January 7, 2011
Dawson Creek Daily News
The Dawson Creek Canucks felt the effects of too much turkey and too little hockey over the Christmas break as they lost 6-4 to the Spirit River Rangers Thursday night at the Memorial Arena in the teams’ first action of 2011.
“I think we were flat all game,” said Dawson Creek coach Sheldon Wilkinson, after the North Peace Hockey League match.
“It probably has everything to do with the holiday break. We were on a big-time roll going into Christmas and just weren’t ready for the game.”
No, the Canucks certainly weren’t ready as they watched the visitors take a 1-0 lead in the first period and stretch that to 3-0 by the midway point of the second. Jordan Hack made it 1-0 in the first when he got behind a defenceman and broke in alone on J.B. Agar and flipped a backhand over the Dawson Creek netminder.
Mike Lefley added his first of four early in the second just 16 seconds into a Spirit River power play when his blast from the point found the back of the net. Evan Boire picked up a rebound that had bounced past Agar and he had the wide-open net to make it 3-0.
However, the Canucks seemed to wake up later in the period when Chris Stevens turned on the red light twice with a couple of shots from the point to pull his team to within one.
With 3:20 left in the middle frame, Lefley scored his second of four when he one-timed a pass as he was skating through the slot to make it 4-2.
The Canucks got their chances in the third and evened the score with about five minutes remaining. Kris Desjarlais whipped a wrist shot that appeared to go off the crossbar but was ruled a goal, and Stevens completed his hat trick when he beat Ranger minder Kris Dika with another wrist shot to make it 4-4.
However, just after the tying goal and with 4:33 left, Lefley completed his hat trick with a wrist shot that bounced off Agar’s glove, and the Ranger sniper added another for some insurance to make it 6-4 and give his team it’s sixth win of the season.
The Canucks’ offence and defence were hurt when they lost Kip Noble in the middle frame. The blue-liner, who is a key part of the team’s defensive unit and its power play, was tossed for slashing, something that had Wilkinson scratching his head and questioning the officiating.
“The officiating was skeptical. I have never been one to badmouth the refs, but I don’t know what they were calling out there. I really don’t,” explained the coach.
“The slashing and hooking and elbows to the head went uncalled and then they make a five minute and a game misconduct penalty to a slash on a shin pad. I understand a five and a game when it is a viscous slash because that is what it is meant for, but a slash on a shin pad? To me there is no reason for that (penalty), especially when they missed a dozen just like it.”
The loss drops the Canucks to fourth place in the West Division with a 6-7-0-1 record.
The Canucks are in Grande Prairie to play the Athletics Saturday night. That will be an important game as the Dawson Creek team works at finishing in the top four of its division and securing a playoff spot.
“Every game is big. We only have six left now. We would have loved to have won this one especially against Spirit River. They had a couple of games in hand. Grande Prairie – [we are] right on their heels. Basically we need to win all six games for the rest of the year.”
In other NPHL games Thursday night, the Falher Pirates hammered the Valleyview Jets 11-2 and the Fort St. John Flyers outscored the Horse Lake Chiefs 12-7. Travis Cunningham had four goals and one assist for the Horse lake club.