SJHL Game #13 – Battlefords North Stars at Kindersley Klippers

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 6-2-3-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 6:45
  • Puck drop – 7:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars hammered Estevan 9-2. Recap here: http://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/north-stars-win-big-at-home/

Storylines:

  • The trade: The Stars made a trade yesterday sending Robin and Regan Yew to Dauphin for future considerations. The trade came down yesterday afternoon and my reaction is here: http://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/north-stars-trade-yew-brothers/
  • 95s: More on the trade. The Yew brothers are 1995 born players which means looking forward to next season they would be 20 year old players. With teams only able to play a limited number of 20s the search for a balanced lineup is always on going. You never know what might happen in the future but the emergence of some 95s like O’Sullivan, Townsend, Kanter and others means the Stars would have had to make a move at some point in the future. I think it makes sense to make that move now if possible as the Stars have done if for no other reason that it allows the Yew brothers a chance to go play and cement their spots on the Dauphin roster moving forward.
  • Kindersley: The North Stars are 6-1-1 against the rest of the league with 29 goals for and just 19 against. They are 1-1-2 against the Klippers with 8 goals for and 13 against. The two more recent games have been very close and low scoring affairs after the Stars struggled with the Klippers on opening weekend. In fact three of the four games between these two teams have gone to OT, that’s how close they are to each other. The Klippers have won 5 in a row coming into tonight’s game with three of those wins, and the two most recent victories, coming in North Star like fashion, shootouts.
  • Kramer Division: Neither the North Stars nor the Klippers have faced Humboldt or Notre Dame yet this season. (the North Stars will face both those teams twice next month) That means that the Hounds, who remain unbeaten in regulation, have yet to face two teams that appear to be among the top 3 or 4 in the league this season. How will the Kramer look by December 1st after the Hounds have faced the Stars and Klippers a combined 4 times? It will be very interesting to see.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Robin Yew 2) Connor Vermeulen 1) Brenden Heinrich
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Robin Yew
  • Head to Head: Kindersley is 3-0-0-1 versus the North Stars so far. The Stars are 1-1-2 versus Kindersley.
    Scoring leaders: LaClare (KIN) 6PTS, Saharchuk & Delainey (BATT) 5PTS,
    Kindersley 3 @ Battlefords 2 (Oct 7 2014) OT
    Battlefords 2 @ Kindersley 1 (Sep 27 2014) SO
    Battlefords 3 @ Kindersley 4 (Sep 20 2014) OT
    Kindersley 5 @ Battlefords 2 (Sep 19 2014)
  • Power Rankings: The Klippers were first in this week’s SJHL power rankings with the North Stars in 4th. The Klippers were 13th in the CJHL national rankings with the North Stars mentioned in the article but not cracking the list.
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Estevan Bruins at Notre Dame Hounds; Weyburn Red Wings at Nipawin Hawks

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Transition D  – The Klippers seem to always have success against the Stars with their transition game moving pucks quickly up the walls into neutral ice. And firing rink wide passes from just inside their own blue line to near the attacking zone. That’s an area the Stars can shut down to slow the Klippers offense.

2) Build – The North Stars scored 9 goals last time out. That’s unlikely to happen again this season. But the confidence of the flood gates opening and the good feeling the Stars should have coming off that game is key. Build off of that success and start to really fire offensively from various parts of the lineup.

3) Get to Weninger – .The Klippers haven’t been scoring a ton of goals lately. Taking out shootout winners they have 13 goals in their last 5 games which is under the 3 goals per game which they have averaged this season. Owen LaClare has just two goals since opening night. Cody Young has but up just 2 assists in 8 games since opening weekend. So how have the Klippers been winning? Contributions from other places in the lineup and goalies who don’t let in many goals. The Stars have struggled at times this season to score on Evan Weninger including the most recent matchup. So they need to find a way to overcome one of the league’s top goalies. Part of that battle will likely have to include another very strong performance from the North Stars starter tonight.

North Stars Lineup:

Rewerts
Tremblay

Statchuk – Vermeulen
Erickson – Keller
Fransoo – Calverley

Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Bond – Townsend
Kanter – Smith – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Sych, Leonenko, Weston, Mitchell

North Stars trade Yew brothers

The Battlefords North Stars today pulled off a deal with Dauphin of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League sending Robin and Regan Yew to the Kings in a futures deal. The Stars get future considerations in the trade. Those do include 20 year old defenseman Brendan Dusik as has been reported elsewhere. But at this time I am not sure whether Dusik will report. He’s currently playing Junior B in Manitoba which is his home province.

I just spoke with North Star head coach and Gm Kevin Hasselberg and he said he will be in contact with Dusik and if the 20 year old wants to come here and compete for a spot on the Stars that opportunity will be there for him.

