After nearly a full week off, the Battlefords North Stars set out for game one of another back-to-back set this weekend with Friday’s game in Kindersley against the division-rival Klippers.
The North Stars are 22-10-8 through their first 40 games, and with a 6-2-2 record over their last 10 outings, sit second in the Global Ag. Risk Solutions Division with 52 points on the year.
Just three points ahead of the Battlefords are the Kindersley Klippers. The Klippers are 25-10-5 through 40 games, having also gone 6-2-2 over their last 10.
Friday night will mark the seventh meeting of the season-series between the North Stars and Klippers, with the Stars holding a 2-2-2 record against Kindersley so far.
Power play scoring and offence will be at a premium with each team ranking within the top four on the penalty kill, and top three in goals against on the year.
Offensively, the North Stars are led by MacGregor Sinclair who has 18 goals and 46 points in 39 games. Sinclair, the defending SJHL Player of the Week, is coming off back-to-back performances that saw the forward score four goals and seven points in two games.
Sinclair will be joined by Owen Lamb and Braydon Buziak on the top line. Lamb is tied with Sinclair for the team-lead in goals with 18 on the campaign, while Buziak hit double digits as well, with 10.
On line two, Matthias Urbanski will be flanked by Elijah Loon-Stewardson and Quintin Loon-Stewardson. In two games together, the trio contributed offensively with a goal in each game; one apiece for each of the Loon-Stewardson’s. Urbanski meanwhile, ranks third in goals (16) and second in points (38) on the team.
Ryan Gil on line three with Dylan Esau and Brett Gammer, provides the team with spark and additional scoring touch three lines deep. All three players hold the ability to win faceoffs and handle the puck for long stretches, so versatility and puck possession is the name of the game for the third unit.
Line four will see Kaden Boser draw back into the lineup tonight, suiting up on the fourth line with veterans Dayton Heino and Regan Doig. The conglomerate brings size and edge to the forward group, with a penchant for setting up shop on the offensive cycle game.
The Klippers, much like the North Stars, bring grit and depth of scoring throughout their lineup.
Kyle Bosch leads the Klippers with 34 points in 39 games played, while Austin Nault, Josh Fletcher, Caden Benson and Cameron Shorrock round out the top five, with between 23 and 30 points each. With the Kindersley offence spread throughout the top three lines, the Stars’ backend will need to be prepared for a battle at all times.
Cody Spagrud leads the Stars’ blue line, and ranks fifth in defenceman production, in both goals (eight), and points (28) heading into action. The recently-turned 21-year-old was named runner-up for SJHL Defenceman of the Week honors, coming off a three-point weekend last weekend.
Spagrud will be joined once again by Red Deer Hill, Sask., product Tanner Scott on the team’s top pair. Scott has established a real niche in his time alongside the captain, both at even strength and on the penalty kill, bringing fearlessness in his approach to the game, with an aptitude for blocking shots.
Matthew Fletcher and Seth Summers provide stability and chemistry on pair two, showcasing sound positioning with a fluent skating stride. The pair use their sticks well to break up plays and can start an offensive attack in seconds flat off a turnover using precision passing to create opportunities, quickly transitioning from defence to offence.
Noah Form (6’1, 181) and Garrett Johnson (6’3", 185 lbs) on the third-tandem bring size and long reach to the fold, along with excellent mobility for a pair of bigger bodies.
Between the pipes is where the greatest matchup of the night is anticipated.
Goaltender Joel Grzybowski is expected to get the start tonight for the Stars.
Grzybowski is a workhorse this season, as the start will mark a league-high 32nd of the season for the goaltender. The 19-year-old sits third in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage amongst goalies with at least 20 games played.
For the Klippers, 20-year-old veteran, Justen Close holds a 2.03 goals-against average and .931 save percentage, each top-two amongst starting goalies.
Fans can catch all of tonight’s action on 1050 CJNB beginning with the pregame show at 7:15 p.m. and puck drop to follow at 7:30 p.m.
North Stars lineup at a glance
B. Buziak, M. Sinclair, O. Lamb
Q. Loon-Stewardson, M. Urbanski, E. Loon-Stewardson
R. Gil, D. Esau, B. Gammer
K. Boser, D. Heino, R. Doig
T. Scott, C. Spagrud
S. Summers, M. Fletcher
N. Form, G. Johnson
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