Coming into tonight’s game the North Stars were 9-0 against the Melfort Mustangs in my time covering the team 7-0 last season and then 2-0 so far to start this season. Tonight the Mustangs snapped that streak but they did have some help from the Stars.
With Casey Parker and Connor Creech out sick the North Stars had to call up 2 ‘AP’ goalies. Ryan Rewerts and Rylan Toth from the Midget AAA Stars were both in the lineup. Rewerts is North Stars property and got the start. Toth is a Flin Flon prospect and the Bombers were gracious enough to let the North Stars use him as an ‘AP’ tonight on an emergency basis. The North Stars were also without Ryne Keller and Tanner Quinn who are both out injured. But Justin Waskewitch and Ben Greenaway were back in the Stars lineup tonight. They also had an affiliate forward playing on the 4th line with Avery Van Blaricom called up from Junior B. AVB is a former Mustang who was with Melfort at the start of this season as well.
The North Stars got off to a decent start tonight despite a Ben Greenaway penalty. Greenaway was doing what he does best and that’s trying to be physical on the forecheck. He caught his man up high on the hit though and was assessed a blow to the head penalty. 2 and 10 in the box for that call. The North Stars scored though as Kyle Hall went in on a 2 on 1 with Jake McMillen short handed. The D man took away the pass so Hall skated in on Johnson and snapped the puck over the glove to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. But they didn’t really take off from that point.
The Mustangs had 3 or 4 odd man rushes including a couple break-aways and partial breaks in the first period and Ryan Rewerts made some pretty good saves to prevent the Mustangs from opening up a bigger lead after 1. But they did score twice and once again it was the Stars PK causing them some issues. Brandon Parrone went D to D and Jay Aasen got a shot through traffic that beat Rewerts with traffic in front. That made it 1-1. The goal came with Blake Young in the box for tripping. The Mustangs then made it 2-1 later in the period when Brennan Bosovich scored unassisted. He managed to split the D and fight off a check from Matt Sheeran and Keenan Martens to slide the puck past Rewerts.
There was no scoring in the second period thanks to Rewerts. The Stars were outshot 11-5 in that period but their young affiliate goalie kept them in it. Ben Greenaway won his fight with Cody Brown but that didn’t spark his team the way I had hoped it would. I also hoped the Stars would come out in the third and win the game for Rewerts. That didn’t happen either.
Godric Tham was sent in alone by Aasen and beat Rewerts 5 hole. That goal came just 2:28 into the final frame and gave the Mustangs their first 2 goal lead of the night. Blake Young had a strong game for the North Stars, just as he did in La Ronge, and was rewarded with some time on the top line. He made it count with a goal to make it 3-2 and give the Stars a bit of a spark. They even came on and had a few good shifts in a row after that.
Unfortunately later in the period Blake Young ran into Logan Sceviour and accidentally got the Mustang in the face iwth his stick. That led to a 4 minute double minor. The Mustangs went tic-tac-toe on the power play with Godric Tham scoring his second of the period to make it 4-2. The Mustangs power play came into the game functioning at just 8% efficiency and having scored just 6 PP goals all season. They got 2 tonight.
There were chances for the Stars after that and a good shift when I thought Luke McColgan would score. Justin Waskewitch looked like he might get one as well but nothing seemed to click for the Stars in the final minutes of the third. They couldn’t beat Patrick Johnson and the Mustangs sealed the game into an empty net.
So the North Stars fall to 8-11 on the season and after the game you could tell that Coach Hasselberg was pretty upset. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that tone in his voice before when he’s joined me for the Ultra Print Coaches Show. Coach said it was probably the second time this season that the Stars put forth a poor effort. The previous game being in Estevan earlier in the season. And coach went on to say that this pattern of playing well and then following that up with a poor effort needs to stop.
Kevin also said they might need to shake things up a little. Maybe change something in the game day routine. He also put a lot of the blame on himself and the staff and said they hadn’t done their job getting the team ready to play.
In my experience the Battlefords North Stars always find a way to battle through adversity and bounce back. They have Notre Dame at home Friday night and I expect a very good effort from the Stars in two nights time. As soon as this team combines their usual work ethic with working smart and getting all 20 guys pulling in the same direction they will really get rolling. Lets hope they come out strong on Friday and then follow that up on Saturday with back to back really good efforts.