As the warm weather briefly cruises through the peace, the Dawson Creek Senior Canucks went the other way as their offense froze up against the Spirit River Rangers.
The visiting Rangers shutout the Canucks 1-0 in their final game of what has been a remarkable offensive year, where the home side has averaged 5.2 goals per game.
“Usually we don’t have problems scoring goals, but it was a playoff style game tonight— defensive hockey," Canucks assistant captain Jeff Taylor said postgame. "We missed a few golden opportunities, at the same time our goaltender was great tonight so he kept us in the game, we owe a lot to him.”
JB Agar manned the net for Dawson Creek and in his first appearance this season, made 31 saves in the loss.
Saturday night marked only the fourth 1-0 game in North Peace Hockey League history since 1989 and also locked up a first round bye for Spirit River, meaning the Canucks will square off against their Alaska Highway rival Fort St. John Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.
“We weren’t too concerned about what was going to happen, we just decided to come out tonight and play a good game whether we play Spirit River or Fort St. John," Taylor said.
"We’ve had success both ways, more so with Fort St. John. We need to play the same kind of game we played tonight except bury our opportunities.”
After an early goal in the first period by Rangers’ forward Colin Leffy, they locked out the Canucks and only allowed 13 shots from the league’s leading offense through the opening two periods.
In the third the Canucks watched several opportunities go sideways, including a rebound that bounced onto Taylor’s stick and careened just wide of the net on his shot.
Noticeably absent was also the Canucks top power play, which has operated at 35 per cent this year, but went 0 for 3 on Saturday.
“We know we can score goals, we were one of the highest in the league and our power play has to be better than it was tonight. We’re usually clicking on that. We’re not concerned one bit about the offensive [side]. It’s more of the defensive zone coverage where we’ve been falling a part this year,” Taylor added.
“Our goaltender was great, he made a lot of quality saves. I thought we did a good job keeping the grade A chances down and we will have to lock it down against Fort St. John, they have some guys that can bury.”
Tuesday night the Canucks will tangle with the Flyers at North Peace Arena in the opening game of the five game first round playoff series. Puck drops at 8:30 p.m. The series will return to Dawson Creek on Thursday, Feb. 4.
The series schedule is as follows:
Game 1 Tuesday, Feb. 2 DC Canucks at FSJ Flyers 8:30 pm
Game 2 Thursday, Feb. 4 FSJ Flyers at DC Canucks 8:30 pm
Game 3 Friday, Feb. 5 DC Canucks at FSJ Flyers 8:30 pm
*Game 4 Tuesday, Feb. 9 FSJ Flyers at DC Canucks 8:30 pm
*Game 5 Thursday, Feb. 11 DC Canucks at FSJ Flyers 8:30 pm
(*) If necessary