First back-to-back wins push Northstars out of last place on season’s final weekend

The Norman Northstars finished the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League season on a high note at home Feb. 23-24, beating the Interlake Lightning twice for their only back-to-back wins of the season and climbing out of last place in the process.

The Northstars earned their seventh win of the season by tying up the game late and then going on to win 5-4 on a shootout goal by Henry Muchikekwanape Feb. 23. Keistin Saunders scored with a little over four minutes remaining in the third period to tie the game 4-4. The Northstars never led until Muchikekwanape was the only one of six shooters to score in the shootout.

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Matthew Vandel put the Lightning on the board early in the first period before Branden Hill scored on a Northstars’ power play to tie the score 1-1. Austin Adair then got the Lightning’s second less than 90 seconds before the first intermission.

Muchikekwanape tied the game near the midway point of the second period before Emmitt Farebrother put Interlake up 3-2. Muchikekwanape once again tied the game less than a minute later but William Faraci responded 43 seconds later to put the Lightning up 4-3.

Braedin Melsted made 32 saves to get the win while Josh Bond stopped 44 shots in a losing effort for the Lightning.

The Northstars outscored the Lightning 5-2 in the final period of their season Feb. 24 for a 9-5 victory. Muchikekwanape, Jamie Valentino and Kadin Ross each had one goal in the final 20 minutes while Hunter Rambow added a pair. Vandel and Cody McMillan had Interlake’s goals.

The Lightning had established a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Adair and Chase Barkley, but Ross and Saunders both scored in the last three minutes to tie the score 2-2.

Valentino’s first of the game made it 3-2 early in the second period before Carl Ingalls scored shorthanded six seconds later to tie the game once again. The Northstars took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with eight minutes left in the middle frame when Jordan Pfoh, who finished the game with six assists, connected on a power play.

Bond made 37 saves for Interlake in the loss while Rylan Potkonjak stopped 30 Lightning shots for his team’s eighth win of the season.

Sunday’s victory, combined with the Winnipeg Thrashers beating the Parkland Rangers 12-2, put the Northstars into 12th place in the 13-team league with a record of eight wins and 40 losses, with two of the losses in overtime for 18 points. Parkland also finished the season with 18 points, but fell into last place because they had only seven wins along with 41 losses, four of them in overtime.

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