As for what the Stars gave up, well this is a tough one. Acquired around this time last year the Yew brothers joined a North Stars team that was good but not winning hockey games. Their positive contribution on and off the ice was a huge factor in the Stars turning the season around and winning the Kramer Division. Both will be missed as hockey players but also as great people.

Coach Hasselberg told me that trading players of that level of character was extremely hard. But he wanted to give the Yew brothers a chance to go to a team where they would have a chance to play a bigger role. A role that their talents should allow them to play. The emergence of some other 1995 born players this season was perhaps going to limit the chances for Robin and Regan. This trade will allow them to play regularly, get lots of ice time and be leaders on and off the ice for the Dauphin Kings.

As I said before this is a tough one. I have known Robin and Regan since they were with the AAA Stars program. I was very excited to see them traded back to this area last season. And they will be missed. I want to join the North Stars in wishing Robin and Regan all the best in Manitoba this season.

http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats_small.php?player=119256

Robin Yew face in the glass

http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats_small.php?player=119257

————–

Coach Hasselberg also mentioned to me on the phone today that the Stars have added two 18 year olds to the roster. Otto Mitchell is back. He was one of the last players cut after training camp and has been playing very well at the Junior B level in Wainwright.

http://northeasternajbhl.stats.pointstreak.com/playerpage.html?playerid=8095553&seasonid=13138

The other addition is an 18 year old defenseman out of BC named Jake Calverley. Jake has been playing Junior B on Vancouver Island for a couple years already and has had a look in the BCHL. He has played 6 games for Powell River the last couple season.

http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats_small.php?player=234031

North Stars win big at home

The Battlefords North Stars won 9-2 at the Civic Center thanks to a strong first period.

In the opening frame the Bruins actually started okay and had a number of shots towards Spencer Tremblay. He stopped a few of them and the Stars blocked a whole bunch as well. Those early shot blocks loomed large when the Stars were able to clear the puck after a mad scramble in front. Logan Nachtegaele told me after the game that he was able to poke the puck to Robin Yew and the two were away. Robin used Logan as a decoy on the 2-on-1 and snapped home the opening goal.

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The Bruins traded for Brandon Holtby before the game with their starter Brett Lewchuk hurt. Holtby started the game but only lasted 20 minutes. The Stars got their second on a power play when a Ryne Keller point shot was deflected home by Brenden Heinrich. Late in the first the Stars were up 2-0. They didn’t stop there. Adam Smith fired a rink wide saucer pass from the far half wall to Connor Vermeulen sneaking in off the far point. Vermeulen fired a bullet over the glove of Holtby to make it 3-0. 1:17 later Heinrich found a loose puck in the slot and fired home to make it 4-0 after 1.

In the second Matt Saharchuk scored his 8th of the season to make it 5-0 North Stars. Saharchuk cutting into the slot and firing in off the post past Tyler Gutenberg who was pressed into service after the opening frame. THe Bruins then got a greasy one with the Duret brothers teaming up to poke a puck past Tremblay after a North Stars turnover. Not long later the Bruins got another. A shot deflected off a Star, it was going wide, hit the post, looked to be loose behind Tremblay before it was poked home by Keegan Allison.

That made it 5-2 and the crowd was momentarily silenced. But after 5 or 6, maybe more, excellent shifts in a row the Stars had the momentum. Kendall Fransoo shot a rolling puck and it knuckled past Gutenberg to make it 6-2 after 40 minutes.

The home team got three more goals in the third. Saharchuk scored his second of the game. A sharp angle shot beating Gutenberg on the glove side and just inside the post. Then Jackson Bond banked one in off a Bruin from just below the goal line. I thought Fountain got it in front but it was Bond’s goal. Then a puck came to Reed Delainey at the side of the net and he slid the puck home from the side of the net and from a sharp angle.

And that rounded out the scoring. 9-2 the final. The most goals the Stars have scored in a single game since Kevin Hasselberg took the reigns. They had 8 against La Ronge a couple years ago but they hadn’t scored 9 previously. The Stars also got their first regulation time home win of the season. It’s also their first regulation win since Melville back on September 24th.

Robin Yew (1+1), Vermeulen (1+1), Saharchuk (2+1), Heinrich (2+0), and Havens (0+2) each had two point nights. Only 5 North Stars were kept off the scoresheet. Tremblay even had a helper as well as another win.

The Stars take on Kindersley in their next game, Tuesday on the road.

SJHL Game #12 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 6-2-3-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:15
  • Puck drop – 7:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat Nipawin 1-0 in overtime last night. In a bit of a strange game both teams struggled to get any flow. In part because of a parade to the penalty box, in a game that frankly didn’t need or require that many penalties to be called, the game was very stop start. Lots of whistles. Players unsure what was and wasn’t going to be called. It hurt the game overall and I though both teams did well to control their emotions and not let frustration boil over.

