By Jon Zacks
The Huskies advanced to the second round, with a comfortable win over Beaverlodge in game five on Wednesday night.
The Blades scored the first goal, on a sharp angle shot from Taylor Jones four minutes into the first period.
But from there on out, it was all Fort St. John. Cody Gayse returned to the Blades lineup, and played the full 60 minutes in goal, facing 50 shots in total.
The Huskies scored five in the first, three in the second, and another four in the third, for a 12-2 victory.
The Huskies second line was particularly potent, with Luke McInerney, Cody Hildebrand, and Robbie Sidhu combining for seven goals. McInerney recorded four points (2 goals + 2 assists), Hildebrand had five (3+2) and Sidhu had 2 (2 goals). “It was excellent” said Cody Hildebrand after the game. “I love playing with them … we know where each other are all the time.” Hildebrand is hopeful the trio will stick together, saying “we played good enough tonight to prove that we should be together.”
In all, the Huskies got goals from Kole Norris (3), Sidhu (2), Hildebrand (3), McInerney (2), Cash Brinkworth, and Cody Kalb.
Taylor Jones had both goals for the Blades, to bring his total in the five-game series to nine goals, though Fort St. John did do a better job of shutting down the top line of Jones, Aaron Dumas, and Bob Bailey. “Five games in eight days for Beaverlodge, and that number-one line of theirs has been going every second shift all this time, and I know that they had to be getting tired, and you could see it tonight” said Huskies Coach Bob Kalb after the game. Kalb also referenced Beaverlodge’s goaltending situation, saying “they had their backup there tonight, and he did alright, but he had a lot of shots.”
Ty Gullickson made 34 saves, including a few eye-popping ones, for his third straight win in goal, though Coach Kalb says he was simply riding a hot goaltender, and still plans to use Garrett Muir in the next round.
There were four fights in the third period, however, the game did not devolve into the penalty-filled gong-show that many had been expecting, after the bad blood that had been developing earlier in the series. “Actually I thought it went pretty good” said Coach Kalb afterwards. “One of their guys came and talked to our captain about halfway through the game, and just said ‘show a little class, and we’ll try to as well’ so I don’t think they wanted to get things carried away.” Kalb said there were “one or two things that needed to get straightened out” but that otherwise his team wanted to stick to ‘playing hockey’.
The season is now over for the Blades, while the Huskies will advance to take on the Grande Prairie Wheelers in the next round. “They’re a good team, they’re going to be tougher than Beaverlodge, that’s for sure” said Cody Hildebrand of the Wheelers. “But we’ve got to come out and play our game, and we’ll be fine.”
Coach Kalb also seemed confident with his team’s chances, though he did admits it still has improvements to make. “We’re going to have to be better, we’re going to have to toughen up, and tighten up defensively” said Kalb, particularly referring to a need to be more disciplined down the road.
Round two (best-of-seven) schedule so far:
Game 1 – Mon. March 1st @ Fort St. John
Game 2 – Wed. Mar. 3rd – @ Grande Prairie
Game 3 – Fri. Mar. 5th – @ Fort St. John
Game 4 – TBA @ GP