FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The only Wednesday night game of the season was a strange one; the Huskies stumbled out of the gates and fell to the Sexsmith Vipers 4-2.
The Huskies warmed up in their Retro Golden Hawks jerseys that would be auctioned off during the game. The Golden Hawks were the original Junior B team from the late 1960s until the change to the Huskies in 1981.
The Vipers got on the board first, as a harmless looking poke check at the side of the net caught the Huskies defender and goaltender Tyler McArthur off-guard. Harley Klapp’s first goal of the season came unassisted.
Later in the first, on a Huskies power play, NWJHL leading scorer Sage Joachim was left all alone from the redline in. He caught a cherry-picker pass and scored a backhand shorthanded goal under the glove of McArthur.
The Huskies would claw back into the game with a well executed tic-tac-toe passing play that found Conrad Wiebe in the high slot with space, and he buried it top corner to cut the Vipers lead to 2-1. Brandon Modde and Tanner McCracken got the assists.
The first period would end with the Vipers outshooting the Huskies 14-10 and holding a 2-1 lead.
In the second, Rylan Norton got lucky when a wraparound attempt that didn’t seem dangerous squeaked under McArthur’s pad.
With the score at 3-1, the Huskies were able to gather some momentum with cleaner breakouts and better passing in the neutral and offensive zones.
After getting denied on a pair of great rushes, a relentless forecheck by Jared Winkel forced a turnover behind the net, and he connected with Kurtis Lee who buried a no-doubt snapshot to bring the game to 3-2 after 40 minutes.
In the third, a lucky face off play worked out perfectly for the Vipers and Brody West scored to make it 4-2. The Huskies would push, but it was too little too late.
Coach Todd Alexander says he didn’t like his team’s ability to push.
“We just didn’t have it. We were disconnected and we didn’t play very well,” said Alexander. “For sure, credit to the Vipers. They stuck to their game, they didn’t waver off of their game all night long and it was very consistent.”
with their first regulation loss of the season, the Huskies still sit comfortably in first place at 18-1-1.
“I said to the guys, as long as I’m here, we never lose. We either win, or we learn, and tonight we learned. So we’ll take that lesson, put it in our pocket, and get ready to go back to work on Saturday.”
The Huskies will host the North Peace Navigators for back to back games on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday’s game will be another Ernies Sports Experts Chuck a Puck contest at the intermission. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
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