I think we all knew that the Huskies record wasn’t a true reflection of their season so far. They hadn’t really played well for a full 60 minutes and had beaten up on some weaker teams on home ice. The North Peace Arena is a tough place for opposing teams to win especially if those teams are from the lower half of the table. The Pups weren’t great in Dawson Creek either and if it wasn’t for a little luck and some great goaltending from Ty Gullickson they may never have walked out of the DC Memorial Arena with two points.
So when the Whitecourt Wolverines bus pulled into the NPA parking lot it was almost as if the Huskies season was really about to start. Except it didn’t. The Huskies never really showed up. It was far too easy for Whitecourt to impose themselves on the game and their defense, which may be their weakness, was never tested. They rarely had to retreet into their own zone to retrieve pucks and when they did they almost never got hit. Too many Huskies were trying to do too much on their own. It was a very poor outing. Sure, the reffing wasn’t good. Heck you could say it was downright awful. But that’s not why the Huskies lost and they knew it.
That’s why the effort on Sunday was much better. They managed to execute the game plan a little more. They hit some people and they didn’t hang their heads when bounces went against them. They even had some scoring chances that they maybe should have burried and it would have been a different game. But it wasn’t as bad as 5-2 might suggest. There were signs. Signs that the Pups had changed their attitude a little. Signs that the team was starting to really buy into the game plan and signs that the team now knew what it needed to do to compete with the top teams in the league.
All of that is what makes this weekend so fascinating. The Huskies now head out on the road on Saturday to face perhaps the best team in the league in the early going. The Peace River Navigators are loaded. They were a young team last year when they hosted Provincials and that young team is maturing quickly into a force in this league. They are right up there with Whitecourt as the team to beat in the NWJHL at this point. And the Huskies know it. How will they respond to the events of last weekend? Will there new found determination help them focus? Will they execute their game plan? Will they stay positive when a bounce or a call goes against them? We will get the answers to those questions and more Saturday night live on Moose FM and Energeticcity.ca starting with the pregame show at 7:45pm.
Oh and this weekend, that will help us figure out just who this team is, doesn’t end on Saturday. Fort St John is back on home ice on Sunday to take on the Grande Prairie Wheelers. The team that knocked the Pups out of last season’s playoffs. They sport the league’s top scorer at the moment as well as perhaps the league’s best puck stopper. Talk about a test. Peace River and then Grande Prairie. And I thought last weekend was important. By Monday morning we should really know just who these Huskies are and what they are made of.