An early power play goal and a bad goal against that Darren Martin would love to have back gave the Bombers an early 2 goal lead. And you wondered how the North Stars would respond. As far as I can recall the North Stars haven’t trailed by 2 goals since a 3-1 loss to Kindersley on December 17th. The never trailed against Humboldt in the two games after Christmas. They were at no point down by more than a goal in any game since then. The Stars haven’t allowed more than 2 goals since La Ronge on January 9th. So this was a test the Stars haven’t had to face in a while.
With Dillon Forbes in the box for interference on the after the very first shift of the game Danys Chartrand opened the scoring. His point shot beat Martin on the blocker side with a lot of bodies in front of the net. I’m not sure but it may have changed directions a little as well. No fault to Martin on that one. But the second goal was a stinker. A shot off the rush from just inside the blueline from Paul Soubry fluttered in past Martin’s blocker and it looked like he just plain whiffed on it.
Moments later a deflected puck went way up in the air and Martin watched as it landed on the back of the net. I don’t know if he saw that one either. The young Stars goalie had never played in Flin Flon previously so maybe he just wasn’t seeing the puck well as he adjusted to a new rink. Or maybe he wasn’t in the game yet mentally. But his team was behind the 8-ball and Michael Gudmandson was certainly preparing himself mentally that he may have to come in the game.
I really like Darren as a goalie with a bright future and a really nice young man off the ice. So I am very happy that write that he re-grouped. At times it looked like a real battle in the first period. But he shut the door and, until late in the 3rd on a 5-on-3 power play, didn’t allow another goal. That could be a big game for Martin’s confidence in himself and his coaches confidence in the goalie. To know that they can trust Martin to fight through a bad start like that is huge moving forward.
It was about 2 of 3 minutes into the second when the North Stars really started to get going. Passes were a little sharper. They were skating harder and working together. It was less scrappy. And eventually they got a goal. Luke McColgan seems to be thriving now that Cam Blair has taken some of the pressure off. Blair is a top line center, a 20 year old and a scorer and play maker. Now the Stars have several centers who can score, more on Taylor Reich in a moment, and teams can’t concentrate on one group. McColgan had 3 assists Friday night. He set up the Stars first goal last night.
A bit of a blunder from the Bombers at the blue line led to a loose puck that McColgan stole. Carrying the biscuit up the left wing towards the left corner got McColgan a nice angle to fire to Ryne Keller catching up on the play in the slot. To be fair the pass wasn’t prefect. It was a little in the skates. But Keller made a great play to kick it up to his stick, make a quick move to the forehand and slide the puck home. That was Keller’s 10th goal of his break out offensive season. Every goal from here on out is a new career high for Ryne.
The Stars looked like they would tie the game in the season. I thought Jack Petrino’s line with Quinn and Greenaway looked sharp and was one of the lines that really helped turn things around with some good shifts in the second. Quinn also hit the crossbar in the third with a nice shot after a good feed by Greenaway.
Blake Young had a shot that he ripped off the post from the slot in the second period. The puck then bounced off Simon Hofley and just wide. Still 2-1 Bombers late second period.
Reed Delainey tied the game with 13 seconds left in the second. Flin Flon is 14-0 when leading after the second period this season. They are just 2-6-0-2 when tied after 40. So Delainey’s goal was huge. The Stars may have come back there’s no way we’ll ever know. But they didn’t have to come back because of great work at the side of the net. Delainey and Reich were digging for a puck and the youngster North Star found it. He then came around the net to the near side on his forehand and wrapped around quickly for the tying goal. Hofley never moved off the far post. I spoke with Taylor Reich after the game and he said he saw Delainey come away with the puck but kept digging for it as if it was still at the side of the net. A heads up play that may have kept Hofley from realizing that Delainey had the puck.
So that made it 2-2 heading to the third. And the Stars really played a solid final period. They got a lead when Reich popped home a rebound after a deflection. Reich is now up to 9 goals on the season and has been providing good offense of late. He and Fountain had two assists last night and that line was very good. Delainey responded well to getting back in the lineup. Fountain loves playing Flin Flon as he now has 6 points in 5 games versus the Bombers this season.
But late penalty trouble let the Bombers back in the game. With Lacoursiere off for interference, his second straight penalty after the Stars killed a holding penalty against the youngest North Star, Kendall Fransoo was pegged for boarding and set to the sin bin. Not the hardest hit I’ve ever seen to be honest and I felt like the Bomber forward didn’t do a lot to try and stay on his feet but a penalty was called. Erik Pedersen then set up Austin Calladine on a nice feed cross crease and the Bombers leading scorer tied the game. A big goal late in the game for a team that’s struggling against a team that is rolling. So you can understand why Flin Flon was so fired up about the goal.
But Pedersen’s celebration was a little excessive. He spent a lot of time celebrating on his own while staring at the North Stars bench. He also gave it to them a little bit as he skated by for the fly by of his bench. That may have fired up the North Stars bench. Hockey is such an emotional game and the team that wins is usually the team that controls and channels their emotions in the right way.
Luke McColgan channeled his emotions. And scored the game winner. The Stars were still short handed after the tying goal with Fransoo in the box for over a minute. But the North Stars PK battled through and kept it 3-3. Not long after getting back to even strength it was McColgan scoring the winner. He crossed the Bomber blueline with speed, cut the left and stick handled around a couple Flin Flon players. Then turned up the left wing on his forehand towards the top of the far faceoff circle. Then he fired an absolute lazer past Hofley at the near post up high to make it 4-3.
The Bombers got the net empty but couldn’t find a tying goal. Calladine taking a roughing call for punching Ryne Keller 3 times in the face while they battled in the slot in front of Darren Martin with 15 seconds left didn’t help. That allowed the Stars an offensive zone face off that relieved the pressure. Flin Flon got the puck to the other end in the final seconds but one last save from Martin wrapped up the game.
The Stars end up 0-2 on the power play, the second lasted just 15 seconds at the end of the game, while the Bombers went 2-6 on the man advantage. But after a slow start the Stars responded really well
And that response turned out to be huge as both Humboldt and Kindersley lost in regulation last night. The North Stars are a point out of the division lead with Kindersley still having a couple games in hand. And the Stars are 6 up on the Broncos who also have games in hand.
For the North Stars a nice come back win and a good fight back after a slow start means they have won 11 in a row. McColgan and Gudmandson for sure will both be in the running for weekly SJHL honours. The Stars should move to #1 in the SJHL power rankings. They could move into the top 20 in the CJHL rankings as well. All in all a lot going the North Stars way right now because the team and the staff are working to make thing go their way!