The Stars best chances that really stood out were in the second period. The best chance of the first period for the Stars came on an early power play when Matt Saharchuk hit the post with a nice snap shot. In the second, Nick Fountain set up Jackson Bond in the slot but Bond missed with his shot rising high over the net. Reed Delainey had a break away and was stopped not once but twice by Joe O’Brien. Both teams hit the post in the game as well with the Hawks looking to have scored a strange one on a deflection before the post behind Tremblay spit the puck back out.

Both teams were 0-8 on the power play with plenty of those penalties over lapping. There was strange situations with 4-on-4 and 4-on-3 situations. The Stars even killed a pretty brief 5-on-3 Hawks power play.

The Stars D didn’t give the Hawks much for the first 50 minutes or so and when there was a break down Spencer Tremblay made all the saves. Then as the game wound down the Stars took a late penalty. A roughing call on Heinrich on what looked like just a good solid hit. Tremblay made 8 saves on that PK including an unbelievable double save on Carter Danczak.

So once again the North Stars went to overtime. The 8th time now in 11 games played. Matt Saharchuk threw one towards goal that hit something on it’s way through and beat O’Brien through his five hole. He didn’t appear to have seen the puck at all. That was Saharchuk’s 7th goal this season and his first game winner. It was Tremblay’s first shutout as a North Star and his first since the 2011-12 season when he made 20 starts for the Moose Jaw Warriors and picked up 1 shutout.

Storylines:

  • Playoff Rematch: The Stars and Bruins went head to head in the playoffs last season. The Bruins actually surpised by taking game 1 of the series before the Stars rattled off 4 straight victories to win the series in 5 games. That included two wins in Estevan and a pretty memorable Kendall Fransoo overtime winner. The Bruins will remember that series as well and will be looking for some small payback tonight here at the Civic Center.
  • Shutout: Last night was the North Stars first shutout of the season. Spencer Tremblay was relatively untroubled for the first 50 minutes or so. But then in the late stages of the third Tremblay was forced to make a number of key saves to preserve the shutout. I thought he looked very calm, relaxed and confident as the game went along. He was seeing the puck well and making saves look easy. That was a huge game for Tremblay and one I expect he will build off of as the season moved along. By the way, the Stars had 6 shutouts last season. Gudmandson (4), Martin (1) and Parker (1).
  • Injured D: The North Stars are a little banged up on the backend with Brock Weston out for 4-6 weeks and Connor Sych also injured and likely to miss the next week or two. That’s why Ryne Keller has been moved back to play D for this team and the captain has been filling in very well.
  • OT: Around the league last night every single game went to OT. It wasn’t just the North Stars! Although the Stars still lead the world with 8 OT games so far out of 11 games played. By my math there have been 18 games in the SJHL that have been decided in overtime or a shootout. The Stars have played in 8 of those games! They’ve gone to OT in 3 straight games and 6 of the last 7.
  • Offense: The Stars have 11 goals in their last 5 games. Including a 4 goal game up in Flin Flon. They’ve managed just 2 goals in 2 games versus Nipawin this season. This is a team that is capable of scoring goals and that hasn’t happened as much I thought it would early. But the flood gates could open at any moment.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Joe O’Brien 2) Matt Saharchuk 1) Spencer Tremblay
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Jackson Bond for a first period his just inside his own blueline.
  • Head to Head: Last season the Stars went to OT against Estevan twice in the regular season. They lost 2 in shootouts and beat the Bruins twice as well. And then the Stars won 4 out of 5 in the playoffs. Over the last 5 seasons the SJHL has the North Stars with a 9-4-0-3 record against the Bruins.
  • Bruins PK: Dead last in the league and they’ve allowed 15 goals against on the PK so far this season. Will tonight be the night the North Stars power play goes off?

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Free  – The Stars have played their best this season when they play with a bit more freedom. The creativity in the offensive zone really comes out when they play that way. They have the monkey off their backs and have the first home win. So tonight a key will be to play with a little more freedom, creativity, and fun. When they do that they can be potent.

2) Shot Blocking – Always a feature of the Stars play but not something we’ve touched on this season. Shot blocks go a long way to helping a team win. They can also lead to offense as well. The Bruins usually try to shoot a lot of pucks towards the goal from all angles. Blocking some of those will be a key.

