The Dawson Creek Junior Canucks have finally bested their North West Junior Hockey League nemesis the Slave Lake Wolves with a 5-2 win Saturday at the Arctic Ice Centre in Slave Lake.
The Canucks went into their weekend matchup 0-3 versus the Wolves, but got the best of Slave Lake on their own ice.
“In all fairness it was probably our best complete effort of any game all season long,” said Canucks’ assistant coach Ashley Rude following the game.
“Our biggest thing was effort, the boys stuck with the game plan right off the bat, came out hard and weathered Slave Lake’s initial storm and took it to them the rest of the way,” noted Rude. “We had a really rough game the last time we went there and this was certainly a much better showing.”
The last time the two teams met in Slave Lake the Wolves walked away with a 3-1 win in early October. The Canucks subsequently gave up two more games to Slave Lake at their own rink falling 6-2 Oct. 14 and 6-4 the following weekend.
Rude said the Canucks did exactly what they needed to do to avoid another loss.
“They’re a rough and tough team that finishes their checks all the time and plays a very physical game, and we just have to get past that if we are going to beat them and we certainly did that for most of the game.”
Forward Colton Gies led the charge for the Canucks, scoring twice, including the game-winner late in the second period to give the Canucks their third straight goal and a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.
Gies first goal came in the dying minutes of the first period to open the game’s scoring.
“He’s gotten stronger and stronger all year and it’s been really good for us,” said Rude about Gies, who has six goals and 11 points in ten games for the Canucks.
Gies was an affiliate player last year that starred on the ‘AA’ Midget Trackers.
“He’s got a pretty good scoring touch around the net and if he gets the opportunity he is going to put the puck past most of the goalies in the league,” said Rude. “He played a couple games with us last year and he was fantastic then.”
The Wolves managed 40 shots on the Canucks, outshooting them 40-24, but Rude pointed out that Dawson Creek limited Slave Lake’s second chances.
“Our defensemen are doing a pretty good job of helping out David clearing out the rebounds,” he said. “Defence did an excellent job and the forwards came back to help out on D better than we have had in awhile.”
The Wolves spoiled Canucks’ goaltender David Readman’s shutout when Deon Rathbone scored two-and-a-half minutes into the third. The win, however, gives Readman seven on the season in 11 starts.
Shelby Oldfield, Mitchell Palfi and Derek Freeman each scored for the Canucks, and leading scorer Riley Muise notched two assists.
The win gives the Canucks third spot in the NWJHL standings with 16 points - two ahead of Slave Lake.
Next weekend the Canucks are in Beaverlodge to face the Blades on Saturday.