North Stars one win away from championship after Logan OT winner

By Nathan Kanter
April 18, 2017 - 10:48pm Updated: April 19, 2017 - 1:30pm

The Battlefords North Stars are one win away from a Canalta Cup championship.

On Tuesday night, they defeated the Flin Flon Bombers 2-1 in overtime at the Whitney Forum to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.

They have two people to thank for Tuesday's win: Connor Logan and Taryn Kotchorek.

Logan scored the overtime winner 10:41 into the fourth period, his seventh of the playoffs.

The 20-year-old had a 2-on-2 rush with MacGregor Sinclair, with Sinclair carrying the puck from the left side to the right just inside the offensive blue line. Sinclair dropped a pass for Logan, who ripped it short side over the glove of goaltender Zac Robidoux to send the North Stars into a frenzy.

"The shift before, [Logan] came off and said 'Ooh, I feel good. I'm going to get one here,' " North Stard head coach Nate Bedford said after the win. "I hope the kid tells me he's going to score every shift next game because I'll put him out whenever he feels like it. That [shot] hit the water bottle – blew up the water bottle. You couldn't ask for a better result."

The team wouldn't have gotten that far without North Battleford native Kotchorek, who stopped 41 of 42 shots for his eighth win of the playoffs.

"He was fantastic. What a competetive kid he is," Bedford said. "Couldn't be a bigger stage, couldn't be a bigger situation, couldn't be a better team that he's playing, couldn't be a harder building to win in.

"He was dialed in. I didn't feel quite comfortable going into O.T. but I knew he was in there so I kept reminding myself that he was in there. And he just kept stopping pucks. It was pretty impressive."

The Bombers played by far their best game of the series, outshooting the visitors 24-16 in the final 40 minutes and 42-35 overall.

Battlefords led heading into the third by one thanks to Keaton Holinaty's league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs. He tapped in a Ben Allen pass 3:40 into the middle period, scoring on his 21st birthday no less.

After a Bombers goal was disallowed halfway through the third on a power play, due to high sticking the puck, Flin Flon kept the pressure on and found the back on the net on a rebound to tie the game 1-1 with 9:39 to go in the third.

The North Stars barely escaped the third unscathed.

"I thought Flin Flon took it to us there in the third," Bedford said. "We saw what happened last series with Nipawin and [Flin Flon] doesn't give up. We expect they won't give up tomorrow. But we knew that [if they made it] 2-1 [then] who knows, maybe it's 2-2. And then you go back and it's a best 2-of-3.

"I thought we came out in overtime and dominated."

Both teams will hit the ice in less than 24 hours for game four, where the North Stars will look to clinch their first championship since 2000.

With a win on Wednesday, Battlefords would also become the first team to complete a perfect playoff run since the 1982 Prince Albert Raiders, who at the time were playing in the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League.

"The harder you work each day, the easier the next day is going to be and that's all we are concentrating on," Bedford said. "Tomorrow we're just going to come in and work the harest we've ever worked so that Thursday is easy.

"I just think we're just going to concentrate on working hard. And if you do that everyday as a hockey player, as an adult, good things end up happening as long as you're a good person."

Puck drop on Wednesday is 6:30 p.m., with the Ultra Print pre-game show on CJNB/CJNS at 6:15 p.m.



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North Stars win first championship in 17 years

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