3) First goal – A few North Stars are still looking for their first goals this season and a couple of them are looking for their first junior A goal as well. One of those guys gets one and the bench will be really fired up. It will also give the guys confidence as well. I think if a guy like Vermeulen, Nachtegaele, Kanter, or Havens gets one in the first the Stars will really build off that goal.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Erickson – Yew
Fransoo – Keller
Statchuk – Vermeulen

Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Heinrich – McMillen – Havens
Fountain – Bond – Townsend
Nachtegale – Smith – Kanter

Scratches: Weston, Sych, Leonenko, Regan Yew

SJHL Game #11 – Nipawin Hawks at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 5-2-3-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:15
  • Puck drop – 7:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost at home to La Ronge, 4-3 in overtime. Recap here: http://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/stars-lose-to-la-ronge/

Storylines:

  • Rematch: Th Hawks hosted the Stars last week and skated off with a 3-1 victory. The Stars got an early first period goal from Michael Statchuk in that game and then didn’t do much else for the rest of the game. Carter Danzcak had a couple assists in the Hawks victory against his former team. That was the Stars first regulation loss since opening night and they still have just 2 regulation losses so far. 1 in their last 9 games.
  • Schedule: The North Stars have a pretty slow finish to the month. After this weekend’s games with Nipawin and Estevan the North Stars have just two more games this month. One at home and one on the road and both against Kindersley. The month of November is busy though with the Stars playing 12 games in total and 7 at home. They face Weyburn 3 times in November, Notre Dame and Humboldt for the first time, and twice each in total, and Melfort twice. Plus single games against La Ronge, Estevan and Yorkton.
  • Head to Head: The last 5 years the North Stars have gone 14-7-0-2 against Nipawin with 7 of those wins coming at the Civic Center.  Last year the North Stars went 3-1 versus the Hawks. But this looks to be the best Nipawin team that we’ve seen since the 2010-2011 season when the Hawks and North Stars went to OT in a game 7 before the Stars moved on to face Humboldt in the North final.
  • Divisions: These are the two teams in third in their divisions. But the Hawks actually have the best win percentage in the Sherwood. If they won their two games in hand they would move into first. The Kramer has three teams that would be in first place if they were in the Viterra. The Sherwood also has three teams that would manage that as Melville is leading the Viterra but currently they are just a .500 hockey team.
  • Rosters: Both teams have 11 Saskatchewan born players on their rosters. The Hawks have 5 Americans and the Stars have 6 with Igor Leonenko still healing. So these are two teams that are somewhat similar in their construction in terms of where they are getting players from. The Hawks have more players from Alberta. The Stars more from BC.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Cole Porter 2) Adam Smith 1) Brenden Heinrich
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Kendall Fransoo
  • Streaking: Garrett Dunlop is on a 7 game point streak for Nipawin. That’s the longest current streak in the league. Dunlop leads rookie scoring in the SJHL and is just ahead of Brady O’Sullivan on that list.
  • Out of Town: Estevan Bruins at Humboldt Broncos, Flin Flon Bombers at Weyburn Red Wings, La Ronge Ice Wolves at Yorkton Terriers.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Consistency  – The Stars are still looking for a consistent effort shift after shift. Most teams are at this point in the season but this team has shown flashes of being really good. We just haven’t seen that for a full 60 yet this season. We’ve been close a couple times but we’ve also seen games where the Stars have only had a period or 30 minutes of consistent performance. It’s coming and it needs to show up tonight. Based on what we saw last Friday this Nipawin team won’t be beat without a full, consistent effort.

2) Communicate – Coach White joined me after the game on Tuesday and said his team needs to be better in all aspects of the game. One area that he highlighted was communication. The Stars got themselves in trouble against La Ronge at times because of a lack of communication on the ice.

3) Collisions – I wanted to find a third word that started with ‘C’ and I think this one fits. Basically, the Hawks were very physical when these teams met a week ago in Nipawin. They really were able to handle the Stars speed well and get to the body when the Stars had the puck. The Stars will be aware of that and ready for a similar effort for Nipawin. If the Stars match or exceed that physicality it will go a long way towards victory.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Keller
Statchuk – Vermeulen
Erickson – Robin Yew

Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Bond – Townsend
Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Regan Yew – Smith – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Weston, Leonenko, Sych, Kanter

Stars lose to La Ronge

The North Stars came out of the gates strong early in the first period and took a lead on a goal by Jake McMillen. It was Brenden Heinrich that made the goal possible though. He was all alone in the slot with the puck on his stick and easily could have taken a shot. He may well have scored as he had all kinds of time. But instead he spotted McMillen all alone at the side of the net and the pass was perfect for McMillen to tap home his second in as many games.

wpid-20141014_212019.jpg

The Stars had other chances in the period including a break away for Matt Havens that he couldn’t convert as he went to the backhand. Havens stuck with it though to get the puck out front to Heinrich. His shot looked destined for the roof of the net but Luke Grassl went to the double pad stack to make the desperation save. It was maybe the save of the game although in the second period Tremblay made a stick save in desperation that rivalled Grassl’s best.

The Ice Wolves tied the game later in the period with a power play one timer from Connor Kortko. La Ronge then came out and took over in the second period as the North Stars really seemed to struggle. They were fighting the puck and La Ronge made them pay. Jared Blaquiere’s rink wide saucer pass landed perfectly for Dave Randall to one time past Tremblay. Two power play goals in the game and La Ronge had the lead.

