FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Fort St. John Huskies have got the Sexsmith Vipers on the brink of elimination in the first round of the NWJHL playoffs, after rallying in the third period in Saturday night’s game.
It was a physical start to the first period, with both teams throwing solid checks. Though both teams settled down a touch as the first wore on, it was a period that featured close back-and-forth hockey with solid goaltending at both ends. Jonathan Bateman made 6 saves in the opening stanza, while none of the Huskies’ ten shots made it into the Vipers’ net.
The second period started and it appeared as though Sexsmith seemed to be in control of the play. The stalemate continued at both ends until there was just 3:45 left in the stanza. The Vipers managed to slide one past Bateman to take a 1-0 lead. Though they outshot Sexsmith 12-9, the Huskies weren’t able to get the pucks past Vipers netminder Tyler Boe, and went into the second intermission down by one point.
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The Huskies came into the third, and seemed to have changed course during the break. Assistant coach Todd Alexander said that the Pups played the first two periods of the game trying to play the Vipers’ game style, which had worked to their detriment. After regrouping during the intermission, Alexander said that the Huskies started to play their game in the third period, and soon started to see positive results. Less than five minutes in, Matthew Apsassin took a pass from Gary Loewen and Jacob Lang to tie the game up at one apiece. Just over three minutes later, Loewen would make it 2-1 for the Dogs, taking a pass from Apsassin and Aiden Tegart. Bateman made a series of spectacular saves as the Vipers weren’t taking the change in momentum without a fight. Despite the Vipers’ offensive push, the Huskies were also putting plenty of shots on net, outshooting Sexsmith 16-14 in the third. With 44 seconds remaining, Apsassin added his second of the game on a feed from Jacob Lang to give the Huskies some insurance. Though there was a scrum with 25 seconds left, the VIpers took the balance of the penalties, effectively sealing the deal for the Huskies to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five series with the 3-1 win.
The Huskies could eliminate the Vipers in Game 3 today on home ice. The puck drops at the North Peace Arena at 1:00 p.m.