Throughout the 2016-17 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the offensive firepower that the Battlefords North Stars forward core has provided on a regular basis has been impressive to watch.
Friday night in Humboldt, the North Stars blueliners got in on the act.
Cody Spagrud and Ryan Rosenberg both found the back of the net at the Elgar Petersen Arena, while the defence limited the Broncos to just one shot on goal in the second period and only 16 in the entire game as they picked up a 3-1 victory.
“Since I got here to North Battleford I’ve received a call from around 20 different Junior A teams from across Canada looking to get involved in acquiring some of our defencemen,” North Stars head coach and general manager Nate Bedford said. “I’ve been pretty steadfast to all of them that it would have to take a really special trade offer to try and break up this unit.
“The defence is the strength of our team. When we play well in our end and are strong in all aspects of the game, we’re usually able to come out on top.”
In his last game before travelling to Leduc, Alta. on Sunday with teammates Levi Kleiboer and Layne Young to take part in the World Junior A Challenge selection camp for the Canada West team, Cody Spagrud led the way on offence.
He scored off a point shot on the power play in the third period and also had an assist in the first period, as his initial shot was redirected off of McGregor Sinclair’s stick and right to the stick of Ben Allen.
Allen broke a 1-1 tie on his 10th goal of the year.
“Any shot is a good shot,” Spagrud said. “I like to take a chance on goal from anywhere, really. The more shots you have on net, the better chance you have of winning.
“I thought we played a lot better tonight than we did here a week ago. It was a more consistent effort and we were able to find a way to finish things off.”
Ryan Rosenberg also found the back of the net for the North Stars, as the blueliner unleashed a powerful shot from the point for his first goal of the season.
Unlike their last trip on Nov. 23, the North Stars were able to stop any late third period comeback attempts from the Broncos as they did a great job of slowing down the offensive attacks from top forwards Chris Van Os-Shaw and Erik Gardiner.
“I was really proud of the way that we finished the game,” Bedford said. “The way we preformed in the third was totally different than what happened here last time, when we were focused too much on individual things and allowed Humboldt to work their way back into the game.
“We were little snake-bitten tonight, especially on the power play, as Humboldt was doing a great job on the penalty kill, but our guys just stuck with the game plan.”
Joel Grzybowski made 15 saves in the win for the North Stars, with his only blemish coming on a first period goal by Brayden Camrud.
Garrett Mason turned aside 45 shots in the loss for the Broncos, who have a 18-12-0-1 record and are 11 points behind the North Stars for first place in the Finning Division.
Prior to Friday’s game, the North Stars made a couple of roster moves.
Eighteen-year-old forward Jeremy Velazquez, who had four points in 17 games, was traded to the La Ronge Ice Wolves for a player development fee.
The team also assigned forward Keelan Saworski to the Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, while forwards Connor McIntosh and Jayden Nachtegaele will now suit up for the Prairie Junior Hockey league’s Saskatoon Quakers.
McIntosh and Nachtegaele are still affiliated players with the team and can be called up if needed during the season.
Next up for the North Stars, who have won their last three game and have a 24-6-0-0 mark to lead the Estevan Bruins by three points in the race for first place in the SJHL, is a trip to Pinehouse Wednesday night to face the Ice Wolves.
They will return to the Civic Centre Friday for their annual Teddy Bear Toss game against the Yorkton Terriers, with the Kindersley Klippers coming to town Saturday.