The Battlefords North Stars extended their hot start to 4-0 to begin their 2015-16 SJHL season after a 4-2 win at home to the Yorkton Terriers Friday.
It was not just the team off to a hot start, but also their individual players. Coby Downs had four goals and five assists to begin his SJHL season. As well, Dustin Gorgi got his first goal in the league on Friday against Yorkton. By Saturday night, he was leading the league in scoring with two goals and eight assists.
Taryn Kotchorek got his first win in net for the North Stars on Friday, a meaningful win for a player who grew up in the Battlefords dreaming of playing for the North Stars one day.
"We're certainly going to enjoy it," said coach Kevin Hasselberg.
"Regardless of how it gets down, when we collect points we've got to make sure that we embrace that feeling and take advantage of it while it's here. You never know what's going to happen the next day."
Sadly, all good things come to an end, and it was an unbeaten Nipawin Hawks team who stopped the North Stars winning streak Saturday night in Nipawin.
A hat trick by Kris Spriggs did in the North Stars that night as the team was handed its first defeat of the regular season, dropping to a still-respectable 4-1 record.
North Stars 4 Yorkton 2
The game Friday night at the Civic Centre against the Yorkton Terriers was perhaps not as dominating a performance for the North Stars as the games previously. Still, the home team got on the scoreboard first.
Dustin Gorgi got his first career SJHL goal on the power play at the 10:23 mark to make it 1-0.
Yorkton tied the game two minutes into the second on a bad turnover by the North Stars. Jordan Evans got the goal for Yorkton.
But Igor Leonenko put the North Stars ahead midway through the second period at the 9:24 mark.
Coby Downs' breakaway score on the power play with 8:20 remaining in the period made it a 3-1 game. It was Downs' fourth of the season; Connor Sych got the assist.
With 53:6 remaining, Jordan McCausland, from Dayton Boutillier and Kailum Gervais, put it past Taryn Kotchorek in the North Stars net to cut the margin to 3-2. Shots were 24-18 favoring Yorkton through two periods.
The third period moved quickly, and tempers eventually boiled over with 9:30 remaining on the clock. Yorkton's Adam Santoro and the North Stars' Baxter Kanter dropped the gloves for an entertaining brawl midway through the period, with both players sent off for fighting.
Not long after, with 8:52 left, Jordan Wiest scored with Layne Young and Braydon Buziak getting the assist to make it 4-2 North Stars.
Yorkton was put into a further hole when a four-minute power play was assessed to McCausland for butt-ending. While the North Stars didn't score, the penalty-kill situation robbed Yorkton of any remaining momentum. Yorkton pulled their net minder for the extra attacker, and the Terriers thought they scored with 1:45 remaining, but the goal was waived off due to a high stick.
The North Stars held on 4-2 for Kotchorek's first career win for the North Stars.
"I think the night belongs to Taryn, being that he grew up in this town," said Hasselberg. "He's faced a lot of adversity throughout his career and here he is today earning his first win as a Battlefords North Star."
Shots on goal favoured the North Stars 33-30 on the night, with Kotchorek stopping 28 shots for the win.
Nipawin 5 North Stars 2
Ryan Rewerts was back in goal for the contest in Nipawin, and the North Stars did get off to a good start in the contest. Early on, it was another big night for Gorgi, who got on the score sheet again with a power play goal at the 7:32 mark from Bryce Hall and Downs.
Nipawin tied it soon after on a goal by Kris Spriggs, and it was 1-1 after one. Shots were 11-7 North Stars in the first.
Late in the period a scrap between Jordan Wiest and Evan Mignault resulted in Wiest getting roughing, blow to the head and 10-minute misconduct penalties while Mignault got the instigator penalty, a major for fighting and a game misconduct.
In the second period, Eric Bolden scored on the power play 30 seconds into the period to make it 2-1. But with Carter Doerksen off for elbowing, the North Stars tied it up on a power play goal by Hall from Gorgi and Sych at 5:25. With two minutes left in the second, Spriggs scored again for his seventh of the season to make it 3-2 Nipawin, and that was the score through two.
The third period moved quickly, but, despite opportunities, the North Stars were frustrated in all attempts to get the puck past Hawks goaltender Kristian Stead.
With 3:19 left, Spriggs completed the hat trick to make it 4-2 Hawks, which more or less put an end to the North Stars' hopes. It was his eighth goal of the season, to lead the league in goals early on.
An empty net goal by Chase Thudium soon after sealed up a 5-2 win for Nipawin, who moved to 4-0 to start the season while handing the North Stars their first loss, ending a four-game winning streak.
Next action for the North Stars is Tuesday night at home to Melville.