The Battlefords North Stars had a tight game with the Estevan Bruins on the road Friday night but ultimately fell 3-2, ending their seven-game winning streak.
The Stars are now 19-4-1 this season.
After the game, head coach Brandon Heck said he wasn’t overly upset with his team’s effort, believing they never "gave up a scoring chance in the third period.”
“I was pretty pleased with the way we played in the second and third. I thought we limited their scoring chances,” Heck said. “I thought our guys played well defensively and so did [Estevan]. Both teams weren’t aggressive on the forecheck. There was a lot of neutral zone play and both teams worked hard in the d-zone to stick with their guys."
Shots on goal for the game were equal at 23 each, perhaps surprising, given the teams entered the night with a combined 215 goals in just 52 games.
The North Stars entered the third up 2-1, thanks to goals from Chaseton Braid, his sixth, and captain Layne Young, his sixteenth.
But Hayden Guilderson deflected a point shot past Taryn Kotchorek on a power play early in the third and then Bruins captain Jake Fletcher rocketed a slap shot past Kotchorek with 5:23 left in the game.
“We just didn’t bear down on our chances and put enough pucks at the net,” Heck said. “We didn’t get the saves we needed in the third period.”
Heck did pull some positives from the game, saying the Braid, Matthias Urbanski, and Brad Girard line were clicking. They had a ton of ice-time, rightfully so, but just couldn’t find a way to tie the game.
“They played really well tonight. They were our best line,” Heck said. “Defensively and offensively, all three of them were going.”
Before the game, the North Stars made some roster moves, as Dec. 1 was the first roster cutdown day, where all Junior A teams need to get down to 25 total carded players, but get below that if they want to make room for any future deals.
Ryan Gil and Ryan Rosenberg are no longer with the team, although that is not by choice, as Hockey Canada did not approve their registration with the SJHL.
This is an odd because the rules state each Junior A team "may have no more than six (6) “imports” signed to active player registrations at any one time," and the North Stars would have six with Rosenberg and Gil (the others are Anderson, Jensen, McIntosh and Smith).
An import is "defined as a player with a USA birth certificate and residency."
Brayden Nelson was released by the club, as he and the team mutually parted ways.
But the biggest news from roster cutdown day was a trade, as the North Stars dealt rookie goaltender Kolby Matthews to the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, along with a player development fee and future considerations for forward Dylan Williamson. Williamson is a 6'2" winger with 68 games of Western Hockey League experience, who led the Canucks with 12 goals in 26 games this season before the deal.
The Calgary native will join the North Stars after the weekend.
The team will travel to Wilcox Saturday for a date with the Notre Dame Hounds, who they beat last Friday at home 3-2.
The previous meeting in Wilcox was a 5-1 loss on Nov. 15.
NorSask North Stars hockey begins at 7:15 p.m. on CJNB/CJNS.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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