FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Huskies played the penultimate game before the holiday break with just three forward lines and five defensemen, but they played a sound game on their way to a 4-3 win Saturday night.
The Huskies opened the scoring in the first period when Alex Nimmo found a loose puck at the top of the crease and banged it behind the Navigators goaltender Dominic Bernetic. Raymond Dick got the lone assist.
Captain Cayden Frenette tried the flavor of the week play: the “Zegras.” He tried to scoop the puck behind the net and lift it over the goalie to find an open man in front, but it didn’t work out.
The Huskies outshot the Navs 15-5 through 20 minutes.
The Navigators got on the board less than three minutes into the second frame on a goal from Nick Power.
After being robbed of a sure breakaway due to a phantom offside, then failing to score on a breakaway, Jared Winkel refused to be denied and he found space to unload a snap shot from the top of the circles. Kurtis Lee got the assist, his 41st point of the season.
The Navigators took advantage of a bouncing puck turnover at their own blue line and Connor Bak snuck a shot past Tyler McArthur’s right pad, off the post and in.
Through 40 minutes, the score was 2-2. The Navs edged the Huskies in shots, 11-9 for a two-period total of 24-15 for the Huskies.
Halfway through the third period, the Navs hemmed the Huskies in their zone and caused a handful of turnovers before capitalizing on a cross-crease play to go up 3-2.
The Huskies answered back three minutes later on a great shift from the line of Kurtis Lee, Cayden Frenette and Jared Winkel. Frenette made a great effort to win two battles just inside the zone before he found Winkel at the top of the circles. It was a carbon copy of his first goal, just from the other side.
Chase London got rewarded for his effort when Navs goalie Bernetic made a costly gaffe trying to clear the puck, leaving London all alone with an empty net to go up 4-3, and that’s how the game would finish.
Frenette says the team had little trouble dealing with the extra icetime.
“We knew what we were getting into, so I don’t think we really had a problem with it,” said Frenette. “We had quick shifts, kept our feet moving and played to our usual pace.”
Jared Winkel’s two goals carried the way for the Huskies, including the game-tying goal that turned the tide of the game.
“We were pretty fired up on the bench after we gave up the third goal, because we knew what mistakes we made. So we get fired up on the bench, came out and played the way we needed to play.”
The Huskies will have a couple players return to the lineup for Sunday’s game, plus a pair of U18 Trackers who played their final game in Peace River Saturday.
Winkel says he’s not worried about players managing energy levels though.
“This is why we practise hard all year, so we’ll be fine.”
The 23-1-1 Huskies hit the ice Sunday for a 12:15 puck drop against the Navs, the last game before the break.