The Battlefords North Stars bounced back from a poor performance in Nipawin the night before to grab two points on the road in Flin Flon last night.
The North Stars came out firing in the first period. Despite not being credited with very many shots. Matt Saharchuk opened the scoring on a power play with Jake McMillen drawing an assist and Reed Delainey as well. Saharchuk’s second of the period was set up by Brady O’Sullivan and it was a nice move to the back hand for Saharchuk to beat Hofley.
Braden Lacoursiere playing against his old team had a couple of big hits including one on Heinrich and one where he stood up Havens. The Stars were also physical with Kendall Fransoo crushing a couple Bombers in the second period. One of those hits was on Austin Evans. Evans took another big hit when he was caught in nuetral ice by Heinrich. Looked to me like shoulder to shoulder from my vantage point but there was something question about it being a little late and a little from the blind side perhaps. Evans was helped off the ice but did return for the third although he didn’t play much after that.
In the second period the Bombers played their best twenty minutes of the night and scored twice. First it was Akkerman scoring and then Allison the captain. Allison’s goal was off a rush and it looked like Kendall Fransoo got a piece of his stick as he shot. I’m not sure if that changed the shot but it seemed to change up a little. It beat Tremblay off the far post and in. After that the Stars goalie slammed the door shut pretty tight.
Tremblay ended up with credit for 41 saves and the only other goal that beat him was late in the third when a power play point shot deflected off Connor Vermeulen and past the Stars goalie. The Stars had a 5-on-3 power play earlier in the period and hadn’t scored. And after the penalty kill had been having such a great night it looked again like a special teams play might decide the game. During that 5-on-3 Jake McMillen was able to bat a puck out of mid-air from right on the door step. Somehow Hofley ended up with the puck in his glove. It was a great save and McMillen looked skyward in disbelief.
He would get another chance though not long after the Bombers had taken the lead. McMillen stole an errant pass right in the slot. His initial shot was stopped by Hofley but he kicked the rebound right to McMillen who went to his backhand to slide the puck home and tie the game.
In OT the Stars went with some aggressive lines including 3 forwards and 1 D most of the time. The aggression paid off. A Jake Erickson point shot hit a stick on it’s way through and beat Hofley. Nick Fountain in front given credit for the goal.
The Stars grabbed a really nice two points on the road in a tough place to win. They did it with just 5 regular defencemen dressed. Guys like Statchuk, Erickson and Fransoo logged a ton of ice. Sych and Vermeulen were really good as well. The Stars PK killed off 5 of 6 Bombers power plays in the game and looked very sharp. (I am not going to even get into some of the strange calls made by the referee last night both for and against the Stars)
At the end of the day that’s a really good win considering the circumstances and it was a great bounce back effort from the Stars. Spencer Tremblay was excellent and picked up the win.
Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) The Penalty Kill 2) Jake McMillen 1) Matt Saharchuk
Sanberg Collision Collision of the game: Heinrich for the second period hit on Evans.