By Craig Stein
BOTH CLUBS HALFWAY TO MISSION 12 W
The Battlefords North Stars and Nipawin Hawks are both halfway to the 12 wins necessary to win the SJHL Canalta Cup, as they both hold 2-0 leads in their respective Semi-Final series’ after wins on Saturday night. The two teams are also both without a post season loss at this point.
The North Stars gave Joel Gryzbowski the start in Game 2 on Saturday, his second of the playoffs after he picked up a “no decision” in Game 3 in the Weyburn series when he allowed 3 goals on 16 shots before Taryn Kotchorek shut the door the rest of the way.
On Saturday, Gryzbowski went start to finish, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced leading the Stars to a 5-1 win over Estevan, and a 2-0 series lead as they get set to head on the road next week.
The Stars ran out to a 4-1 lead less than 15 minutes into the game, and their powerplay led the charge, scoring on 2 of their first 3 chances, finishing the night 3/9. Keaton Holinaty and Layne Young each had a goal and an assist while Ben Allen added his league-leading 7th of the playoffs, and Logan Nachtegaele and Connor Logan also hit the net.
Kaelan Holt scored for the Bruins, cutting the Stars’ lead to 2-1 at the time, but Nachtegaele restored the multi-goal edge just 11 seconds later.
Just like last round against Weyburn, the Stars will play four games in five nights, as the series shifts to Estevan for Games 3 & 4 on Monday and Tuesday.
For a second straight night, Grant Baetsen scored the game winning goal and the Nipawin Hawks edged the Flin Flon Bombers by a goal, this time 3-2, as the Hawks grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
In Friday’s opener, Baetsen scored in the dying minutes to secure the win, while on Saturday, he made it 3-0 in the second period and they needed it, as the Bombers came back with a pair of third period tallies to make it close.
Josh Bly (1g-1a) and Brandan Arnold also scored and Eric Bolden added a pair of assists.
Kristian Stead was looking for his first shutout of these playoffs, and was perfect through 2+ periods, before Flin Flon’s Eric Sinclair and Kristian St. Onge got the Bombers on the board. Stead finished with 34/36 saves, improving to 6-0, 1.67 GAA, .951% and has allowed three goals or less in all six starts, two or less five times.
The Hawks head back to Flin Flon for Game 3 on Tuesday, before hosting Game 4 on Wednesday.