Despite not playing well in that middle frame though the Stars tied the game. Nick Fountain set up in front by Jordan Townsend late in the period and Fountain beat Grassl over the glove to make it 2-2. That was the Stars first power play goal of the game.

In the third the Stars lost a puck at the blue line and it ended up as a break away for Jared Iron. He was slashed by Michael Statchuk and a penalty shot was given. Iron converted, snapping a shot on the blocker side and beating Tremblay. The Stars responded late in the third on another power play. Regan Yew powered to the net and the next thing you knew there was a loose puck in the slot area and a race was on. Baxter Kanter used his great speed to win that race and poke at the puck. It went right to Adam Smith who fired home from the side of the goal to tie the game. Smith’s first as a North Star was a huge goal.

The Stars had other chances on the power play late in the third and again in OT but they couldn’t make the Ice Wolves pay for their lack of discipline. In the end a broken play in the Stars zone left a loose puck in the crease with Tremblay looking over the wrong shoulder. He was expecting the puck to squirt out front the way it did and Cole Porter was able to poke home the winner.

The Stars are now winless in 3 games at home so far but have picked up 2 points. They have played past regulation in 7 of their 10 games this season.

The Stars host Nipawin on Friday as they look to get back in the win column and maybe avoid overtime as well.

———

Before the game the Stars honoured Cheri Lynch for her work with the team over the years.

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(I never get a good angle for these pics from up in the pressbox)

Cheri is leaving for the winter and after years of being on the Stars board, being the treasurer, being the scorekeeper and at one point a billet as well she has earned the respect and admiration of Stars and SJHL fans alike. She will be missed but will hopefully be back in time to watch the Stars go on a long playoff run.

SJHL Game #10 – La Ronge Ice Wolves at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 5-2-2-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:15
  • Puck drop – 7:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat Flin Flon 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. For more check out the post game report here: http://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/north-stars-pull-out-a-win-in-flin-flon/

Storylines:

  • Home at last: The Stars have played just twice on home ice so far this year. They have lost both and both were against the Kindersley Klippers. The Stars now have three home games this week as they play Nipawin and Estevan later this week. Tonight is the beginning of an important week for the team as they get a chance to make some progress at home against non-divisional opponents.
  • Locals: The Ice Wolves have 3 players who hail from the Edam area as well as a couple more who played midget AAA for the Battlefords Stars. Kent Walchuk, Colby Daniels, Zach Nedelec and the Blaquiere brothers are all very familiar with this area and playing at the Civic Center. Meadow Lake’s Austin Rediron is now with the Ice Wolves as well. I am sure there will be lots of friends and family in attendance tonight.
  • Balanced Scoring: The North Stars line of Delainey, Saharchuk and O’Sullivan has been scoring a large proportion of the Stars goals so far this season. We expect this team to have more balanced scoring as the season goes along. Getting Jake McMillen back in the lineup has helped that balance. Matt Havens will break out one of these days. Nick Fountain got his second of the year up in Flin Flon. Ryne Keller will start popping in a few. Adam Smith is back and will chip in. The list of guys who can score for this team is pretty deep.
  • Firsts: One of these two teams will grab a first tonight. The Stars are looking for their first home win as they play at the Civic Center for the third time. The Ice Wolves are looking for their first road win after 2 losses away from the Mel to start the season. The Stars are 5-1-1 on the road this season. They’ve had to go to OT and/or a shootout to get a few of those wins. But that puts their good start to the season in perspective. Other teams off to good starts on the road? The Nationally ranked Melfort Mustangs and Notre Dame Hounds as well as Kindersley.
  • Food Drive: Farm Credit Canada will be at the game as part of the FCC Drive Away Hunger campaign. They will be collecting food and cash donations for the Battleford and District Food and Resource Center. It is also an Innovation Credit Union 2 for 1 Tuesday.
  • Goals Against: The North Stars have allowed 26 goals so far this season in 9 games. That’s a number they will be itching to bring down. Almost 3 goals per game allowed is not where they want to be at this point. But since opening weekend they’ve allowed 17 goals in 7 games which is a little under 2.5 goals per game against. That’s more like where they want to be in that regard.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) The Penalty Kill 2) Jake McMillen 1) Matt Saharchuk
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • CJHL Top 20: The North Stars are no longer on the list having gone 1-1-1 last week. Flin Flon is also now off the list. Notre Dame and Melfort are the two SJHL teams to crack the top 20.
  • SJHL Power Rankings: The Stars came in at #6 with Matt Saharchuk on the who is hot list.
  • PIMs: The Ice Wolves have 222 penalty minutes this season. That is the most in the SJHL so far. There weren’t a lot of penalties called when these teams met a couple weeks ago in La Ronge. So a lot of those PIMs have been racked up in other games.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Work  – The Ice Wolves work very hard. I was impressed with their effort a couple weeks ago when we were up at the Mel. The effort level was there consistently throughout the game. It’s something the Stars didn’t always match but when they did they controlled the play. If the Stars can outwork the Ice Wolves on home ice they should win the game.

