So Jon Zacks posted an entry on the blog. JZ blogging. I was skeptical that I would ever see the day. And what a first post it turned out to be. Equal parts funny and insightful. Well thought out and well written. Long winded? Maybe. But let’s focus on the positives since it was his first entry. Oh and if you read the Gutenberg part, and like me, were left scratching your head. Gutenberg apparently invented the printing press. Thank you once again Google/Wikipedia. Anyway, welcome to the world of blogging Jon, it is good to have you on board. (On board is kind of a pun because sometimes I feel like JZ looks like a pirate. It’s a stretch but I had to go for it.)
Ok now for the real reason for this blog post. The Whitecourt Wolverines. The team that not only broke the NWJHL’s duopoly, it blew it into a million pieces. Fort St John and Peace River. They were the two dominant forces in this league for as long as the league has been around. Sure there was a year when Dawson Creek won a Championship but let’s face it, this was Peace and John’s league. Then along came the Wolverines. Those upstarts from Alberta that made the finals in their first year and should have won it. That year Peace River, or North Peace which ever you prefer, got one over on Whitecourt and maintained their grip on NWJHL dominance. Whitecourt should have won that series but at the very least they sent a message. Last year the Wolverines went one better. Only 3 losses in the regular season, none on home ice. A perfect playoff record including a sweep of a very good Husky team in the finals. Message received. Whitecourt is now the dominant force in the N-Dub. The question is can FSJ and Peace reassert their Peace region Junior B supremacy? Well this weekend will help answer that question, from a Fort St John perspective anyway.
Peace River will be a good team, after Christmas. They are hosting Alberta Junior B Provincials at the end of the season and they are building towards that tournament with almost a completely new roster. So we will put them aside for now. Then there are the Wolverines who lost a lot of good players from last year’s team. The Hore brothers, Darcy Charrois, and Neil Masonneuve are gone from what was a stacked back end and Rod Lavoie, the league’s top scorer last year, departed as well. Yet here we are 7 games into the new season and Tyler Stubbs, Wayne Quaiffe and company are sitting pretty at 7 wins without a defeat. One of those 7 wins was a pretty convincing win over the Pups in Whitecourt two weekends ago. Whitecourt has the best goalie in the league in Ryan Demharter and maybe the second best goalie in the league backing him up. Disheartened? Don’t be. Here is the silver lining for the Huskies.
They outplayed Whitecourt in the first period two weeks ago. They should have been ahead going into the first break. So they know they can play with the Wolverines. They just can’t stop moving their feet and being aggressive on the fore check like they did in the second period of that same game. As Jon mentioned in his blog post the ‘D’ for the Huskies is improving with every game. And Garrett Muir was excellent between the pipes in Peace River. You mix a strong defensive game with the highly skilled forward group that this Huskies team can put on the ice and you have the makings of a top team. Plus this weekend the Huskies are on home ice and it is tough to win on the road in the NWJHL. So the Huskies hold the key to beating Whitecourt in their hands. Play a full 60 minute effort and they have a shot at moving within 3 points of the Wolverines.
If and when the Huskies start beating Whitecourt on a regular basis (just beating them at all would be a good start) we can open a debate about which team is the best in the league. Will that debate start this weekend? Check it out Saturday at the NPA at 8pm. You won’t regret it.
The Huskies also play Sunday against Sexsmith at 2pm at the NPA but let’s take it one game at a time.