The Huskies were once again unable to leapfrog the Junior Canucks for fourth place in the NWJHL standings.
Saturday night, the Huskies welcomed the second place Peace River Navigators to Fort St. John, with hopes of recording at least one win this weekend.
The Huskies entered the game already at a disadvantage, as injuries to the team had shortened their bench. Regardless, the game began with the Huskies establishing a good cycle. Unfortunately, the tides turned quickly for the Huskies when Cory Langdon took a cross checking retaliation penalty five minutes into the game, earning him an ejection.
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It didn’t take long for the penalty to effect the scoreboard. Some nice perimeter puck movement by the Navigators allowed their defensemen to find Bo Asmussen open on the left side of the net. Asmussen received the pass and quickly beat Gullickson low for the game’s opening goal.
After the games first goal, Peace River brought the pressure. Gullickson kept the Huskies alive, as he faced 17 shots in the first period alone, making numerous big saves for the club. The sustained pressure came as a result of the Huskies struggling with their breakout. Peace River’s defense also did an exceptional job at holding the line while in the Huskies zone, creating numerous chances from the point.
Peace River Coach Darcy Haughan talked about his mobile defense and said how effective they can be when their heads are on a swivel and they move their feet.
The constant pressure would nip the Huskies again, as the Navs would score another with five minutes left in the first. Gullickson was unable to handle a point shot and Brenton Wiebe would pop in the rebound. The period would end with the Navigators outshooting the Huskies 17-6 and with a 2-0 lead.
It was a different Huskies team that hit the ice in the second. They looked determined off the hop to even up the game, shooting the puck from all over the ice.
The Huskies would hit the score sheet only 1:25 into the second. A low point shot by Dayne Pederson caused a rebound creating a scramble for the puck. After a few attempts it was Robbie Sidhu who eventually put the biscuit in the basket.
Unfortunately, Peace River would be the next team to score as Gullickson was unable to handle a shot form the slot. The puck bounced right to an open Navigator at the right of the net, who popped in the rebound making it a 3-1 game.
However, the Huskies showed resiliency and refused to be discouraged. After a solid penalty kill, the Huskies broke in two on two and fired the puck on net. The shot was deflected behind the net, but the Huskies were the first to retrieve it. Robbie Sidhu came streaking in as the third man and received the puck in the high slot. Sidhu scored his second of the night on an out of position goaltender with only eight seconds left in the period, to finish the second with a 3-2 score for Peace River.
The Huskies short bench would catch up with them the third. Despite battling hard, they were unable match the pace that the Navigators were setting. Peace River would grind down the Huskies, scoring four more goals in the third period for a 7-2 final score.
Huskies Coach Bob Kalb discussed his teams short bench, saying how these games are tough and when these situations occur you try to keep it close and hopefully catch a break. Despite the loss, coach Kalb was pleased with the effort his players gave him tonight.
It was a memorable night for Peace River’s Coach Darcy Haughan, who recorded his 200th career win. Haughan said how it was nice to earn the win in Fort St. John due to rivalry between the two teams. He also gave credit to Robbie Sidhu and Ty Gullickson, who he said played great games for the Huskies.
The Huskies play next on Wednesday night in Fort St. John. They play a crucial game against Dawson Creek, who only sit one point ahead of them for fourth place in the league.