The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings came into Saturday night’s game with the momentum of taking game one of their best-of-seven quarterfinal series with the Battlefords North Stars. This momentum would translate to Weyburn scoring the first goal of the game. A four-goal performance from Kian Bell, though, would help the North Stars rally to take the second game 5-2, even the series up at a game each.
Weyburn opened the scoring at the 9:10 mark of the first period when Blake Norris scored his first goal of the playoffs on the power play. The goal would be assisted by Ty Mason and Jackson Hassman. Then, the Red Wings would find themselves having to kill off a five-minute major penalty.
Captain Matthew Reidy was given the major for charging for an awkward hit on Battlefords’ Holden Doell. The resulting skirmish after the hit would see Reidy sent to the dressing room, with Weyburn’s Lucas Jeffreys and Battlefords’ Tanner Gold given a ten-minute misconduct each. Another minor was given to North Stars’ blue liner Alex Izyk for roughing.
“That’s a big hard hit, and Doell got his toes up ice and Reidy finished the check maybe a little bit outside the 90 as they say, but I have a hard time thinking it’s a five-minute major, but you know what, the refs are told to err on the side of caution and that’s what they did,” head coach Cody Mapes said in reaction to the hit and the penalty.
Another penalty for interference against Nolan Henderson would give the Battlefords a two-man advantage as the minor penalty to Izyk expired, and Bell would score to even things up with 8:08 remaining in the first. His goal was assisted by Doell and Jake Southgate.
Then the North Stars took the lead with 2:26 remaining as Bell scored his second of the game, and third of the playoffs. He was assisted on the goal by Zane Florence and Doell.
“We’ve got to find a way to be better in those first periods, and I think that’s pretty standard when you’re on the road, feeling things out a bit,” added Mapes. “The second and third period, we had chances tonight, and I don’t know what the shots ended up but they were pretty even in the second and third period, and I think the scoring chances were probably fairly similar.”
In the second period, the North Stars would score the lone goal of the period, as Bell completed the hat trick with 5:06 remaining. His goal was unassisted and put the Battlefords up 3-1.
Just 98 seconds into the third period, Nolan Henderson would pull the Red Wings within one, as he scored a power play goal on a cannon of a slapshot from the point. His goal was assisted by Matteo Turrin, and Weyburn was within one.
At the 3:55 mark of the third, though, Steven Kesslering would restore the lead to two goals. His even-strength marker was assisted by Bradley Blake and Izyk. An empty-net goal with 2:06 remaining from Bell would close out the scoring of the game.
The Red Wings have now scored four power play goals against the North Stars, with a conversion rate of 30.7 percent through the first two games of the series.
“I think we’ve had a little more urgency, there’s been a little more bite to our power play,” Mapes said after the game. “I guess guys are a little more hungry and I think it’s kind of translated here to some good results, but like I said, it’s great to have that but we’ve got to find a way to score five on five or this series won’t be very long.”
The two teams will now come to Weyburn for games three and four at Crescent Point Place Tuesday and Wednesday before the series returns to the Battlefords for game five. Having two games at home for the Red Wings comes with some confidence for Weyburn, according to Mapes.
“If we can find a way to take care of business at home, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Mapes pointed out. “Battlefords beat us twice in our own rink this year, and quite handily one time, so we can’t be too confident here – I think we’ve got a little bit of comfort going home but we can’t be relying on that, and that we’re ready to go.”
The puck drops on game three at 7:00 p.m. You will also be able to catch all the action on Red Wing Radio BIG 106, starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.