It’s what both the Fort St. John Huskies and the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks are lacking, and will need more of, if either team wants to assert themselves entering the second half of the season.
The last time the Fort St. John Huskies and Dawson Creek Canucks met, consistency was nowhere to be found.
The Huskies left Memorial Arena on Dec. 15 with a win, but it was an ugly win to say the least. And as the two teams return to North West Junior Hockey League action this Friday to faceoff in Fort St. John, both team’s coaches are looking for a better performance than what they saw in December.
“I wasn’t pleased with the way we played, we had our moments I guess,” said Huskies head coach Gary Alexander prior to Friday’s matchup.
“We need to come out with a bit more fire, we didn’t work any harder than we had to and I think Dawson was flat enough that we came out with a win,” he added.
Canucks bench boss Eric Fulton felt it was Dawson Creek’s worst game of the year.
“Discipline wise – not to say penalties – but focus and discipline in our zone, and theirs, was lacking,” remarked Fulton, who felt his squad failed to shut down star forward Robbie Sidhu, knowing full well what to expect from him.
“We let Mr. Sidhu ride roughshod over us. We knew what we were supposed to do and that’s a win we should have had,” said Fulton.
Sidhu scored the Huskies’ first goal midway through the first period on an unassisted effort, and finished the night with three points, assisting on two others.
“They really feed off of what he [Sidhu] does,” said Fulton. “If you take him away and work hard on his linemates then you can wear them [Fort St. John] down. I don’t think they have the depth we do.”
After the Huskies went up 2-0 in the second, the Canucks drew even with powerplay goals from Spencer Gover and Brendan Lazinchuk, but the Huskies regained the two-goal deficit after Blair Karasiuk and Tyler Norris scored for Fort St. John to start the third.
Colton Gies notched another Canucks’ powerplay goal late in the final frame to make it 4-3 but time ran out on the Canucks comeback chances.
Both teams are coming off a tough December and are looking to turn things around in the second half before playoffs begin in mid-February.
The Huskies posted a 2-3 record last month with a 6-5 win on Dec. 6 against Sexsmith, for their only other victory.
The Canucks have fared worse, having dropped all five games in December. Despite their troubles, the Canucks still hold fourth place in the NWJHL standings with a 9-12-0-2 record and 20 points.
“We’ve had leads on every team including North Peace and Grande Prairie – the league’s top teams – but we’ve given games away because of a bad second or third period,” said Alexander, who feels the Huskies – who trail the Canucks by four points – can move up the ranks.
“We just need some better efforts late in games and to play a full 60 minutes – we just haven’t been consistent,” remarked Alexander.
On the Canucks play this season, Fulton echoed his coaching counterpart.
“Consistency is our biggest thing. We can out work a team for 40 minutes, but the 20 minutes we don’t play hard seems to hurt us badly.”
The Canucks and Huskies take to the North Peace Arena ice at 8:00 p.m.
Fort St. John is also on the road this Saturday versus Grande Prairie, while the Canucks visit Sexsmith.