The score may have been lopsided, the shot totals may have been miles apart, and the penalty calls may have been almost solely against one side, but one thing was clear on Saturday night: the North Stars and Klippers rivalry is back.
Fans at the Civic Centre on Sept. 10 were treated to an entertaining affair filled with goals, countless hits and even a fight (and a half), as the Battlefords North Stars downed the Kindersley Klippers 4-1 at home.
With the win, the North Stars finished their pre-season undefeated with a 5–0–0 record, while Kindersley is now 0–3–0.
The North Stars outshot their opponents 41-18, landing a pair of goals from Tysen Smith with markers from Jeremy Velazquez and MacGregor Sinclair.
North Stars associate coach Braeden Johnson said he was pleased to see the team stick to their game plan.
“The game kind of got ugly a little bit but the culture we’ve created is protect our guys and play the right way,” he said. “I think the guys held each other’s accountability to that.”
North Stars captain Kendall Fransoo even dropped the mitts with Holden Daley late in the third, after Fransoo stood up Daley and then stared him down.
“I was hoping he was going to go down a little bit quicker; I was a little tired,” Fransoo joked after the game. “I’m not really scared of anyone to be honest, doesn’t matter size. I’ll stick up for our team.”
Fransoo is entering his fifth season with the club with 184 regular season games.
When Johnson spoke of leadership post-game, it was clear Fransoo was one of the players he was referring to.
“We have to pinpoint our leadership,” Johnson said. “You’ve got 40 guys coming into camp and from day one, they’ve kind of kept the culture that we’ve created over the years. Our motto is ‘outwork every team’ and I think we did that throughout the pre-season.”
The Klippers situation is different since they’re still in the stages of figuring things out. And with all the penalties called in both Friday’s and Saturday’s contests, the coaching staff found it affected their ability to assess their team.
“We were hoping to see some five-on-five and evaluate our players,” Klippers head coach and general manager Geoff Grimwood said after the game. “Not a good hockey game, a little bit too chippy probably, but we saw enough of what we needed to to start making some decisions.”
The chippiness crossed the line late in the first when Klippers forward Ivan Vilcauskas went after Logan Nachtegaele when Nachtegaele clearly wanted nothing to do with him. The result was a nine minute powerplay for the North Stars, as Vilcauskas was given two minutes for roughing, two minutes for instigating and five minutes for fighting.
The extended powerplay for the North Stars continued into the second with and gave the North Stars the chance they needed to rack up points.
Tysen Smith notched his second goal of the game on the powerplay five minutes into the middle frame. Jeremy Velazquez made it 3-0 when he buried a rebound past goaltender Justin Close just a minute late.
Sinclair’s third period goal, a tip off a Layne Young shot, was also a powerplay goal.
“Our special teams we haven’t really worked on but I think tonight they did an excellent job,” Johnson said.
The North Stars will now have a week of practice leading up to Friday’s home opener against the Klippers. On Saturday, the teams travel to Kindersley for a rematch.
Both games can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS, with the pre-game show getting started at 7:15 local time.
Nathan Kanter is battlefordsNOW’s sports reporter and voice of the Battlefords North Stars. He can be reached at Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @NathanKanter11
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