The Battlefords North Stars put together perhaps their most impressive third period of the entire season Friday night versus the Melfort Mustangs.
Down 2-1 in that frame, the North Stars roared back with five unanswered goals, in part due to costly Melfort penalties that the home team capitalized on for a 6-2 win, their fifth victory in a row.
It was a particularly big night for Matthias Urbanski, who recorded a hat trick on “Stars Stand Strong Night for Mental Health”, a campaign for which Urbanski is the club’s ambassador.
Almost lost in the shuffle was the fact that the win clinched another division title for the North Stars. The North Stars lead the Humboldt Broncos in the Global Ag Tech Solutions Division by a now-insurmountable margin of 30 points, with a dozen games left to spare in the regular season.
“Obviously, it’s another one of our goals at the start of the year,” said coach Brayden Klimosko. “Obviously it wasn’t pretty at times but we got it done.”
For a while it looked like the North Stars weren’t going to get it done. In the first period the North Stars were held without a shot on goal for almost 12 minutes. Fortunately for the North Stars, Kristian Lyon held off the Mustangs to keep the game scoreless through one period.
In the second, Kyle Bosch gave Melfort a 1-0 lead at the 1:30 mar, but Urbanski tied the game with his 18th of the season from Austin Becker and Seth Summers at 14:47, a power play goal.
But a pair of calls put the North Stars behind the eight-ball late in the period. A high sticking call to Logan Spence and a questionable tripping penalty to Urbanski brought out the boos from the home fans at the Civic Centre. But the North Stars killed off the first penalty by the end of the second period, and killed off the entire penalty early in the third to keep the game tied.
In the third, Zach Anderson’s 11th of the season at the 1:17 mark gave the Mustangs a 2-1 advantage. But then it was Melfort’s turn to head to the penalty box: a costly high-sticking double-minor to Dylan Ashe handed the North Stars a four-minute power play at 2:28.
The North Stars took full advantage. Noah Form scored at 2:46 from Matthew Fletcher and Elijah Loon-Stewardson to tie the game at 2-2. Then Urbanski’s second of the game from Summers and Ben Hiltz gave the North Stars the lead to stay.
Quintin Loon-Stewardson gave the North Stars much-needed insurance at the 10:50 mark with his 26th of the season unassisted. That was followed at 12:06 by Urbanski’s hat trick goal, Carson Reagan and Timon Prexler assisting.
Kaden Boser’s power play goal from Hiltz wrapped up the 6-2 win. In all, it was an impressive turnaround for the North Stars.
“We engaged physically,” said Klimosko. “We got ourselves going and that was the difference for sure. It’s nice to see us moving our feet and getting some success on the power play.”
Despite trailing in shots through most of the game, in the end the final shots on goal favored the North Stars 27-23, with Lyon stopping 21 shots.
Next up on the schedule Saturday night for the North Stars are the Melville Millionaires, who have had an interesting 24 hours. The Mils had been scheduled to play in Kindersley on Friday night but were unable to make it due to bus mechanical problems.
That game has been postponed to a later date, and the hope is the Mils will be able to make it in to North Battleford Saturday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre.