The Battlefords North Stars held on to beat the Melfort Mustangs 5-4 last night at the Civic Center and snap a 3 game losing streak.
The North Stars got off to an incredibly quick start last night.In fact they led 2-0 before the Mustangs even had a shot on net.But t started with a big PK. Robbie Newton was in the box after just 13 seconds. But the world’s worst power play, okay just the worst power play in Junior A hockey for all of Canada, didn’t get a shot.
Luke McColgan had a great game against Humboldt and followed that up with another strong effort last night. McColgan opened the scoring when he fired home from the slot. It came at the end of a really good shift from the line of McColgan, Evans and Brandon Long. It was Long who had a chance at the side of the net. He settled the puck and found McColgan in the slot. That made it 1-0 North Stars.
32 seconds later it was 2-0 North Stars. The puck made it’s way back to Spencer Gosselin and he put the puck on net. Somehow it found the back of the net. Ryne Keller picked up the assist. But that’s all the Stars would get in a period in which they were the dominant team.
Casey Parker was making his first junior start and would have been very happy to be up 2-0 before he had seen a shot. Of course the other side of that sword is that Parker hadn’t seen any rubber until a little over 7 minutes of the first period had elapsed. Parker ended up making just 4 saves in the first and it was 2-0 North Stars after 20 minutes.
Once again the Stars didn’t take advantage of the chances they created. They could have been 4 or 5 goals ahead after 1 period and the game could have been over. Instead the Mustangs re-grouped a little and came out strong in the 2nd frame. In fact the first half of the second period was pretty good for Melfort. And they took advantage. Cody Brown scored a seeing eye type shot from a sharp angle and it was 2-1.
The line of Kyle Hall, Roger Tagoona and Justin Waskewitch then took over. They had a fantastic shift right after the goal and drew a power play. The Stars couldn’t score with the man advantage. But the Hall line had 2 more great shifts in the second period. Those shifts helped turn the momentum. Spencer Gosselin scored again on a point shot to make it 3-1 heading to the third.
In the final frame the Mustangs would not go away. But then neither would the North Stars. Talk about a see-saw period of hockey. Brandon Sloan scored to get the Mustangs within a goal. It was a shot from the corner that may have been a pass. It went in off the goal tenders pad as Parker was starting to prepare to push off and get in position for a shot from the slot. Instead as he came off the post the puck went off his right pad and in. The Stars responded when Evan Ripley scored is first as a Star. So McColgan, Gosselin and Ripley all scored their first of the year last night. For McColgan and Gosselin it was their first junior A goals.
The Mustangs scored again when Godric Tham’s shot went off the post and then off Parker and in. It was an unlucky bounce for the Stars young goalie. That was a 4 on 4 goal to make it 4-3. The first of 3 during the same 4 on 4 sequence. The Stars responded to make it 5-3 when Kyle Hall skated onto a puck that Evan Ripley had flipped off the glass and out. Hall and Johnson went in on a 2 on 1 and Hall’s shot was stopped. Johnson put the rebound home. That goal came 1:02 after the Mustangs marker. And Melfort scored again 24 seconds later. Brody Luhning tried to make 1 too many moves, or maybe 2 or 3, at the Mustangs blueline. Brandon Sloan stole the puck and skated in on a breakaway. He went to the backhand and slid the puck home through the 5 hole. Other than the goals, all most all of which were very preventable, I thought Casey Parker looked solid for the Stars.
In fact he may have saved the game late. The Stars took a penalty with about a minute to go and the Mustangs pulled their goalie to have a 6 on 4 advantage. They eventually got some pressure and with less than 10 seconds to go Parker had to dive across his crease to make a fantastic save and the Stars held on to win.
That was more of what I think the North Stars can be this season. They still need to be more consistent and make the simple play more often. Coach Hasselberg wasn’t happy to have conceded 4 goals and he also said he thought 3 of them were a direct result of the North Stars not making smart decision when in control of the puck. But the outshot their opponents heavily once again and I don’t think that was truly a one goal game. And it was a nice step in the right direction.
To answer a couple of questions from the comments section of the blog. If you were listening last night to the broadcast you will know that Bryden Serafini is now with the Melfort Mustangs. I never got an official release from the North Stars so I am not sure on the specifics but I think they basically just wanted to find a place where Serafini would get a chance to play. I am not sure if it was a trade or not. Once I know more I will pass the information along.
And there was a question about the trade that landed the Stars Jake McMillen. The trade as reported on my blog roughly this time last year was Dawson MacAuley to Yorkton for Jake McMillen. And if MacAuley played for the Terriers during the season the North Stars would also receive futures. MacAuley made 11 starts for the Yorkton Terriers after the trade and after being released from Medicine Hat. So the Stars likely received some cash from Yorkton to complete that trade. But to answer the question, no the North Stars don’t owe Yorkton anything as part of that trade.
The North Stars face Yorkton on Wednesday and then have a Southern road trip that includes an off day on the Saturday. One week from today. I will let you know why that off day is on the schedule coming up early next week.