The North Stars got their first look at the Humboldt Broncos this season falling 4-3 in a hard fought game at the Elgar Petersen Arena last night.
Playing their third game in three nights we wondered if the Stars might need a few shifts to get into the game. That wasn’t the case. The Stars played a very strong road period. They outshot the Broncos 10-4 but couldn’t convert on several power play chances. The Stars had a couple of 5 on 3 chances as part of 4 power play opportunities in the opening frame. They didn’t capitalize and ended up trailing after 1. Ryan Aubertin stealing a puck and snapping past Casey Parker from the face off circle. That was a short handed goal and it was 1-0 Broncos after the first.
The Broncos and Stars played a pretty even middle frame with Humboldt getting a couple of power play chances of their own. But it was the Stars who would score twice. First it was Ben Greenaway driving to the net to force home a rebound after a Ryne Keller shot. Greenaway had hit the post in the first period with a short handed chance. That was Ben’s first of the year and it was extra special because his parents were in the arena.
Taylor Reich was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the night before. Reich scored his first as a North Stars, and first of the season, on another rebound. A point shot from Jake Erickson looked like it was deflected. Reich found the lose puck at in front and popped it home.
The Stars ended up taking 4 second period penalties, the same number as Humboldt took in the first interestingly, and the Broncos league worst power play eventually struck. David Stumborg coming in off the right point to pop home a rebound. That made it 2-2. Casey Parker stopped a breakaway later in the second. That huge stop ensured a tie game heading to the third period.
The Broncos were repelled several times by Parker’s right pad in the third period as he made several key saves. Ryland Pashovitz at the other end was just as good. Eventually the Broncos scored to take the lead. After two good saves by Parker the Broncos were able to score on a rebound. You can’t ask much more than your goalie making the first two saves. After the goal the Stars took a penalty and on the ensuing power play the Broncos scored.
Those two goals were 35 seconds apart and gave Humboldt a two goal lead. The Stars got one back with Jake McMillen’s 4th of the year. His 4th goal in his last 5 games and his second wrap around goal of the year. The Stars got the net empty and were buzzing but were unable to score.
Once again I thought the North Stars did a great job blocking shots led by Kendall Fransoo. They played a pretty strong road game and I thought at times they were clearly the better team last night. But they didn’t capitalize, those first period PP chances looming large, and slumped to a third straight defeat. It’s tough to see these guys go through this early season adversity but hese young men, and their coaches, will continue to put in the work and look for the solutions. I am confident they will find them.
The Stars will look to bounce back on Wednesday at the Civic Center when they face La Ronge for the first time this season.