It was a struggle at times last night but the Stars found a way to win in over time 5-4 over the Melville Millionaires.
It wasn’t a struggle in the first period for the Stars who dominated the Millionaires for long stretches of the period. Melville had played the night before so perhaps they were shaking off some bus legs but the Stars won puck battles, went to the dirty areas and controlled the play for long stretches in Melville territory. And they scored twice for good measure. Brody Luhning almost oopened the scoring when he hit the post less than 3 minutes into the game. Blake Tatchell eventually did open the scoring with a beauty post and in to open the scoring. That was a short handed marker and less than 3 minutes later Tatchell scored his second of the period on a beautiful back hand saucer pass from Boyd Wakelin which left Tatchell a lot of net to shoot at and he doesn’t miss those opportunities. It wasn’t officially a power play goal but the Millionaires player had just stepped out of the box when the puck went in so unofficially it was on the PP. Despite their dominance the Stars only led by 1 after the first. Melville scoring with 6 seconds left in the frame to make it 2-1 after 1. The score not really reflective of the overall play.
The second period wasn’t as good for the Stars as Melville tied the game on a screen shot that beat Creech glove side. So 2 goals for Melville in less than a minute either side of the 1st intermission and it was a tie game. The Millionaires then scored a power play marker at the 9:42 mark of the period to take their first lead. It didn’t last long though as Grayden Turner Brett Kipling each got two for unsportsmanlike as they jostled before the puck was even dropped after the Melville goal. So once the play resumed after the goal that made it 3-2 Millionaires we were playing 4 on 4. 25 seconds into that 4 on 4 play the Stars had tied the game as Braeden Johnson’s beautiful pass was re-directed into the top corner by Blake Tatchell as he completed his hat trick. With the score 3-3 the Stars did have some brief 4 on 3 and 5 on 4 power play time but were unable to capitalize. The last 6 minutes of the second didn’t present much for scoring chances to either team other than a Melville 3 on 1 which was created when Zach MacLellan fell in the neutral zone. But he put his head down and dug hard to get back in the play. His D partner Brody Luhning sprawled to take away a passing lane which slowed the Melville players down just enough and a combination of MacLellan and Creech were able to thwart the Millionaires scoring chance.
Melville scored another early goal in the third as Jesse Mireau went bar down with a beauty just 40 seconds into the frame. The Stars created chances in the third outshooting Melville 12-8 in a period more reminiscent of the first period than the second. Tanner Schwab, whose line I thought was good last night despite being a little snake bitten offensively, had a 2 on 1 chance that was stopped when Schwab held for the shot himself. It was Blake Tatchell who was with him though so perhaps the pass was the better option. Although I like the play Schwab made as everyone in the building was expecting the pass to Tatchell. Schwabby has a good shot but Alex Wakaluk in the Melville goal was equal to it. Late in the frame with Battlefords pressure increasing the Tatchell line had a great shift which drew a penalty. The second unit started the power play and had a couple of half chances but it was the top unit guys who came back out and tied the game with 2:04 remaining. Braeden Johnson playing the role of hero as his shot, which he said after the game was just an attempt to get a rebound as Roger Tagoona was driving the net, somehow went through the goalie and in. That was Johnson’s third point of the night.
In over time it was Boyd Wakelin who won it. He found a loose puck in Melville territory and drove to the net. As a seam opened up through the slot Wakes went to the backhand and roofed it past Wakaluk for the game winner.
So Wakelin is the hero in OT and he had a very strong game last night. The 3 Stars of the game in the building included Tatchell and Johnson. I thought Johnny had his best game of the season and it was in large part because he was working hard and threw a number of good hits. When he gets into the game physically and plays with some edge he is a much better player.
Next up for the Stars will be Kinderlsey here in the Battlefords. That one is Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Civic Center.
Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Tanner Schwab (with honorable mentions to his line mates Brett Miller and Kyle Hall)
I thought Schwab and his line mates had a very strong game. They were a big part of the good work the Stars did in the first and third periods especially and were very unlucky not to score a couple goals. Schwab threw a number of good hits and was noticeable almost every time he hit the ice. If that line plays like they did in the first period where they were supporting the puck well, throwing the body and winning battles they will get the rewards eventually.