The Battlefords North Stars led heading to the third and despite a wild third eventually won the game in a shootout.
It was a game of firsts. Alex Bechtold scored his first as a North Star, Latrell Charleson his first in Junior ‘A’ hockey, Kyle Schmidt’s first of the season. And Darren Martin won his first ever Junior ‘A’ game. Reich with an assists had his first North Stars point.
Blake Young scored the 4th goal of his season so far and scored the winner in the shootout.
The first chance of the game for the North Stars was set up by Igor Leonenko but Taylor Reich was robbed by Isaiah Plett who went post to post to make a strong blocker save. The Millionaires then secured the games first power play but Darren Martin made a couple of saves to keep the game scoreless. Dillon Forbes was back in the lineup after a suspension and his shot of a rolling puck was saved well by Plett. Not long after that chance the North Stars took the lead. Alex Bechtold came off the bench and skated right into the play. As luck would have it there was a loose puck in the slot and Bechtold skated right to the puck and snapped it past Plett. Darren Martin backed that goal up with a good save with 9:00 minutes left in the opening frame.
Both goalies were sharp in the opening period. Plett stopped Blake Young on a good chance and Igor missed short side with a little opening to shoot at. In the end the shots were 12-12 after 1 with the Mills 0-2 on the power play.
In the second Darren Martin made an alert play when he dove out of his net to poke a loose puck away from the slot. Austin Evans had a couple of chances but was denied by Plett before a third chance hit the traffic in front and ricocheted away to the corner. Evans seems a little snake bitten so far this year. He’s had chances and I have a feeling goals will start coming for him soon.
The Stars got their first power play when Colin Mospanhcuk took an unportsmanlike penalty. Latrell Charleson’s well placed wrist shot got through traffic and beat Plett to make it 2-0 Stars. It doesn’t always have to be a hard shot to be a good one. Charleson’s first ever Junior ‘A’ goal was all about getting the puck on net. Taylor Reich had the screen in front. He didn’t get a point on the goal but was a major factor in the Stars taking the 2-0 lead.
Former midget AAA Star Ashton Clark drew a penalty when he got under the skin of Ben Greenaway. The roughing call on Greener led to the goal that made it 2-1. Brandup’s wrister, similar to Charleson’s, beat Martin through traffic. Before the end of the period Blake Young got on the score sheet. Young’s been playing well and has been getting a lot of interests from scouts. Apparently he had a very strong showcase. You can see why any team would want his combination of size and speed. He showed great determination on his goal. Battling to get to a rebound after his initial shot was stopped. Young slid the puck past Plett along the ice. That made it 3-1 North Stars heading to the third.
The previous meeting between these teams saw the Mills come back with 2 power play goals in the third to beat the Stars. It was deja vu in the Horizon Credit Union Center. Another power play goal for the Mills early in the third made it a one goal game. The Stars had a great chance to increase their lead by Bechtold’s rush ended with a shot missing the target. Kilback then set up Reeve who scored to tie the game. Kilback was good again for the Mills with 4 points. I mentioned Evans being snake bitten? Well the same goes for Jack Petrino. He’s probably wondering what he needs to do to score after hitting the post twice in the third period. With the game tied at 3 and the Stars needing a spark it was the captain who stepped up. Kyle Schmidt is going to be such a big key for the Stars this year. He was looking to lift his team and had a really good chance that was stopped. Seconds later the puck was back on his stick and he found a way to beat Plett with a shot from the high slot.
The North Stars couldn’t lock the game down after that though and the Mills were able to score with under 30 seconds left and their net empty. A learning experience for the young Stars forwards who were on the ice. The team responded well though with a couple chances in overtime. And then Darren Martin took over in the shootout.
The Mills sent Kelvin Walz, TJ Reeve, Alec Brandup, Reed Murray and Allan Kilback to face Martin and all 5 were stopped on shots. Martin showing great reactions and quick pads to stop the Mills. Leonenko, Evans, McColgan were all turned away by Plett and Heinrich’sdeke rolled off his stick before Young stepped up to score the winner.
McColgan ended the game with 2 points. Charelson had a goal and an assist.
So the North Stars split their weekend trip to Yorkton and Melville and with the win are now 2-5 on the season. They are now 1-0 in overtime/shootouts and they are up to third in their division just 2 points back of Humboldt for second.
Next up? Probably my favourite away match up. The Stars are in Nipawin on Friday to face the Hawks.