The North Stars skated to a 4-1 win last night at the Civic Center in front of 1,000 plus people who were able to get away on Valentine’s Day to enjoy some hockey.
The Stars never trailed in the game last night after Braeden Johnson opened the scoring. Johnson has been in a slump so it was nice to see him pot one. He’s been pretty unlucky of late as well. He seemingly scored against Flin Flon last time out but it was waived off after Woody Klassen was called for goalie interference. So Johnny has been getting closer and closer to breaking out. Just heading into playoffs is a great time to do it. The Stars led 1-0 after the first in part because Connor Creech made 8 saves and one of them was a wonderful pad save on a back door pass. The Stars were without several key players including captain Travis Sparrow and Kyle Hall. So Carter Danczak was called up from midget to play with Johnson and Tagoona and the young forward helped set up Johnny’s goal. The Stars have now used two AP players and both have picked up a point in their first game as a North Star. Blair Mahon was called up to back up Connor Creech as Graham Hildebrand also missed last night’s game. There is a cold or flu going through the Stars room at the moment.
In the second period the Stars got several power play opportunities and were able to cash once. The Mustangs took 3 penalties in the second frame and the Stars power play looked decent. They moved the puck well and had possession but at times in the second and again in the third I thought the Stars power play didn’t do enough to get shots on net. When they did it led to a goal. Brody Luhning and Woody Klassen teamed up to get a puck through on Jesse Wilkins, who was excellent last night. Wilkins made the first save with Brett Miller providing a screen. The rebound went right to Jordan Ethier who made no mistake. I thought the rebound had bounced off Brett Miller to Ethier but Miller wasn’t given an assist. Perhaps it hit a Melfort D man. The Stars ended up outshooting the Mustangs 15-8 in the second and led 2-0 heading to the third.
Blake Tatchell made the score 3-0 early in the final period. Tatchell went in on a 2 on 1 with Ethier and used his line mate as a decoy. Tatchell faked a shot and got Wilkins to bite on the fake. Then Tatchell went to the back hand at the side of the net and just when you thought he would try to roof the puck he instead skated down below the red line and tucked the puck home with his forehand just before he swooped in behind the net. It was a real beauty from Tatchell and all but finished Melfort off. The Mustangs never quit though and continued to work hard. It paid off when Avery VanBlaricom and Anthony Pickering teamed up to beat Creech. The Stars goalie actually made the first save but the Mustangs bashed home the rebound at the side of the net. That made it 3-1 at the time and the Mustangs did get a couple late power plays. If they had scored it would have made for a nervous finish but the Stars PK was good throughout the game and eventually with the ‘Stangs on the power play and their net empty Woody Klassen belted his man into the side boards and flipped the puck out of the Stars zone. Tim Rollins skated onto the loose puck and slid it into the empty cage. A short handed empty netter for Rollins to seal the deal.
The Stars didn’t play their best game and at times it was a game that fans might have found a little boring. It certainly didn’t have a playoff atmosphere. But the Stars did enough to win and Coach Hasselberg said there were some positives to take from the game.