NORTH BATTLEFORD - The Battlefords North Stars ended up winning a crucial matchup with the Flin Flon Bombers at the Access Communications Centre Friday night.
The North Stars won 4-1 over the Bombers, a result that secured home-ice advantage for the North Stars in the opening round of the SJHL playoffs.
The contest marked the regular season home finale for the North Stars and the finale overall for the Bombers. It was also a milestone night for North Stars captain Ryland McNinch who marked his 100th game.
The game also looked to be a likely playoff preview between the two clubs, though the North Stars still stood a chance of catching Melfort for third place overall by season's end. The North Stars can pass the Mustangs with wins in their upcoming games on the road versus Kindersley and Notre Dame.
Game Report: North Stars - Bombers, March 11
The North Stars opened the scoring with a power play goal at the 9:19 mark of period one. Jake Southgate scored his 23rd of the season from Keiton Klein for a 1-0 lead.
But just 48 seconds later, Jaeden Mercier replied with an even strength goal, Jacob Vockler assisting, to tie it at 1-1.
At the 16:16 mark, Bradley Blake restored the North Stars lead with his sixth of the season from Evan Waldie, and that would be all the scoring through one. Shots favoured North Stars 15-11 through the first period.
There was no scoring in a tough and chippy second period, but in the third period Wilson Steele scored his third of the season from Blake at 2:39 to extend the lead to two goals.
At the 8:44 mark, Klein roofed it on Bombers goaltender Cal Schell, scoring his eighth of the season from Southgate and Zane Florence, for a three-goal cushion.
The tension and chippiness between the two clubs ratcheted up throughout the night, especially after the North Stars' Matthew Henry took a boarding penalty in period two. Finally, with 8:26 left in the third period, tempers boiled over.
Henry and the Bombers' Matt Raymond engaged in a big scrap at centre ice, much to the delight of the crowd, and left the ice with fighting and game misconduct penalties.
Austin Schwab got the win in net for the North Stars, who outshot the Bombers 49-34. Next up for the North Stars is a game in Kindersley Saturday March 12 and in Wilcox against Notre Dame March 14; meanwhile the Bombers will wait to see who their playoff opponent will be.