FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Northeast BC/Yukon Trackers were victorious on home ice in front of close to 1,000 screaming fans at the North Peace Arena this afternoon.
The Trackers hosted the Grande Prairie Athletic Club Storm at noon Friday for their 2nd Annual Food Bank fundraiser game. Before the start of the game, the Trackers paid tribute to longtime Fort St. John hockey coach Sid Davis, who sadly passed away earlier this week.
After the puck drop, Duncan Ross put the Trackers up 1-0 just over a minute and a half in, assisted by Connor Bowie. Two and a half minutes later, Bowie would make it 2-0 after getting a feed from Devan Minard and John Herrington. After Chase London was assessed a goaltender interference penalty near the halfway mark, Grande Prairie managed to cut the Trackers’ lead in half, taking away some of the home teams’ momentum. Shots on goal were 16-6 after the first period.
After refocusing during the intermission, Northeast BC came out flying in the second frame. Ross scored his second of the game on the penalty kill at the 6:23 mark to restore the team’s two-goal lead, assisted by Nathan Brownlee. Four minutes later, Curtis Hammond netted his ninth of the season on the powerplay helped by Herrington and Bowie. Less than two minutes after Hammond’s goal, Nick Loewen made it 5-1 for the Trackers, assisted by London. Despite going down five men to four, Bowie managed to pick off the puck and tally his second of the game shorthanded with 5:28 remaining.
The Athletic Club began to show their frustration, resulting in a fight breaking out in front of the Grande Prairie net with 4:21 left in the period. Nathan Brownlee ended up getting tossed for fighting, along with another Grande Prairie player. Despite this, the Trackers maintained their composure as Aiden Craig-Steele scored an unassisted tally to make it 7-1 with just 56 seconds left in the middle stanza.
In the third, both teams seemed to settle down somewhat, though the Trackers would keep up the attack on the Athletic Club’s beleaguered defence. Less than five minutes in London scored a powerplay goal, on his birthday no less, to make it 8-1 after getting set up by Hammond and Connor Kindrat. Near the middle of the period, a bad bounce managed to find its way past Tyler McCarther, shifting some momentum towards the visiting team. However, it wouldn’t last as Jayden Viens scored his first of the season to seal the deal for the Trackers, assisted by Ross. The Trackers would outshoot Grande Prairie 46-18 in their 9-2 beatdown of the Athletic Club.
Head coach Gerard Dicaire said his players were excited to play in front of so many of their peers. “The guys have been talking about this game from the beginning of the year,” said Dicaire. “Mentally, just told them to use the crowd towards their energy on the ice. Use it as a momentum swing, use it in any way or form to get themselves into the game and keep their emotions in check.” Dicaire added that the team will be taking a well-needed rest before refocusing on the latter half of the season ahead of hosting BC Hockey Midget Tier 1 provincials in March.