2) PK – The Ice Wolves have scored 7 of their 18 goals this season on the power play. That’s almost half of the Ice Wolves goals. And this is a team that struggles to score with just a little over 2 goals per game so far. That makes the Stars improving PK important. They have been getting better and better and the performance in Flin Flon, despite a third period power play goal in that game for the Bombers, was encouraging.

3) Road at home – The Stars have had one bad game at home and one really good game that they should have won but ran into a hot goalie. So they can build on that most recent performance at the Civic Center. They can also bring a better sense of their identity to tonight’s game. They have played enough on the road now to have a good sense for what they do well and what they have to do to win. That information should be invaluable.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Keller
Statchuk – Weston
Robin Yew – Vermeulen

Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Regan Yew – Kanter – Smith
Fountain – Bond – Townsend

Scratches: Sych, Erickson, Nachtegaele, Leonenko

North Stars pull out a win in Flin Flon

The Battlefords North Stars bounced back from a poor performance in Nipawin the night before to grab two points on the road in Flin Flon last night.

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The North Stars came out firing in the first period. Despite not being credited with very many shots. Matt Saharchuk opened the scoring on a power play with Jake McMillen drawing an assist and Reed Delainey as well. Saharchuk’s second of the period was set up by Brady O’Sullivan and it was a nice move to the back hand for Saharchuk to beat Hofley.

Braden Lacoursiere playing against his old team had a couple of big hits including one on Heinrich and one where he stood up Havens. The Stars were also physical with Kendall Fransoo crushing a couple Bombers in the second period. One of those hits was on Austin Evans. Evans took another big hit when he was caught in nuetral ice by Heinrich. Looked to me like shoulder to shoulder from my vantage point but there was something question about it being a little late and a little from the blind side perhaps. Evans was helped off the ice but did return for the third although he didn’t play much after that.

In the second period the Bombers played their best twenty minutes of the night and scored twice. First it was Akkerman scoring and then Allison the captain. Allison’s goal was off a rush and it looked like Kendall Fransoo got a piece of his stick as he shot. I’m not sure if that changed the shot but it seemed to change up a little. It beat Tremblay off the far post and in. After that the Stars goalie slammed the door shut pretty tight.

Tremblay ended up with credit for 41 saves and the only other goal that beat him was late in the third when a power play point shot deflected off Connor Vermeulen and past the Stars goalie. The Stars had a 5-on-3 power play earlier in the period and hadn’t scored. And after the penalty kill had been having such a great night it looked again like a special teams play might decide the game. During that 5-on-3 Jake McMillen was able to bat a puck out of mid-air from right on the door step. Somehow Hofley ended up with the puck in his glove. It was a great save and McMillen looked skyward in disbelief.

He would get another chance though not long after the Bombers had taken the lead. McMillen stole an errant pass right in the slot. His initial shot was stopped by Hofley but he kicked the rebound right to McMillen who went to his backhand to slide the puck home and tie the game.

In OT the Stars went with some aggressive lines including 3 forwards and 1 D most of the time. The aggression paid off. A Jake Erickson point shot hit a stick on it’s way through and beat Hofley. Nick Fountain in front given credit for the goal.

The Stars grabbed a really nice two points on the road in a tough place to win. They did it with just 5 regular defencemen dressed. Guys like Statchuk, Erickson and Fransoo logged a ton of ice. Sych and Vermeulen were really good as well. The Stars PK killed off 5 of 6 Bombers power plays in the game and looked very sharp. (I am not going to even get into some of the strange calls made by the referee last night both for and against the Stars)

At the end of the day that’s a really good win considering the circumstances and it was a great bounce back effort from the Stars. Spencer Tremblay was excellent and picked up the win.

Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) The Penalty Kill 2) Jake McMillen 1) Matt Saharchuk

Sanberg Collision Collision of the game: Heinrich for the second period hit on Evans.

SJHL Game #9 – Battlefords North Stars at Flin Flon Bombers

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 4-2-2-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 6:15
  • Puck drop – 6:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost in regulation last night in Nipawin, 3-1 the final score. The North Stars actually opened the scoring pretty early in the first period. Michael Statchuk took a pass from Reed Delainey and from the high slot snapped a rolling puck past Joe O’Brien. It was Stats’ 3rd goal this season and it came at the 3:33 mark of the first.

