By Jon Zacks
It seemed like it took all night, but the Huskies posted a lop-sided win over Beaverlodge on Saturday night, to force a game four.
It was close for the first period, with the only goals coming off the sticks of Cam MacKinnon and Luke McInerney, for a 2-0 Fort St. John lead after 20 minutes.
In the second, the Huskies began to get to Blades goaltender Nolan Bowker, with Brighton Campbell scoring a minute in, and Robbie Sidhu adding his first of the series a few minutes later.
Halfway through the middle frame, fans were left scratching their heads, after a bizarre and unfortunate series of events. It began when Luke McInerney scored his second of the game, and then talked some trash towards the Beaverlodge netminder. Nolan Bowker responded by squirting McInerney with his water bottle. Bowker’s reaction was spotted by the referee, and earned him a gross misconduct. With Bowker kicked out of the game, and the Beaverlodge not carrying a back-up goaltender, the Blades’ coaching staff pulled its team from the game, and it appeared as if the Huskies would win by forfeit.
But, after learning the forfeit could lead to a suspension, and possibly even a forfeit of the entire series, the Blades decided to finish the game. After a delay of about an hour, the Blades got off their bus and back into their gear, while forward Daniel Yuill put on Bowker’s pads, and backstopped Beaverlodge the rest of the way.
“I didn’t think I was going to get sprayed in the face” admitted McInerney after the game. The forward admitted readily to ‘beaking’ the Blades goaltender, laughing that he thought it might help his team get in Bowker’s head.
“I have no idea what was going through their minds” said Huskies coach Bob Kalb of the unusual predicament. “It’s their problem for showing up with one goaltender. He did something stupid, gets a gross misconduct, you dress someone else, you don’t pack up your gear like little children and go home.”
Once the game did restart, it lacked intensity, though the Huskies did double their score, firing five more goals past a hapless Daniel Yuill. Luke McInerney added another goal, to complete his hat-trick, while Brighton Campbell and Robbie Sidhu added their second goals of the game, and Cody Kalb and Owen MacKinnon also found the back of the net. After getting pulled halfway through the first period of game one, Ty Gullickson held on to record a shutout.
But, the game didn’t run out without incident. Shortly after the restart, Blade Ryier Hommy was ejected for hitting Cody Hildebrand from behind. It was the second time in the series Hildebrand had taken a stiff hit from behind. He did not return to the game, though he is expected to play in game four.
With three minutes remaining, Cody Darke jumped Huskies forward Kole Norris. Norris would be okay, but Darke’s actions would further infuriate the Fort St. John players, coaches, and fans. “I shouldn’t have even had Kole out there, he was going after him” said Coach Kalb. “Kole is obviously not a fighter” he said, “we didn’t have a chance to get somebody else out there and give him something to fight about.”
And so, the Huskies will now head back to Beaverlodge for game four, still needing two more victories to win the series. Game four will be on Monday night, and Coach Kalb says his team still needs to be prepared for a battle from the Blades.
Luke McInerney, meanwhile, says he expects the Blades to play a hard and physical game four. “It’s definitely going to be a much harder game than tonight was” he said, adding, “we’ve got to work hard, and stick to the simple things … and win.”
Round 1 Schedule:
Game 1 – Beaverlodge 6 – Fort St. John 5 (OT)
Game 2 – Beaverlodge 7- Fort St. John 4
Game 3 – Fort St. John 10 – Beaverlodge 0
Game 4 – Mon. Feb 22 @ Beaverlodge (live on Moose FM)
Game 5 – Wed. Feb 24 @ Fort St. John (if necessary)