The Battlefords North Stars have won three-straight games heading into Saturday as the team travels to Gull Lake to take on the Division-rival Notre Dame Hounds.
Although not technically a “home game,” Gull Lake is the hometown of North Stars’ captain, defenseman Cody Spagrud.
“I think there will be lots of people there [cheering me on],” Spagrud said when asked how big he anticipates his personal cheering section to be. “I don’t think I can afford all those tickets, so hopefully they pay for them themselves,” he added with a laugh.
The North Stars will enter action Saturday night with a 23-10-8 record through their first 40 games. With 52 points, the Stars sit second in the Global Ag. Risk Solutions Division, just a single point back of Kindersley for top spot.
The Notre Dame Hounds, also of the Global Ag. Risk Solutions Division, are 18-16-7 over their first 41 games. With 43 points, the Hounds sit eight points back of Humboldt for third in the division.
Battlefords’ center MacGregor Sinclair leads the North Stars in scoring with 18 goals, 28 assists and 46 points on the season. Hounds’ winger Marshall Wilton, meanwhile, leads Notre Dame with 14 goals, 28 assists and 42 points.
Sinclair will be joined by Owen Lamb and Braydon Buziak once again on the Stars’ top line.
Buziak is coming off a performance that saw the forward score in the final 20 seconds of the third last night, to give his team the insurance marker they desperately needed in securing victory over the Klippers. Lamb, meanwhile is tied with Sinclair for the team-lead with 18 goals on the season.
Matthias Urbanski featured between Elijah Loon-Stewardson and Quintin Loon-Stewardson bring speed and creativity to the fold, as the trio have been possibly the team’s best line over the last three games since coming together.
Over the three games, the line has combined for eight points, with the unit providing at least a single goal in each contest, and four goals overall.
Line three, assembled just last game, sees Dylan Esau take the pivot position, with Ryan Gil and Brett Gammer on his wings. Esau picked up the primary assist on Quintin Loon-Stewardson’s ninth of the year last night, and along with the magical playmaking of Gil, and boundless drive of Gammer, should be a threat again tonight to generate offense for his team.
Line four will be a gametime decision, with three of Dayton Heino, Kaden Boser, Regan Doig and Austin Becker making up the final unit.
On the blue line, Cody Spagrud, Seth Summers, Matthew Fletcher and Noah Form, make up the top four on defense. Garrett Johnson on the third pair will be joined by one of Ryan Granville, Austin Shumanski or Tanner Scott.
Facing a good mix of size from the likes of Notre Dame’s Marshall Wilton, and Cole Stevenson, and shiftiness from smaller players like Hounds’ captain, Jared Hamm and centerman, Jakob Breault, the North Stars’ defenders will need to use a variety of skills against the versatile Hounds’ attack.
In goal, Joel Grzybowski will get the night off, following a 30-stop performance against the Klippers Friday, as Chad Duran will get the nod.
Since joining the North Stars, Duran has been nothing short of superb, posting a 1.46 goals against average, and .943 save percentage through his first four starts with the team.
Fans can catch all the action from Gull Lake on 1050 CJNB beginning with the pregame show at 7:15 p.m. with 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
TBD: K. Boser/D. Heino/R. Doig/A. Becker
S. Summers, C. Spagrud
N. Form, M. Fletcher
G. Johnson, TBD: Granville/Shumanski/Scott
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