The Melfort Mustangs beat the Battlefords North Stars 3-1 last night at the Civic Center.
It was a lackluster first period for both teams on Teddy Bear Toss night here in the Battlefords. The Melfort Mustangs were certainly working hard but were struggling to get shots through on Stars goalie Connor Creech. He was forced to make just 2 saves in the period. The North Stars took advantage of a couple of Mustang penalties late in the period. Brody Luhning made a nice pass from the high slot to Josh Betinol on the doorstep. With the extra open ice afforded by a 5 on 3 power play Betinol was able to go cross crease to Jake McMillen. McMillen had a simple tap in at the side of the net for his 9th of the year. It’s the second straight game with a goal for McMillen. That made it 1-0 North Stars. They still had about 1:45 of 5 on 4 power play time after that but were unable to capitalize.
Melfort came out strong early in the second period and Brandon Sloan wired a wrist shot into the top corner to make it 1-1 less than 3 minutes into the frame. The Stars then took a penalty not long after the goal. They managed to kill that power play and that seemed to spark the Stars. First the line of Travis Marit, Blake Young and Austin Evans had a strong shift and then each of the Stars forward lines responded. That’s when they North Stars widened the gap in terms of shots on net but they couldn’t beat Patrick Johnson. The Mustangs scored almost straight off a face off at the 12:54 mark of the period to make it 2-1. That seemed to deflate the Stars who struggled for the rest of the game.
The third period was pretty boring as the Mustangs did a good job protecting their lead. Eventually the North Stars had to pull the goalie for the extra attacker to try and tie the game. Instead Sloan scored his second of the game to wrap things up for the Mustangs.
There was more bad news for the Stars as Matt Sheeran left the game in the third period holding his left arm. With Tanner Quinn, Dillon Forbes and Luke McColgan all out last night the Stars possibly losing Sheeran is a big blow.
On a positive note I thought the two ‘AP’ players were solid. Braden Lacoursiere was solid on the back end as a call up from the Midget AAA Stars. Coach Hasselberg said after the game that Braden has a bright future and that his coaches with the Stars speak highly of him. You could see why. If Sheeran is out long term perhaps Lacoursiere will get some more games for the Stars.
Travis Marit is a 19 year old from Assiniboia who was called up from junior ‘b’ on an emergency basis in Melville. He played well enough in that game to get a look this week with the Stars. He was solid last night. If he continues to play hard and take the body he looks like he can definitely play at this level.
The Stars now face Melfort again tomorrow night. It’s the second half of a home and home. The Stars will need to be better, work harder and be more consistent.