The Battlefords North Stars came from behind last night at the Civic Center to beat Flin Flon 3-2.
The opening period started out well for the Bombers. Flin Flon controlled the play for the majority of the first ten minutes and they got the goal their play deserved. Riley Storzuk was originally a scratch but he took warmup and the Bombers determined he was good to go. That move paid off as Storzuk scored his 12th of the year to open the scoring 4:23 into the game. Three Bombers at the side of the net forced the puck out front. It bounced around and eventually went under the pad of Parker and in. Storzuk was given credit for the goal.
The Stars regrouped and got better as the period progressed. Former North Stars Blake Tatchell, Brett Miller and Boyd Wakelin were all at the game last night. I spoke with Tatchell in the first intermission. He said he felt the Stars were “all over” the Bombers for the last 10 minutes of the period. Breaden Johnson got the first of his three assists as the Stars tied the game. On a power play Johnson slid a pass into the stride of Kyle Hall who skated into the high slot with speed and snapped a wrist shot past Brandon Wildung in the Flin Flon net. The shot was perfectly placed above the pad and below the blocker and then off the post and in. Nothing much a goalie can do about a shot that good. It was 1-1 after 1.
The second period was very much controlled by the Bombers. They dominated the puck and controlled the play in the North Stars zone. that led to the Bombers outshooting the Stars 12-3 in the frame. But most of the shots were from the outside. The Stars did a good job in their own zone making sure Casey Parker could see the puck. And the Stars cleared rebounds well. They just couldn’t settle things down and get the puck to the other end of the ice. It looked like they would survive the second period up until a late short handed break away for Dillon McCombie. A weak slash by Spencer Gosselin was deemed a penalty shot just as time expired in the period. McCombie skated in and snapped the puck past Parker to make it 2-1 after 2.
The Stars have struggled at times this season in the second period. But it says a lot about the team and their leadership that they continue to have very good third periods. For the most part the Stars have found a way to regroup after a bad period and get back to playing well. They did that last night. The Stars killed two early penalties the second of which was against Robbie Newton. The Stars were on a 2 on 1 rush when Newton stepped out of the box to make it a 3 on 1. Breaden Johnson found the trailer and Newton got a shot away. Wildung made the save. But Newton was on hand to pop the rebound into the roof of the net and tie the game 4:33 into the period.
At that point the Stars had all the momentum and they were really starting to play well. In the last few games the Stars defense has been really banged up. And every time they have needed to call up an affiliate player to help out on the back end that player has filled in well. Connor Sych and Kendall Fransoo have chipped in. The last two games Braden Lacoursiere has been excellent. And last night along with Lacoursiere young D man Alex Pernitsky was also outstanding. The Stars future on the backend looks very bright.
But it was one of the vets who stepped up late to win the game. Again Braeden Johnson made a great pass to find an on rushing Dillon Forbes. It’s been great getting Forbes back in the lineup. He is such a solid presence in his own zone and does such a great job clearing the front of the net. He showed great ability in front of the net at the other end of the ice last night. Forbes was stopped in close as he burst to the net but found his own rebound and he roofed the puck to make it 3-2 Stars with 1:30 remaining.
You have to give the Bombers credit as they didn’t back down or give up. They got the puck into the Stars zone with time running out and the net empty. With the extra attacker on the ice Josh Roach fired the puck into the net on a one timer. Casey Parker was no where to be found on the play. And that’s because he was interfered with and the goal was waved off. That led to a penalty and an attacking zone face off for the Stars with 3.2 seconds left. Kyle Hall went straight forward off the draw and time expired.
So the North Stars have won 4 of their last 5 and have picked up 9 of a possible 10 points in that span. They are also 9-2-0-2 in their last 13 games played. That’s allowed the Stars to move to within 6 points of first place in the Bauer division. 6 points currently separates the Humboldt Broncos from the North Stars. Flin Flon has lost 4 in a row and won just 2 of their last 10 games. They are now in second in the now very tight Bauer division.
The Stars should take a lot of encouragement from their special teams play last night. The PK was 5 for 5 and looked great. The power play went 1 for 5 although they did allow a short handed penalty shot goal. But when you combined the PK and PP the Stars were very good last night.
Next up a huge game tomorrow night at the Civic Center. The Stars host the Humboldt Broncos for the final game before the Christmas break.