North Stars crush Ice Wolves on home ice

By Nathan Kanter
November 28, 2017 - 11:58pm

The Battlefords North Stars top players were once again indeed their top players on Tuesday night, as the lethal duo of Layne Young and MacGregor Sinclair combined for a ridiculous 14 points in a 10-2 win over the La Ronge Ice Wolves.

It was the North Stars seventh straight win and improves their record to 19-3-1 this season.

"We bought into the way we wanted to play tonight and that's kind of what we've been doing lately," North Stars head coach and general manager Brandon Heck said following the blowout win. "When you work hard without the puck, you make your linemates better and it was good to see."

Although Young and Sinclair each had seven points, others provided secondary scoring.

Chaseton Braid had his first two-goal game of the year, while rookie Elijah Loon-Stewardson also had a two-goal night, in addition to adding two helpers. Owen Lamb notched his first tally of the year, while fellow hometown native Blake Fennig also found the back of the net.

"It was nice to see," Heck said. "We need guys like Owen Lamb to score for us. [When] we go on the road, Young and Sinclair are going to face tough 'D' competition all night. We're not going to get the matchups we want, so other guys have got to score. It's good to see them get their confidence going."

The North Stars flew out of the gate, as Braid opened the scoring just 26 seconds in. Before the first period was done, Fennig had also scored and Sinclair notched two goals of his four goals to make the score 4-0 after 20 minutes. Battlefords then struck six times in the second, and went into the final frame up 10-1.

In that final period, the Ice Wolves actually controlled much of the play, outshooting the North Stars 15-3 and outscoring them 1-0.

But coach Heck wasn't too displeased with the third period effort, given the margin.

"Would like to lock it down for sure [but] it's probably tough to play in [that situation]," Heck said. "You've got a guy like Loon-Stewardson who just blocked a shot in an eight-goal game, so there were some positives that way. But credit to them. They responded in the third period too."

The North Stars have been playing catch-up in the standings all season long, because of their slow schedule to start the year, but they are now just one point back of first place overall.

Heck did say, however, that his club's record isn't exactly indicative of how they've played.

"I don't know if we're quite as good as our record," Heck said. "We've won some games that we've been fortunate to win. But the charatcer in the [dressing room] is high and they want to win.

"We'd like to think were contenders."

He added that he's starting to see an identity, which focuses on playing hungry without the puck.

"When we don't have the puck, we want to work hard to get it back as quick as we can," he said. "We [want to be] able to have that puck possession because guys are working without the puck."

The North Stars head south this weekend for a pair of games against two tough opponents.

On Friday, they play in Estevan for the second time this year and then on Saturday they play the Notre Dame Hounds on the road, who they just beat 3-2 in regulation at home on Friday.

There is also an important roster deadline on Friday.

By 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1, each team must cut down to 25 registrations in total, active and blank, meaning the North Stars must do some maneuveuring as they are just over that number. It is currently unclear if a trade may be made to accommodate the cut-down deadline, but it is certainly possible. Re-assigning or cutting players is another possibility.

"My goal is to better the team, whether it be for the future or for this year," Heck said when asked what his goal is for the upcoming deadline. "We want to make the team stronger.

"We're going to turn over some stones and see where it takes us."

In terms of individual statistics after Tuesday's game, Young now leads the league in points with 49 in just 23 games. He has three goals and 15 assists during a six-game point streak. 

Sinclair is now second in the league in goals with 20 and third in points with 40. He was 11 goals and eight assists during his current seven-game point streak.

 

nathan.kanter@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

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