The Grande Prairie Wheelers left Fort St. John with an authoritative win under their belts.

Friday night, the third place Wheelers left the North Peace Arena with a 8-1 victory over the Huskies, evening up the season series at two games each.

Once again, Fort St. John began the game at a disadvantage, as they were short benched due to injury.

The first period was showcased by the goaltenders. Fort St. John’s Ty Gullickson and Grande Prairie’s Tyler Van Erve both made key saves in the frame, keeping the period scoreless. 

The second period was the beginning of the end for the Huskies. The period began with Grande Prairie sustaining heavy pressure in the Huskies zone. The Huskies struggled with winning defensive zone face-offs, losing three in a row, all leading to quality scoring chances by the Wheelers. 

It was only a matter of time before Grande Prairie would capitalize. A blast from the point, courtesy of another offensive face-off win by the Wheelers, would create a scrum in front of the Huskies net.  Nick Fitzpatrick got the puck, shot low and beat Gullickson for the opening score of the game. 

Shortly after the opening goal, Gullickson would find himself facing a two on none chance for the Wheelers. Grande Prairie executed the play to perfection, only to have the goal snatched away by the quick glove of the Huskies goalie. The play seemed to be a possible turning point for the pups, but it was Grande Prairie who would build momentum.  

The Wheelers scored three more times in the second,  outshooting the Huskies 17-5 and entered the third period with a commanding 4-0 lead.

The third period saw much of the same, just with many more penalties. The physical, hard hitting period witnessed Grande Prairie score four more goals, bringing their evening total to eight. 

Fort St. John did manage get on the scoreboard while on the power play. Some smart perimeter puck movement opened up a shooting lane for Robbie Sidhu, who was wearing the captain “C” in replacement of the injured Aaron Dendys. Sidhu Blasted a slap shot from above the right face-off circle, beating the screened Wheelers goalie, with the assists coming from Cash Brinkworth and Dayne Pedersen. 

Although, the Huskies did manage to come out victorious in one aspect of the evening’s game. With roughly ten minutes left in the game, frustration boiled over for Huskies Brighton Campbell, who engaged in a fight with Wheelers Rob McGuigan. The two went at it quite intensely, with Campbell getting the better of the two.

An 8-1 loss was clearly not the start to the weekend the Huskies were looking for. According to Assistant Coach Jeremy Clothier, these type of losses tend to happen when the teams suffer from being short benched. What’s important, is that the Huskies learn from the evening so they can improve for their games on Saturday and Sunday. 

Clothier says the team will be getting some injured players back for tomorrows trip to Peace River. One player he says he’s thankful will be returning, is forward Dylan Apsassin. 

The Huskies will now face the challenge of playing two tough back to back road games. Tomorrow they play in Peace River against the second place Navigators and Sunday in Whitecourt, against the first place Wolverines.