The Hawks tied the game up less than a minute later. A defensive break down led to a partial 2-on-1 with Garrett Dunlop and Carter Danczak. Dunlop to the former Star and then back again and Dunlop scored. It was the start of a good game for Danczak. The Stars had a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in the first and it looked good. The puck moved quick and there were plenty of shots. But they were unable to find the back of the net. Later in the period the Hawks had back to back power plays but the Stars PK stood tall.

In the second the Stars killed a couple more penalties including a bogus call on Kendall Fransoo that carried over to the third period. But they fell behind when Carter Doerksen scored with a point shot through a screen and into the top corner. The Stars had another 5-on-3 in the final 6 minutes of the second that lasted for almost a full 2 minutes. Again they couldn’t score. O’Sullivan just missed a chance at the side of the net that may have hit the point.

In the third the Hawks scored on a power play when a turnover led to a loose puck that was hacked towards the net and got by Rewerts. That made it 3-1 and the Hawks controlled the play the rest of the way. They won seemingly every faceoff and cycled away large chunks of the clock.

The North Stars went to the goalie pull with 3 minutes left but couldn’t find a goal and it finished 3-1.

Storylines:

  • Former Stars: Austin Evans and Braden Lacoursiere will be facing their former team. For Lacoursiere it will be the first time he’s faced the Stars since moving North. He was part of the trade that got the Stars Cam Blair last season. Lacoursiere ended up being the futures that completed that trade.
  • Offense: The Bombers are the top scoring team in the league so far with three guys in the top 20 in league scoring. And they just got another good player back from the WHL in Lance Yaremchuk. This is a formidable lineup with multiple lines that can score. With 31 goals for in 7 games the Bombers are putting pucks in the net like crazy. They also give up plenty of goals as well.
  • Bounce Back: The North Stars are coming off their most listless performance of the season. That was the first time this season where they flat out didn’t play very well. They need to show some bounce back tonight. it’s going to be a tough test. But coming off a loss like that maybe the Bombers are a good opponent for the Stars. Being such a good team and a formidable opponent will hopefully bring out the best in the Stars as well.
  • Whitney Forum: It’s an old hockey rink and it’s a beautiful place to play and watch hockey. The corners are tough and very shallow and the nets usually have a hard time staying in the proper spot. But the names in the rafters and the sights, smells and sounds are all about hockey. It’s a favourite stop for players and broadcasters alike. It’s just a bit of a shame it is so far away.
  • Strength versus Strength: The Flin Flon Bombers have not lost in regulation at home so far this season. 4 wins and an overtime loss. The Stars have been very good on the road so far with last night’s loss being their first in regulation on the road so far. I love when games set up like this to be a battle between two strong teams.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Joe O’Brien 2) Michael Statchuk 1) Carter Danczak
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Michael Statchuk
  • Power Play Goals: Chris Rauckman leads the league with 4. Austin Calladine has 3. The Bombers have 4 players in the top 10 in power play goals. Rauckman leads the league with 9 overall.
  • Out of town: The Kinderlsey Klippers lost in La Ronge last night. They have a tough test tonight in Melfort. With Notre Dame unbeaten so far the Kramer is shaping up to be tough again this year. It will be interesting to see how Kindersley responds in Melfort against a very good Mustangs team.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Speed  – The Stars didn’t look quick last night. The Hawks did a good job taking that away with their forecheck and puck possession. That’s not something I expect to happen too many times this season. I really want to see the North Stars unleash their speed and transition game tonight.

2) Positioning – The Bombers can really score as we have seen. So the Stars will have to make sure they are in the right spots to take away scoring chances and to be able to prevent Flin Flon from firing on all cylinders. That will also allow the Stars to transition to offence more effectively as well.

3) Power Play – Let’s say it. The Stars power play needs to start scoring. They have the players and the talent to be putting pucks in the net with regularity on the man advantage. At times they look good, move the puck around and get chances. But the goals haven’t come yet. They need to start capitlizing on those chances and building momentum. Special teams can win you games.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Vermeulen
Fransoo – Erickson
Sych

Fountain – Keller – Heinrich
Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Smith – McMillen – Havens
Nachtegaele – Kanter – Townsend
Yew

Scratches: Robin Yew, Weston, Bond, Leonenko

SJHL Game #8 – Battlefords North Stars at Nipawin Hawks

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 4-1-2-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:15
  • Puck drop – 7:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost at home in overtime versus the Kindersley Klippers. The recap is here: http://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/stars-play-overtime-again-but-lose-at-home/

Storylines:

