By Marissa Tiel on March 29, 2017
All the time the Whitehorse Huskies have dedicated to special teams in practice appears to have paid off as they won their first game of the Coy Cup tournament with three power play goals.
The Huskies beat the North Island Capitals 6-3 in their first game at the Coy Cup, which also featured the return of team captain Evan Campbell, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery since the fall.
“I’m pretty confident in it,” said Campbell of his shoulder after the game. “It definitely took me a couple hits because I haven’t taken any contact since the surgery so I took a couple hits and I figured I was good to go.”
Whitehorse was down by one heading into the second period.
“We had arguably the worst period of our season out there in the first,” said head coach Michael Tuton. “Spent too much time killing the penalty. We regrouped and got refocused and just started gaining momentum from there and hopefully we carry that with us tomorrow.”
Andrew Pettitt tied things up just over five minutes into the period.
Then the Capitals hit penalty trouble.
Two minutes later,Ted Stephens took hold of a man advantage to score a power play goal.
Brett Roulston added to the lead a minute later, making it 3-1 for the Huskies.
Shelby Cockell found the back of the net for the Capitals to bring it within one.
With 4:27 left in the second, Adam Henderson added another power play goal to end the period leading 4-2.
The Capitals started the third period down two players after earning penalties late into the second.
Klassen took advantage of the five-on-three and lifted the Huskies to five goals.
The Capitals’ Stewart Lee brought the team within two when he scored with 8:28 left in the third.
The Capitals pulled their goalie with two minutes remaining, but JJ Gainsforth stood strong for the Huskies, making a huge stick save to keep the Huskies up.
Gainsforth came into the game just over four minutes into the second period after starting goalie Jon Olthuis was injured in a collision with the Capital’s Jack Kennelly. Kennelly was shoved into the goalie and landed on top of him in the crease.
Olthuis skated off the ice and headed to the dressing room.
Tuton said then when Olthuis came off the ice he said he wasn’t feeling right and will see a doctor this afternoon.
Olthuis is “questionable at best,” to skate in tonight’s game against the Terrace River Kings, said Tuton.
Henderson sealed the game for the Huskies with an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining.
NOTES: The Whitehorse Huskies wore white Yukon Hockey jerseys as they found out late that the North Island Capitals only had black jerseys.
NEXT: Whitehorse (1-0-0) faces the Terrace River Kings (0-1-0) tonight at Takhini Arena at 7 p.m.
Tom Patrick Wednesday March 29, 2017
Maybe it was opening game jitters, but the Whitehorse Huskies didn’t come out playing like the Coy Cup champion team they hope to become.
Then the second period started.
The Huskies scored four second-period goals en route to a 6-3 win over the North Island Capitals to begin their Coy Cup journey at Takhini Arena on March 28.
“I think that’s actually a good start to the tournament for us,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “It brought us back into the room after 20 minutes and we refocused, regrouped and went out and had a much better second period. We took over from there.
“In the third, we started with that five-on-three, we knew we had to bury (North Island) there and we did.”
The Huskies’ inauspicious start was underscored by the loss of forward Kevin Petovello — one of the team’s most prolific scorers — tossed from the game on a boarding call, leaving the Huskies down a man for five minutes.
The Capitals, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, capitalized on a four-on-three advantage that soon followed on a goal from Karl Hagg. With three minutes left in Petovello’s penalty, the Huskies survived a bustling onslaught of shots from the Capitals without allowing a goal.
It was a different story in the second. Five minutes in Huskies forward Drew Pettitt logged his team’s first goal of the tournament on a scramble in front, assisted by Ted Stephens and Simon Nugent.
Whitehorse moved ahead with two more in the next three minutes. Stephens sniped a wrister from the wing, assisted by Rob Stuckey and Rob Warner. Then, forward Brett Roulston made it 3-1 with a point-blank goal from the side of the net, assisted by Derek Klassen and Charles Dagostin.
“We were looking for one good shift to get things turned around and I think Drew Pettitt’s goal in the second period really brought some life back into the bench, and from there we started to gain momentum,” said Tuton.
Capitals forward Shelby Cockell pulled his team within one late in the period. The Huskies answered back a minute later with a goal from forward Adam Henderson. Defenceman Alex Dzielski and returning captain Evan Campbell picked up assists.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing in the second. Huskies starting goalie Jon Olthuis left the game with a knee injury sustained in a collision. The team could not say whether he’ll be fit for Wednesday’s game.
“What a tough position for J.J. (Gainesforth) to come in with no notice, no warmup, and come in a put in the performance that he did,” said Tuton of his backup tender. “That kind of stuff lifts the bench up and gets the boys ready to go. These guys play for each other and that was a perfect example of it.”
The Huskies, wearing Team Yukon jerseys to accommodate the Capitals, who failed to bring their white jerseys, made good on a two-man advantage to start the third when forward Derek Klassen knocked in a bouncing puck in the Capitals’ crease. Brett Roulston and assistant captain Jared Tuton got the assists.
The Capitals kept it interesting with a mid-period goal from Tyren Dustin before Henderson drove the final nail with an empty-netter in the dying seconds.
Kelowna tops Terrace
Finishing as the runner-ups at the last three Coy Cups, the Terrace River Kings are no doubt a hungry team. But they weren’t hungry enough to overcome the Kelowna Sparta in the first game of the Cup, also on Tuesday.
The Sparta, playing in their first Coy, squeaked out a 3-2 win over the River Kings in the afternoon game. They did it with a short bench, too.
“We’re a little short-staffed today, so we only had two lines. We’re going to have the other half of our team show up on Thursday for the Huskies game,” said Sparta captain Sasha Golin. “We think they’re our No. 1 competition. They’re a bunch of good guys over there, we enjoy playing them, and we’ll hopefully win.”
The Huskies will face the River Kings Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. after the Sparta and Capitals hit the ice at 4 p.m. The hometown favourites will then finish the round robin against Kelowna on Thursday evening after Terrace and North Island square off.
From there the bottom team is eliminated, the middle two play a semifinal Friday, and the top team gets a bye to Saturday’s final.
There’s plenty of hockey to come and it’s still too early to make any firm predictions, just ask Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, who was in attendance on Tuesday.
“I’m feeling really proud. The Whitehorse Huskies have done a fantastic job,” he said. “This is the 95th Coy Cup and the first time it’s in our capital city. So I’m not going to make any predictions, but I’m certain we’re going to win.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org