The Battlefords North Stars battled hard last night to pick up a point thanks to a 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of the Yorkton Terriers.
The North Stars were forced to play the game short a couple forwards as Luke McColgan was feeling sick and Braeden Johnson is dealing with a lower body injury. Both players took warmup but were unable to go. That left the Stars with 9 forwards and 7 D men. At times, when a forward was in the penalty box, the extra D man would move up front to help out on the forward unit.
The Terriers opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game on a scrabble in front of Connor Creech. Nathan Murray was given credit for the goal on a shot that somehow fluttered up in the air over top of Creech and landed in behind the goalie in the net. After a couple good shifts for the Terriers and the goal the North Stars started to find their feet and get back into the game.
The Stars were able to tie the game midway through the first period. Joren Johnson got away a very good wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Dawon MacAuley glove side. The puck hit the post, bounced back towards the slot, then hit the back of the goaltender and trickled over the line. It was maybe a tad fortunate that the puck took the bounce that it did to end up in the net. But it was a great shot by Johnson as he scored his first ever Junior A goal. Johnson has been great in his 2 games with the North Stars so far.
That goal came just 18 seconds after Ryne Keller came out of the penalty box. The North Stars PK was good again last night and Keller was able to pick up an assist on the goal. Keller now has points in two straight games. The Stars killed two Yorkton power play opportunities in the first. The second was an elbowing penalty against Dillon Forbes. That was a strange play. I didn’t see the penalty call on Forbes as it occurred in front of the net. I was watching behind the play as Ben Greenaway threw a hit on a Yorkton player in front of the benches. Tyler Giebel didn’t like it and came in, dropped his gloves and grabbed Greenaway. A fight never developed but there was pushing and shoving in front of the benches and all the while the play was down in the North Stars zone. The ref missed the whole play involving Giebel. And somehow the Stars ended up short handed.
In the second the North Stars killed another Terriers power play when Robbie Newton picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty for something he said to the ref. Greenaway was involved with some pushing and shoving at the end of the second and picked up a 10 minute misconduct to go with a roughing penalty. Nathan Murray was given the same penalty. The best chance of the middle period was probably Jake McMillen on the Stars power play. But with a lot of net to shoot at McMillen’s shot hit the leg of Josh Betinol and went just wide.
In the third period Austin Bourhis hit Newton from behind and was given 2 and a game. The North Stars scored on the ensuing power play. Brody Luhning dangled his way past the Terriers D and his pass across the crease went off a stick and into the net. Luhning’s 7th of the year and his first in a while. He’s been needing that bounce to go his way and hopefully now Luhning will get some more rewards for his strong play. Joren Johnson picked up an assist on the goal and ended up with a 2 point night.
Later in the period Tayler Thompson was given 5 and a game for charging on a hit against Austin Evans. Evan Ripley didn’t like the hit and was there looking to protect his team mate. Ripley ended up with a high stick and a rough and the game was 4 on 4 for 4 minutes. The Stars couldn’t convert on their power play opportunities in the final period and it was still 2-1 late.
The Stars should have had some more power play chances in the game. Blake Young was hit up high in the third. Earlier in the game Ben Greenaway took a hit from Bourhis where the point of contact was clearly the head. Neither one was called by the ref. Coach Hasselberg had strong words on the post game show last night for the refs and for the Terriers style of play.
With 2:11 left in the game a loose puck on a scramble in front ended up on the stick of John Neibrandt and he converted to make it 2-2. The Terriers got an overtime power play when Josh Betinol was called for hooking. I thought it may have been a trip but the North Stars weren’t sure it was even a penalty. The Terriers were able to convert with plenty of open ice. Derek Falloon got the puck in the slot with time and fired high over the glove of Creech.
So the Stars fall 3-2 in overtime against a really good Terriers team. Yorkton is now 11-1 on home ice. The Stars getting a point when they were without a couple of their top forwards is a decent result. That was a well earned point. But the Stars were also less than 3 minutes away from winning the game in regulation and they will feel like they should have closed the game out. In my opinion they deserved a better fate.
The Stars will have to move on quickly as they face Melville tonight. More on that game a little later on today.