North Stars lose in shootout

The Battlefords North Stars lost last night in a shootout 4-3 to the Estevan Bruins.

The North Stars came out and played a really good first period last night at the Civic Center. They controlled the play, earned power plays by working hard and moving their feet and out shot the Bruins 15-5. Casey Parker didn’t have much to do as he didn’t face his first shot until the midway point of the first period. The first shot he did face was a tough test though as Dylan Smith was in alone on a breakaway. Parker stopped the Bruins sniper and kept the game scoreless. The North Stars took the lead later on in the period.

On the North Stars 4th power play of the opening frame they finally scored. Josh Betinol scored his 12th of the year after he deflected a Brody Luhning point shot. The deflection was blocked but the puck dropped right back to Betinol who hacked the puck on target and scored. Luhning and Hall had the assists and the Stars led after 1 by a score of 1-0.

The Stars power play moved the puck well last night and ended up going 2-7 and both goals showed what needs to be done with the man advantage. Players going to dirty areas and battling away scoring ‘ugly’ goals. More on that in a second. The Bruins actually tied the game on a North Stars power play. Matt Sheeran was back in the lineup last night and I thought he played a pretty solid game. But he did have one bad turnover that led to a goal. Sheeran lost the puck as he was backing into his own zone. Tyler Paslawski collected, found the trailer and Hudson Morrison beat Parker on the blocker side just above the pad. It was a well placed shot but the Stars were in control on the play and that’s a goal that stung.

The Stars got the lead back on the power play and it was set up by Blake Young. With Leighton McLachlin in the box the North Stars won the face off and Brody Luhning fired a shot just wide. Yong found the rebound and tried a wrap around. It was stopped but Betinol was right in front and basically in the blue paint to poke home his second of the game and 13th of the year.

Zack Douglas scored his first of the year later in the period to make it 2-2 after 2. It was a long point shot with a lot of traffic in front that may have changed direction on the way.

Over the course of the game the Stars had a lot of chances to beat Curtis Martinu but couldn’t do it. Coach Hasselberg said after the game he felt some of the forwards were playing too much of a perimeter game and they didn’t make life hard enough for Martinu. When you analyze the goals by Betinol you can see where the Stars had success and where they didn’t.

Despite that the Stars should have won the game. Blake Young scored in the third on a great rush. He went wide with speed, swooped around the net and came out to the face off circle before firing the puck past Martinu to make it 3-2. As i mentioned above the Stars had a lot of chances to bury the Bruins and put the game away. They couldn’t do it thanks in part to Martinu. You also have to give the Bruins credit for continuing to battle. But the chance that really stands out was Kyle Hall. He had a chance to make it 4-2 but alone at the side of the net with Martinu down Hall couldn’t lift the puck into the net. It was a great chance and a player as good as Kyle Hall scores that goal 9 times out of 10. He didn’t last night though and the Bruins made the Stars pay.

With the net empty and under 40 second to go in the game the Stars allowed Dylan Smith to power to the net. Morrison came in and scored the loose puck for his second of the year. That made it 3-3 with 36.7 seconds remaining. Neither team could score in OT and the Bruins won in a shootout. Dylan Smith and Alex Cote both scored while Jake McMillen and Brody Luhning both missed.

Over the course of the 60 minutes I thought the Stars played a pretty good game. The power play looked good and went 2-7. And the penalty kill was a perfect 6-6. The Stars also looked dangerous on several of their penalty killing shifts and I was almost surprised that they didn’t end up getting a short handed goal.

Coach Hasselberg after the game was pleased with Blake Young and Betinol and singled them out, as well as Luhning and Forbes, for praise. He also liked the play of Casey Parker.

On the negative side the North Stars found a way to lose a game they should have won. They didn’t finish they scoring chances. Coach Hasselberg said the Stars needed, “an extra degree of effort out of some guys and we didn’t get it.” He also said they gave up their own zone too easily and allowed too many shots on goal. At the end of the interview coach said his team needs to start playing with more urgency.

They will get a chance to bounce back quickly as the North Stars host the Melfort Mustangs tomorrow night at the Civic Center.

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