The Battlefords North Stars clearly outplayed the Humbolt Broncos last night at the Civic Center. After the 1st period anyway. Coach Atcheynum called the first period “sluggish” when I spoke with him after the game. I imagine it will be a little difficult to analyze that game last night as it was a pretty young Bronco team that didn’t play particularly well at times. But that’s what coaches get paid to do and I am sure they will watch the game tape and get a real good idea who stood out for the Stars last night.
The first big hit of the game was thrown by Braeden Johnson as the Stars first few shifts were actually pretty good. Johnson knocked Gallant down in the corner and his line with Betinol and Long would look good pretty much all night. Even after Johnny left the game. Dillon Forbes also got in a good solid check in the early going and then the lights went out at the Civic Center. A power outage knocked out the lights during play and luckily no one was hurt. Power stayed off for roughly 11 minutes before the game restarted.
Once the game resumed it was Evan Ripley who got in a nice hit on David Miazga. It was a pretty physical opening but neither team really had much in the way of scoring chances in the early going. The shots were 5-3 Broncos midway through the first period. And that’s when the Broncos got going. Travis Roszell was all alone at the side of the net. Connor Creech made a pad save on a point shot but the rebound went right to Roszell and he roofed it. The hitting continued as Evan Ripley got in another good lick on the Broncos. He’s listed at 6’4 209 on his elite prospects page and he plays big. He was on a pair with Dillon Forbes that looked good last night. Brandon Tkatch from the Broncos caught Blake Young with a nice hit as well.
The North Stars tied the game later in the period. It was kind of a 4 on 2 rush for the Stars and Josh Betinol got the puck to Brandon Long. He fired it low along the ice as Betinol and a couple other North Stars went to the net. I don’t think Matt Hrynkiw in the Bronco goal ever saw the puck and it got underneath him and in. The goal was Long from Betinol and Braeden Johnson.
The Broncos led 2-1 after the first though as Mathew Audette scored late in the period. He was standing all alone in front and the pass got through. Creech dove across but had no chance to stop the shot. The shots were 11-6 Humboldt after the first and there was some pushing and shoving at the horn to end the period that led to the games first power play for the North Stars.
The Stars got off to a slow start as their power play to start the second period didn’t click. Luke McColgan had the first chance of the second as he toe dragged a Bronco and got a shot away that slid under Hrynkiw and just wide. McColgan showed some flashes of having very good hands and he is a good skater. The Stars tied it when Betinol and Long combined to set up Braeden Johnson in front. He had a wide open net to shoot at after a good pass from Long and Johnny made no mistake. Evan Ripley had another big hit as he knocked down Audette and midway through the second period the shots were 11-10 Broncos. Which means they went the first 9 minutes or so of the 2n period without getting a shot on net. The shot counter isn’t always 100% accurate as it’s a tough job to do while running the clock and not the best angle from which to do it. But When Gudmanson replaced Connor Creech at the halfway point of the 2nd period the shots were 12-11 Stars. So Creech may not have had to make a save in the 2nd period before he left the game.
Gudmanson made a good save not long after getting in the game. Ripley threw another check but it led to a 3 on 2 the other way. The puck was bouncing all over the place and bodies were flying around the crease but Gudmanson battled and kept the puck out of the net. With 8:20 left to go in the 2nd Cody Bird hit the cross bar. He looks to have great hands for a D man and has a lot of poise with the puck. During the sequence that led to the cross bar Braeden Johnson was hit with a high stick. He left the game as he was cut. The Stars had a 4 minute power play after a double minor to Gulliou. But the Stars couldn’t capitalize. The closest they came was when Brandon Long’s shot took a deflection and hit the post.
The Stars looked like they were going to get a good scoring chance in the dying seconds of the power play but Matt Sheeran’s stick broke and his weak shot was stopped. Almost as soon as the game was back to 5 on 5 the Keller, Quinn and Newton line for the Stars went back to work. They had 4 or 5 really good shifts in the second period alone. Shifts where they were in the attacking zone almost the hole time. Great forechecking from all three and I though Quinn looked sharp. He won a lot of puck battles and eventually that line drew a penalty. The Stars scored on that power play. Matt Sheeran point shot from the middle of the zone, almost the high slot area, got through a screen in front and went straight in. Betinol and Long picked up the assists. That was Betinol’s 3rd helper of the game. Long at that point had a goal and 2 assists.
Almost right after taking the lead the Stars took a penalty. Zak Kindya went off for high sticking. Scott McCluskey had a realy good shot block and clearance as part of a good Stars PK. In fact the PK was so good the Stars even managed to score. Cody Bird went on the attack on a partial 2 on 1 with Quinn. Bird kept the puck skated down the right wing and eventually snapped a beauty past Miskolczi who took over for Hrynkiw.
It was 4-2 Stars to start the third period. The Broncos had 43 seconds left on the power play to start the period but couldn’t score. Blake Young then made it 5-2 with a beauty. He was found all alone in the slot area and fired a shot past the glove of the Bronco goalie and just inside the post. Young had a good game overall and a really god third period. Jake McMillen had an assist on Young’s goal. Young returned the favour later in the period. He drove wide and then hard to the front of the net. Eventually the puck was knocked off his stick but it was loose in the blue paint and McMillen found it and shoveled it home. That made it 6-2 Stars. The assists went to Young and Carter Danczak.
After those two quick goals the Stars were all over the Broncos with Long and Betinol having a particularly good shift. The Stars controlled play in the offensive zone and had a couple of chances. I do have to give the Broncos credit though. They blocked several shots in that sequence and were battling. The Stars took a too many men penalty when Kyler Wilkinson came off the bench and played the puck before Sheeran got to the bench. He was a little slow to get off after taking a cross check. The Stars killed that penalty, another good PK shift from McCluskey helped, and got another goal. Blake Young scored again after great work from Cody Bird. The D man dangled his man then found Young alone in front. Young had 2 goals and an assist in the third period.
Matt Sheeran took a roughing call later in the period and the Broncos scored with 1 second left in the power play to make it 7-3. Dakota Zirk got that one for the Broncos. That was the only goal Micheal Gudmanson allowed after taking over for Connor Creech.
So Josh Betinol, Brandon Long, Blake Young, Jake McMillen, Cody Bird and Braeden Johnson all had multi-point nights.
North Stars goals:
G – Long A – Johnson, Betinol
G – Johnson A – Betinol, Long
G – Sheeran A – Betinol, Long (PP)
G – Bird
G – Young A – Forbes, McMillen
G – McMillen A – Young, Danczak
G – Young A – Bird
Once again that was a young looking Broncos lineup with only about 5 or 6 names I recognized from last year’s squad. And so I would take the result with a small grain of salt. But the Stars did look good and the coaches are going to be in very tough when deciding which cuts to make.
I believe they can only carry 8 imports. Betinol, Long, Bird, Ripley, Gudmanson, Kindya, Wilkinson, McColgan, and McCluskey from last night’s game would all be considered imports, if I am not mistaken. That’s 9. And guys like Ben Greenaway, Nick Fountain and Austin Evans, amongst others, were in the crowd last night waiting for their chance to impress.
So that is going to be where the North Stars have their toughest decisions to make. I really don’t envy them. But coach Atcheynum did say that it is a good problem to have. Too many good players. He also said that it is going to be tough to let some of these kids go.