Ugly isn’t a good enough word to describe it.
Thursday night’s game between the Fort St. John Huskies and Dawson Creek Junior Canucks put the long-time rivalry to the test at North Peace Arena, and although the Huskies skated off the ice with the 6-1 victory, it isn’t the win fans will be remembering about the game.
A total of 198 penalty minutes were handed out Thursday night between the two teams, and the fights continued to break out throughout the game with headshots, goalie running and shoving matches keeping players busy in between the brawls.
“It’s always physical with Dawson,” said Huskies’ forward Cayle Bell, who had two goals and an assist. “It’s a rivalry, so both sides are a little bitter. It’s just how it is between us.”
“It’s awesome. It’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”
Dawson Creek’s coach Eric Fulton wasn’t as enthusiastic.
“It’s just a hockey game, right? We’re at the age now where this would’ve been a normal junior game 15 years ago,” he said. “It’s not softer now, but they’re still 18, 19, 20-year old boys who have egos and tempers and it got out of hand tonight.”
“I’m not proud of how it looked by any stretch but it was what it was.”
Thursday’s game meant the Junior Canucks’ fifth straight loss whereas the Huskies have won four in their last five games. With the win the Huskies have moved past the Canucks into fifth place in the North West Junior Hockey League with 26 points.
“It feels awesome,” Bell said, “We’re finally on a roll so hopefully we keep it going and beat Beaverlodge on Saturday.”
The Huskies had the upper hand throughout the full 60 minutes of the game, with Bell opening scoring only 17 seconds into the first then potting another nine minutes later with linemates Blair Karasiuk and Dylan Houle.
“Me and Karas[iuk] have played with each other before and Houle just fits in there nicely because he has good hands and moves the puck well,” Bell said. “Blair’s got speed so it works out well between us. It’s awesome.”
“I trust them with everything that we do, I love it.”
Houle scored early in the second for his third point of the night shortly before Robbie Sidhu got into a rare centre-ice fight with Mitch Ralfi to get himself ejected from the game. Houle then assisted on Daylen Pearson’s goal with three minutes to go in the second. Tyler Norris got another at the end of the period to lift the Huskies 5-0 and get Canucks’ goalie Justin Samra pulled.
Brighton Campbell got the game’s sixth goal with an assist to Jamie Watson, but the Canucks weren’t going to give Huskies’ goaltender Travis McLean the shut out. Ten minutes to go in the game, Kyler Keantz scored on McLean, assisted by Riley Muise and call-up Ryan Friesen.
“It’s too bad that we didn’t come out and show as well as we wanted to and I don’t think the guys feel good about that, but they’ve got to stop talking and start acting,” Fulton said. “Maybe this tonight, a little more action and talking by some guys, might help. We got to figure something out, we’re not playing hockey anywhere that we need to be.”
“I’m trying to figure out what fires these guys up right now and haven’t been very successful, obviously. Hopefully they take this and run with it. I hope they’re just tired of being whipping boys right now.”
The Junior Canucks play the North Peace Navigators Friday night at Dawson Creek Memorial Arena while the Huskies get a break until Saturday when they host Beaverlodge.