Klippers double-up North Stars in special teams battle

By Nathan Kanter
September 10, 2017 - 11:04am Updated: September 10, 2017 - 11:56am

It was virtually the same opponent, but a vastly different result.

Although pre-season games don't count in the standings and it was the North Stars' sixth game in seven nights, their 6-3 loss to Kindersley Saturday was disappointing, to say the least.

"I thought we struggled all over the ice," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said after the game. "It was a team that wanted it way more than us. We showed up playing our sixth game in seven days with a let's get this over with attitude. And they showed up hungry to win. Not much else to say other than that."

The Klippers dressed virtually the same lineup as Friday when the North Stars handily won 7-1 and got goals from seven different players.

Six North Stars players from Friday's win did not dress in Saturday's game: starting goalie Taryn Kotchorek, defencemen Levi Kleiboer and Cody Spagrud, and forwards Elijah Loon-Stewardson, Connor McIntosh, and Jacob Tibbatts.

"We found out tonight how important I guess a few guys are in our lineup," Heck said. "There are some guys I thought would be better tonight given the opportunity and they weren't ready to go."

Not dressing in either game of the two games but still with the team are Jayden Cantre, Tre Doyon, Matthew Fletcher, and Sunhil Sahota.

A stark difference from Friday's game to Saturday's was how the game was called.

In Saturday's loss, the referees were constantly calling penalties against both teams. The North Stars were shorthanded nine times and gave up three power play goals, and they also scored three power play goals of their own on seven opportunities.

When it's a special teams battle like that, it often means coaches can't get into a rhythm of rolling their lines.

"Oh big time," Heck said when asked if it's annoying to have to deal with some many calls.

Two North Stars made their pre-season debut on Saturday as well.

Keith Anderson, acquired from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the summer, centred Troy Gerein and Ryan Rothenburger. The 6'4" forward is an imposing physical force but he couldn't get anything going offensively. It was his first game of the pre-season because of injury. Heck said he played "okay" on Saturday.

The other debut was from 18-year-old goaltender Kolby Matthews, who played the whole game, making 34 saves on 40 shots.

Cody Hodgson had a big night for the Klippers, scoring a shorthanded goal and an even strength goal in the first period to help give his team a 3-0 lead after the first. The 19-year-old forward completed his hat-trick in the third period and also added a power play assist in the second.

As for where things stand roster-wise, Heck said cuts won't be made until after Sunday's pre-season finale against Yorkton.

"We're not happy with how things are looking," Heck said. "We've got to try to make the team better."

Sunday's game will be played at Rutherford Arena in Saskatoon and puck drop is set for 5 p.m.


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On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

North Stars' pre-season ends with solid effort vs. Yorkton

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