JDA Kings One Win Away
It certainly wasn’t the way the JDA Kings wanted to play the final 20 minutes of game 3 of the NWJHL finals but they’ll take it anyway they can get it.
Leading 5 to 1 heading into the final frame the Kings faced a Peace River onslaught and surrendered a four goal lead before Daniel Bishop’s last minute heroics put the Kings ahead and pushed the North Peace Navigators to the brink of elimination.
Bishop took a cross ice feed from linemate Nolan Trudeau and found himself all alone in front of Navigators starting netminder Cory Houlder…he made no mistake and with 1:01 to go Grande Prairie took a 6 to 5 lead and captured a win in what could have been a monumental collapse.
The first forty minutes was all Grande Prairie.
On the road you want to get off to a good start and the Kings did just that as Nolan Trudeau would score unassisted on a wrap around just 4:51 into the game. From that point on in the first GP controlled much of the play which eventually led to finishing the first period leading 3 to 0. The line of Daniel Bishop, Nolan Trudeau and Devin Bell has been a handful for much of the series for the North Peace Navigators and game three was much of the same. After killing a lengthy 5 on 3 powerplay for Peace River Trudeau would factor in on the second goal as well notching an assist on captain Devin Bell’s goal at 11:07. Shortly after it was time for the Kings powerplay to click and rookie Sheldon Hubbard to shine.
Hubbard would round out the scoring in the first period on a point shot blast that seemed to elude Houlder putting Grande Prairie up 3 to 0.
It wouldn’t be his best of the night however.
After both teams traded chances in the first half of the second period Hubbard found himself with a lose puck in the neutral zone, stickhandled through a few Navs players before teeing one up at the top of the circle and beating Houlder to put the Kings up 4 to 0.
Despite the comfortable lead Peace River had their chances but as been the case much of the series the Kings defense and goaltender Sky Buller have managed to smother rebounds and limit the Navigators chances to just one. Eventually they would solve Buller on the powerplay when Dustin Long tipped in a shot from the point from Joe Doerkson.
Grande Prairie however restored their four goal lead when Joel Wamsteeker found Lyndin Lewis for GP’s fifth goal.
Then the third began.
Three goals in the span of three minutes by the North Peace Navigators got them rolling and had the Kings reeling. Dustin Gach made it 5 to 2 at 3:06, Fred Schmidt made it 5 to 3 at 4:39 and Bond Hawryluk pulled the Navigators to within one at 6:50 on the powerplay.
Sensing the turn in momentum Grande Prairie would call a timeout to try and calm the teams nerves but it didn’t stop the inevitable as Brendan Hawryluk would square the affair at 5 with 9 minutes to go in the third period.
Having something to cheer about for the first time in awhile the crowd was back into it and the Navigators continued to press as the final minutes ticked down.
Then just like that the energy dropped as Nolan Trudeau fed a puck from the sideboards to the middle of the ice finding Bishop. Grande Prairie’s defence and goaltending sealed the deal boxing the Navs out of the zone as the seconds ticked down.
Now, a 3 to 0 lead in the series and a chance to capture their first ever NWJHL championship Friday night.
Fan Bus Maurice Trudeau of MT Actions has a fan bus heading to Peace River for game 4 Friday night. $35 dollars gets you a seat on the bus taking you to and from the game as well as admission into the Baytex arena. It will be fully licensed for adult beverages and kids are welcome! For more information contact Maurice Trudeau at 780.518.5137.
JDA County Kings vs Fort St. John Huskies
JDA County Kings vs North Peace Navigators