It was a throwback to old time, rock ‘em sock ‘em hockey at the Battleford Arena Friday night.
The Battlefords North Stars were in action versus the Flin Flon Bombers, a rematch of their epic seven-game playoff series from the previous postseason.
And this game was similarly epic, with a goal by Steven Kesslering the difference in overtime for a 4-3 North Stars comeback win.
With the Civic Centre out of action due to the Gold Eagle Casino pow wow, the cozy confines of the Arena became the home of North Stars hockey again this year. It was the second time in 2019 that the venue hosted the club; the last time was January when Pinty’s Grand Slam curling had taken over the Civic Centre.
The North Stars donned throwback third-jerseys for the game in honour of their club’s heritage. They wore the brown-and-yellow colours from the Battlefords Barons years, but the logo was the stylized “N” from the early years of the North Stars in the league.
The game moved at a brisk pace in the first period, with pucks unable to find a way past either the North Stars’ red hot Adam Dmyterko or the Bombers’ Matt Sanker into either net. Shots were an even 14-14 through one.
But the shutout streak ended 1:04 into the second period as Austin Becker poked the puck past Sanker and into the net for his eighth of the season. Rylan Nivon and Noah Form got the assists.
But with Seth Summers in the box for slashing, and both Dylan Esau and Ryder Richmond off for roughing, the Bombers’ Donavan Houle-Villeneuve capitalized. Alec Malo assisted on the goal at 5:31.
Midway through the frame, Houle-Villeneuve scored again on Dmyterko, prompting grumbles from the crowd in attendance at Battleford Arena.
With 5:33 left in the period a slap shot by Brett Gammer beat Sanker to tie it again from Matthew Fletcher and Becker. That would be all the scoring through two. Shots in the second were 15-10 for the North Stars.
In the third period, at the 13:10 mark the Bombers took the lead as Alec Malo scored from Cole Rafuse.
But as was the case in their game Wednesday in Melfort, the North Stars refused to die. Instead, a goal by Matthias Urbanski at the 18:18 mark of period 3 sent the game to OT. Summers and Fletcher assisted.
The overtime lasted just two minutes and 20 seconds before Kesslering’s goal won it for the North Stars to raise the roof off of Battleford Arena. Elijah Loon-Stewardson got the assist on the game winner.
It was another 40-plus outing in the shot count for the North Stars, as they outshot the Bombers overall in the game 43-31. With the win, the first place North Stars move to 12-1 on the season.
The North Stars hit the road again Wednesday for La Ronge, before finally returning to the Civic Centre next Friday against the Nipawin Hawks.
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