The North Stars completed a wonderful 2014 on the road with a 5-2 win over the Humboldt Broncos tonight at the Elgar Peterson Arena.
The Stars have always seemed to play well in Humboldt and improved to 7-4-1-1 in that building in the last few years. It was thanks in part to a strong first period by Ryan Rewerts. Making his first start since December 2nd Rewerts was sharp early as the Stars came out of the gates a bit slow. There was some controversy early as Ryne Keller was tossed from the game given 2 for checking from behind and a game misconduct. I thought it was at worst a boarding call and maybe not even a penalty. It looked to me like Keller was shoulder to shoulder with his man and the Bronco player turned at the last second. Having just seen the replay on the bus ride home I think I owe referee Byblow an apology. I think he definitely got the call correct. Importantly the Bronco player was okay. The Stars were short handed but thanks to Rewerts killed off the penalty.
They got a power play later in the frame and although they didn’t score they drew some momentum late in the period and got their feet moving to help even the shots a bit at 12-7 after the first. The Broncos took a hooking penalty early in the second period and then less than a minute later took a bench minor for something said to the official. The Stars haven’t scored a 5-on-3 goal in a while so it was nice to see a hard low point shot from Vermeulen that was kicked right to Nick Foutain ended up in the back of the net. Tough one for the goalie Jack Romanuik and the Stars were in front.
The Broncos tied the game when Ahston McLeod found himself in deep and tried a wrap around. Rewerts easily had the wrap covered but couldn’t react when the puck slid off the stick of McLeod and right to Jarrett Fontaine. If it was a pass it was a beauty but either way it was 1-1. Later in the frame it was Ryan Rewerts making a great toe save as he stretched across the crease to keep the scores level.
Matt Saharchuk then threw a big hit on Austin Swystun that was the San-Berg Collision Collision of the game. The Stars were short another player in the second when Jon Brumwell threw a hit on Reed Delainey that Jake Calverley didn’t like. Calverley hit Brumwell and was given 2 and a game for checking from behind. In the first period Delainey took a high stick and his mouth is a little banged up. Tough night for the Stars forward who did hit the stat sheet in a very strong game.
The Stars re-gained the lead when Nick Fountain sauced a nice little area pass for Jordan Townsend to skate onto in the neutral zone. Towny then blazed into the Bronco zone, made a quick little cut to the slot and wired a wrister past Romanuik. Jackson Bond should also end up with an assist on the goal.
Less than a minute later it was 3-1. A dump in behind the Bronco net from Connor Vermeulen and Brenden Heinrich was the only one to react. Heinrich, who has been in a rich vein of form, passed out front from below the redline. His backhand through the legs blind feed found Matt Havens who roofed his second in as many games. Is Havens starting to really settle in and get comfortable at this level? Because if he is then the rest of the league could be in trouble. Vermeulen should end up with 2 assists once the stats are corrected.
The fans in Humboldt were upset about a non-call on a hit that Heinrich was involved in during that second period that I thought maybe was worse than the Keller hit. But Heinrich says he didn’t touch the Bronco D man who slid heavily into the end boards. He simply fell. Humboldt’s discipline in that middle frame wasn’t great and helped the Stars keep the momentum.
A late second period penalty to Colton Laroque carried over to the third and the Stars capitalized. Michael Koroll and Kapleke got tangled up with Matt Havens near the top of the face-off circle. Using that opening Reed Delainey was able to swoop down low and pass out front for Brenden Heinrich and the Stars forward fired home along the ice from the low slot and through the 5-hole.
After the goal the Stars Otto Mitchell got a big piece of Matthew Kenney. Later in the frame Trevor Posch hit Mitchell and Kendall Fransoo didn’t like the hit so he dropped the gloves with Posch and after being a little off balance early Fransoo got into a slug fest. The two combatants standing toe-to-toe chucking rights and lefts. Fransoo got in a couple late before he fell and maybe edged the fight.
That left the Stars with 4 D and short a forward from the Keller and Calverley ejections. Despite that fact, and the fact that the Broncos had a late power play and it was 6-on-4 for most of that PP the Stars only gave up 4 third period shots. On the road. After Townsend returned the Broncos were able to score a goal at even strength. Brumwell poking home a bouncing puck out front to make it 4-2. But the Stars went back to work and kept the puck in Bronco ice for most of the rest of the game and eventually got a Connor Sych empty net goal to wrap things up.
The Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Rewerts 2) Heinrich 1) Fountain
San-Berg Colliision Collision of the Game: Matt Saharchuk on Swystun
Former North Star forward Braeden Johnson was on the bench as an assistant coach and picked up his first win as part of the North Stars coaching staff. The North Stars have now played well in 4 straight games and have at least a point in three straight. Safe to say they have battled their way out of their rough stretch.
They close out 2014 at home with a pair this coming weekend versus Flin Flon. In total counting last season and this one the Stars were an amazing 20-4-2 on the road for 42 out of a possible 52 points.