The Battlefords North Stars have now won just once in their last 7 games and have lost 3 in a row. 2 of those losses were in a shootout but the Stars have just 4 points from a possible 14 down the stretch.
The Stars started out with a few good shifts including a strong shift from McColgan’s line with Young and Greenaway. The center threw a couple hits and the Stars got 4 quick shots through on net. But Joren Johnson took a hand off his stick and was called for holding. The Bruins didn’t score on the power play but they gained momentum and ended up getting 7 or 8 straight shots on goal. Midway through the period Travis Marit was dumped as he raced for a loose puck and Marit slid into the end boards heavily. Tanner Quinn jumped in to fight with Zack Douglas and Quinn was given 2, 5 and 10 for instigating while Douglas got 2 and 5 for holding and fighting. Casey Parker ended up stopping 12 of 13 shots in the first period. The Bruins goal came during 4 on 4 play. Ben Greenaway went off for roughing after hitting McLaughlin up high. The Bruins D man retaliated with a slash to even things out.
During the 4 on 4 play the Bruins got a 2 on 1 rush. Kyle Schmidt was the Stars D man who was back and he sprawled to break up a pass from Smith to Brykaliuk. The loose puck bounced in the Stars crease and Smith was able to poke it home. His 11th goal in 14 games since rejoining the Bruins. The Bruins out shot the Stars 13-8 after 1 and led 1-0.
The Stars got back into a tie with an early second period power play. Tyler Kauk was called for interference just 13 seconds into the second period. Joren Johnson got a good shot on target with Kyle Hall screening in front. That made it 1-1. Braeden Johnson and Brody Luhning picked up assists on the play.
But the Bruins responded with 3 goals in less than 8 minutes. Brykaliuk spun and shot from a sharp angle beating Casey Parker at the near post. Then a weak call for hooking on Spencer Gosselin, who was back in the lineup, led to a power play goal for the Bruins. They moved the puck confidently and quickly and Calder Nuefeld finished off with his 2nd of the year. Hudson Morrison then scored with a shot over Parker’s shoulder again at the near post. That made it 4-1 and ended Parker’s night. Connor Creech came in to replace the young Stars goalie.
The North Stars tried to get things turned around and I did notice Evan Ripley throwing a couple hits and seemingly trying to get his team mates fired up. Brody Luhning had a couple good chances as well. Eventually the Stars were able to respond. Tanner Quinn missed a loose puck at the side of the net. The Stars stuck with it and worked the puck around for another point shot. This time Quinn was able to spin, settle the puck, and fire into the roof of the net. Quinn now has 13 points since returning to the lineup. After missing 16 games this season Quinn now has 16 points in 33 games played. Travis Marit has 8 points and Robbie Newton now has 5 points in his last 8 games. Since that line was united they have been outstanding. And not just offensively. They work hard and finish their checks and are setting an example for the rest of the team.
Quinn’s goal made it 4-2 after 2. The Stars had a couple of early power plays in the third period. It started with a great shift for McColgan, Young and Evans. Saskatoon Blades forward Shane McColgan was in town to watch his younger brother and Luke had a chance in the third to score a big goal but the puck rolled off his stick. The Stars couldn’t convert on any of their early 3rd period man advantages and eventually the Bruins were able to score to make it 5-2. Cote setting up Morrison for his second of the night on a 2 on 1 rush.
The Stars ended up only allowing 13 shots in the final two period but 4 goals were scored on those 13 shots. The Stars ended up with 40 shots on goal and affiliate goalie Brett Lewchuk stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced. The call up from midget AAA had a strong game.
It’s been a rough stretch of late for the North Stars who now have a little time to regroup. With their next game not until Sunday, and with the North Stars ice fishing derby coming up on Saturday, the Stars have some time to get back on track. They close out the season with games against the top 4 teams in the league. It’s a tough but perhaps a great way to finish the season and prepare for the playoffs.
After the game last night Coach Hasselberg came up to the press box for the Ultra Print Coaches Show but for a couple of reasons including technical issues, I was not able to get him on the air. Thanks to Coach for coming up as always and I apologize for not getting his thoughts on the air. I did catch up with Coach Hasselberg a little later and I will have his thoughts on the sports tomorrow morning on CJNB/CJNS.
Next up the North Stars head to Humboldt on Sunday night looking to get back in the win column.