North Stars top Klippers in shootout once again

By Nathan Kanter
November 22, 2017 - 12:10am

Following yet another comeback, the Battlefords North Stars defeated the Kindersley Klippers 4-3 in a shootout at home on Tuesday night.

In what was their fifth game in seven nights, the North Stars found themselves down 2-0 halfway through the game. They then scored three answered goals to grab a late lead, but Cody Hodgson tied it on a Klippers power play with under five to go in regulation to send it to extra time.

Overtime solved nothing before MacGregor Sinclair, Layne Young, and Chasteon Braid all scored in the shootout to improve the North Stars record to 16-3-1.

"It was a pretty exciting one," North Stars assistant coach Boyd Wakelin said after the win, the team's fourth straight. "Five games against them this year has been five tight-checking games. It's probably going to be five more just the same."

Three of the five head-to-head games so far this year have gone beyond regulation, and each time the North Stars have won, twice in a shootout and once in overtime.

Although the score was tight throughout, yet again, the shots and chances were not. The North Stars outshot Kindersley 44-19 in the game, including 28-11 in the second and third period combined.

"You've just got to stick with it," Wakelin said when asked what the message to the team is when the shots are so lopsided but the score is close. "If you start trying to reinvent the wheel part-way through a game just because maybe you aren't getting a bounce go your way here and there, then you're going to run into trouble.

"When we go down in games, you don't see individuals go out there and try to do it themselves. They trust that if they do their job, their linemates and teammates will do theirs as well. When you have 20 guys buying in each night like that, when you get down in a game, you can just take that deep breath and know, 'OK, we've got it in us to come back.' "

After Eddie May scored from a bad angle to put the visitors up 2-0, Layne Young whipped a one-timer past Close on a power play to give the North Stars some life halfway through the second. Young would then feed defenceman Levi Kleiboer for a shorthanded goal just over three minutes later to tie the game 2-2.

Kleiboer, who was just invited to try out for Canada West at the upcoming Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia, leads all SJHL defenceman with 1.17 points per game. After his goal and assist on Tuesday, that translates to 21 points in just 18 games.

"I think he's been great for us all year," Wakelin said. "You can't ask for much more. He's dynamic. He's a game-changer. I wasn't fortuante enough to watch him very much last year, but from the video I've watched and seeing him this year, I think he's added a little bit more of an edge to his game. He's a little bit meaner."

Hometown native Blake Fennig would then give the North Stars a 3-2 lead early in the third.

"I know [Fennig] got a couple [goals] last year as an affiliate but that was his first official goal as a member of the team," Wakelin said when asked why the team scooped the puck out of the net after the goal. "The guys just wanted to give him that one."

Meanwhile, Klippers goaltender Justen Close made 41 saves on 44 shots.

In the five games head-to-head games against Battlefords this season, Close has stopped 178 of the 190 he has faced, for a save percentage of .937.  It's also an average of 38 shots against him per game.

"He's a really good goalie and has played well against us all year," Wakelin said. "Our message is just to get shots and get traffic on him. When you're facing a good goalie, you've got to get traffic and then hopefully bang in the rebounds because he's likely to make the first save on you."

Layne Young also kept adding to his ridiculous season totals with another standout performance. His power play goal was his 14th goal of the year and his shorthanded assist was his 24th helper of the year, giving him 38 points in just 20 games.

Taryn Kotchorek allowed three goals on 19 shots, but is now 6-2-1 on the year. He also now has 48 careers win in just 65 games.

The North Stars have two days off before they play another back-to-back. They host the division-leading Notre Dame Hounds on Friday (who won 5-1 on Tuesday) and then they travel to Humboldt on Saturday for the third game against the Broncos this season.


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On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

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