It was a hard-fought road game for the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks when they took on the Grande Prairie Athletics last night, but late period collapses would prove to be too much for the Canucks, who lost 6-4 on the road.
The A's have only lost one game this season and are a team quick to capitalize on lapses. As a result, the Canucks struggled to maintain a lead for long last night with Grande Prairie gobbling up late-period opportunities.
"They scored late goals in every period, so in the first they scored with less than a minute left to take the lead 2-1, and in the second period I think they scored with less than a minute left to tie it 3-3," said Sr. Canucks' coach Duncan Redfearn after the game. "We were up on them 3-2, then it was just a mental breakdown at the end of the game."
"That really hurt us, and I put some of that to just being mentally tired or physically tired out there. The late goals in the periods really hurt us."
The game was tied 1-1 for most of the first period thanks to a goal from Ryan Walker, but the A's eventually took the 2-1 lead. Mike Lalonde and Christ Stevens got two more for the Canucks in the second to put Dawson Creek up 3-2, but again the A's got a late-period surge to tie it 3-3.
In the third period, Grande Prairie went up 4-3, but with four minutes to go in the game, Brad Stanek inflated his team's sails when he tied it up at 4-4. With two minutes left on the clock, the A's got a break-away goal for the 5-4 lead, and the result was Redfearn pulling goaltender J.B. Agar for the extra attacker.
"We had a couple chances there late in the game," Redfearn said. "The goalie made some nice saves, and unfortunately we didn't get it in the net and they got an empty netter."
The A's won it 6-4, outshooting the Canucks 33-28.
"It was a very good game, very low in shots and they're a strong team," Redfearn said. "I think as we come together and as we get a little more consistency it'll be fun to see what happens."
"The greatest thing about coaching senior hockey is generally you don't have to tell the guys what they've done. They realize it and talk about it in the dressing room. It's just making sure we're focused," he added. "As a team we just need to make sure we're focused on the goal and don't get too caught up in the moment."
Redfearn says that going into the game, the Canucks ignored the fact that the Fort St. John Flyers were the first team in the North Peace Hockey League to defeat the A's this season last Saturday night; after all, he says, teams are different at home and on the road.
"Fort St. John beat them in Fort St. John and I'm sure that was a really good game, but you don't take anything for granted," he said. "You don't know how many players showed up there so when you show up to play a team you have to be prepared because you don't know what you're going to face out there."
"If nothing else, tonight's game showed our team that we can compete with any team in our division. If we come to play hockey we can compete with them. It doesn't mean that we're going to win or lose, but if we come to play hockey it's going to be a good game, and that doesn't matter if it's Grande Prairie, Fort St. John or Hythe."
Tonight's loss set the Canucks back at .500 (4-4-0) and the team hopes to improve their standings this Saturday when they host the Grimshaw Huskies at the Memorial Arena.
The Huskies are also 4-4-0, so the two teams will head into Saturday's game looking for a digit to add to the win column.
"Coming off this game tonight the guys are frustrated," Redfearn said. "They worked very hard tonight and to tie it late and for them to score an even-strength goal even later is frustrating, so it'll be interesting to see how the guys bounce back and see what kind of character the team has."
Saturday's game against the Grimshaw Huskies will start at 8:30 p.m. at the Memorial Arena.
© Copyright Alaska Highway News