  • On the Road Again: After Saturday’s game in Flin Flon the Stars will have played 7 of their first 9 games on the road. This will be the second overnight road trip of the season so far and those are always good for team bonding. The Stars are 4-0-1 on the road this season which has allowed them to get off to a great start despite just 1 point from 2 home games so far.
  • Overtime: The North Stars have played 5 overtime/shootout games so far this season out of 7. There are a couple reasons for that as we have discussed. But that trend won’t continue. Eventually these games will start being decided more and more in regulation. But there’s nothing wrong with learning how to play close games and OT games early in the year and banking that knowledge and experience for further down the line.
  • Finish: The North Stars have been creating a lot of chances the last few games and, at least in the past two games versus Kindersley, they haven’t finished off those chances as often as they would like. That’s in part because of how good Evan Weninger is in the Klipper goal. But it’s also in part because of the Stars not finish chances. The Delainey line has ben pretty consistent with scoring. The other three lines seem to get a handful of chances each game. So the goals will come as long as they keep making those openings. They just need to relax and finish a little more often.
  • Killer Instinct: In part because of the goals not quite flowing in the early going the Stars have had a couple games where they should have won easily based on how well they played but they didn’t close out the game. Coach Hasselberg talked about that killer instinct in the post game show after the Kindersley game on Tuesday night. That’s something the Stars are looking to develop here in the early going. And they are certainly giving themselves plenty of chances to learn how to do just that. They have shown they can come from behind and grind out wins in close games. The next string to add to the bow is that mentality that will allow them to kill games off.
  • The Cage: Another new barn for a lot of the North Stars new players. Even guys who grew up in Saskatchewan may not have played in the Cage because the local midget AAA team plays out of Tisdale. The benches are on one side and the fans are all on the other side. There’s a wall right behind the players bench as well. So the sound can kind of reverberate around the arena and create a really good atmosphere. The Hawks are off to a good start and it wasn’t that long ago that these two teams met in the playoffs so there should be a nice Friday night crowd for this game.
  • Healthy: With Jake McMillen coming back the other night against Kindersley the Stars are close to full health. Adam Smith told me he could return to the lineup this weekend. That would just leave Igor Leonenko as the only injured North Star. There will always be guys banged up over the course of a season. Bumps and bruises are par for the course. But the Stars have had a few veterans out of the lineup in the early going and it can only help the team when those guys return.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Devin Case 2) Matt Havens 1) Evan Weninger
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Baxter Kanter
  • Helpers: Kris Spriggs is the Hawks leading point getter so far with 13 in 5 games. 11 of those points are assists. He tied for the league lead in scoring. Who has he been setting up? I’m not sure but Garrett Dunlop has 5 goals and just 1 assist.
  • Former Star: Carter Danczak is in his 20 year old year after being traded by the North Stars a couple seasons ago. So far he has 2 goals and an assist in 5 games played.
  • Streak: The Hawks lost their season opening game versus Flin Flon. Since then they have won 4 in a row. There most recent win was a 4-2 victory over La Ronge.
  • Specials: The Hawks have 9 power play goals and the Stars have 2. But the Hawks have given up a short handed goal against as well as 8 power play goals against. So in total that’s 9 for and 9 against on specials. Even. The Stars are currently at -4 in that regard. 2 power play goals and a short handed goal versus 7 power play goals against. Considering how bad the gap looks when you see the power play numbers it’s not as spread as it seems. More on special teams in the keys.
  • Head to Head the last 5 years: Nipawin 8-12-0-2; Battlefords 14-6-0-2 and IN Nipawin the last 5 years the Stars are 7-2-0-2
  • Get a lead: Both teams are 3-0 so far this season when leading after 40 minutes of play. The Stars needed a shootout win and an OT win to get to that mark but they are still finding ways to get the full 2 points when they are up going to the third.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Feeling  – There may be a feeling out process early in tonight’s game as there often is when two teams meat for the first time early in a season. There’s a chance that the Stars staff have seen some video of the Hawks. Plus with coach Doug Johnson at the helm again this year this will be the 4th season that coach Hasselberg and coach Johnson have gone head to head. So they should have an idea of what to expect. What we know for sure is that the Hawks and Stars are two teams that almost always work really hard. So early when they are getting to know each other a little the effort level will have to remain high.

2) Alert – Not unlike the Mel in La Ronge the Cage in Nipawin is a rink that has some interesting aspects. The number one thing is the shallowness of the corners. Pucks come out of the corner quickly and at strange angles. Players and goalies have to be alert in that rink.

3) Special Teams – The Hawks power play is off to a great start so far. They are second in the league behind Flin Flon. So the North Stars penalty kill will be tested at times this weekend. The Hawks have 9 power play goals in 5 games played so far this season. 7 of those 9 power play goals have come at home in 3 games. The Hawks penalty kill though hasn’t been good having given up 8 power play goals against. The Stars have just 2 power play goals so far this season. The penalty kill has been getting better and better so this game will be a good test for the PK and a chance for the PP to get going.

North Stars Lineup:

Rewerts
Tremblay

Statchuk – Erickson
Fransoo – Sych
Robin Yew – Weston

Saharchuk – Delainey – O’Sullivan
Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Townsend – Bond
Regan Yew – Keller – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Leonenko, Smith, Kanter, Vermeulen

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