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Williams Lake Stampeders stomp North Stars in season opener

Cariboo team takes decisive victory over Vanderhoof-Fort St. James
Williams Lake Stampeder Brendan Pigeon scores one of his three goals in the team’s season opener victory against the Nechako North Stars from Fort St. James and Vanderhoof on home ice at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex on Sept. 29. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Stamps looked a little slow out of the gate in their Friday night season opener, but they gained momentum and rolled right over the visiting North Stars, finishing with a 10-to-two win to kick off the season.

The game on Friday, September 29, had a smaller crowd than usual, but lots of orange in the stands in recognition of Orang Shirt Day.

Action on the ice picked up when an early breakaway goal by Brendan Pigeon seemed to light a fire under his teammates.

Pigeon soon followed his first with another a few minutes later, assisted by a pass from goalie Ryan Balbirnie. Finally, with only a minute to go in the first, Pigeon made it a hat trick, with help this time from Cam Flinton and Brad Crump.

All of this despite the North Stars managing to keep the puck in the Stamps end of the ice for much of the first half of period one and also despite Pigeon only just recovering from an injury to his hand. A spike from a nail gun lodged in his hand, penetrating a bone. He had only returned to work the day before the game.

It appeared the injury did not slow him down too much, given his performance on the ice.

The Stamps came out stronger in the second, Pigeon this time making the assist, along with Cole Zimmerman, Nick Fidanza sending it home.

But the North Stars appeared to rally their team in the second, with Jim Silver sending home two goals.

He had help from Austyn Playfair and Jackson Playfair for the first, Jett Saharchuk and Tyrell Turgeon helping him out with the second goal.

But any hope the North Stars had for a comeback was short-lived, with two more from the Stamps to answer the North Stars’ two.

This time they came from Markus Myatovic and Kaleb Boyle, Myatovic assisted by Everett Rasmussen and Boyle helped out by Myatovic and Darcy Flaherty. This brought the score up to six-two for the Stamps going into the third, with shots on goal sitting at 35 to 21, in favour of the Stamps.

The writing may have been on the wall at that point, but the North Stars, to their credit, kept bringing the puck down the ice, despite not getting many shots off and plenty of opposition from Balbirnie between the posts.

Saharchuk made a number of runs into the Stamps end, but didn’t manage to send the puck home.

Instead, the Stamps made two back-to-back goals with just over 10 minutes left in the period, the first by Boyle, assisted by Chad Wilde, and then just 10 seconds later Wilde put another one in the net on his own.

Then, with just over five minutes to go, Wilde made one more goal, Myatovic and Boyle helping him along, making it a round 10.

Dixon Loewen, the goaltender for the North Stars, had his work cut out for him and while he let 10 get past, he did manage to stop 47 shots over the course of the game, while Balbirnie stopped 28 for the North Stars.

READ MORE: Williams Lake Stampeders to take on Nechako North Stars in season opener

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