The Battlefords North Stars had the misfortune of playing the hottest team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this weekend.
Going into their games at the Whitney Forum, the Flin Flon Bombers had won seven straight.
By the end of play Saturday night, the win streak stood at nine as the Bombers had defeated the North Stars by finals of 5-2, and 6-5 in overtime. The Saturday loss was especially tough to swallow, as the North Stars had earlier led 4-1 and 5-2.
Flin Flon 5 North Stars 2
This game lived up to Flin Flon’s rough-and-tumble reputation in the league. It seemed like too many players were channeling their inner Bobby Clarke on this night; it was a penalty-filled contest with a parade of Bombers and North Stars either headed to the box, or the exits.
Among the more infamous penalties was the slashing, major fighting and game misconduct penalty to Ryan Gil for his scrap with Matt Flodell of the Bombers in the second period. Both Regan Doig and later Kaden Boser got major fighting and game misconduct penalties; Garrett Johnson got called for a blow/hit to the head penalty as well.
Elijah Loon-Stewardson was penalized for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct in the first period, while Quintin Loon-Stewardson was called for slashing and actually ejected from the game in the third period.
The North Stars also emerged from the game banged up with Matthias Urbanski leaving due to injury early on.
The game was competitive early on. Flin Flon started the scoring with Chrystopher Collin’s 15th of the season at 2:38, but Braydon Buziak tied it shorthanded at 2:54 with Noah Form assisting to make it 1-1.
That would be as close as the North Stars would be this night, as Collin added two power play goals by the end of the period to secure his hat trick, and give the Bombers a 3-1 lead.
Cade Kowalski, who earlier had an assist on Collin’s first goal, made it 4-1 midway through the second.
In the third, Macgregor Sinclair got his 20th from Buziak and Form. Caleb Moretz finished the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:56.
Joel Grzybowski stopped 28 of 32 shots on the night, but Gabriel Waked got the win with a 32 save performance.
Flin Flon 6, North Stars 5 (OT)
The second contest Saturday proved even wilder, and not in a good way for the North Stars who twice took three goal leads, only to lose the game.
The end result ended up wasting an excellent performance from Dayton Heino, who scored twice in the first to erase an early deficit to give the North Stars a 2-1 lead.
Austin Shumanski’s goal at 10:07 was enough to drive Gabriel Waked out of the Flin Flon net. He was replaced by Jacob Delorme the rest of the way.
Braydon Buziak then scored at 16:15 on the power play with Elijah Loon-Stewardson and Heino both assisting.
Brandson Hein’s 37th of the season cut it to 4-2 in the second, but Ryan Gil restored the three-goal cushion at 6:31 with his 16th of the season, Brett Gammer assisting.
Three straight Flin Flon goals in the third sent the game to overtime. Caleb Moretz at the 1:39 mark cut the North Stars lead to two, and then Hein’s 38th of the year shorthanded cut it to one.
Nate Hooper’s goal at 15:49 on the power play, from Hein and Moretz, tied the game at 5-5.
It was Hooper who ended up winning the game in overtime, shocking the North Stars with a goal at 2:39 to beat Grzybowski. Hein got the assist.
Shots favoured Flin Flon in the game 51-42.
With the weekend results, the division race is even more a scramble than ever. Despite dropping their third in a row, the North Stars still came out of the weekend with one point to move into a tie with Kindersley at 57 points.
In the meantime the Humboldt Broncos had zoomed past both of them in the standings. Weekend wins over Notre Dame allowed Humboldt to take a two-point lead in the Global Ag Tech Solutions division, with 59 points.
The North Stars still hold two games in hand over the Broncos, but Kindersley now has three games in hand over the North Stars.
The North Stars have no choice but to put Flin Flon in their rear view mirror, and claw their way back into the division race.
This Friday and Saturday the North Stars are back on the road playing a couple of teams they have had some recent success against: Melville and Yorkton.