss in Grande Prairie two weeks previously, with a 9-3 win.
Cody Kalb led the way offensively, with two goals and three assists. Robbie Sidhu enjoyed his night playing on the top line, chipping in a goal and four assists. Dylan Apsassin led the second line with two goals, while Tyson Pederson added two goals and an assist from the back-end. “It felt pretty good out there tonight” said Pederson after the game. “The team was working really good defensively and offensively, we’re finally moving and shooting the puck.”
The Huskies certainly won the special teams battle, scoring on four of their seven powerplays, while the Wheelers couldn’t convert any of their man-advantages. The Huskies have been steadily improving on their powerplay in recent games, and for Cody Kalb, the reason is simple. “We’re moving the puck a lot faster than we have been” he said. “There was a lot of waiting around before, but now we’re moving the puck, and shooting it, and getting traffic to the net.”
Garrett Muir posted the win in goal, stopping 38 of 41 shots sent his way, while Wheelers starter Kris Dika was replaced by Ryan Wilson after the sixth FSJ goal.
Dan Pappin and Kyle Porter rounded out the scoring for the Huskies, while Keith Comeau scored a pair of goals for the Wheelers, and Captain Cory Littman added a single. Comeau also fought Brian Gilbert in the dying minutes of the game, while Nick Fitzpatrick fought Payden Wongstedt.
The Wheelers seemed to lack jump on the night, and you wouldn’t have known the game was a matchup of the league’s second and third ranked teams. “They were short-staffed, and it showed” said Cody Kalb. “We just outskated them all night, and beat them to pucks” he said, adding “pucks were going in the net for us.”
Kalb did say he’d liked the way the line changes had worked out. “It gave those other guys a bit of jump with Dylan on their line, and Robbie fit right in with me and Dan.”
The Huskies will look to keep the momentum going on Saturday night, when they host the Peace River Navigators. Sunday brings the annual Fill the Bus campaign, with the Huskies and other volunteers set to canvass Fort St. John collecting donations for the Salvation Army.
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