Huskies split series against Sparta with questionable OT loss

A common sentiment in the Takhini Arena stands at Whitehorse Huskies games is that the nets come off their anchors a little too easily. That was on the minds of many at the Huskies game Saturday.

A common sentiment in the Takhini Arena stands at Whitehorse Huskies games is that the nets come off their anchors a little too easily.

That was on the minds of many at the Huskies game Saturday.

Tied 4-4 in overtime, Kelowna Sparta goalie Michael Fredrick nudged his net off about the same time as a goal from Huskies forward Andrew Pettitt found the back of it with a shot. The would-be game-winning goal was disallowed and the Sparta went on to win it.

While ambulatory nets are safer, perhaps it’s worth considering firming up the nets before the Whitehorse Huskies host the Coy Cup — the B.C. AA men’s championship — this March.

“I hope so. We even see it in rec league,” said Huskies captain Derek Klassen. “Hopefully we can get something figured out before it actually makes a difference in something that four teams are working towards all year.

“You’d hate to see a team win or lose because of a net being off by a couple inches because the pegs can’t hold them down. Hopefully we get something figured out.”

With Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss, the Huskies split the two-game series with the Sparta. Whitehorse won the Friday opener 11-7.

The Sparta, which formed last season and are going for the Coy Cup, now have the mandatory six B.C. Hockey-recognized games to qualify for Coy Cup playoffs and could be back in March, if not sooner.

“I think it was a really good weekend. It’s a pretty good hockey club that Kelowna brought up,” said Huskies head coach Michael Tuton. “Those were two really exciting hockey games to watch. Those are the perfect games that we the Huskies need and what we look forward to and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sparta here in March playing for the Coy Cup.

“This is a team we’re going to try and get back before then — try to get some more game against them. I think that would be beneficial for both groups.”

The Huskies, who now have a 3-1 record with a pair of wins over Alberta’s Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs in October, debuted a new first line on Friday and it was a scoring machine.

Forwards Kevin Petovello, Ted Stephens and Klassen combined for 14 points in the game. Klassen had two goals and four assists, Petovello three goals and two assists and Stephens one goal and two assists.

Forward Adam Henderson had four goals and an assist and Kane Dawe one goal and three assists.

Friday’s game also marked Klassen’s first as captain, taking over for Evan Campbell, who is sidelined following shoulder surgery.

“There are lots of guys on the team that have played at a high level and could do that job,” said Klassen. “It’s something I’m fairly comfortable with as well, doing it in junior and college. Getting the points, it’s pretty easy playing with guys like Kevin and Ted.”

Klassen, who is head coach for the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association, last captained a team while playing for the Nanooks at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“It’s kind of cool: myself, Kevin Petovello and Adam Henderson all played there and were all captains of that team at one point,” said Klassen. “That shows the kind of guys we have on the Huskies now.”

Petovello, Stephens, Klassen and Dawe all sniped goals in Saturday’s game with Petovello registering two assists.

The Huskies fought back from down 2-0 Saturday and took a 4-2 lead in the third before a Sparta comeback late in the period.

“I thought it was pretty good. Obviously two different kind of games: one being 11-7 with a lot of goals and the other being pretty tight all the way through, so it was the best of both worlds,” said Klassen. “I thought they were a pretty good team. They made some adjustments the second night and it was a little tougher for us to get moving through the neutral zone and create as many chances as we did the night before.”

As happy as the Huskies are with the quality of hockey, they were less thrilled with the turnout of fans. With it being the height of Christmas party season, about 350 spectators attended each game — less than half the number of fans that attended some games last season.

“We hope with our next ones we get our fans out,” said Michael. “We are playing in front of a pretty quiet building. We’re just wishing people knew what kind of hockey is getting put out there. We’re putting a pretty good product out there and the amount of people in the seats hasn’t been where we were hoping to be by this point.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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