Right off the bat, there was a different look to the Huskies squad, as two affiliate players, Ricky Bateman and Thomas Webster, were called up from the NE B.C. and Yukon District Trackers to help fill out the team’s short bench.
It was a great start to an extremely physical game between two familiar foes, as Grande Prairie hosted the Huskies this past Saturday, when Fort St. John lost a close road game, 2-1.
Bodies began to fly as soon as the puck dropped, with each team refusing to shy away from the rough stuff, throwing big hits at every opportunity. The JDA Kings struck first, opening the scoring to start the first period. However, rather than get discouraged, the Huskies responded, as Robbie Sidhu scored his 14 goal of the season on a beautiful end-to-end rush, scoring far short side on a perfectly placed shot.
With the game tied at ones, Grande Prairie scored on the power play to reclaim the one-goal lead, but the see-saw battle continued as Jayton Wieler whacked in a rebound moments later, re-tying the game at two all.
The first period ended with Grande Prairie leading, as with six minutes left in the opening frame, the JDA Kings scored their third goal of the period, concluding the first with the visitors leading 3-2.
The second period belonged to Huskies rookie Cayle Bell, who showed some serious skill, scoring the game-tying goal on a beautiful through-the-legs move on a JDA Kings defender and roofing the puck high blocker. Bell wasn’t done there, as the speedy forward scored on the power-play, getting the puck in tight to the Grande Prairie net, shooting the puck high short-side, providing the Huskies a 4-3 lead, their first lead of the game.
Unfortunately, the go-ahead goal seemed to light a fire under the skates of the JDA Kings, who immediately took the puck down the ice with some crisp puck movement and potted the game-tying goal, concluding the period with the scoreboard reading 4-4.
The tale of the tough third reared its ugly head once again Tuesday evening, as Grande Prairie hit the ice determined in the final period, scoring four goals compared to just one by Huskies’ forward Jamie Watson, producing the final score of 8-5.
Following the disappointing home loss, head coach Gary Alexander said Tuesday’s tale is an all too familiar one this year.
“We just can’t seem to sustain the effort that we put in. I don’t think we actually changed our effort a whole lot more in the third period. We have to up it instead of play the same game, because the other teams seem to be able to shift a gear and get up there, and we just haven’t been able to do that. It’s something we’ve tried every angle to work on but nothing seems to be accomplishing anything at the moment.”
Alexander also spoke about the performance of the two young Trackers, Ricky Bateman and Thomas Webster, saying he liked what he saw in the two call-ups.
“They performed well; it wasn’t any reason of theirs we lost the game. You could tell that they hadn’t had a lot of experience with the older guys but they held their own pretty good. A little bit of comments and few more games and they could play here quite easily.”
The challenging schedule continues for the Huskies, as their next task will be a two-game series at home versus the league’s second place team, the North Peace Navigators, which will be played Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.