Senior Canucks goaltender Davin Bull stood on his head and literally put his neck on the line for his team in Dawson Creek’s season finale against the Grande Prairie Athletics on Saturday at Memorial Arena. But as they have done all year, the Canucks squandered another lead en route to a 5-4 loss to end the season at 10-9-3-0.
After allowing the Athletics a goal in the opening minute, Bull was stupendous in the Canucks’ net before a scary moment late in the third period when he stopped a hard wrist-shot with his throat to preserve a 4-4 tie.
“Davin’s always good,” said a dejected Adam Loncan, captain and player-coach of the Senior Canucks. “He’s quick, he reads the play, he gets post-to-post a lot quicker than any other goalies in this league.”
Bull writhed in pain; face down on the ice for several minutes before rising to his feet and getting back between the pipes after taking a shot just under the protective cover of his mask.
“It’s good he got to finish, but at the same time he’s got to be careful. For anyone to get a puck to the throat like that, it’s a scary deal,” Loncan said.
He noted that once again the Canucks let their goaltending down.
“It’s been frustrating all year. We seem to not help our goalies to an extent that a lot of the time they bail us out numerous times, and we have moments where we hang our goalie out to dry. We have to not do that. We have to play a strong 60 and play well in front of him.”
Bull miraculously stayed in the game but wasn’t able to get across in time for Shane Mudryk’s one-timer that beat Bull five-hole with a minute left to seal the win for Grande Prairie.
The Canucks held a 3-1 lead in the second period but didn’t play the way Loncan would like to see with playoffs just days away.
“We obviously came out flat letting them score on the first shift and that set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Loncan. “We talked about getting our intensity up, but it just never happened – the whole game we were quiet.”
Grant Rix scored at 19:06 of the first period for the Athletics before Ryan Walker’s powerplay marker at 9:04 tied things up at 1-1 heading into the second.
Brody Brewster scored the only goal of the period dominated by the Canucks as they outshot Grande Prairie 21-12 in the middle frame.
Justin McLeod would extend the ‘Nucks lead to 3-1 before the Athletics began to pour it on in the third.
Grande Prairie scored three times in just over a minute to take a 4-3 lead. Kevin Poston scored first at 14:30; Morgan McLean made it 3-3 with a powerplay goal at 13:21; and Mudryk’s first of the night put the Athletics in front by a goal at 13:10.
Canucks’ Jeff Taylor scored with eight minutes left to make the score 4-4, but Mudryk’s late game heroics would ice it for the A’s, who improved to 17-4-0-1 with the win and took outright lead of the North Peace Hockey League’s West Division.
The Canucks end the season in fourth place behind the Fort St. John Flyers, who don’t qualify for the NPHL postseason due to their ‘AAA’ senior hockey status.
“Regardless of the standings we wanted to end on a good foot heading into the playoffs but unfortunately we just didn’t have the jump tonight,” said Loncan whose team will face Spirit River in the first round best-of-seven series beginning Tuesday night in Spirit River.
“The guys are excited and ready to go for the playoffs. It wasn’t that we played a terrible game we were just missing a few things … we just have to be ready for Tuesday.”