The under-18 AAA Norman Northstars dropped their first two home games of the year to the Central Plain Capitals Oct. 5-6, falling 7-2 Saturday evening and 6-1 the following afternoon.
The Northstars opened the scoring seven minutes into the second game, after Central Plains goalie Rhett Boschman missed a shoot-in and Derek Koivisto picked up the rebound off the back boards and passed the puck across the slot to Ian Snooks. The lead stood up for less than four minutes before Ryan Botterill tied the game 1-1. Brennan Cook scored 11 seconds later to give the Capitals a one-goal lead.
The Northstars flirted with danger by taking multiple penalties through the second period, including a six-minute man disadvantage following a melee in the Central Plains zone and finally got stung with 3:31 left in the period and 21 seconds left in a penalty when Botterill scored his second of the game to give the Capitals a two-goal lead.
Much like the previous night, the Northstars ran out of gas in the third, giving up goals to Sean Neufeld, Cameron Trimble and Jackson Wilson for their second five-goal loss in as many days. Linden Gamblin made 18 saves in the final 40 minutes after taking over for Odin Church, who stopped two of 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes.
The Northstars kept pace with the Capitals through the first two periods of the Oct. 5 matchup, with Trimble getting the game’s first goal 12:32 into the contest before Northstars captain Jordan Pfoh tied it up less than 90 second later on a power play. Botterill scored with the man advantage early in the second to restore Central Plains’ lead but Ryan Monias tied it up again on a Northstars power play 10 minutes later.
The Capitals' offence exploded for five goals in the final frame, with Botterill and Trimble each getting their second tallies of the game, while Carson Buydens, Riley Borody and Tyler Gibson added singles. All of the Central Plains goals in the last 20 minutes came with the teams at even strength.
Gamblin made 28 saves in net for the Northstars, who were outshot 35-22 in the game.
The home losses were the fourth and fifth straight for the Northstars, who opened the season with a three-game road trip.
They fell 10-1 to the Winnipeg Wild in their first game Sept. 27, in which they trailed for most of the contest. Winnipeg’s Rory Neil opened the scoring and Clark Scaddan tied it up with about five minutes left in the first period but Winnipeg scored three more times before the intermission, five times in the second period and once in the third.
Gamblin stopped 48 shots in that game, which saw the Wild outshoot the Northstars 58-13.
Snooks and Albert Sinclair scored for the Northstars in their second game, a 6-2 loss to the Pembina Valley Hawks Sept. 28. Sinclair’s tally made it a 2-2 game 1:35 into the third period but the Hawks quickly regained the lead and then scored three more times in the last 12 minutes of play.
Odin Church made 53 saves for the Northstars in the game, which saw Pembina Valley record 58 shots compared to 37 for the Northstars.
The Hawks were more than the Northstars could handle in their second straight matchup Sept. 29, building up a 3-1 lead in the first, scoring once more in the second and then piling on with five more goals in the third period. Blake Lahonen had the only goal for the Northstars, who were outshot 54-42, with Church making 45 saves in the loss.
The Northstars are at home again next weekend, taking on the Yellowhead Chiefs at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena Oct. 12-13.