FORT ST JOHN, B.C. – It was another exciting evening of hockey at the North Peace Arena Saturday night, as the Fort St. John Huskies and North Peace Navigators battled in a four- point game to determine who would end up with a bye in the first round of the NWJHL playoffs.
Though both teams seemed to struggle out of the gate in last night’s contest, it was the Huskies that would strike first. Skating the puck into the Navs’ zone, Matthew Apsassin found Jacob Lang, who then fed Gary Loewen to put the Huskies up 1-0 less than five minutes in. North Pease seemed to control the play more in the first period, winning more than two thirds of face-offs, though the Huskies outshot the Navigators 12-8.
Early in the second, Aiden Tegart took a tripping penalty. The Navs capitalized on the ensuing power play to tie things up at one in the dying seconds of the penalty. The Huskies ended up getting outshot by the Navs 15-10 in the second, though Jonathan Bateman turned away fourteen of those shots.
The Huskies seemed to control more of the play in the third period, though it was once again the Navs outshooting Fort St. John 15-12. A bouncing puck from near centre almost saw the Navs take the lead, as Bateman gave the crowd a scare trying to handle it. “It hit the post and then landed on top of my pad, but I honestly thought it went in the net,” said Bateman. Luckily, the puck stayed out and the game stayed tied until the final buzzer at the end of the third.
It only took thirty seconds of overtime to determine a winner. After taking a pass from Jacob Lang and Jared Loewen, Apsassin skated the puck deep into the Navs’ zone. Posting up in Gretzky’s office, Apsassin made a pass out front of the net, but the puck hit Navs’ goalie Trevor Withers’ skate and bounced into the net, allowing the Huskies to clinch 3rd place in the NWJHL standings.
The Huskies will face off against the Sexsmith Vipers in the first round of the NWJHL playoffs. In a warmup of that playoff series, the two teams will meet at the North Peace Arena at 2:00 p.m. Sunday for their final regular season game.