By Jon Zacks
The Huskies will need hard hats and climbing boots to get back in their first round series against the Beaverlodge Blades.
After a disappointing game one loss on home ice on Wednesday, the Huskies put out a better effort in game two on Friday night. But, they still couldn’t contain the relentless attack of Aaron Dumas and Taylor Jones, losing by a score of 7-4.
The Huskies got the start they wanted, when Steven Fast beat Nolan Bowker on a powerplay less than four minutes into the game.
With 32 seconds remaining, Josh Majoros jammed a loose puck past Garrett Muir to get the Blades on the board. Before the pups could collect themselves, the Blades had another 2-on-1, and Aaron Dumas scored. Dumas’ goal came just 10 seconds after the Majoros goal, giving the Blades a shock 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The emotions only heightened in the second. 5 minutes into the middle frame, a Gage Wells point shot found its way through a sea of legs and past Muir to give Beaverlodge a 3-1 lead.
Soon, the game swung dramatically in the Blades’ favour. With the Huskies pressing, Cody Hildebrand thought he had scored with a slap-shot from the right-hand side. But, play continued, and as the Blades came back the other way, Bob Bailey beat Muir. Instead of trailing 3-2, the pups were now down 4-1, and they were reeling. Hildebrand himself was kicked out for arguing, while the team struggled to regain its composure. The consensus among players and fans is that the Hildebrand shot had indeed scored, but had gone through a hole in the net. But the Huskies arguments fell on deaf ears, and the Blades had a three goal lead. “You think you’re climbing out, and all of a sudden, you have the hole give way, and you’ve fallen a little deeper” said defenceman Ryan Stickel of the turn of events. “Just a lot of frustration” he said of the emotions from his team. “We’d hit a few posts, and had a few bounced not go our way.”
The Huskies had some chances on the powerplay to get back in the game, but the Blades effectively blocked shots, and Nolan Bowker controlled his rebounds much better than he had in game one. After the Blades successfully killed a two-man advantage, Taylor Jones scored a breakaway to make it 5-1 Beaverlodge. Brighton Campbell shovelled a puck past Bowker late in the period, to get the Huskies back on the board, and to help regain some momentum before the end of the second.
But in the third, the Huskies began to take chances, and the Blades took advantage. Taylor Jones put his great speed to work, scoring two more breakaways, and notching his second hat-trick in as many games. The Huskies did get two back in the third, scored by Cam MacKinnon and Cody Kalb. But, the clock quickly wound down, and the Blades took a win, and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
“I honestly thought we had a pretty good effort out there” said Ryan Stickel after the game. “But we weren’t using our heads” he said. Stickel said his team had pinched at the wrong times, and tried too hard to force the play once they fell behind in the game.
Stickel also gave credit to the Blades, who have shown tremendous courage and belief so far in the series. “Their effort was good” Stickel said of the Blades’ underdog performance. “They’re a good puck moving team, and their top line moves the puck around well.”
Click here to listen to a highlights package from game 2.
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The Huskies now need three straight wins if they want to advance to the second round. That task begins on Saturday night, with game three, at 8 p.m., at the North Peace Arena.