By Craig Stein
STARS, BOMBERS, BRUINS THREATEN TO MOVE UP
The Battlefords North Stars have spent much of this season with a well-above .500 record, but usually in third place in the highly-competitive Global Ag Risk Solutions Division.
However the Stars have gone on a nice run, with just one regulation loss in their last 10 games, and they won their third straight on Friday, a crucial 3-1 win in Kindersley, to get to within a point of the division-leading Klippers.
Joel Gryzbowski stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced in goal for the North Stars (23-10-4-4), while Quinton Loon-Stewardson (1g-1a), Matthias Urbanski and Braydon Buziak did the scoring.
Noah Bankowski scored and Justen Close made 40/43 saves for the Klippers (25-11-3-2).
The Klippers and Stars meet again on Tuesday.
The Estevan Bruins continue to slowly but surely make up ground on the Yorkton Terriers in the race for the Viterra Division crown. The Bruins (20-20-2-1) got back to .500 Friday with a 5-2 win in Weyburn.
TJ Irey and Bryce Platt led the way, each with a goal and two assists. Turner Ripplinger (1g-1a), Will Koop and Michael McChesney rounded out the scoring and Kadin Kilpatrick made 20/22 stops.
The Red Wings (14-23-3-0) are still one point shy of a playoff spot. Defenseman Eric Soar scored both Weyburn goals, both on the powerplay.
The Bruins were helped out on the out of town scoreboard as the Notre Dame Hounds doubled up Yorkton 4-2 in Wilcox.
After a strong showing at the Showcase, Riley Kohonick made 22/24 saves to pick up the win. Jared Hamm had a goal and an assist offensively while Curtis Wiebe, Cole Stevenson and Jarrett Penner picked up the other goals for the Hounds (18-16-3-4).
Notre Dame is tied for 8th overall with Estevan.
The Terriers (22-18-1-0) are now just two points up on Estevan for the Viterra lead but still hold two games in hand. Quinten Hobbs and Kishaun Gervais scored for Yorkton on Friday.
The Flin Flon Bombers made it five straight wins on Friday as they kicked off a 3-in-3 road trip in Melville with a 5-2 victory, putting them back into a top six spot for the first time in a while, as they leap a point ahead of Humboldt, and just two behind both Melfort and Battlefords who sit tied for 4th in what’s becoming a logjam in the middle.
The Bombers (25-13-0-2) also have three games in hand on Humboldt, and one on the Mustangs and Stars, and they’ll have a chance to gain more ground this weekend as they’re in Yorkton Saturday and back to Melville again on Sunday.
Nate Hooper scored a pair of goals, his 19th and 20th on Friday, while Daylan Marchi, Billy Klymchuk and Calvon Boots added one each. Gabriel Waked made 32/34 saves in the win.
Aidan Steinke opened the scoring for the Millionaires (13-23-3-3), and Jacob Bourchier added one in the third period. Melville is now winless in six (0-4-1-1), still one point up on Weyburn for 10th.
The La Ronge Ice Wolves erased a 2-0 third period deficit against the league-leading Nipawin Hawks, but the Hawks still grabbed two points, edging the Wolves 3-2 in a shootout.
Michael Makarenko opened the scoring with his first SJHL goal late in the first period, and Arik Breton extended it to 2-0 early in the second and it stayed that way for a while.
La Ronge goalie Jordan Frey made 55/57 saves on the night and didn’t allow anything else by him until the shootout, and gave his club time to claw back in the third as Jake Gudjonson and Jordan Mish got the Ice Wolves (10-30-1-1) back on even terms.
Declan Hobbs made 19/21 saves for the Hawks (29-12-1-1) and was a perfect 5/5 in the shootout. Austen Flaman scored the only shootout goal in the fifth round.
Noah Giesbrecht stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced in his debut with the Melfort Mustangs, as they defeated the visiting Humboldt Broncos 5-2. Giesbrecht was acquired from OCN of the MJHL at the trade deadline.
Colin Schmidt, Carson Albrecht and Tanner Zentner all had a goal and an assist for the Mustangs (26-13-2-0) with Boedy Donald and George King (first SJHL goal for the former Regina Pat) also hit the scoresheet. The win keeps Melfort in a tie for fourth with Battlefords, and still six back of Nipawin for the Sherwood lead with a pair of games in hand.
Humboldt (24-16-2-1) is now out of a top six spot for the first time since they lost on opening night. They’re now 7th, one point back of Flin Flon. Drew Warkentine scored his 16th of the season for Humboldt, opening the scoring in the first period. Mitch Zambon added one in the second to tie it at two, before the Mustangs scored three unanswered.
The Broncos & Mustangs, Hawks & Ice Wolves, and Wings & Bruins all finish off home-and-home series’ on Saturday. Flin Flon continues their trip in Yorkton while Battlefords and Notre Dame meet in Gull Lake. Melville and Kindersley get Saturday night off.