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PBCN Selects open 2024 with five straight wins

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Selects opened 2024 with a quartet of wins against lower-ranked teams, aiming to jump over a pair of foes to climb up the standings.

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Selects opened 2024 with five straight wins, aiming to jump over a pair of foes to climb up the standings.

In their return to action after the holiday break, the Selects headed to Norway House for a pair of road games against the North Stars Jan. 6-7, picking up two wins.

First, the North Stars got out to an early lead Jan. 6, but the Selects battled back, winning 6-3. Cranberry Portage’s Harlan Jacobson picked up a hat-trick for the Selects, scoring both the tying goal and go-ahead goal in the second period, while PBCN’s Nunavut contingent added some firepower - Leo Kaludjak and Kobe Tanuyak each had three points. Ethan Fechter got the win with 32 saves.

The next night, the Selects hit the gas early and did not let up, scoring six straight goals in the first two periods en route to a 7-1 win. Pelican Narrows’ Embry Roberts got the party started with an early first-period goal and Tanuyak, Dominic Suhr, Ray Pudlat and Dion Fontaine each jumped in with goals of their own, while Roberts added a second goal late in the first.

Former Selects star Dwayne McKenzie managed to snap Paxton Moore’s shutout in the third, but Kaludjak made it 7-1 late in the third, clinching the victory. Moore made 40 saves on 41 shots for the victory, while Roberts led the way with four points on the night. Things kicked off late in the third, with the North Stars racking up 35 minutes in penalties and two game misconducts in one stoppage late in the game - the home team ended the night with an hour of penalty minutes.

Back at home last weekend from Jan. 13-14, the Selects put a whuppin’ on the expansion Waywayseecappo Wild, beating them twice over the weekend and earning one win by double digits.

The homestand started with a 5-2 win Saturday over an undermanned Wild team - according to the KJHL league website, the Wild started the game with only 10 skaters. The Wild and Selects were neck and neck through the first half of the game, with the visitors even opening up a lead from two quick goals by Nathaniel Flett-Neapew, but the Selects battled back, with goals from Roberts, Kaludjak and Jacobson giving them a 4-2 lead after 40. Ukrainian Pavlo Kobikov added an insurance marker in the third to clinch the win, while Moore made 30 saves for a second win of the new year.

The Wild came into the second game of the weekend wiped out, leaving the door wide open for a lopsided Selects win - the PBCN squad won 17-4, putting up seven goals in the first period alone.

Wayway was down a man for the second game, having to sign Creighton’s Myles Koivisto to an emergency deal to start the game with enough players. Eight of the Wild’s 10 skaters finished the game with a point, but the Selects’ player advantage made all the difference.

Three Selects players put up hat-tricks on the night, led by Kobikov, who scored a whopping six goals and added an assist. Fontaine and Suhr each finished with a hat-trick and four points, while Jacobson and Tanuyak had five points apiece. Moore, playing his second game in a row, stopped 25 of 29 shots. Through 23 games in their inaugural year, the Wild have no wins, holding just one point in the standings thanks to an overtime loss.

That was followed up by the Selects beating the OCN Storm 8-3, once again overcoming an early deficit. Cedrick Puffalt opened the scoring for the Storm, but Fontaine added two goals in the first period to get the Selects out in front, where they would stay for the rest of the game.

Kobikov ended the game with a hat-trick, while Roberts and Jacey Melnyk each added three points. Fechter made 24 saves for the victory.

PBCN now sits second in the KJHL standings with a 17-6-0-0 record and 34 points, just ahead of the third-place Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) Flames with 33 and right behind the first-place Peguis Juniors with 36 points.

The Selects will head south for their next several games, heading to Winnipeg for the KJHL’s showcase weekend, playing afternoon games against the OCN Storm and Peguis Juniors at Winnipeg’s hockey for all centre. The team’s next home game is Jan. 24 against the Cross Lake Islanders.

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