North Stars dominance over Klippers continues in pre-season action

By Nathan Kanter
September 9, 2017 - 10:44am

It was a familiar sight for North Stars fans, even if it was merely pre-season.

Friday night, exactly one week from the season opener against the same opponent, the Battlefords North Stars defeated the Kindersley Klippers by a large margin of 7-1 at home.

Last year, they went 10-0 against the Klippers in the regular season, outscoring them 43-12. Two seasons ago, the Stars went 8-0 against the Klippers, outscoring them 32-17.

But North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said Friday's game wasn't really a 7-1 game.

"We maybe capitalized better and got some bounces that we weren't getting early on," Heck said after the win, which followed an ugly 8-2 loss to Humboldt two nights ago. 

"I'm happy though nonetheless. It was a solid four-line, six 'D' — down to four 'D' in the third — [performance] and I thought our d-men played smart in the third period with four of them."

This was the first blowout win of the pre-season, as the other two victories were one goal wins.

Heck said playing with emotion was the biggest difference between the large margin of victory Friday and the other pre-season results.

"That was the challenge tonight to the players," Heck said. "I've seen when we're engaged and emotional and maybe have got a little swagger and are a little bit lippy to the other team. [That's when] we play way better. We had 20 guys buy into that mentality tonight."

Battlefords forward Troy Gerein was one player Heck pointed out as really buying in. He was one of seven North Stars to score, in his first game of the pre-season, no less.

"Obviously getting a goal is always nice. It's a good feeling. Especially for the first game back," Gerein said, who missed the first few games because of injury. "I felt good. I was just hitting and killing penalties. I like doing that. And playing a bit of the power play on the point."

Gerein played left wing on the second line with Matthias Urbanski and Elijah Loon-Stewardso, both forwards who are two years younger than him.

Regardless, the Wilkie native praised their play.

"There's always opportunities to score when you're working hard, especially when you have good linemates that are willing to do the little things like getting the puck out and cycling," Gerein said. "Our line played pretty decent tonight I thought. A lot of support so that was nice."

"He's one of those guys that when you challenge emotional, he responds favourably," Heck said of Gerein. "He was kind of the guy we were maybe missing through the first four games.

"Big time he deserves top-six. He played on the point on the power play and after a few suspect power plays, he looked pretty comfortable out there so it's a good option to have."

Other North Stars to find the scoresheet in the win were Dakota Huebner, Owen Lamb, Layne Young, Jacob Tibbatts, Blake Fennig, and Jayden Nachtegaele.

With major losses up front this offseason, scoring has continually been a question for the coaching staff in the pre-season.

Heck repeated what Nate Bedford said last year in training camp.

"What we've preached from day one [is] we've got to score by committee," Heck said. "We know Layne Young is going to get a lot of attention going forward. There was a lot of pleasant surprises that can provide offence. I thought Urbanski generated a lot and was noticeable tonight. The Fennnig, McIntosh and Lamb line was all over the puck and when you're fourth line, Nachtegaele, Dvernichuk and Tibbatts, contributes like that and showed a nice skilled play, you've got to be happy."

Nic Malenica was the lone goal scorer for the Klippers.

Taryn Kotchorek played two consecutive periods for the second time this pre-season, stopping all 17 shots faced. He stopped all 18 shots in two periods of Monday's game against Bonnyville. Eighteen-year-old goaltender Austin Prior made nine saves on 10 shots in the third period.

Heck reiterated that the team is taking it day by day right now, so they're not sure when cuts will be made.

They are close, however, as they only need to get down to 25 carded players in time for next week's season opener. Heading into Friday's game, they were already down to 29.

Saturday will see the North Stars hit the ice in Kindersley for a rematch with the Klippers. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. The North Stars will then play Yorkton on Sunday to wrap up their pre-season.


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On Twitter: @NathanKanter1

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