North Stars fall to Bonnyville in first pre-season game

By Nathan Kanter
September 4, 2017 - 9:30am

It was understandable, but that didn't make it any easier to watch.

The Battlefords North Stars looked a little disorganized in their first pre-season game of 2017-18, falling 5-2 to the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League Sunday night.

It was the Pontiacs' fourth game of their pre-season and they dressed all seven of their returning veterans.

"When you start the second period with four clean lost draws and don't come out playing with emotion, their good players are going to take advantage of you and that's what I saw happen: a bad second period," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said following the loss. 

"I compared it, to the guys in the room, like a boxing score, where they won two periods against us 10-8, and we won one 10-9. They were the better team tonight overall, so full credit to them."

Before the game was five minutes old, the Pontiacs had a 2-0 lead.

But Heck wasn't upset about the start, especially considering the North Stars cut the lead to 2-1 not long after.

"[The start] wasn't that bad. They scored on their first shot. Unfortunately, it was a breakaway," Heck said. "It wasn't the best start but I thought we came out fired up and we were the better team until they scored.

"Some individual guys responded and some younger guys never quite got up to the pace of the game, but I thought some guys played a big role and helped change the momentum of the game."

It was newcomer Josh Sielsky who scored the goal to make it 2-1, who after the game, said it was a memorable experience.

"It's always been my dream to be a North Star," the Maidstone native said. "To put the puck in the net really makes it that much better."

Bonnyville opened the second period scoring just 2:18 into the frame, on a shot from Riley Smith that went in out so fast some thought it hit the crossbar.

Derek Brown then scored his second of the game to make it 4-1, and then a crease crashing goal stretched the home team's lead to 5-1 before the third.

North Battleford native Blake Fennig would score the lone third period goal to make the final score 5-2.

"We know North Battleford always competes and I think they've got a similar identity that we do," Pontiacs head coach Rick Swan said. "They're honest hockey players that put in an honest effort. As long as their identity of work ethic and compete are not questioned, just like us, that's why we like playing the cross-over against them."

The second half of the cross-over will take place Monday night, as the Pontiacs travel to the Battlefords for a bout at the Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m.

Heck said each player who is healthy and didn't play Sunday will hit the ice for Monday's game. That includes Layne Young, Connor Manegre and MacGregor Sinclair. It's unclear at the moment if Keith Anderson and Troy Gerein, who both sat out Saturday's intrasquad game with minor injuries, will be out.

Swan said as the Pontiacs are still carrying 12 defenceman, the six who did not play Sunday will dress in Monday's rematch. He also said his veteran forwards, including Brown, Brandon Whistle, and Isaac Sanigs will play again Monday.


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