FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Fort St. John Huskies are just one win away from winning the NWJHL playoffs after thoroughly whooping the North Peace Navigators on home ice Sunday evening.
The Huskies opened the scoring just over three minutes into the first period when Darion Fay wired a shot past the Navs’ netminder Ryan Noble on the powerplay assisted by Jared Loewen. A minute and thirty-three seconds later it was 2-0 Fort St. John courtesy of a goal by Gary Loewen. Geoff Dick tallied the lone helper on Loewen’s goal, his first of three assists in the game. Both teams recorded 12 shots on goal in the first period.
The Huskies maintained control of the game into the second frame. Nolan Legace added some more insurance for the Pups 3:07 after the first intermission, assisted by Dick. The Navs would finally break Zak Babin’s shutout bid just over five minutes later, but Fort St. John wouldn’t go away. Jacob Lang scored unassisted 41 seconds later to regain the Huskies’ three-goal lead. An interference penalty by Legace ended up resulting in another goal for North Peace with just under seven and a half minutes left in the frame. The team from Peace River outshot the Huskies 14-8 in the second period.
In the third, the Huskies maintained their composure and the presence in the driver’s seat. Lang scored his second of the night just 48 seconds into the third on a give-and-go feed from Matthew Apsassin to make it 5-2 for the Huskies. Just over three minutes later it was 6-2 for the Pups after Legace scored his second, assisted by Dick and Gary Loewen. That goal ended up being the last for Navs’ goalie Noble, who was pulled in favour of backup Xavier Lavoie.
The Huskies would keep up their physical play through the rest of the game, which would get to the Navs late in the third. While forechecking in the North Peace zone with just over four minutes left, Joel Bourgeois was dealt a cross-check to the back of the neck into the boards by North Peace defenseman Sam Needham. Needham was given a five minute major for Checking to the Head and an automatic Game Misconduct, meaning he’ll be sitting for the next game. Fort St. John’s Darion Fay was handed a Roughing minor and a 10-minute Misconduct penalty for jumping in to back his teammate up in the ensuing scrum.
After their minor penalty expired, the Huskies kept up pressure with the man advantage for the rest of the game. Jeridyn Loewen sealed the deal with six seconds left, scoring on the powerplay assisted by brothers Jacob and Jarod Lang. Though North Peace would outshoot Fort St. John 39-37, Zak Babin only let in two of those shots and backstopped the Huskies to the 7-2 victory.
The best of five series will now return to Peace River on Tuesday night where Fort St. John could claim their first NWJHL Championship since 2007. Puck drop at the Baytex Energy Centre is at 8:00 p.m. with the game being streamed on the Huskies’ Ustream page: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/huskies-hockey