In their first two games of the season, the Norman Northstars traded punches with the Brandon Wheat Kings through the early stages before succumbing to the visitors’ knockout blows en route to 9-4 and 6-3 losses.
Brandon Switzer did much of the damage for the Wheat Kings on both nights, scoring once and setting up three more goals in the season opener on Oct. 5, then potting a hat trick the following night. Much of his damage was done on the power play, as he scored his only goal of Friday’s game with Brandon enjoying a man advantage and had all three on the power play Saturday, when the Wheat Kings went four for 10 with the man advantage. His final goal on Oct. 6, which proved to be the game-winner, came with just two seconds left in the second period and the North Stars trailing 3-2 at the time.
Tyrel Charlton had the opening goals of the game for the Northstars in both games of the homestand, tipping a pass from Brendan Barron at the edge of the crease less than five minutes into Friday’s game to even the score 1-1 after Tyler Coulter scored on the power play in the first minute of the game following Barron being penalized just 15 seconds after opening whistle. Charlton played less than three minutes more of the game before being ejected fro a check from behind with 12:53 left in the opening frame. Saturday’s goal came on a similar play, as he poked in a loose puck in the crease to make the game 1-1 less than three minutes after Duncan Campbell opened the scoring for the Wheat Kings with a high scot from the slot past Northstars’ netminder Aaron Vallance with a delayed penalty coming up against the home team.
The season opener went to the first intermission tied 3-3. Trent Laycock gave the Northstars a lead with a power play goal 5:01 before the end of the period but Switzer set up Brett Kitt for a pair of goals 30 seconds apart to give Brandon a 3-2 lead. The Wheat Kings nearly took that lead into the second period but a long shot by Boyd Langan beat Brandon goaltender Justin Holder less than a second before the final buzzer to deadlock the score.
Jordan Valentino restored the Northstars lead early in the second period when he fired a shot from the blueline past Holder, but the Wheat Kings pulled even 59 seconds afterwards when Tyler Coulter picked up a rebound of a wide shot off the back boards and slid it into the net behind Vallance, who had lost sight of the puck. From there, the offence was all Brandon, as they scored two more in the second period – from Jesse Lawrence and Switzer – and three in the third, from Carter McMurdo, Coltyn Bates and Duncan Campbell.
The Northstars never led the following night, as Switzer scored back-to-back power play markers in the first period to put Brandon up by two before Barron cut the lead to one when he converted from the top off the crease after Tanner Hepp slid the puck to him while lying stomach-down on the ice.
Following Switzer’s goal to end the second period, Evan Akkerman got the Northstars within one before the midway point of the third period, putting home a pass from Lodie Ipeelie. Just 14 seconds later, Coulter doubled the lead, beating Vallance on a backhander. Jordy Stallard finished the scoring for the Wheat Kings, scoring on the power play with 5:18 left in the game.
Final shots were 41-27 for Brandon on Saturday and 42-42 the previous night. The Northstars gave up six power play goals on 20 attempts over the two games while only scoring two in 18 chances with the man advantage.
Vallance made 35 saves on Saturday and 33 the previous night.
The Northstars schedule resumes next Friday when they host the Winnipeg Wild for the first of two games. The Wild opened their season with a 7-2 win over the Central Plains Capitals on Sunday.