It was an intense start to a game between two teams who haven’t played each other since November, as rather than take the usual “feel each other out” approach, the teams decided instead to increase the physicality, as big hits were flying everywhere Saturday night.
Following a few thunderous checks, the games first goal was scored by the Flyers just 1:47 into the first, as a bad angle goal beat Huskies goaltender Daimon Derouin, providing the visitors a quick 1-0 lead.
The Huskies evened the score just over a minute later, as defenseman Daylen Pearson shot the puck into the Flyers zone for a routine dump-in, however, the puck decided to take a funny couple of bounces, fooling Flyers starting goaltender CJ Wass and tying the game at 1-1.
The Flyers reclaimed that lead while short handed, as Khalin Marsolais blocked a Huskies power-play point shot, springing him on a breakaway and despite Robbie Sidhu chasing him down, Marsolais shot the puck low blocker passed Derouin for the 2-1.
With the second period beginning 2-1 in favour of Fairview, the middle frame was not a friendly one for the Huskies. The Flyers scored three goals before the 11 minute marker of the second, one of which on the power-play, ending Derouin’s evening at 10:57 into the second, as Travis McLean was called to duty to relieve the rookie goaltender.
The second also produced a bit of the rough stuff, as with the ample supply of hits taking place, tempers eventually boiled over, as Huskies forward Tyler Norris and Flyers Mike Misener dropped the glove in a heated fight, which continued even as the refs attempted to break it up.
Just when it looked like the Huskies were clinging to life, a goal from Dayne Pedersen with eight seconds left in the period, provided a spark for the Huskies, as the period concluded 5-2 for the Flyers.
The third period was an exciting one to watch, as the Huskies peppered Wass with shots from every angle, but the Fairview goaltender was up for the challenge, making countless saves to preserve the lead for the visiting team.
Dylan Houle managed to score another goal for the Huskies 11:52 into the third, knocking the puck off a Flyers defenseman and passed a surprised Wass, producing the 5-3 final score.
Despite scoring three goals, the Huskies had many opportunities to even the score, as the home team was awarded seven power-plays on the evening, but were unable to beat Wass on any of them, going zero-for-seven on the power play. On the opposite end of the ice, the Flyers were also awarded seven power-plays, scoring once with the man-advantage.
Even though it was a bit of a shaky start in net for Fort St. John, Travis McLean played great in his relief role Saturday, stopping every shot he faced. McLean even suffered a bit of an injury scare, which stopped play for around five minutes, but after the game joked and said it was nothing Advil and ice can’t fix.
Following the loss, head coach Gary Alexander said Saturday’s game was a rare performance from his club, who have been playing extremely well down the home stretch of the regular season.
“We didn’t have any jump right from the start. We’ve had a pretty good run in January and early February. The worst games we’ve played were against Grande Prairie and the game tonight was our worst two games we’ve played in three weeks. For whatever reason, maybe a little bit of pressure, they (the players) think they have to perform, but we’ve played pretty good coming down this last stretch, had two hiccups and lost both of those games.”
Saturday’s loss also snapped the Huskies three-game winning streak.
Coach Alexander added that he still has the utmost of confidence in his club that they can compete with the top teams as the Huskies now enter the post season in fifth place.
Back to McLean, the goaltender said that entering the post season in fifth place as the underdogs is a role the Huskies are not only okay with, but one they embrace.
“I feel since Christmas that we can make a serious charge in the playoffs. For sure the top four teams are all counting us out anyways, so we’re the underdog or the dark horse coming in, we don’t mind that.”
McLean also talked about his fellow goaltender's evening, saying being pulled in any game is a learning process for a rookie goaltender, something gain experience from, and a situation that he went through himself, along with veteran goalies before him.
The Huskies wrap up their regular season this afternoon, for a hockey matinee in Peace River versus the Navigators. The game hits the ice at 3:30 p.m. and all the action can heard live on 100.1 Moose FM.
To tune in to the final Huskies game of the regular season, click here.