North Stars give up lead twice but edge Bombers in OT

By Nathan Kanter
January 12, 2018 - 11:54pm Updated: January 13, 2018 - 9:58am

Cole Johnson's first goal in a North Stars uniform catapulted Battlefords over the Flin Flon Bombers in overtime on Friday night at the Whitney Forum.

The 19-year-old, just acquired from the Lloydminster Bobcats on trade deadline day, streaked down the right wing one minute into the extra frame and beat goaltender Brenden Newton to give the North Stars a 4-3 win.

It's their ninth win in their last 10 games.

"To me, [Johnson] was our best forward [tonight]," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said after the win. "He was strong on pucks. He was in and around the net all night. Tons of chances. Makes plays, finishes checks; he's a pest out there. Competes hard. Credit to him, he's playing injured right now and he hadn't been on his skates in over a week too."

Johnson wasn't the only new face to stand out on Friday.

Garon Magnes scored two goals in his North Stars debut.

The 20-year-old Edmonton native was acquired from the Spruce Grove Saints for a player development fee on Jan. 10 and was on the top defensive pairing with Cody Spagrud on Friday.

It took just eight minutes for him to strike, first, a rocket from the blue line, and then he extended the North Stars lead to 2-0 early in the second when he simply threw one on net from along the boards.

"The heavy shot and the two goals for sure [stood out]," Heck said. "But his poise with the puck [too]. He breaks us out. Just his area passes. He's savvy. He's not the most mobile but he's quick enough; he's strong enough."

Overall, Heck said his club played "average."

They did outshoot the Bombers 41-33, but also let a 2-0 and 3-2 lead slip away.

"I think they outworked us tonight," Heck said. "They were up to play this game and we were sitting back...[but] we played pretty well in the third period minus a few penalties. Glad we found a way to win."

The game was 2-2 entering the final period, and captain Layne Young broke the deadlock halfway through when he outraced goaltender Brenden Newton to a loose puck in the high slot and slide it into the open cage. It was his 23rd goal of the season.

Young also added two assists to bring his league-leading point total to 69, in just 35 games.

Chrystopher Collin tied the game on a Bombers power play late in the third period to send the game to overtime.

It was the Bombers second power play goal of the game.

"Pretty unlcuky on their [tying] goal where we're going to rim the puck and ice it, and it hits the boards and [comes] right out in front," Heck said. "Credit to our team to kill that 5-on-3 for that long, but our power play has got to find a way to score, getting those looks on that 5-on-3. That's just not going to cut it."

North Stars goaltender Joel Grzybowski maintained his perfect record this season, as he improved to 8-0 with a 31-save performance.

Brenden Newton stood tall for the Bombers too, making 38 saves, including many on a late third period 5-on-3 North Stars power play with the game tied 3-3.

"We've got to learn how to score on him," Heck said. "He comes out challenging and we didn't make him move to the side. We just tried to shoot it through him. We've got to make adjustments that way tomorrow."

The teams will meet again at the Whitney Forum on Saturday night, when the North Stars will be searching for their seventh straight win.

NorSask North Stars hockey gets underway at 7:15 p.m. with the Ultra Print pre-game show on CJNB/CJNS.


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