By Jon Zacks
The Huskies rolled to a 12-2 win in game four of their first-round playoff series on Monday night, to force a fifth and deciding game.
It was an eventful night in Beaverlodge, with more than 100 minutes in penalties assessed, and six fights breaking out.
The game seemed almost destined to end up in chaos, after the ejection of Beaverlodge goaltender Nolan Bowker (which led to a lengthy delay) and some bad blood, during game three in Fort St. John on Saturday.
Without the services of their two carded goaltenders (Bowker was suspended, and Cody Gayse was out of town), Beaverlodge was forced to start defenceman Tyrell Jones in goal in game four. And while the Blades kept it close through the first period, it seemed only a matter of time until the dam would burst.
The Huskies got first period goals from Cody Hildebrand, Cody Kalb, and Ryan Stickel, while Bob Bailey and Taylor Jones replied for Beaverlodge, for a 3-2 Fort St. John lead after 20 minutes.
In the second, the flood-gates opened, as the Huskies began to take advantage of an inexperienced goaltender in the Beaverlodge net. Fort St. John would add four more in the second, and another five in the third, for a final score of 12-2.
The Huskies got goals from Cody Hildebrand (2), Cody Kalb (3), Ryan Stickel, Kole Norris, Cam MacKinnon, Brighton Campbell (2), Luke McInerney, and Linden Apsassin. Bob Bailey and Taylor Jones replied with goals for Beaverlodge. Ty Gullickson got his second consecutive start in goal for Fort St. John, adding his second win of the series, after recording a shutout in game three.
Once the Blades began to realize the game was slipping out of reach, they began to crank up their physical play, leading to six different fights, as well as some chippy play both ways.
Robbie Sidhu was held to one assist in the game, but was one of six Huskies to drop the gloves. “I think they were just mad from what happened with their goalie” Sidhu said afterwards, “but I don’t think we can control that.”
Even Kole Norris got in on the act, dropping his gloves to defend himself after getting jumped by Nick Darke for the second consecutive game. “We told the guys just to keep their heads, and protect themselves” Huskies Assistant Coach Jeremy Clothier said after the game. “Don’t go out there looking for fights … but they happen. We had a couple of guys get jumped tonight, and a couple other incidents happen, and that’s not allowed.”
Payden Wongstedt’s eagerly anticipated return to the Huskies lineup was short-lived, as the Captain was ejected just five minutes into the game, for a hit-to-the head on Cody Moulds. As well, a member of the Beaverlodge coaching staff was kicked out, for his arguments after a disallowed Blades goal in the second period.
Click here to listen to a highlights package from game four.
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And so, the stage is now set for a game five showdown. The deciding game will be held in Fort St. John on Wednesday night. If the Huskies win, they will advance to play the Grande Prairie Wheelers in the second round. If the Blades win, they would likely play the top-seeded Whitecourt Wolverines.
“Apparently they’ve got a goalie now, so it should be a good game” Sidhu says of the game five matchup. “If we come out hard, we should easily win the series” he added.