Comeback win for North Stars caps off successful road trip

By Nathan Kanter
November 20, 2017 - 10:00am

A three-goal third period led to a 5-3 win on Sunday for the Battlefords North Stars — a win that capped off a successful four-game road trip where they took six of a possible eight points.

North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said he was "absolutely" pleased with the results of the trip that saw them begin with a 5-1 loss to the Notre Dame Hounds, but then ring off three consecutive victories.

"It's hard to win in the SJHL. If you go above .500 on the road, you did good," Heck said in a phone interview following Sunday's win over Yorkton. "We respect other teams. We're happy with six of eight points."

The North Stars beat Estevan on Friday 5-4, before topping both Weyburn and Yorkton 5-3. They are now 15-3-1 this season, which has them in second in the division, one point behind the Hounds, but with four games in hand.

Before the trip, goaltender Joel Grzybowski returned to the North Stars after the Saskatoon Blades released him, giving the club three very capable goalies.

All three earned a victory on the weekend, with veteran Taryn Kotchorek winning on Friday, Kolby Matthews winning on Saturday, and then Grzybowski winning his first start of 2017-18 on Sunday with a 25-save performance.

On Sunday, Heck reiterated what he said last week about his crowded crease: that he is in no rush to make a move.

"We've got three Ferraris. It's not worth it to trade a Ferrari for a beat-up truck just for the sake of clearing out our garage," Heck said. "We're going to wait for something good. If there's not an offer there that we like, we're not giving him away because we set a deadline."

"[Grzybowski] played very well [Sunday]. He made some big saves," Heck added. "When they went up 3-2, he made two big saves that probably meant the game if they go in."

The North Stars were down 3-2 against the Terriers early in the third despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. The second of those first period goals was the first career SJHL goal for North Stars forward Elijah Loon-Stewardson.

Despite the early lead, the Terriers notched two in the second and one early in the third to go up 3-2.

But with under seven minutes left in the third, the North Stars strung off three straight goals to take the win.

"For being down 3-2, and we had missed a lot of good chances, I wasn't worried," Heck said. "The guys on the bench weren't too worried. We knew we just had to keep going."

Cody Spagrud, who Heck said was the best player on the ice on Saturday and Sunday, notched his first of the year with 6:59 left in the game to tie things 3-3.

Then, at 2:36, MacGregor Sinclair scored his 12th goal of the year to give the visitors the lead.

Matthias Urbanski added a shorthanded goal for good measure with 1:15 left in the game. The B.C. native was on fire on the weekend, with five goals and an assist during the four-game road trip.

He wasn't streaky either, as he scored in every single game.

"He was just playing intense," Heck said of the 18-year-old rookie. "He was a prick to play against all four games. He had a lot of energy, was physical. He just got his nose dirty and worked hard."

Urbanski now has 13 points in 16 games this season, including 10 points in his last nine.

His 13 points are good enough to currently crack the top-10 in rookie scoring in the league and his 0.81 points-per-game is also sixth-best among rookies who have played at least five games this season.

The line of Urbanski, Chaseton Braid and Brad Girard was clicking all weekend long, as they combined for 15 points in the four games.

The North Stars don't have long to rest up, as they host the Kindersley Klippers on Tuesday night. The team will not practice Monday.

Heck also confirmed that forward Keith Anderson will miss at least a month with an upper-body injury, saying they'll be lucky to have him back by Christmas. Connor McIntosh did not play on Sunday after being involved in a fight on Saturday. The timetable for his return is not yet known.


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