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Huskies begin year with big win

The game began with Huskies Head Coach Gary Alexander starting his newly developed and extremely talented top line of Huskies' Captain Cody Hildebrand, the team’s leading scorer Robbie Sidhu and recent addition to the roster, Shawn Holliday. The line, proving to be very productive for the Huskies, immediately went to work and on their second shift of the game, scored the game’s opening goal.

At the 5:21 marker of the first, Sidhu worked the puck low in the offensive zone, finding Holiday at the top of the slot, who made a nice pass to Hildebrand back door for the one-timer goal.  

The line would strike again before the conclusion of the first period, as another beautiful tic-tac-toe play between the three would result in a Holliday one-timer for the 2-0 lead.

The Huskies offense would take over for the second and third periods, scoring six more goals on Vipers’ goalie Brayden Glinnum, three of which were scored by Huskies forward Cole Calliou.

Calliou, who is playing at the top of his game, produced half of the Huskies offense in the final two frames, doing so in a variety of situations. The speedy forward, who was all over the ice Friday night, scored at regular strength, on the power play and capped off the hat-trick with a beautiful short handed breakaway, where he pulled the puck to his backhand and roofed it over the glove of Glinnum.

Following the game, Calliou talked about his mind frame as of late and how it has helped him be a better player on the ice. He talked about how coming off a six game suspension at the beginning of the season really helped him put things into perspective. He discussed how before talking to the coaching staff, he was doing all the wrong things on the ice. He attributes his recent success to the Huskies coaches, who have helped him focus his energy on scoring, rather than activities that lead to a seat in the penalty box.

When asked about how he feels on the ice, Calliou responded with a big smile on his face, “I’m just loving hockey right now.”

Calliou finished the game with three goals and one assist for a four point performance.

Huskies head coach Gary Alexander also talked about the play of Calliou, saying, “he has lots of a skill and energy, and when he focuses that energy in the right places, he can be an extremely potent player.”

Despite the lop-sided score, the scoreboard was not indicative of the play of the SexsmithVipers, who played a strong game, but ran into a hot goaltender. Huskies Goalie Ty Gullickson played exceptionally well for his team and the home crowd.  

Gullickson made 33 saves in the win, the majority of which came short-handed, as the Huskies took ten penalties throughout the game, with Gullickson being the team’s best penalty killer.

The Huskies successfully killed all ten penalties during Friday's game.

Following the game, Huskies head coach Gary Alexander talked about his goaltenders performance, saying he was impressed with his play from beginning to end, especially with regards to how aggressive he played and how well he was actively getting into Sexsmith’s shooting lanes.   

Despite the score, Vipers’ Head Coach Neil Magill wasn’t too down on his team, saying for the most part he felt they matched the Huskies in scoring chances. He discussed how the Vipers needed to be smarter in managing the puck and have to be better with regards to turnovers.

Magill said he feels the Vipers’ top line can match that of the Huskies starting line, who he gave praise to as an extremely talented group of players.  

The Huskies will continue their busy weekend on the road, as Saturday they will travel to Whitecourt to play the Wolverines, then Sunday, they will wrap up their three game weekend in Peace River to take on the NWJHL leading Navigators.

For a full list of Friday night’s statistics, visit the NWJHL’s official website.

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