The Fort St. John Huskies had some problems holding onto their leads over the weekend.
In back-to-back games against the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks on Friday and the JDA Kings in Grande Prairie on Saturday, the Huskies got the go-ahead goal(s) in both matches but couldn’t hang onto them, despite some solid offensive effort.
Friday’s game at North Peace Arena was an unforgettable one for those playing or watching the game.
After the Huskies built up a healthy 4-0 lead over 40 minutes of play, a second intermission pep talk from Jr. Canucks’ coach Eric Fulton lit a fire under Dawson Creek, who scored four goals in three minutes to tie the game 4-4 at the start of the third.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Fulton said. “They put their skates on, their jerseys on, but their hearts, heads, hands, legs and all they needed to play hockey were all left in the room. When we came back in the third, with a little fire and brimstone, I threatened that they’d walk home and I wasn’t joking, and they decided to come out and play hockey the way we can play hockey and that was nice to see.”
It wasn’t nice for Huskies’ goaltender Ty Gullickson, who Fulton said was hung out to dry and eventually pulled for Travis McLean.
“I thought their goalie got fed to the wolves there at the end, a lot of our shots he couldn’t see,” Fulton said. “I don’t think they pulled him because he played bad; I think they changed him to change up the momentum.”
The crowd at North Peace Arena was stunned only five minutes into the third, as few were saying they had never seen a team score four goals in less than four minutes.
Five minutes later the Junior Canucks scored again to go up 5-4, but Fort St. John’s Daylen Pearson answered to tie the game once more.
Despite some pressure from the Huskies, Canucks’ goalie Colten Anderson shut the door, stopping 11 of 12 shots in the third to keep his team tied. Another Dawson Creek goal from Colton Gies with less than six minutes to go in the game would be the last, and the Huskies, in disbelief, left the ice.
When asked what happened to his team in the second intermission that seemed to possess them, Fulton laughed.
“I told them the definition of insanity,” he said, “doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result and that’s what we’ve been doing lately, thinking it’s going to get better, not taking the proverbial bull by the horns and wrestling it to the ground and kicking the crap out of it.”
“I think they saw how fed up I was, standing behind the team. To me it was heartless and it was weak, and they had to prove it not to me but to themselves that they can play this game.”
Both the Huskies and Canucks had an unsatisfactory December, so both came out hungry in Friday’s game, the North West Hockey League’s first of 2013.
“I like playing those guys,” Fulton said about the Huskies. “They have a good hockey team, they have quality and their leaders are good too. I like their captain and [Robbie] Sidhu.”
Sidhu took charge for the Huskies the next night in Grande Prairie, assisting to open scoring against the JDA Kings with a pass to Cayle Bell less than a minute into the game.
That, unfortunately, would be the Huskies’ last goal of the game, and Kings took charge to take away a 2-1 win, throwing a total of 54 shots at goalie McLean, who only let two past him to win the first start of the night.
Friday’s game saw the unfortunate loss of Cole Calliou, who suffered a shattered collarbone. Calliou is out indefinitely only a few games after his return to the ice after he had a life-threatening blood clot in his leg early in the season.
The Huskies will get a chance for their first win of 2013 on Jan. 12 when the North Peace Navigators come to town.