The Battlefords North Stars scored early and often Wednesday night as they clinched their second division title in the past three seasons.
Layne Young led the way with a hat trick, while Coby Downs had a goal and assisted on three others to give the North Stars a decisive 10-3 win over the Notre Dame Hounds.
The scoring started less than two minutes into the game when Jake McMillen took the puck away on the forecheck behind the net, before cutting in front and beating Alexi Thibaudeau on the backhand at 1:46.
Less than six minutes later, Downs took a drop pass from Young and ripped a shot through the pads of Thibaudeau to make it 2-0.
Eight and a half minutes later, Young jumped on a loose puck behind Thibaudeau to score his first of the night and the North Stars had a 3-0 after the first period. The shots were 16-2 in favour of the home team through 20 minutes.
Young picked up his second of the night early in the second stanza when he took a cross-ice pass from Igor Leonenko, who made some nice moves at centre ice to get around a few Hounds players, and fired a wrist shot past Thibaudeau less than two minutes into the period.
The Hounds answered quickly this time, however. Just 46 seconds after Young’s goal, Riley Bechard took a shot from the slot which eluded a screened Ryan Rewerts to get the Hounds on the board.
Twenty seconds later the Hounds struck again. With Rewerts flat on his stomach in his crease, the Hounds through the puck to the front of the net from below the goal line and it bounced off something in front and into the net to make it 4-2.
It took the North Stars nearly 14 minutes to regain their three goal lead, when Leonenko took a cross-ice pass of his own and wired a wrist shot past Thibaudeau at 16:57 to make it 5-2.
In the third, the floodgates opened. Three and a half minutes in McMillen got his second goal of the game, when he backhanded a shot past Thibaudeau for his 28th of the season.
Fifty-eight seconds later Young completed the hat trick after he deflected a shot from the point and got his own rebound as the North Stars found the net for the seventh time.
Again, the Hounds answered quickly. Craig Berube one timed a puck towards the net and it deflected off the stick of a North Stars player in the slot and through the legs of Rewerts for Berube’s first goal of the season.
The North Stars were undeterred, and Jordan Townsend would find the back of the net for the fifth time on the season off a faceoff. Townsend, who wasn’t even supposed to play as he was originally scratched, was able to beat Thibaudeau while falling to the ice at 8:07.
A minute and a half later Troy Gerein got his third goal of the season by getting a loose puck at the side of the goal and beating a diving Thibaudeau.
Shortly after Gerein’s goal, the North Stars were called for a penalty and Thibaudeau was finally pulled from the Hounds net, giving way for Darin Fox to replace him.
The goalie change didn’t help the Hounds much, as less than three minutes later Reed Delainey got a partial break and squeaked the puck through the legs of Fox for his first goal in over two calendar months as the North Stars cracked the double-digit mark in goals.
Mercifully, for the Hounds, the clock wound down and the North Stars won 10-3 clinching the Finning Division title as they now have 72 points and 34 wins on the season, and the Hounds have 48 points with 12 games left, but can only finish with a max of 33 wins.
The North Stars are back in action Friday when they head to Melville for a game against the last place Millionaires. The North Stars are 3-0 against Melville this season and look to continue their path to a league pennant.
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