FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The 13-0-1 1st place Huskies played host to the 6th place Sexsmith Vipers on Friday at the North Peace Arena, winning a close one 3-2 in overtime.
Huskies forward Kurtis Lee got the game going in the second, and he scored a no-doubter to end the game, and the team’s seven-game home stand, in style.
The opening period saw the balance of play in the Vipers’ zone, but none of the Huskies’ 10 shots could solve goaltender Ty Grant. The Huskies failed to score on two power plays, and Tyler McArthur made six saves in the opening 20 minutes for the home team.
Five minutes into the second period, Kurtis Lee deflected a point shot by Nathan Brownlee to open the scoring for the Huskies. Alex Nimmo got the second assist.
Four minutes later, the Vipers took advantage of an odd-man rush to tie the game at 1-1. Brody West got his sixth goal of the season for the road team.
The Vipers took the game to the Huskies in the second period, and the home team waited until the end of the period to re-take the lead.
A brilliant effort by Cayden Frenette to attack both defensemen and drive the puck to the net resulted in Brandon Modde being able to pick up a loose puck and take it around the net, wrapping it in the short side with just over a minute to go in the period.
After 40 minutes, the Huskies held a 2-1 lead and a 23-17 shot lead, but the Vipers kept the pressure on in the third period.
Just under 5 minutes into the third, Sage Joachim ripped a well-placed shot past Tyler McArthur to tie the game at 2-2.
Both teams played careful hockey, not wanting to make a mistake. Defenseman Brandon Modde got called for a penalty in the final minute, meaning the Huskies would have to start overtime on the penalty kill.
In the overtime period, the Vipers were unlucky on the man advantage – a 4-on-3 despite overtime usually being played 3-on-3 – when a dangerous shot bounced off the crossbar and out of play.
That bounce was all the Huskies needed, and once teams were back to even strength, Kurtis Lee got to be the hero on a laser beam of a shot on a 2-on-1 rush, Modde getting the assist and the redemption for his earlier penalty.
“Overtime is always going to get the hair on your neck standing up,” said Huskies forward Kurtis Lee. “But to pull it off feels pretty special. When the pucks aren’t going in, it’s important that we keep our heads in the game. We stuck together as a team.”
The 4-on-3 advantage wasn’t something the Huskies have needed to do much this season, let alone in overtime.
“I don’t know if we’ve had to do it all season, but that was a good test for us, for sure,” said Lee.
The win puts the Huskies at 14-0-1, still good enough for top spot on Mark Berry’s junior b rankings.
Tyler McArthur made an impressive 29 saves for his 8th win, and the cross-bar may have been his best friend tonight.
“He played a heck of a game tonight. Without him, it would have been a different game.”
The Vipers head to Dawson Creek on Sunday to play the Kodiaks.
The Huskies have the rest of the weekend off, and they head to Grande Prairie next Friday.
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