The Huskies were outworked by the Grande Prairie Wheelers on Sunday afternoon, and suffered their first loss in seven games.
The first period was a fairly even contest, with neither team creating any terrific scoring chances. There was a good pace, but not a ton of physical play, and a noticeable lack of intensity.
In the second, the Wheelers ratcheted up their game, and earned the benefits. Liam Moon opened the scoring on the powerplay, when he converted the rebound on a Rory Simigan point shot. Two minutes later, another Simigan point shot was kicked out to Keith Comeau, who managed to spin and fire it past Ty Gullickson before the Huskies goalie could recover. Simigan added a goal to his impressive night, when he fired a slap-shot from just inside that fluttered past Gullickson, and the Huskies were reeling.
Late in the period, Brighton Campbell finally got the Huskies on the board, after a good forecheck from the Huskies third line, leaving Grande Prairie with a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Huskies got exactly the start they needed in the third, when Dan Pappin fired his own rebound past an outstretched Kris Dika. But, the Huskies couldn’t keep the intensity up, and the Wheelers managed to keep Fort St. John hemmed in the defensive zone for much of the rest of the game.
Midway through the third, Cordell Shmyr scored two goals just 37 seconds apart, both the result of soft defending from the Huskies. “We struggled in our own end again tonight, getting the puck out” Huskies Assistant coach Jeremy Clothier said after the game. “We coughed the puck up way too many times, and gave them two or three chances to score every time.”
With the game slipping out of reach, the Huskies tried to sate their frustration, with a few fights in the final minutes. First, Cory Langdon fought Keith Comeau, then Carter Sali fought Kael King, then Cash Brinkworth fought Cordell Shmyr on the same play as Brighton Campbell fought Paul Laroque. just 14 seconds remaining, the referee decided to run out the clock, giving the Wheelers a 5-2 win.
“We just didn’t come to win” said Jeremy Clothier of his team’s performance. Though the Huskies had looked better on Friday night in their 4-1 win over Peace River, Clothier suggested the result was symptomatic of deeper problems with the way his team is playing. “We’ve been playing like this for the last little while, we’ve been squeaking out some wins, but this was bound to happen.”
For Cory Langdon, the problem was simply. “Lack of effort out there” he said, adding “We just kind of fell apart as a team.” Clothier admitted the absence of Payden Wongstedt on Sunday hurt the team, particularly on the breakout. “But, on the other hand, the team needs to be able to step up when he’s not there. He plays with an edge all the time, so there’s going to be times when he’s missing.”
Clotheir said not too many of his players had come to play, but he did single out Moose FM player of the game Brighton Campbell for his effort on the third line. “He made a couple of big hits, and got the puck turned over, and put it in the net.”
Click here to listen to a highlights package from Sunday’s game. [asset|aid=2161|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=e118e5e28c11ba65077a7c975727e32d-Huskies lose 5-2 to the Grande Prairie Wheelers_1_Pub.mp3]
For Fort St. John, it was just the third regulation loss of the season, dropping the Huskies to 11-3-1 on the season. The pups remain in second place in the NWJHL, with games next weekend in Sexsmith (Fri Nov. 27) and Saturday home to Beaverlodge.