The first period began with Grande Prairie striking first roughly eight minutes into the opening frame, thanks to Devin Bell, who finished off a nice passing play and beating Ty Gullickson low for the game’s first score.
The goal seemed to spark the Huskies, as two minutes later the team executed a strong forecheck, causing the JDA Kings to turn the puck over in front of starting goaltender Tyler Vant Erve. Huskies forward Dayne Pederson was the benefactor of that strong forecheck, getting the puck all alone in front of Vant Erve, making no mistake by quickly roofing the puck to tie the game at ones.
However, the Huskies would fall victim to a bad bounce of their own before the end of the first. JDA Kings Ryan Trudeau attempted a cross crease pass, which hit the skate of a defending Fort St. John player, deflecting right back to Trudeau’s stick alone in the slot, where he made no mistake in putting the puck over the blocker of Gullickson.
The second period began with the Huskies trailing 2-1, and unfortunately, the second would not be any kinder to Fort St. John than the first. Despite a two goal performance from the team’s leading scorer Robbie Sidhu, Grande Prairie scored four goals on the Huskies in the second frame.
Much of Grande Prairie’s potent offense in the second came as a result of some poor puck management by the Huskies. A few costly turnovers as the Huskies attempted to break out of their zone, led to a quick counter attack by Grande Prairie, which was the cause for three of the four second period goals.
Trailing 6-3 in the third period, there was no magical comeback in the cards for Fort St. John. Neither team was able to score in the final frame, with the score reading 6-3 in favour of the JDA Kings as time expired.
Saturday’s match up was an entertaining one, as it showcased the two leadings scorers in the NWJHL. Huskies Robbie Sidhu and JDA Kings forward Nolan Trudeau each entered Saturday’s game tied for the league lead in points with 64. While Trudeau was held off the score sheet, Sidhu’s two goals puts him atop the league lead in points with 66 points (24 G 42 A) in 25 games.
Despite the loss, Ty Gullickson was a busy man in net for Fort St. John, facing 47 shots throughout the game.
Following the game, Huskies head coach Gary Alexander talked about how playing seven games in nine days affected his team. He said it was noticeable his team was playing a bit fatigued from a “draining” game in Peace River Friday night, and from his perspective, the players lacked jump in their step.
He also referenced the team’s defensive zone coverage, which he felt needed to be much better by his players to defeat a skilled squad like Grande Prairie.
The Huskies will now have the week off to recuperate from a tough stretch of hockey, and will next hit the ice in Sexsmith Friday, Jan.20 against the Vipers.
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