It was an ugly first period.
This time, there was no coming back.
The Humboldt Broncos handily defeated the Battlefords North Stars 8-2 in pre-season action on Wednesday night at Elgar Petersen Arena, just one night after losing in overtime at the Civic Centre.
Instead of venting his frustration after the game, North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said the game gave him a much clearer picture which bubble players deserve to stick with the team, and which don't.
"Guys true colours showed against a good, fast team," Heck said. "I wish I was more angry, it's just we had a lot of competition for some spots tonight and it was evident who can play at this level and who [can't].
"Some of the players that were on the bubble were exposed. Tonight served a purpose so we'll take that."
The North Stars were outshot 23-10 in the first period and found themselves down 5-0, thanks to one shorthanded goal, one power play goal and three even-strength goals.
"We saw them played scared and work hard yesterday. We played scared and watched [tonight]," Heck said of what transpired in the first period. "We got caught standing, watching. Our 'D' were getting taken wide and did a good job of angling them up and our backcheckers didn't pick up a guy and it was some easy goals [for them].
"There were too many guys that didn't want the puck again in the d-zone and we were timid out there and it wasn't a physical game. I would hate to see [what would happen] when it got physical."
Heck added that the second period wasn't that bad.
The teams each scored twice, and Battlefords actually outshot the Broncos 12-11.
"The second was even," Heck said. "Aside from their power play, which was better than ours in the second period, but we did get one. We still need to be better in the second and third than we were."
The rosters that the two coaches decided to dress were fairly different.
The Broncos had eight 1997-born players in their lineup, whereas the North Stars had just three.
Humboldt head coach Dary Haugan said the reason he played such a young lineup in the Battlefords on Tuesday and then switched things up completely on Wednesday was for the coaching staff to be able to properly evaluate everyone at camp.
"We had a lot of list kids...and some other guys that we just wanted to have a look at," Haugan said after the win on Wednesday. "They earned that game through training camp so that's really the difference. We wanted to look at some young guys [yesterday] and that's really it."
The North Stars will be making some cuts before their next pre-season game, set for Friday against Kindersley. The division rivals then meet in Kindersley for a rematch on Saturday.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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