The Fort St. John Huskies did everything you shouldn't do when trying to win a hockey game.
They let up 54 shots.
They didn't have enough scoring chances.
They took penalties at inopportune times.
They let the game-tying goal in with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
And yet here they are with a series tied 1-1 after a 7-6 double overtime win against the Fairview Flyers in game two of North West Junior Hockey League semi-final on Tuesday night at North Peace Arena.
“There were a lot of good battles going on out there tonight. That’s a resilient hockey club we had. We could have easily folded the tent and let that one get away from us but we just found ways to score goals tonight and came out on top,” assistant coach Todd Alexander said after the wild win.
Lou Giesbrecht was the man who sent the fans into a frenzy with a wrist shot from the point that appeared to be tipped on the way to the net eight minutes into the second overtime period.
“When I got the puck I looked over and saw [Jacob] Lang was in front screnning and I just took the shot and it just went in thank goodness,” said the 17-year-old rookie defenseman who had four goals in this season and none bigger than his first NWJHL overtime winner.
And while the rookie might have had the most memorable moment of the night, Huskies goalie Brody Nelson stood on his head the majority of the evening earning first star of the game with 48 saves on 54 shots. It’s not very often you let in six goals and you’re the first star, or you’re team points to you as the reason the win went in the right direction.
“I think it was mostly our goalies play to be honest, he made big crucial saves for us that really kept us in it, big goals from Cayle’s line [too],” Giesbrecht said.
Nelson wasn’t the only veteran guiding the young pups either, as the ‘line of leaders’, Cayle Bell (2G,1A), Kody Disher (2A) and Jordan Harder (1G, 1A) combined for seven points and three of the seven goals Tuesday.
Harder tied the game at one with just over a minute remaining in the first period, after the Huskies had been held to only one shot in the first 18 minutes of the opening frame.
The home side came out like gangbusters in the second, scoring twice while the ice was still wet, with a Bell marker 8 seconds into the period and Lucian Serban less than a minute later.
Flyers’ forwards Dolan Bjornson and Ben Moffatt scored 10 minutes apart in the second to tie the game at three, before Matthew Lueken scored on the power play to give the visitors the lead after 40 minutes.
Josh Robinson tied the game at four on a scramble in front early in the third and Bell snatched the lead back for the Huskies with just under nine minutes to play.
After the Flyers tied the game at five with over six minutes remaining, Ryan McDonald ripped a shot past Flyers netminder Kenton White to give Fort St. John another lead.
With the goalie pulled, Fairview forced a faceoff in the Fort St. John end with only nine seconds remaining. After a blocked shot by Bell, the Flyers scrambled and jammed away at a loose puck that somehow found it’s way past Nelson with no time left on the clock.
The goal stood and after one ten minute overtime period, the stage was set for the Giesbrecht winner.
Alexander believes that after beating the Flyers for the first time all season and handing them only their fifth loss this year, confidence is at an all time high for his group.
“The first game was a real lesson for us especially for our young guys, they haven’t been in a semi-finals before,” Alexander said.
“After that first game they had to amp their game up here tonight and they definitely brought a better game. There are things that we are going to tighten up but that’s a good hockey club we’re playing over there. It’s not over by any means, it’s just one win. We’ll enjoy it here tonight but tomorrow we have to go get ready to play in Fairview.”
Game three goes Thursday, March 3 in Fairview with game four returning to North Peace Arena on Saturday, March 5.