The Battlefords North Stars ended a long layoff with a couple of back-to-back wins at the Civic Centre this weekend.
They beat the Estevan Bruins 6-3 and the Weyburn Red Wings 4-2 to sweep the two games. Both games had one thing in common: dominating third periods by the North Stars that broke both games wide open.
Both opposing teams entered the weekend battling at the bottom of the SJHL standings, but nevertheless played hard versus the defending champion North Stars.
"Teams are going to play us tough no matter who it is," said head coach Brayden Klimosko. "We're going to see their best... they gave us all they could handle and we were able to fight it off."
North Stars 6 Estevan 3 (Friday)
The first game action in nine days for the Battlefords North Stars was too close for comfort for much of it.
But a four-goal third period, including a two-goal game for Brett Gammer, lifted the North Stars to a 6-3 win over the Estevan Bruins at the Civic Centre on Friday.
The game was on "Toque and Mitten Toss Night" at the Civic Centre, with toques and mittens being thrown onto the ice in support of the Battlefords Empty Stocking Fund campaign.
But any toques remained firmly on fans' heads for a good portion of the first period as the Bruins scored the first two goals on Austin Schwab. The first was from Dayton Deics at 4:19 and the second from Tyler Savage at 12;52.
Steven Kesserling's goal from Dace Prymak and Matthias Urbanski at 16:51 put the North Stars on the board, and prompted fans to unleash a torrent of toques and mittens onto the ice surface.
In period two, the North Stars tied it at 6:29 on Seth Summers' goal from Brett Gammer. But Estevan retook the lead as Isaiah Thomas -- no, not the basketball player 0 scored from Jayden Davis and Kolton Leslie at 14:36.
The third period belonged to the North Stars. Matthew Fletcher's goal from Summers and Ryland McNinch tied it at 12:03, and then Brett Gammer's goal from Kesserling put the North Stars in front at 13:09.
An unassisted Gammer goal at 17:17 gave the North Stars much needed insurance, and an empty net goal by Elijah Loon-Stewardson from Austin Becker at 18:59 sealed up the game for the North Stars.
The North Stars outshot Estevan 37-32 with Schwab stopping 34. The win gave the North Stars their 23rd victory of the season.
North Stars 4 Weyburn 2 (Saturday)
The North Stars went for win number 24 the following night, but once again it was the opposing team that got off to an early start.
Former Battlefords AAA Star Shayde Peterson, now in the SJHL with Weyburn, scored the first goal of the game for the Red Wings.
Matthias Urbanski tied it up wi9th a power play goal in the second, with Austin Becker and Dace Prymak assisting. And then Seth Summers gave the North Stars the lead with just over five minutes remaining in the period, Becker and Fletcher assisting.
The game did not break open for the North Stars until the third period when a string of Weyburn penalities gave the North Stars an extended power play opportunity. The North Stars twice enjoyed two-man advantages and were back to a one-man advantage when Dylan McCabe scored from Urbanski to give the North Stars the two goal lead at 14:04.
"We needed that third goal, and McCabe scored a big one there for us," said Klimosko, who agreed it was a turning point of the game. "(If) we dont score that one, who knows what happens."
Steven Kesslering's goal at 14:33 ended any doubts about the outcome, although Ben Hiltz added a late goal for Weyburn with 31 seconds left for the 4-2 final score.
Again, Austin Schwab was in net for the North Stars and he stopped 20 of 22 shots. The North Stars fired 37 shots on Weyburn's Joseph Young, himself also a former Battlefords AAA Star now in the SJHL.
The North Stars now head on the road again for an extended road trip of five games. Their next action is Wednesday in Yorkton.