It looked like it was going to be a storybook finish Wednesday night.
The Dawson Creek Junior Canucks had come back from a 5-3 deficit early in the third period, and with just over five minutes left in regulation, Wesley Shipton gave the Canucks the 6-5 lead. It looked like the series was over, and the Canucks were moving on.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. With just 18 seconds left, and goalie pulled, the North Peace Navigators tied it up. And while the shots in overtime were only 9-6 in the Navs’ favour, it seemed like it was a constant attack by the Navs. And about five minutes into extra time, North Peace found the back of the net forcing game seven.
“A couple of bad bounces, puck luck, and it always goes to the team that is usually working the hardest,” says GM Colby Wagar. “I don’t think we, by any means, came out for the game completely prepared.”
The game had started off well for the Canucks. Dustin Bahm and Griffin Young scored within less than a minute of each other to gain the 2-0 lead near the halfway mark of the first. But North Peace answered back 14:34 in.
And their lead being narrowed to one goal wasn’t the Canucks’ only concern. Goalie Simon Bowyer pulled his groin on the play, and backup Matthew Ens — who played game two — had to come in cold.
While he showed an understandable bit of shakiness early, allowing three straight goals by the Navs in the second period putting DC down 4-2, his play picked up as his confidence picked up.
“That’s hard for any goalie to come in a situation like that,” says Wagar. “Very competent goalie, but it’s tough for him to come in like that and into gamespeed that fast.”
Had the Canucks won, though, Ens would probably have been worthy of player of the game honours. After the game had settled down to a 5-3 scoreline, after DC and the Navs traded power play goals, Ens shut the door until the end.
He set up the play of the game in the third when he robbed the North Peace player of what seemed like an easy goal, and passed the puck to Dustin Bahm, tying the game at five, earning himself an assist.
However, in the end, the Canucks didn’t win. Sloppy team play in the second period and an inability to generate much offence in overtime led to their defeat.
Now, they will have to travel back to Peace River for Friday’s game seven matchup, with the winner moving on to face the Fort St. John Huskies, who closed their series in five on Tuesday. Puck drop for game seven is Friday at 8 pm.