It was a great start for the Huskies last night, who put the pressure on the visiting Vipers by scoring the game’s opening goal only 1:32 into the first period. Huskies forward Dylan Houle took a long, crisp breakout pass from Cayle Bell, taking the puck around a Sexsmith defender to his backhand for a partial break away, and pulling a nice move on Vipers tender Braydon Glinnum, sliding it to his backhand and in the net for a 1-0 lead.
As the chippy opening period progressed, so did the game’s intensity, as bodies began to fly at one-another, with players taking the opportunity to throw some big body checks at every chance they got.
However, the Pups’ lead wouldn’t last, as Sexsmith scored twice in the first, once on the power-play, as a screened point shot beat starting goaltender Travis McLean, while the second was a shot beating him low glove side, to wrap up the first with the Huskies down 2-1.
The second period proved to be the best of the night for the Huskies, as Cayle Bell banged in a rebound 3:38 into the second, tying the game at 2-2, with Dylan Houle getting the lone assist. Just over three minutes later, the combo of Houle and Bell struck again as Houle scored his second of the night off a quick shot in the slot, set up by Bell, to re-take a 3-2 lead.
That lead was extended thanks to a power play goal by Robbie Sidhu, after shooting the puck low from the point to beat a screened Glinnum, providing the Huskies a 4-2 lead.
The power-play marker didn’t seem to discourage the Vipers, who responded with a second period goal of their own 12:16 into the middle frame, concluding the period with the Huskies leading 4-3.
It was a tough third period for Fort St. John, as the team controlled most of the period’s play, but were unable to slip another goal past Glinnum, who made numerous big saves, especially within the final five minutes of play while his team was short-handed.
It was a different story for Sexsmith, as the Vipers managed to score twice in the final frame, with the game-tying goal coming off a fluke bounce off a Fort St. John defender only 35 seconds into the period, followed by a nice, cross-ice backdoor feed with just under five minutes remaining in the game, for a final score of 5-4.
Following the emotional game, head coach Gary Alexander said his team needs to maintain their focus and take better control of the puck.
“There was a lot of add man rushes out there which turned over (the puck) and caused three goals tonight, and any time you give up three goals on the same type of play it’s going to beat you every time. So we just have some more work to do.”
Alexander also talked about the play of both Dylan Houle and rookie Cayle Bell, who both showed they are becoming more comfortable in the NWJHL with every game, combining for six points in Thursday’s tilt.
“Dylan is getting better every game, I was impressed tonight with Cayle Bell as well, he was a lot more physical tonight than he has been, and Dylan is handling the puck better and skating better every night. We certainly have the talent to be better than we are.”
That talent will be put to the test twice more over the weekend, as the Huskies will next welcome the Fairview Flyers to the North Peace Arena Friday evening, for what promises to be a physical, high-intensity hockey game.
Friday’s game begins at 8 p.m.