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Midget Stars kickoff season with split at home

It took five games, but Battlefords hockey fans finally witnessed a regular season win at the Civic Centre.
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During the second period of Saturday's season opener, the Battlefords Midget Stars battled with a Regina Pat Canadian forward in the corner. Regina won Saturday, but the Stars split the weekend with a game Sunday afternoon.

It took five games, but Battlefords hockey fans finally witnessed a regular season win at the Civic Centre. The Battlefords Midget Stars hosted the Regina Pat Canadians Saturday and Sunday to mark the start of their season and won the second game of the home stand.

Saturday afternoon, the Stars gave up the game's first while playing two men short. Regina made the Stars pay once more as they scored on the second half of that powerplay to go up 2-0.

Justin Lund responded for the Stars with a five-on-three powerplay goal of his own to put the Stars on the board. Dylan Fluter drew the assist.

After one period the Pat Canadians led 2-1, but were outshot 14-9.

In the second, Jesse Gerbig scored from Regan Yew to tie the game. Four minutes later, Regina scored their third powerplay goal of the game to retake the lead and they never looked back.

Later in the second, Regina scored an even strength goal and led 4-2 after two periods.

Regina scored another even strength goal and a powerplay goal in the third period and the Stars were unable to make a game of it since they were outshot 13-5 in the final frame.

Regan Santoro was in net for the Stars and faced 36 shots while Andy Desautel faced 27 shots in the win. The visitors were 4/8 on the powerplay.

Twenty-four hours later, the Stars were refocused after watching the game tape from the day before and were ready for redemption.

"History tells us that opening day at home usually hasn't been our best game," said head coach Martin Smith Sunday. "Today they came ready to play."

After three North Stars' losses on home ice and the Saturday SMAAAHL loss, the first win at the Civic Centre went in the books with a 4-3 Stars' win over Regina.

Three minutes into the game, the Stars earned their first lead of the season on a powerplay. Dillon Forbes scored on a point shot through the legs of Casey Parker. Fluter and Lund had assists on goal.

Three minutes later, the Pat Cs tied the game just seconds after a powerplay expired. A wrist shot off the rush beat Blair Mahon glove side.

Later in the first, Regina took the led with a one timed shot from the slot, which beat Mahon.

Still in the first period, Colby Cave sent a cross crease pass to Dallan Walker off the rush, but Walker was robbed and the first period ended 2-1 for Regina.

Walker had another cross crease pass in the second period, this time off the stick of Ryne Keller, but again he was robbed by the Regina goalie.

The Stars continued to press for the tying goal and 6:29 into the second they had it. Cave fired a pass in front and Colby Daniels went hard to the net and tipped the puck five-hole. Dylan Fluter was credited with the assist.

The next time Daniels was on the ice he was sent on a breakaway and scored his second of the game. He fired a rocket off the post with a wrist shot to take the lead while Fluter and Colby Thiel drew the assists.

Two minutes later, Regina was on a powerplay and capitalized on a wild point shot. After the wide slapshot hit the end boards, it bounced out the other side of the net and was there for an easy tap-in past a sprawled Mahon.

Later in the second, after Thiel was nailed at the Regina blue-line, he drew a charging penalty and the Stars made it count with what would hold up to be the game-winning goal. Off the faceoff, Robin Yew took a shot from the point and the puck dropped inside the far post. Lund and Daniels had the assists on the late second period goal.

The Stars delivered some big hits in the third period and Mahon was able to make the saves needed to hold onto the lead despite an empty net charge from the Pat Canadians. The Stars, who were sporting new uniforms, earned the 4-3 win while being outshot 35-24 to split the weekend.

"He (Mahon) played well," said Smith following the game. "He made some good saves near the end. Your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender and in the final 10 minutes he was."

The Stars were impressive in the special teams category, as they were 1/4 on the powerplay and improved their penalty kill from a day early and killed off 6/7 shorthanded situations.

"We worked a lot on our powerplay and the guys know what us coaches expect from them," said Smith. "The penalty kill is just hard work and guys were just blocking shots and did what it took to win."

During the week leading up to the season opener, the players were showing up a half hour before practice to work on the powerplay without the coaches and it showed, as on every powerplay Saturday the Stars demonstrated great puck control and were able to score twice on the weekend.

Next for the 1-1-0-0 Stars is a weekend road trip to Yorkton, who won their lone game on the weekend.