The road was not kind to the Norman Northstars Jan. 18-20, as they suffered three straight losses.
The team’s offence scored a respectable four goals per game over the course of the trip. Unfortunately that was at least three goals fewer than they proved to need to earn any points, and they are once again in sole possession of last place in the 13-team Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League standings.
A third period meltdown resulted in a 7-4 loss to the Interlake Lightning to start off the trip Jan. 18. Greg Paseschnikoff and Kai Studler scored power play goals in the final 14 minutes of play, with Studler netting two, while William Faraci, Cody McMillan and Austin Adair scored at even strength. All those goals came after Jamie Valentino had given the Northstars a 4-1 lead four minutes into the final frame. Adair scored the first and last goals of the game, having opened the scoring for the Lightning midway through the opening period. For the next 34 minutes all the offence came from the Northstars, who got power play goals from Henry Muchikekwanape in the first period and Hunter Rambow in the second, alongside an even strength goal by Keistin Saunders in the middle frame.
Braedin Melsted took the loss in net, making 35 saves. The Northstars outshot Interlake 42-41 in the game but allowed a shot a minute in the final period, when they were outshot 20-16.
A strong second period gave the Northstars a 4-3 lead over the Winnipeg Bruins heading into the third period Jan. 19 but four Bruins goals in the last half of the final frame led to a second straight 7-4 defeat for the Northstars.
Nathaniel Hinds, Luc Masse and Jess Tkach scored even-strength goals in the third period for the Bruins, with Brayden Clark adding a shorthanded empty-netter. Clark and Hinds had given Winnipeg a 2-0 lead with first period goals but the Northstars came out gunning after the intermission. Rambow and Muchickekwanape each scored a pair for the Northstars in the second period, all but the first one by Rambow at even strength, before Gavin Lundle trimmed their lead to a single goal with a power play marker in the final minute of the period. Rylan Potkonjak made 43 saves in a valiant losing effort as his team was outshot 49-32.
The final game of the road trip was essentially over by the first intermission, with the Eastman Selects’ Kieran Thiessen scoring twice in the game’s first 35 seconds and Hunter Sexton, Andrew Blocker and Cabrel LaBossiere adding singles after Rambow cut the 2-0 lead in half. Muchikekwanape’s power play goal was the Northstars’ only offence of the second period, while Thiessen completed his hat trick and Hudson Chamberlin and Josh Beauchemin had goals for the Selects to give them an 8-2 lead heading into the third. Conrad Solypa, Chamberlin, Kade Runke, LaBossiere and Thiessen had goals for Eastman in the third period, while Kadin Ross and Muchikekwanape replied for the Northstars. Melsted made 20 saves as the Selects outshot the Northstars 33-30.
The Northstars are now one point behind the 12th-place Parkland Rangers, who earned a point with an overtime loss Jan. 19.
The Northstars return to home ice Jan. 26-27 to take on the Yellowhead Chiefs.