The Dawson Creek Senior Canucks were short-benched to say the least last night in Grande Prairie, when the team only managed to send nine players for their midweek game against the league-leading Athletics.
It was a challenge, and even coach Duncan Redfearn had to dress for the game to make sure the Canucks didn't get fined for having less than 10 players.
But the short team played a big game last night and gave the A's a run for their money, even getting the lead until late in the third when exhaustion began to set in.
"You don't go on the ice unless you want to win, so you wrap your head around what kind of style you have to play to win it, and we did that for the first two periods, but we ran out of steam," Redfearn said.
"It's a little frustrating for the guys to work that hard and come this far to lose it in the third, but overall I take it as a positive. The guys played really well and for two-and-a-half periods they played a very tight games. Tired legs and a couple mental breakdowns cost us. Grande Prairie's a solid team; you give them an inch and they'll take advantage of it."
The Canucks opened scoring in the first from Evan Weaver, but it didn't take long for the Athletics to tie it up. Tied at one going into the second, the Canucks came out firing and scored two back-to-back goals from Redfearn and Jeff Taylor on the power play.
"Ray Poppe took it to the net and went in on two D," Redfearn said about his goal. "He managed to get across and get a shot on the goalie, they stayed with him and I was following up the play and I managed to bang in a greasy rebound."
"It's been probably six or seven years since I played senior hockey, so before the game I wasn't expecting to be putting anything on the score sheet, but I'm glad it happened," he added, "And now I can bug a couple of the guys on the team who haven't had a goal yet and maybe spur them to get one as well."
Grande Prairie would round out scoring for the second period to make it 2-1, then the short-benched Canucks ran out of energy for the final 20. Halfway through the third, the A's tied it up at 2-2, then got another two goals to seal the deal 5-3.
"We ran out of steam in the third. Ten guys, two lines, we just couldn't hold them off and they scored a couple goals and put us away," Redfearn said.
"We were outshot. They put a lot of pressure on us and JB [Agar] played really well. He made some big, key saves and he held us in the game and gave us a chance to win it tonight. He was a big part of the lead we had going into the third."
Up next the Canucks head to Fort St. John on Saturday to play the Sr. Flyers for their Annual Teddy Bear Toss night. The Flyers would love to see a packed house and hundreds of bears fly onto the ice on Saturday, but Redfearn knows that travel for Canucks fans can be tricky in the winter.
"We always encourage fans to come up but it's tough driving in winter conditions," he said. "We're hoping to have a few more guys in the lineup and put up a good game in Fort St. John."
Saturday's game in Fort St. John starts at 8:30 p.m. at North Peace Arena.
The Sr. Flyers will be off for Christmas after that, then return to the ice Jan. 2 and 3 at home.
© Copyright Alaska Highway News