North Stars 4 – Nipawin Hawks 2: Stars win 12th straight

The Battlefords North Stars stayed hot last night with a 4-2 win over the Nipawin Hawks.

Jake Erickson lugs the puck during the first period of last night's game.

Jake Erickson lugs the puck during the first period of last night’s game.

Dillon Forbes got the North Stars on the board as part of a really strong start for the home team. I thought the Stars really controlled that opening frame. I lost count of the number of times the Stars didn’t let Nipawin get past the red line, took the puck, dumped it in and went back to work on the forecheck.

After Igor Leonenko set up Blake Young for a one timer that rang off the post the North Stars worked the puck back to Forbes at the blueline. He beat Hawks goalie Joe O’Brien for the game’s first goal. O’Brien had no chance with Blair and Leonenko screening in front. The 18 year old goalie never saw the shot and Forbes had all kinds of room to score inside the far post.

Lets get this out of the way and move on. The Refs had at best an inconsistent night. The Stars were shorthanded when Blake Young stole a puck at his own blueline. The pass from D to D by the Hawks wasn’t a good one and Young pulled away. Brett Harris is a forward who plays on the point on the Nipawin power play. He raced back to try and catch Young but ended up taking him down. Penalty shot! The largest crowd of the season at the Civic Center erupted in excited.

Young’s goal was a beauty. He faked a shot, deked towards the backhand but then came back to his forehand and fired up over the blocker of the sprawling O’Brien to make it 2-0. At one point in the first Young and Blair dominated the Hawks with a great cycle during 4 on 4 play. That line was good all night but especially strong in the opening frame.

Jack Petrino gave the North Stars a 3-0 lead a minute into the second period. Short handed the North Stars got the puck out to Ben Greenaway. From just outside the Hawks zone on the left wing Greenaway was able to slide a pass ahead into the slot area and Petrino raced on to it. It was a great area pass and set up Petrino one on one with the goalie. The Vancouver, Washington native made no mistake scoring along the ice through the 5-hole on O’Brien.

The Hawks got a couple back in the middle frame breaking Michael Gudmandson’s shutout streak at exactly 130 minutes. From the 19:30 mark of the first period against Humboldt, through a shutout in Flin Flon and up until the 9:30 mark of the second period last night Gudmandson couldn’t be beaten.

Jivan Sidhu scored through a screen and former North Star Carter Danczak fanned on a one timer before popping the puck home on his own rebound to make it 3-2.

But just 27 seconds later any momentum the Hawks had was gone. Luke McColgan threw a puck on net and it beat O’Brien on the glove side. It’s a goal the young tender would love to have back. McColgan’s 10th of the season was the insurance marker and the Stars closed up shop the rest of the way. There was no scoring in the 3rd and the Stars claimed win number 12 in a row.

Michael Gudmandson is now 15-2 on the season with another strong performance. A 28 save victory. His best save was a post to poster to rob the Hawks during their 5 on 3 power play in the second period.

Tanner Quinn had a strong game last night and was slashed on a break away that went uncalled. His backhand effort fluttering wide. Other than a few too many penalties it was a pretty solid game from the home team bar a rough patch in the middle of the second period.

The North Stars are now off until a week from tonight, Friday February 7th when they host Nipawin once again at the Civic Center. In the meantime the Stars will have a few days of practice and a team building trip to Calgary. Coach Hasselberg was quick to thank North Stars fans for their support which affords the team the opportunity to go on such trips.

And how about the crowd last night? Almost 1,100 fans at the Civic Center on Minor Hockey Appreciation Night. They were loud and having fun all night and the Stars put on a nice performance to keep them entertained.

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