Not one, not two, not three, but four power play goals led the Battlefords North Stars to victory on Sunday afternoon in Saskatoon against the Melville Millionaires.
It was the first Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League showcase game, where each club plays two games at a neutral site over a four-day period, and it was the club's play with the man advantage that propelled them to a 5-2 win, as the power play went 4-for-7.
"It was just good puck movement [and] guys weren't just getting stuck in their spots," North Stars assistant coach Boyd Wakelin said of the team's power play in the post-game interview on 93.3 the Rock. "Guys were moving the puck and moving bodies around. When you can create that kind of pace on your power play and not be so non-chalent with the man advantage, it makes a huge difference."
Going into Sunday's game, the power play was a measly 1-for-18.
Their penalty kill entered at a whopping 20-for-20, but did allow their first shorthanded goal of the season on four kills.
It was not just their power play production, but who was supplying the production that was the story.
Once again, the top line led the way.
Layne Young had another four points to bring his season total to 11 after just four games (four goals and seven assists). Dakota Huebner had two power play goals in the first period alone, and added a second period assist for his first career multi-point game. Centre MacGregor Sinclair scored his first of the season as well and added another three assists.
"The thing that people don't really realize about [that top line] is that they get those offensive chances beacuse they're so smart in the d-zone," Wakelin said. "They make those little simple give and go's coming out of the d-zone, they pick up their guys on the back check and they create those turnovers to get back in the o-zone. That's why they're always playing in the other team's end."
Not to be forgotten as far as storylines go is rookie goaltender Kolby Matthews, who was rarely tested in the first two periods (10 shots), but made several big saves in the third to pick up his first career Junior A win. He finished with 22 saves on 24 shots.
Last season, the Coquitlam, B.C. native had a 1.81 goals-against-average playing midget hockey in the Vancouver area.
"What might get lost in this game is Kolby Matthews really played a solid, solid game for us," Wakelin said. "He didn't see much action in the first two periods, but I thought he played pretty solid for us in the third to help us lock it down."
Melville did out-shot Battlefords 14-5 in the third period, but the score was 5-1 at that point.
Wakelin said the team's effort in the third is not too much to worry about.
"We're going to take the positives out of this one," Wakelin said. "After last night there were quite a few negatives that we harped on. It's something we're definitely going to have to work, is closing out games like that but I think we did a pretty good job playing pretty close to a 60-minute game.
"It was a really solid 20-man effort."
Rookie Matthias Urbanski was the other North Star to find the back of the net in the win, which was his first career Junior A goal. It came in the second period on a power play after he found space in the high slot and beat Colby Entz.
Battlefords will face off against the Estevan Bruins on Monday morning at 10 a.m to wrap up their showcase schedule.
The game can be heard on CJNB/CJNS beginning with the Ultra Print pre-game show at 9:45 a.m.
3 Stars from Saturday:
3. Kolby Matthews - G - BAT 22 saves on 24 shots, 1st career Junior A win
2. Layne Young - LW - BAT - 1G, 3A, 2nd 4-point night of the season
1. Dakota Huebner - RW - BAT - 2 PPG, 1A
1st. BAT PPG – 7:12 – Huebner (2) ASST: Young (5), Sinclair (2)
1st. MLV PPG – 10:37 – Schillo (2) ASST: Kopyczyn (1), Elmy (1)
1st. BAT PPG – 15:58 – Hubener (3) ASST: Young (6), Sinclair (3)
2nd. BAT PPG – 4:18 – Urbanski (1) ASST: Jensen (2), Manegre (1)
2nd. BAT - 7:53 – 7:12 – Sinclair (1) ASST: Huebner (3), Young (7)
2nd. BAT PPG – 11:54 – Young (4) ASST: Sinclair (4), Spagrud (1)
3rd. MLV SHG – 13:37 – Elmy (1) ASST: None
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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