The opening period was an eventful one in game two, with both teams scoring twice during a fast paced, physical 20 minutes. The Huskies, who entered game two with a short bench, didn’t do themselves any favours, taking four minor penalties to start the game.
During the Huskies second penalty of the period, Peace River opened to scoring with some solid puck movement, leading to a point shot off the stick of Brenden Dickson, beating a screened Ty Gullickson.
Two minutes later, the Navigators would increase their lead to 2-0. A poor Huskies line change allowed the Navigators to gain Fort St. John’s zone easily, where Navigator forward Ty Wiebe elected to rip a slap shot from atop the face-off circle. The decision was a smart one, as the puck beat Gullickson high glove.
Fortunately for the Huskies, the goal seemed motivate the team rather than discourage them. While short-handed, some great work by Cole Calliou forced Navigators goalie Patrick Earle, to shoot the puck off the boards, right where Huskies’ forward Brighton Campbell had anticipated he would. Campbell intercepted the clearing attempt, quickly turning and firing the puck inside the open net.
With the score 2-1 in favour of the Navigators, the Huskies power-play would tie the game. After some solid puck movement from the Fort St. John defensemen along the offensive blue line, a strong point shot resulted in a rebound, which Cole Calliou made no mistake with, jumping all over the lose puck and sliding it into the net to tie the game at 2-2.
Calliou’s power-play marker would produce his, as well as Brighton Campbell’s second point of the period.
With a scoreless second in progress, the final minute of the middle frame produced what could have been a game changing sequence of events. With 30 seconds left, the Navigators broke into the Huskies zone for a three-on-one. The Huskies towering blue-liner Wyatt Anderson, the lone defensemen left to defend the play, showed now signs of nervousness, calmly breaking up the three-on-one, which led to a Steve Fast breakaway for the Huskies. Fast was hauled down from behind, sending him back to centre ice for the most exciting play in hockey, the penalty shot.
With the game tied at 2-2, Fast had the opportunity to give the Huskies their first lead of the series. The skilled forward came in on Earle, made a nice move to the back-hand, and unfortunately shot the puck over the net, keeping the game tied for the conclusion of the second.
The third period was one to forget for Fort St. John, as the team allowed three goals, compared to just one scored, resulting in a 6-3 final.
Special teams were once again a strong part of the Huskies game. The team went 2/4 on the power-play, while killing 6/7 penalties and scoring a short-handed marker.
The final score was definitely not indicative of the play of starting goaltender Ty Gullickson, who played very strongly for the home team, facing a total of 37 shots, many of which were quality scoring chances from point blank.
In comparison, the Huskies fired 18 shots at Peace River, only managing three shots on net in the third period.
Following the game, Huskies head coach Gary Alexander talked about how the four consecutive penalties in the first didn’t help his already undermanned squad, as it seemed to tire the team out right off the bat.
He also spoke about how his team needs to be better in front of their goaltenders, saying, “most of the goals weren’t the goalie’s fault, it was just a result of the team structure breaking down in front of him.”
Alexander also gave praise to a very strong Peace River squad and what his team needs to do to get a win.
“They have four solid lines, lots of experience and play with a lot of poise. We need to put more pressure on them and need to shoot more in order to create more chances.”
With the Huskies down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, the team will have almost a week to prepare for the next game, as Peace River and Fort St. John will reconvene in Peace River Saturday, March.3 for game three. The series will then return to Fort St. John Sunday, March.4 for game four.
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