Friday night’s game between the Fort St. John Senior Flyers and Dawson Creek Canucks had it all – goals, a comeback, chirping, a penalty shot and even a rarely seen shootout at North Peace Arena.
Although the game started a lot more decisively in the Canucks’ favour after an early 3-0 lead, the Flyers came out of the gates after the first intermission with a mission to remind the Canucks whose barn it was.
“We outshot them 17-3 in the second period. The second and third we obviously took over the game, what happened in the first was a mystery,” said Flyers’ head coach Darrel Leahy. “We came out strong in the first five minutes of the first, got a bunch of shots on them, didn’t score and they get a couple lucky ones from behind the net and deflated us. The rest of the first period was a deflated bunch.”
It was Canucks’ Kris Desjarlais who scored all three goals in the first for a rather quick even-handed hat trick to silence to crowd in Fort St. John and send the Flyers to the dressing room with something to think about.
“It’s a 60-minute game, you’ve got to come out strong,” said Canucks’ coach and captain Adam Loncan. “Usually we start flat but we got a good start and got up on the Flyers and wanted to keep that momentum.”
“I didn’t have to say much,” Leahy said about the intermission. “They all knew, we all knew, and we come out in the second and played our game, played hard, got lots of shots. Same in the third. They got three shots in the third and managed to get a short-handed goal. Luck was definitely not with us, but after the performance in the first period maybe we didn’t deserve any luck.”
Surprisingly it wasn’t even a Flyer who got Fort St. John’s first goal – it was Taylor Greatrex, a call-up from the Huskies who got one past Dawson’s goalie J.B. Agar.
“He always plays well. Every Husky when the come up play well,” Leahy said. “He got a big goal so we’re happy to have him.
The Canucks seemed to have all the luck, however, getting out shot 18-7 in the second but managing to score a short-handed goal late in the period from Chris Stevens.
When the third period started it was like déjà-vu from the first period all over again, but this time for the Flyers, who scored three even-handed goals on Dawson Creek from, Girard DiCaire, Darren Goulet and Luke Middleton to tie the game at 4-4 and send it to overtime.
DiCaire, who was given a penalty shot late in the period, hit the post.
“[The] first game we were here, same thing, it was a good game and we took it to overtime and they scored in the first 10 seconds but we got to battle back [this time],” said Loncan. “We had a slower third and they came on strong. We held on and had our opportunities but our goalie played really strong.”
“They took it to us in the third and we were fortunate to hang on.”
In overtime it was all Flyers with the pressure and, again, Dawson Creek’s goaltender Agar held the fort and made some near-impossible saves that had fans in the crowd crying out, “How did that not go in?!”
Then, to top it off, the Flyers hit a post, and both Mike Lalonde and DiCaire were robbed by Agar to prevent the Flyers from ending the game and forcing a shootout.
It had been a long time since fans at North Peace Arena had seen a shootout and people were on the edge of their seats as Dawson’s Desjarlais skated to centre ice staring down Flyers’ goalie Jared Anderson. Desjarlais didn’t score, but then neither did any of the Flyers.
Stevens and Ryan Walker both scored on Anderson for the Canucks to take the 5-4 win.
When asked how the rare shootout went, Leahy laughed.
“It wasn’t very good, we didn’t score a goal,” he said.
Unlike the Flyers, the Canucks had seen a couple of shootouts this season, but this was their first time winning one.
“That extra point is huge for us,” Loncan said. “We need those two points so it’s a big win for us tonight.”
The Flyers’ next game will be Friday, Jan. 18 against the Hythe Mustangs at North Peace Arena while the Canucks will play a makeup game on Tuesday in Grimshaw.