Hounds hop North Stars for first in division

By Nathan Kanter
December 3, 2017 - 3:16am

A quick southern road trip for the Battlefords North Stars proved to bear no positive results, after the club fell 5-2 to Notre Dame on Saturday and 3-2 to Estevan on Friday.

The losses mean the Hounds are now one point up on the North Stars for first place in the Olympic Buildings division, although Battlefords still has four games in hand.

Following Friday's one-goal loss, head coach Brandon Heck said there were still some positives from his team's effort.

Not so after Saturday's game, despite it also being a one-goal game if you take away the two empty-net goals from Hounds captain Chance Longjohn late in the third.

"We had a few guys that were really bad tonight," Heck said. "Didn't come up to play. Some veteran guys."

"I'm pretty disappointed in some of those vets," he added. "Everything is earned so even how they react is a big part of it too. Some guys get sad, some guys get angry, and we had too many guys that were sad tonight when things didn't go their way."

On the scoresheet, it was the usual suspects for the North Stars.

MacGregor Sinclair had yet another goal on Saturday, a shorthanded tally no less, while Chaseton Braid also kept his goal-streak going in the third period. Sinclair now has points in nine straight, which is the longest current streak in the league, while Braid has goals in three straight.

Captain Layne Young's assist on Sinclair's goal gives him points in eight straight and 50 points on the season in just 25 games.

But the depth, both up front and on the blueline, was called out by the head coach.

"We can't rely on five or six players to keep getting it done," Heck said. "That's how you get bounced early in playoffs. So we're going to need some guys to pick it up and take some heat off some of our top guys.

"That was the message [to the team]. Not just offensively. [Cody Spagrud] and [Troy] Gerein can't play 30 minutes. And we need some other guys other than [Matthew] Fletcher to step up."

Gerein continued to play defence, as Levi Kleiboer is in Calgary trying out for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.

The North Stars continue to play without three key forwards: Keith Anderson, Dakota Huebner, and Connor McIntosh, each dealing with an upper-body injury.

Huebner is the closest to returning, although his status for the team's next game, which is Tuesday, is still up in the air.

Taryn Kotchorek made a number of big saves on Saturday for the North Stars, finishing with 28 stops on 31 shots. His record drops to 8-4-1 this season.

Tuesday's game is the teddy bear toss at the Civic Centre, as the North Stars host the Humboldt Broncos. All three previous meeting have needed extra time to decide the winner, with the North Stars winning all three.


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