Northstars’ offence starts season slowly on winless three-game road trip

The Norman Northstars began the 2018-19 Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League season Sept. 28 but their offence had a bit of a delayed start. 

The team was shut out in its first two contests – 6-0 by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the season opener and 3-0 by the Yellowhead Chiefs on Saturday – before Jamie Valentino finally got the first goal of the season in a 5-2 loss to the Parkland Rangers Sept. 30.

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The Northstars trailed for all but 33 seconds of their first game after Calder Anderson scored for Brandon in the opening minute. Troy Hamilton added a second goal before five minutes had elapsed, with Brady Frattinger scoring in the second period. Nolan Ritchie, Mitch Thiessen and Mason Kaspick had the Wheat Kings goals in the third. All of  Brandon’s tallies came at even strength.

Shots were 47-29 in the game and Braedin Melsted recorded his first loss of the season while Dawson Green of the Wheat Kings recorded the shutout.

The Northstars held the Chiefs scoreless for more than half the game Sept. 29 but a pair of Colbys – Colby Jospeh and Colby Wotton, twice – scored in a span of just over five minutes in the latter half of the second period to account for all of the game’s offence. For the second night in a row, all of the Northstar’s opponents goals were recorded with the teams at even strength.

Rylan Potkonjak made 40 saves in the Northstars’ net in the loss, while Tresor Wotton stopped 20 shots to record the shutout for the Chiefs.

The Northstars were even or within a goal for the first two periods of their third game of the season Sunday, with Valentino scoring the team’s first goal of the season about four minutes after Hunter Glover gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded tally. The score remained tied until Isaiah Weedon scored with 2:37 left in the second period. Parkland extended the lead to three goals when D.J. Taylor-Luke scored once at even strength and once on the power play in the first three minutes of the final frame. The Northstars' Richard Ducharme got a power play goal before the midway point of the third to reduce the lead to two but Jaeger Lapointe restored the three-goal cushion for Parkland with just over eight minutes to play.

Potkonjak made 29 saves for the Northstars in the loss, as they were outshot 43-34. Zach Grouette got the win in net for the Rangers.

The Northstars play their home opener against the Winnipeg Bruins at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena Oct. 6, with a rematch the following afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

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