If you ask Fort St. John Huskies forward Jared Winkel if he enjoys playing afternoon games, the answer just might be yes.
After seeing his team down 1-0 to the North Peace Navigators less than four minutes into their matinee on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 5), Winkel scored three times unanswered in the first and second periods, setting the stage for a 7-2 decision and the team's 20th win in 22 games.
While it's only his second hat trick with the club, it comes in what will will be a memorable season for both the team and the Lantzille, B.C., product, who will age out at the end of the season.
Winkel's three-goal performance Sunday afternoon has vaulted him into fourth place (11 goals, 22 assists) in the league's scoring standings. He credits his teammates, calling it an amazing season.
“Showing up every day to the arena, having a chance to win, it's so fun. Everyone's getting along so well, and the team is just buying in [to the system],” says Winkel. “Everything's going so well and I can't complain about a single thing.”
Head coach Todd Alexander has seen the 21-year-old grow and was behind the bench when Winkel arrived four years ago.
“He was super raw. He had talent but just didn't understand where to apply it,” Alexander says. "His hockey IQ has come up. He's one of our smarter players offensively and knows where to go to put himself in a good situation."
The Huskies outshot the Navigators 87-54 over the weekend, and beat the Navs 6-2 on Saturday night.
The pair of wins move the Huskies 13 points up on second-place Sexsmith, which lost 3-2 to Grande Prairie on Sunday.
The Huskies return to the ice Friday night with a home game against Fairview, before a trip to Grande Prairie to play the Kings on Saturday.