After playing their hearts out in Whitecourt in games one and two, it seemed like a couple of days off and a return to home ice would be just the ticket for the Fort St. John Huskies.
But, trailing the series 2-0, the Huskies had a disappointing game on Wednesday night, as they struggled to generate scoring chances, and stem the tide of the Wolverines attack.
It was the Huskies who drew first blood, when Dylan Apsassin stole the puck from Whitecourt goalie Ryan Demharter, and backhanded it into an open net. It was a shorthanded goal for the Huskies, and just the start they needed.
A few minutes later, Mitch Ternan dug out a puck in the corner, and centred to a wide open Kjell Reid, who buried it to even the game 1-1.
Whitecourt would get a short-handed goal of their own, when Mitch rose beat Linden Apsassin to create a two-on-one, and then beat Zack Blain short-side to give the Wolverines the lead.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the first, Ryan Whelen doubled the lead, when Jordan Stead gave him a gift in front of the net, after the Huskies had been unable to clear their defensive zone.
Early in the second, Whitecourt notched another, this time on the powerplay, when Zack Blain stopped a Darcy Charrois point shot, with the rebound falling right to Rod Lavoie, who tapped it home, to make it 4-1 Whitecourt. Lavioe knew it was a huge goal, putting some daylight between them and their hosts.
Late in the second period, two Whitecourt penalties on the same play gave the Huskies a full two-minute two-man advantage. It only took 21 seconds before Payden Wongstedt hammered a point shot through the crowd, to get the Huskies back in the game. But, though Fort St. John still had some time left on the powerplay, and though Whitecourt took another penalty shortly thereafter, the pups couldn’t get more than the one goal, and they still trailed 4-2 after 40 minutes of play.
Payden Wongstedt had a few theories on why the pups powerplay struggled. “We weren’t controlling it properly, the bounces weren’t going our way, and we’ve got to start winning more draws” he said.
In the third, Jordan Stead added all the insurance the Wolverines would need, shoving a loose puck past Zack Blain, to make it 5-2, which was how it all ended.
Talking to Payden Wongstedt after the game, it was clear what had been missing in the game.
Likewise, coach Bob Kalb was a little disappointed with his team’s effort.
As far as players that he had been impressed with on the night, coach Kalb said it was a pretty short list, for such an important game. He singled out Dylan Apsassin, Dan Pappin, and Payden Wongstedt as players who always give a good effort, as well as his three midget call-ups (Robbie Sidhu, Jordan Walters, and David Green). Walters and Green played on a defensive pairing on the night, while Cody Kalb was clearly suffering from a shoulder injury, and barely seemed able to play.
Coach Kalb also noticed times that his players seemed less willing to sacrifice the body than they had previously been in the playoffs. “People have to be willing to take a check to make a play” he said, saying the guys hadn’t been willing to do it in game three.
But, it’s also clear that Wongstedt doesn’t plan on mailing it in tomorrow.
And so, the Wolverines take a 3-0 lead in the series, with a chance to wrap it up on Thursday night, at 8pm, at the North Peace Arena.