Win streak continues for North Stars despite depleted lineup

By Nathan Kanter
November 26, 2017 - 2:49am

The Battlefords North Stars didn't let a pile of injuries (and a suspension) get in the way of their winning streak on Saturday night.

Despite being down eight skaters, and dressing just 11 forwards and five defencemen, the North Stars defeated the Humboldt Broncos 3-2 in a shootout to improve to 18-3-1 this season.

It was the club's sixth straight win.

"Guys bought in to the way we wanted to play," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said after the game. "Our goaltending was again a main reason. We had good resiliency. We went down 1-0, then 2-1 and tied it up late. And then even in the shootout. We were down to our last shot and [Chaseton] Braid comes through and gives [Cody] Spagrud a chance to be the hero.

"[Our] veteran core, they want it so bad. There's kind of a slogan, and what they say is, 'We don't lose.' They believe it and they're going to fight until the end."

North Battleford native Taryn Kotchorek made 31 saves on 33 shots for his eighth win in 11 starts this season, but on a bigger note picked up his 50th career victory. Kotchorek now spots a 50-9-2-2 career record in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with a 1.92 goals-against-average and .926 save percentage.

"His competitiveness is why he's so good," Heck said. "It's what drives him. He's one of those guys that preaches 'We don't lose.' He's a great kid. I'm happy for him."

After Greyson Cameron opened the scoring for the Broncos, Layne Young rocketed a one-timer on a man advantage past Jacob Wasserman to tie the game in the second.

Nobody would score until late in the third, when Humboldt's Derek Patter got just enough on a shot from right in front to squeeze past Kotchorek. Just 43 seconds after Patter gave the home side a 2-1 advantage, MacGregor Sinclair tied the game 2-2. There was 3:49 to go in the third when Sinclair knotted the game at two.

Despite each team getting a full power play in the overtime, neither side could convert.

Logan Schatz, the third shooter for Humboldt, scored the first goal of the shootout, but Chaseton Braid responded with the game on the line after he beat Wasserman through the wickets. Matthieu Gomercic then missed for the Broncos in the fourth round, before Cody Spagrud ended the game with a shot over the glove.

All three head-to-head games this season between the North Stars and Broncos have needed extra time. In fact, in the North Stars 10 divisional games so far this season, seven have been one-goal games.

"[All the close games] just speaks volumes about our league and how competitive it is," Heck said. "It makes our players better because any mistake is going to cost you. I like our group where we're willing to block shtos and go that extra mile. It's a good thing to have, I think, playing in those tight games."

In addition to Young's goal, he also assisted on Sinclair's game-tying marker, giving him 42 points in 22 games this year, which is second-best in the league. The two points also keeps his point-streak going, which now stands at five games (three goals, eight assists). 

Sinclair's two points pushed him into the top-five in league scoring, as he now has 33 points in 22 games. His 16 goals are the third-most.

The North Stars will host the 5-17-0-2 La Ronge Ice Wolves on Tuesday night at the Civic Centre.

Heck referred to the game as a 'trap game.'

"Sometimes, hockey players have a tendency to take teams for granted," Heck explained. "Watching La Ronge, they work hard. So, you have to match their work ethic or you're in trouble."

Tuesday's game is set for 7:30. NorSask North Stars hockey will once again begin at 7:15 p.m. with the Ultra Print pre-game show.

 

nathan.kanter@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

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