The Battlefords North Stars were looking to close the pre-season on an upswing, and they did just that this past weekend.
The team notched back-to-back convincing victories over the La Ronge Ice Wolves at home Friday and Saturday. After starting pre-season with three losses in a row, two of them to the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL, the North Stars finished exhibition play on a strong note and look forward to their regular season opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Kindersley Klippers at the Civic Centre. The rematch takes place the next day on the road in Kindersley.
The two La Ronge games were both come-from-behind efforts for the North Stars. On Friday night, the Ice Wolves took a 1-0 lead on Antonio Di Paolo’s goal, but two goals by MacGregor Sinclair put the North Stars ahead through one. Cody Spagrud and Ryan Gil assisted on the first goal, while Matthias Urbanski and Jacob Bayne assisted on Sinclair’s second.
Both Bayne and Urbanski got in the goal-scoring column in the second. Brett Gammer and Matthew Fletcher assisted on Bayne’s goal, and Owen Lamb and Braydon Buziak assisted on Urbanski’s marker.
A goal from Gammer in the third, with assists from Gil and Eli Loon-Stewardson, wrapped up a 5-1 score Friday night. The North Stars dominated the shots on goal by a 46-17 margin.
The Saturday afternoon contest also saw the North Stars get off to an initial slow start. La Ronge scored two in the first period, but the North Stars responded with two of their own to tie the game through one period.
The North Stars went on to add six more unanswered goals the rest of the way, and won 8-2. Once more the North Stars dominated in shots, outshooting La Ronge 41-18.
The SJHL season was scheduled to begin Wednesday night with the emotional home opener for the Humboldt Broncos against the defending champion Nipawin Hawks, a game carried nationally on TSN and CTV in Saskatchewan.
The North Stars home opener Friday night will be one of five games on the SJHL schedule that evening.
Set for 7 a.m. Thursday is the annual Kick-off Breakfast at the Civic Centre. The 2018-19 roster for the North Stars was scheduled to be announced and introduced at that event.
— With files from Josh Greschner