The series began as the home team wished it would, by striking first, as just 4:02 into the first, Connor Tetlock picked off a Huskies breakout pass, leaving him all alone in the slot, where he fired a puck high over the glove of Travis McLean, providing the Kings a quick 1-0 lead.
Rather than get discouraged, Fort St. John showed why they too were undefeated in the post season entering the second round, as the visiting team battled back and following a bit of a sloppy first period, scored with just 7.4 seconds left in the first, tying the game at 1-1.
The game tying goal came on the power-play for Fort St. John, who worked the cycle well to confuse the Grande Prairie defenders, providing Cayle Bell a bit of time to shoot, scoring low short side on Sky Buller, which was the start of a memorable night for the rookie Bell.
Fort St. John did the majority of their scoring in the second period, and this time it was the Huskies who jumped out to a quick lead, as Daylen Pearson scored from the point just 1:52 in, on a great individual effort to bat the puck out of the air from the point, all the way into the net.
However, the back-and-forth theme continued, as Nolan Trudeau, the JDA Kings regular season leading point producer, got his fourth goal of the post season on the power-play with a great individual effort, evening the scoreboard at 2-2.
Once again, rather than hang their heads, Fort St. John pushed back and went on to score twice more in the second period. At the 5:30 marker of the second, Cayle Bell notched his second of the game, coming in on a one-on-one, dragging the puck into the slot, and using a JDA King defender as a screen, firing a low shot past Buller, providing the Huskies the 3-2 lead.
That lead was doubled at 8:49 of the second, as the line of Captain Shawn Holliday, Jamie Watson and Cody Hildebrand worked the cycle to perfection in the JDA Kings zone, as Hildebrand made a slick pass to Holliday in the slot from behind the goal line, who roofed the puck high-short side, popping the water bottle in the process of scoring the eventual game-winning-goal.
With the Huskies leading 4-2 entering the third, it was pure survival mode for Fort St. John, as Grande Prairie brought the pressure. Travis McLean was forced to make numerous saves in the third, luckily for Fort St. John, the athletic goaltender was up to the challenge.
Eventually, Grande Prairie was forced to pull Buller for the extra attacker, which paid off, as the JDA Kings squeaked one past McLean with 1:32 left in the game, bringing the score to 4-3 for Fort St. John.
With the net still empty, the Huskies weathered the storm, popping two into the empty cage, the first being Cayle Bell’s hat-trick goal, the second off the stick of Robbie Sidhu.
After the hat-trick game, Bell now leads the goal scoring department for the Huskies, with five goals in four playoff games so far.
The 1-0 series lead will make its way to Fort St. John this Saturday, March 2, when game two of the best-of-seven series hits the ice of the North Peace Arena. Game two begins at 8 p.m.