North Stars steamroll Broncos 6-1 to sweep season series

By Nathan Kanter
March 4, 2018 - 8:30am

A grand total of zero current Battlefords North Stars players were on the team the last time they lost a regular season game to Humboldt, which was way back in January 2015.

That's because Saturday night, the North Stars won their 19th straight head-to-head game against the Broncos, thumping them 6-1 in their own barn and sweeping the season series 6-0 in the process.

"It was a great team effort, one through 20. Obviously, some guys scored a bit more [than others] but I thought overall we hemmed them in pretty good and it was every line coming at them in waves," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said in the post-game interview on CJNB/CJNS. "That was as good as we've competed and as hard as we've worked in a while."

The North Stars not only outshot the Broncos 41-16 in the game, but they managed to prevent their opponent from recording a single shot on goal the entire third period. They also drew nine power play opportunities, were shorthanded just three times, and got goals from three of their four lines.

"We were able to roll our lines," Heck said. "It's tough to play defence when we're coming at you and cycling and making you work to stick with your guy. It was good."

The line of Brad Girard, Cole Johnson and Matthias Urbanski had two goals in the game, with Girard netting one and Johnson poking in another. The top line also scored, with MacGregor Sinclair finding the back of the net twice (once on a power play), while defenceman Connor Manegre also scored with the top line out on the ice. Before those two lines chipped in, the combination of Chaseton Braid, Elijah Loon-Stewardson, and Connor McIntosh opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, when McIntosh was somehow left alone in front and chipped a puck top corner past Humboldt goaltender Parker Tobin.

"Yesterday we took eight minutes in penalties in the first period," Heck pointed out. "Today, we were able to come out in waves and roll four lines and play fast. We moved the puck quick and chipped it in [deep] and our back pressure was as good as it has been all year."

Heck also said staying out of the box was particularly key when the game started to get out of hand.

"We stay disciplined in the third," Heck said. "Instead of retaliating, we just took it and it was good buy-in from the guys. We didn't want to get into things."

Layne Young assisted on both of Sinclair's goals and Manegre's fourth goal of the year, while Keith Anderson had two assists. With Young's trifecta of assists, he passed the 250-point plateau for his career, the first player to do so since Kindersley Klippers forward Troy Schwab did so in 2005 (he played four full seasons to Young's three).

Meanwhile, in goal, North Battleford native Taryn Kotchorek made some key early saves to get his third straight win and 60th of his career. He is 18-8-2 now this season with a 2.31 goals-against-average and .919 save percentage.

The win was the club's third in their last four games and 41st of the season. They now have a 41-12-2 record with three games to go. The North Stars wrap up their regular season next week with three games in four days, beginning on the road in Kindersley on Tuesday against the Klippers. They will then host the Klippers on Thursday, and travel to Nipawin on Friday to take on the first-place Hawks.

"It's good to be peaking," Heck said. "I'm encouraged that we're peaking at the right time and hopefully it's just a step and we have another level to go."


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