As far as weekends go, the Fort St. John Huskies couldn’t have had a better one than they did at the 2019 NWJHL Showcase Nov. 8 to 10. The Huskies not only outscored their competition 17-3 in two regular season games, they also impressed at the All Star Game, scoring five of Team North’s six goals.
The team beat the Sexsmith Vipers 9-2 on November 9, and won 8-1 against the Fairview Flyers on November 10. With the two wins, the Huskies remain in first place with a 10-3-2 record, but are just one point ahead of the North Peace Navigators, which had a two-win weekend of their own. The two teams will battle for first place this weekend in Fort St. John — on Saturday, November 16 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, November 17 at 2 p.m.
It’s hard to pinpoint who contributed to the success because the Huskies are firing on all cylinders right now. From the goalies allowing just three goals in two games, to the team’s defensive play resulting in only 39 shots against, to the offense scoring at will, this is as good a two-game stretch the team’s had in the last three years.
“This is as good as it goes for us right now. Our guys aren’t having to think about their plays, they just go out and execute better each game because they’ve put the work in at practice. We move before the play happens, and arrive at the end of the play when the puck is there, because we are applying the pressure,” said Huskies Coach Todd Alexander. “It’s really nice to watch.”
A younger team
Jared Winkel, one of the many players with great performances over the weekend with three goals and three assists, says credit for this team’s success should go to the young players and those who came from the Midget Trackers system.
“We have so many skilled players who came up this year, we’re finally all on the same page, and I think we can really do something special this year. It’s a great time to be a Husky right now,” said Winkel.
Winkel also had a goal and two assists in the All Star Game, which Team North lost 7-6. The North had three of those rookies from the Trackers on it — Nick Loewen, Tyler McArthur, and Connor Kindrat — along with forward Alex Nimmo and defenceman Oscar Burgess. Huskies’ players scored five of the North’s six goals.
Nimmo, with two goals and two assists in the All Star Game, was named North MVP, and stayed hot over the rest of the weekend with one goal and three assists.
“The All Star Game was a blast. We didn’t know what to expect, hadn’t really played in one, but we got to show our skill a bit and it was great to win MVP,” Nimmo said.
Like Winkel, Nimmo is in his second year with the Huskies and has taken a step forward this year, although it looked like he could miss the season.
Nimmo suffered a dislocated knee in just the third game of the season. He thought it could be a torn ACL that would make him miss the season, but received a favourable result with the diagnosis. He has seven points in six games since returning.
“I was very happy with the MRI, and have felt great since I’ve been back,” said Nimmo.
Alexander is pleased with the progress he’s seen wtih Nimmo this year. “(Nimmo) learned a lot about the mental side of play and is coming to play lately. He’s really had to focus on his game and his starting to be rewarded for it,” said Alexander.
Nimmo had to switch to centre for the weekend to help the team out, but excelled winning 66% of his face-offs, pretty good for playing out of position.
Another player who stood out was Cooper Wilms, a third and fourth line player, who had four goals on the weekend. “It’s great to see that kind of production from guys who do the dirty work,” said Alexander.
Ivan Jasbec, on defence, has turned in four of his five best games as a Huskie lately, Alexander said.
“We’ve talked about it with him, about putting the hours in, identifying the process and what he needs to work on, and it’s awesome when it starts to come together like it has,” Alexander said.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.