North Stars strong start leads to 5-2 win over Melville

By Nathan Kanter
October 13, 2017 - 11:24pm

There was a point in Friday's home game against Melville, early in the third period, when the energy was sucked right out of the Civic Centre.

All of a sudden, the Battlefords North Stars' 3-0 lead turned to a 3-2 lead.

But within minutes, the home team responded, scoring two goals in a 41 second span to make it a 5-2 game.

From there, they did not look back, riding the momentum to a 5-2 win, which pushed their season record to 6-0-1.

"I thought this was probably the closest to a full 60 minutes we've had so far this season," North Stars assistant coach Boyd Wakelin said following the win, the team's fourth straight.  "I thought the guys did an unbelievable job at answering back. It was good to see guys step up."

Following a 10-day layoff, Battlefords got goals from five different players, including the first of the season for both Josh Sielsky and Conor Jensen.

Keith Anderson opened the scoring on a redirection early in the first, while Connor McIntosh and MacGregor Sinclair also added power play markers.

Other than offensive depth, the biggest positive was a quick start.

The North Stars got out to a 3-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.

"We really harped on [avoiding a slow start] in practice...Obviously it was something we weren't very happy about," Wakelin said. "I thought we did a good job of doing the simple things [early on]. Well, we call them simple things but sometimes it's hard to really just focus on driving the net and taking the smart shots rather than trying to pick corners. I think we did a good job of just getting pucks to the net early and having guys crashing and driving."

The new line of Sielsky, Matthias Urbanski and recent aquisition Chaseton Braid paid early dividends, as Braid fed a backhand pass to Sielsky in the slot for Sielsky's first career goal as a North Star. It made the score 2-0.

"For guys who only skated together on a line for the morning skate today, I'm really excited to see how they progress," Wakelin said. "I thought they had a really good game. I thought every line had a pretty good game. It was good to see [that line] connect early."

The spread out goal scoring is also something the coaching staff expects.

"Like I've said since the beginning of the year, we want to have scoring by committee and we want all four of our lines to play the right way," Wakelin said.

Keith Anderson, while still skating with Troy Gerein and McIntosh, had a whale of a game, perhaps his best this season. Although he only recorded one point, Anderson was all over the ice, finishing his checks, and also showed off his soft hands on multiple occasions.

"Those guys have been fun to watch," Wakelin said of Anderson's line. "I think people that were here tonight, they see it. They do it game in, game out. They've been producing for us, they're the first guys back on the back check all the time. There's not very many odd-man rushes when those guys are on the ice. I think that's a huge part of why they've been successful."

Battlefords power play also continued to click, going 2-for-4. The power play went from 20 per cent to 23.1 per cent because of Friday's efficiency.

Meanwhile rookie Kolby Matthews picked up his second career SJHL win, while making 18 saves on 20 shots.

"He played a great game," Wakelin said. "They didn't have much pressure on us, but I thought they actually had some pretty good scoring chances against him, especially in the second period, where he didn't really face very much but then they came down a couple times and had some pretty good chances on him. He stood tall, played the puck pretty well for us, and did a great job."

Battlefords does not play again this weekend, and has another week off before they host two tough opponents.

First up will be the 10-1-1 Melfort Mustangs on Friday, Oct. 20, who beat Humboldt on Friday 4-1 (and outshot them 46-22), followed by the Flin Flon Bombers on the Saturday, who are 5-3-0-3 so far this season.

The light schedule for the North Stars to start the season means they'll continue to have to play catch up in the standings. Although they haven't dropped a game in regulation, they currently have the fourth most points in the league.

"You can't be making excuses. It's the schedule we have," Wakelin said when asked about another long layoff. "If we use that as an excuse, I think maybe we're in the wrong business. We've just got to put our work boots on and show up next week to face two good opponents."


Three Stars from Friday:

3. Josh Sielsky - RW - BAT - First career goal as a North Star

2. Conor Jensen - D - BAT - Highlight reel goal

1. Keith Anderson - RW - BAT - 1G, plenty of hits, plenty of dangles


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On  Twitter: @NathanKanter11


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