North Stars make statement with impressive win over Hounds

By Nathan Kanter
January 5, 2018 - 11:53pm

Four consecutive goals in a span of 4:39 led the Battlefords North Stars to a convincing 5-1 win on Friday night at the Civic Centre over the Notre Dame Hounds.

"Arguably our best game of the year, top to bottom," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said after the game. "Loved the energy on our bench, the way we backchecked and our details in our game."

The home side doubled up the Hounds in shots on goal 36-18, including 25-12 in the final two periods.

Every single goal was scored in the second period.

Matthias Urbanski broke a scoreless deadlock with his 13th of the season on a beautiful passing play with Keith Anderson and Cody Spagrud, but the Hounds quickly tied the game.

Within a few minutes, however, MacGregor Sinclair put the North Stars up 2-1, which was quickly followed by goals from teammates Layne Young and Keith Anderson. Anderson then scored again right before the second intermission.

"I liked the way we won races in the o-zone and protected the puck," Heck said. "We got a good cycle game and I thought we did a good job of containing [Hounds captain Chance] Longjohn. We were physical tonight too. We wanted it a lot. I was proud of the guys."

Perhaps no one was more physical than Anderson and perhaps no one stood out more than Anderson, who recorded three points in a game for the third time in his last six, giving him 10 points in those games.

The line of Anderson, Urbanski and Brad Girard combined for seven points.

"[Anderson] was a force on the wall," Heck said. "[That line] controlled the puck down low and [Anderson] did a great job of getting to the front of the net, which he's done a lot this year and he's hungry to score."

"They're all offensive players," Heck added. "Urbanski compliments anyone because he works so hard and is physical and when [Anderson] is [also] working hard and playing physical like that, they're physically domiannt. And Girard knows how to put pucks in space for his teammates."

Urbanski now has nine points in his last 11, while Girard has four helpers in his last three games.

They weren't the only ones with multi-point games, as defencemen Troy Gerein and Cody Spagrud each had a pair of helpers.

Gerein fed a perfect pass from the corner out front to Sinclair for his 25th goal of the season, and then threaded the needle less than a minute later to send Young in on a breakaway, where he buried the puck five hole for his 22nd of the season. Gerein also brought the crowd to its feet when he lined up Jack Flaman while pinching. The Wilkie native now has eight points in his last eight games.

Marshall Wilton had the lone goal for the Hounds, who were playing in their first game since Dec. 16.

Battlefords now has an eight-point cushion for first place in the division with two games in hand on Notre Dame.

"Not ever going to argue with a 5-1 victory," Heck said. "There's definitely a few things to work on. In the first period we had a lot of shots and rebounds sitting out front that we didn't get to."

The North Stars will now play six consecutive road games, starting on Tuesday in Nipawin against the league-leading Hawks.

Then they head up to Flin Flon for two in a row on Jan. 12 and 13. Following that they'll play in Yorkton Jan. 19 and in Balcarres for Hockey Day in Saskatchewan against Melville on Jan. 20, before traveling to Melfort for the first time this season on Jan. 24.

"We're going to take it one by one," Heck said of the upcoming road games. "Smart people have told me good teams win on the road, when you don't have matchups. It's a good challenge. It's right around the deadline so we'll all be able to bond as a team."

Before Friday's game, the North Stars acquired forward Jared Power from the Olds Grizzly's of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in exchange for forward Dylan Williamson, who had only played one game for the North Stars before leaving the team for personal reasons. Power split last season between Bonnyville and Olds, recording 21 goals and 12 assists in 51 combined games.

The SJHL trade deadline is set for Jan. 10, one day after the road game in Nipawin.


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