You couldn’t have written a better script last night for the Fort St. John Huskies in their game against the North Peace Navigators in the first half of the contest. The team was up 3-1 and playing solid hockey at both ends of the ice, but defensive breakdowns mid way through the second period resulted in four Peace River goals in a 3:01 span and the Huskies were unable to recover as they lost by a final of 7-3.
Despite the lopsided score it was clear the Huskies let one get away because of what happened in the second period and assistant coach Todd Alexander preached the need for playing a complete game against the top team the NWJHL has to offer.
“We got up 3-1 and had things rolling good and thought it was another NWJ game where we’re up two and we should just be able to sail right up until the end,” Alexander admitted. “We let it get away on us tonight I think. We’re playing against the best team in the league, defending champs. You have to play 60 minute hockey. They played 60 minutes tonight and we didn’t.”
The defensive miscues were just X’s and O’s gone wrong for the team. The Huskies began to play a free wheeling style of game in the middle frame and it cost them dearly.
“It’s not our game plan at all to be pinching and running and gunning,” Alexander said. “We’re a tight team. We want to move the puck, we want to have control of the puck. We don’t want to be running along the ice and playing into their hand and that’s what we did and it played into their hand. We had something like 18 odd man rushes this game. You aren’t going to win many hockey games when you’re giving up odd man rushes. Every time you have an odd man rush that’s a scoring opportunity and those aren’t ones that they earned. If we’re going to give those away for free it’s going to be a long night for the goalie and the hockey club especially when you’re playing the first place hockey club.”
Despite the defeat the game did provide a glimpse as to what the Huskies are capable of with a full roster if they play a complete hockey game, and that had Alexander feeling good with the playoffs drawing near.
“We just needed to play a little bit smarter tonight. The mental mistakes is what cost us. We have to get use to that pace of the game. The score doesn’t show it but I thought that was an excellent hockey game tonight. I thought it was a good lesson for us tonight. We definitely have the squad to do some damage in the playoffs coming up.”
Scoring in order for the Huskies were Cayle Bell, Jordan Gies, and Shawn Wilson.
Next for the team is another road game this evening as they take on the Sexsmith Vipers at 8 p.m. The next home game for Fort St. John comes on January 30 against the Beaverlodge Blades at 8 p.m.