The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings entered Friday night's game having won four of their last five. Their opponents, the Battlefords North Stars, had sported the exact same record. The kicker: the losses came against each other. Weyburn won the game on October 26th by a score of 10-5, while the North Stars won the rematch 9-2 on October 28th.
The game was the first of two to be played this weekend at the Access Communications Centre in North Battleford, where the Red Wings had stunned the hockey world with a win in game one of the SJHL quarterfinals last season. They would be looking for similar success in their first visit to the Battlefords this season.
Unlike their first two games of the season, though, the two teams would combine for less than 10 goals, with the North Stars picking up a 4-3 win in a shootout.
The North Stars would be the first to get on the board when Rylan Williams beat Dazza Mitchell 3:15 into the first period. Then, Hunter Burgeson made it 2-0 with 6:00 to play in the first.
The captain of the Red Wings, Max Monette, wasn't about to let the North Stars take and hold a commanding lead, though. With 45 seconds remaining in the opening period, he potted his eighth goal of the season on the power play. He was assisted by Tyler Teasdale and Jerome Maharaj on the marker.
The momentum from the goal carried over to the second period. Just 1:46 in, Liam Fitzgerald put the puck past Justen Maric to even the score up. Blake Betson and Carter Briltz had the helpers on the tally.
The North Stars would regain the lead just under three minutes later. At the 4:36 mark, Riley Girod beat Mitchell to make it 3-2 for the home side, and the score would hold for the remainder of the period.
Just before the halfway mark of the third period, the Red Wings would even the score up as the captain once again would score a goal. Monette took a feed from Maharaj on a 3-on-2 at the 8:43 mark of the third. The other assist on the goal was credited to veteran blueliner Nick Kovacs.
The momentum from the game-tying goal saw the Red Wings take over the period, outshooting the Battlefords for the first 15 minutes of the period, with Jacob Visentini having two excellent chances that Maric was able to turn away.
With 69 seconds left in the third period, the Red Wings would get a great opportunity to take the lead, when North Stars forward Bradley Blake was called for tripping. While they weren't able to capitalize in regulation, they did get another chance at the start of overtime with 51 seconds of the power play carrying over. The North Stars, however, had other plans and managed to keep the Red Wings off the board with the man advantage.
Neither team would be able to solve the goaltenders in the extra period, meaning the game went to a shootout.
The first shooter for the North Stars was Ben Portner, who was stopped by Mitchell. The Red Wings sent out Elijah Anderson as their first shooter, and he would beat Maric to give Weyburn the edge in the shootout.
Kian Bell would go next for the North Stars, and while he beat Mitchell, he would hit the post. Jerome Maharaj followed up for the Red Wings, and he too would hit the post.
The third shooter for the North Stars, Brad Blake, needed to score in order to keep the North Stars alive. He would get past Mitchell with a forehand shot, putting the pressure on Monette, the third shooter for Weyburn. Maric would make the save on Monette, sending the shootout to an extra round.
Jackson Allan, the fourth shooter for the Battlefords, would get the puck past Mitchell, meaning Visentini would need to score to keep the shootout alive, Maric, though, made the stop to give the North Stars the win.
Despite the loss, the Red Wings held on to first place in the Viterra Division, keeping a two-point lead over the Melville Millionaires and Estevan Bruins who are tied for second with 18 points.
The Wings will be back on the ice Saturday night when they play the North Stars in North Battleford for the second night in a row. Catch all the action on Great Plains Ford Red Wing Radio, BIG 106, starting with the pregame show at 7:15 p.m.