Huskies win 7-1 over the Peace River Navigators
Friday night’s game was filled with expectation, as the host Navigators looked to fight back into the top three, and the Huskies looked to clinch second place overall.
It was Fort St. John that drew first blood. After two early penalties, Dylan Apsassin opened the scoring, tapping home a cross-crease pass from Dan Pappin, who had tipped and then dug out a Jesse Disher point shot. Mitch Kohut responded for North Peace, blasting a powerplay marker past Zack Blain. It would be the only scoring in the first, though the Huskies did control the play, despite being served three more penalties.
In the second period the Huskies tore into the Navigators, inspired by the speed of Payden Wongstedt. The ranging defenceman put the Huskies back in front early in the period, taking advantage of a four-on-four situation, as he charged down the right wing and buried a slap-shot past Bretton Stewart. Less than two minutes later, Wonstedt was ranging down the right side again. As Kyle Smith slid to check him, the two slid into goalie Bretton Stewart. The netminder remained on the ice, appealing for a penatly, as the puck bounced back to the point, and was wristed home by an alert Cash Brinkworth. The Navigators fumed at the official, but earned only a misconduct to captain Joel Balfour.
As North Peace lost its focus and composure, Fort St. John smelled blood. Cody Hildebrand slid a weak off-balance shot towards the net, which slid underneath a screened Bretton Stewart. And with 0.6 seconds remaining in the second, Dan Pappin fired a slap-pass to Dylan Apsassin, who stood alone at the side of the net, and redirected it home, to send the teams into the rooms at 5-1 FSJ.
Once more in the third, some sloppy Navigators penalty killing led to a Huskies goal. Jon Spence blocked a clearing attempt, and fired a weak shot towards the net. It was tipped by a Navs defender, bobbled by Stewart, and spilled at the side of the net, for Dylan Apsassin to convert, for his third tap in of the night.
The game was over, but there was still much more to come. Jay Gaydosh tried to get Kyle Porter to fight, but could convince him, and was given a 2 minute minor (which led to D. Apsassin’s third goal). Minutes later, Zack Blain hacked at Kyle Richardon who was battling in front. Richardson turned on Blain, only to be assailed by Payden Wongstedt. While the officials broke up Wongstedt and Richardson, Jay Gaydosh got his reply from Kyle Porter, and the two flipped the mits. Twice, Porter was knocked off his feet, but with no officials around, he climbed back up and fought back, with Gaysosh eventually taking the decision.
With 45 seconds left, the battle turned ugly, as Kole Norris was leveled by Gerry Young. The Huskies looked to the officials and to Young, incensed at the hit. But the focus turned to Norris, who lay motionless on the ice. Concern mounted as paramedics were called and trainers attended the 18 year-old. He lost consciousness, but awoke within minutes, was stabilized and talking by the time the stretcher arrived. The clock was allowed to run out, and the Huskies won their first game in Peace River in two years, albeit in a bittersweet finish.
The 7-1 win was an important one for Fort St. John. The two points clinch second place overall in the NWJHL, meaning the Huskies are guaranteed home ice for at least the first two rounds in the playoffs. With two games remaining, the Huskies already know they will open the playoffs against the Slave Lake Wolves. They also have the strength of perhaps their best game of the season, as they prepare to play the Whitecourt Wolverines for the first time on home ice.
And Kole Norris would be fine. He has a concussion, with a loss of consciousness. He was taken to the hospital, but rejoined the team on the bus back home.
Listen to this highlights package
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Don’t miss this weekend’s final two home games, as the Huskies host the Whitecourt Wolverines. Games are Saturday night at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm.