FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Huskies are off to the NWJHL finals after defeating the Grande Prairie JDA Kings in overtime in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The Huskies ended up losing their captain Jarod Lang early in the game after being slew-footed and hitting the ice head first early in the first period. At the first intermission, the game remained scoreless.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring midway through the middle frame but it would be shortlived as three minutes later Nolan Legace accepted a pass from Jared Loewen, skated down the right wing and wired a shot bar down to even the score at 1-1. Even after outshooting the Kings 29-14 after 40 minutes of play the game still remained deadlocked.
The Kings scored with 9:00 left to play in the third stanza on the power play to retake a lead that was once again shortlived as Gary Loewen took a Geoff Dick saucer pass and wired a wrister past the visiting netminder’s earhole to even the score at twos. After sixty minutes of action, both teams were tied 2-2 and sudden death overtime was needed to decide a winner.
At 2:57 of the extra frame Matthew Apsassin collected a loose puck behind the Kings net, skated out in front and fired a shot that bounced off the goalie’s pad and rolled into the empty cage as the Pups bench clearly in a hurry and mauled an ecstatic Apsassin.
Zak Babbin made 22 of 24 saves for the Huskies while the home side fired 47 rubber biscuits on the Kings goaltender.
“We played a great game,” said head coach Todd Alexander. “We out-chanced them by a two to one margin. By the third period they flipping pucks into the neutral zone and waiting to jump on an error by our defenceman, but we weren’t having any of it. We lost a couple of guys in the series to injury, but we kid some well-deserved rest.”
“It feels amazing,” added goaltender Babbin. “I haven’t been up here for that long as it seems like yesterday they called me up from Surrey. I was thrown into the playoffs and I’m happy that I helped the team move into the finals. Surreal feeling.”
The Huskies win the series 4-1.
The Huskies now await the winner of Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks and North Peace Navigators. The Jr. Canucks lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 set for Wednesday.