THE BATTLEFORDS — 2022 is a new year, and the Battlefords North Stars have entered it with a flurry of player acquisitions and trades.
The trades were announced in the days leading up to the North Stars’ return to the ice Tuesday versus the Estevan Bruins, their first game back following the holiday break.
The first item was news of the departure of ‘02 forward K.T. Walters to Cowichan Capitals of the BCHL, in exchange for a player development fee. This season with the North Stars, Walters had 11 goals and 10 assists.
Soon after came news the North Stars had added another forward, Evan Waldie, from the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles. Again, it was in exchange for a PDF.
In 26 games this season in Canmore, Waldie had four goals and five assists. Waldie joined the North Stars in time for their game with the Bruins.
Tuesday, the North Stars also announced they had traded their first round pick in the 2022 U18 draft for Weyburn’s first and second picks in the U15 draft.
Just before the new year arrived, the North Stars also announced some player commitments for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
Committed to the team are Nikolas Smolinski, a 2004-born defenceman from the Swift Current Legionnaires; Marshall Light, a '05-born forward with the Estevan Bears; and Ashtyn Shields, an ‘05-born forward who plays for the Tisdale Trojans.
Game Report: North Stars vs. Bruins
With those signings and trades out of the way, the North Stars focused their attention on their home matchup with the Estevan Bruins, who entered 2021 as undisputed leaders in the Viterra Division with a record of 24-7-1-1 — seven points ahead of the North Stars in the overall standings.
As expected, it was a close contest between two of the SJHL’s top-tier teams. In the end, it was the North Stars who came from behind to take it in a shootout, 5-4.
The North Stars got off to a fast start as Jake Southgate scored his 15th of the season to give the home team a 1-0 lead with a power play goal; Keiton Klein and Ryland McNinch assisting.
But the Bruins tied it at the 14:23 mark on Brandon Ambrozik’s sixth of the season from Zach Burfoot, and that would be all the scoring through one.
The second period saw Estevan regain the lead on Prescot Senger’s third of season at 3:11, followed by Southgate’s 16th of the season at the 4:50 mark.
But the Bruins regained the lead on goals from Dayton Deics at the 9:40 mark and Caelan Fitzpatrick at 17:30 to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. North Stars goaltender Michael Harroch had to leave the game at that point with an injury, and was replaced the rest of the way by Lowen Kenyon.
The North Stars headed to the third period badly outshot and trailing by two goals, but the team refused to quit. Dylan Esau cut the margin to one with a goal at 9:05, Sam Witt assisting.
With 1:33 left on the clock Ryland McNinch fired his 12th of the season from Jordan Grill and Keiton Klein, to force overtime with the score tied at 4-4.
Three-on-three overtime solved nothing, forcing a shootout. In that session, Southgate and Klein scored for the North Stars while Estevan's Eric Pearce got the only marker for the Bruins, for a 5-4 final score for the North Stars.
Final shots favoured Estevan 47-38 but Kenyon made 17 saves in regulation and overtime, and two more in the shootout to secure the win.
The result marked a milestone for North Stars head coach and general manager Brayden Klimosko: it marked his 100th win as head coach with the club.
Next on the North Stars schedule is another home game Friday night against the Melville Millionaires. The Bruins are in Kindersley Wednesday night.