By Jon Zacks
The Huskies played their best game of their NWJHL semi-final series, but it still wasn’t enough, as the Grande Prairie Wheelers held on for a 5-4 win on Sunday evening.
Cordell Shmyr and Kyle Weegar both scored a pair of goals, while Riley Halwa added the game winner.
Payden Wongstedt returned to the Huskies lineup, and made an immediate impact, scoring three times, including twice on the powerplay. Cam MacKinnon scored the other Huskies goal.
Garrett Muir suffered the loss in goal stopping 29 of 34 shots he faced, while Kris Dika extended his playoff record to 7-0, stopping 25 of 29 shots.
“They’ve got really good defence, and their goalie played a really good game tonight” said Huskies forward Cody Kalb after the game. The Huskies were obviously disappointed to see their season come to a close, but also took solace in knowing they had put their full effort into trying to come back. “The coach did a great job preparing us, and the trainers did everything they could, and we all played our butts off” said Ryan Stickel after the game, suggesting “just that little feeling of urgency” was all that was missing.
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Sunday’s game.
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The victory gives Grande Prairie a sweep in the best-of-seven series, advancing the Wheelers to the NJWHL finals, where they will meet the Whitecourt Wolverines.
For the Huskies, the season comes to an end.
For some, including Cody Kalb, it means an end to junior hockey altogether. Kalb says he’s still unsure of his future plans at this point, although he says he may suit up for the Senior Flyers at some point.
“We’ll see what happens with the Allan Cup this year, and with the Flyers next year, so … maybe” Kalb said.
Kyle Porter was forced to watch the entire playoffs from the stands, after being served a lengthy suspension in a regular season game in Slave Lake. “It’s tough" said the forward, "but you know what, you always look forward to something bigger, and I’ll go play senior next year, and good luck to the boys next year.”
Ryan Stickel was playing his first season with the Huskies, after moving back to Fort St. John after previously playing collegiate baseball. Stickel is eligible to play Junior next year, and says he’s excited for the chance. “Hopefully I’d like to come back and play with these guys, and give ‘er another shot again" said the defenceman. "I really enjoyed my year, getting to be back here with all my buddies and play hard with them and play beside them, and I was lucky enough when I came back they gave me an opportunity to go ahead and play my game, so I’d like to be able to come back and give them another year … if they want me anyway.”