The Battlefords North Stars are the Canalta Cup champions. The team completed their sweep of the Flin Flon Bombers Wednesday night, picking up a 6-5 win in Flin Flon. With the win, the Stars captured their first league title in 17 years.
The back and forth game was one of the closest of the playoffs for the North Stars, and one of the few times this post-season where they didn’t have a lead during a game.
The Battlefords opened the scoring in the 1st period, when Troy Gerein notched his fourth of the playoffs. The Bombers quickly replied to even it up, as Kristian St. Onge scored, assisted by Cory Thomas and Greyson Reitmeier. The Battlefords didn’t quit, though, as Bryce Hall restored the lead, with Keaton Holinaty credited with the assist. Just three seconds were left on the clock in the period, though, when Flin Flon scored. Tyler Nyman found the twine behind Joel Grzybowski to even things up. This would spell the end of the night for Grzybowski, who was replaced by Taron Kotchorek for the star of the second period.
Flin Flon would be the first to score in the second period, as Troy Williams picked up his first tally of the playoffs. It was quickly followed by a power play goal from Nick Shumlanski, with Rylee Zimmer and Eric Sinclair assisting. Just five minutes into the period, and the Bombers had a 4-2 lead.
Just three minutes later, the North Stars would rally back as they looked to close out the series. Reed Delainey, assisted by Jared Blaquiere and Connor Logan, scored his sixth of the playoffs. Layne Young then stepped up and scored his eighth of the playoffs with 90 seconds left on the clock in the period. Kendall Fransoo and Coby Downs assisted.
In the third period, Young scored his second of the game at the 3:26 mark, giving the North Stars the lead. Then, with 7:42 remaining, Downs scored what would prove to be the game-winning, and championship winning, goal. His fourth of the playoffs was assisted by Young and Ben Allen. The Bombers would push to try to close the two goal gap, and St. Onge gave a bit of hope to the Stars with his second of the game, but Kotchorek would close the door, holding the Bombers off for the Stars to pick up the win.
The win for the North Stars is the first since the 1999-2000 season, when they rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the Weyburn Red Wings to capture the title in seven games. It also marks the first time in 35 years a team has gone undefeated through the SJHL playoffs. The last team to pull that off was the Prince Albert Raiders in 1982.
The Battlefords will now prepare for the Western Canada Cup, which begins April 29th in Penticton. The top two teams from the tournament advance to the RBC Cup in Cobourg, Ontario.