2014 Season Wraps Up

The 2014 Kramer Division champions wrapped up their season last night at the Civic Center with a bbq and awards presentation. Graduating players were presented with their jerseys and some other keep sakes. Kyle Scmidt, Cam Blair, Blake Young, Ben Greenaway, Michael Gudmandson, Taylor Reich, Tanner Quinn and Dillon Forbes are all moving on. They are leaving the program in a better place than it was when they found it.

The Stars also awarded Cam Blair and Blake Young for finishing the season tied in the points race. So we had co-winners of the top scorer award. Blair and Dillon Forbes shared the playoff MVP award. Blair topped the scoring charts for the Stars in the post season and Forbes played most of the playoffs with a serious injury but you wouldn’t no it based on the way he played.

So that wrapped up the season. The players are now heading home for the summer. And to wrap up the season I thought I would share my favourite memory of each player that helped the Stars to the Kramer Division title. From a 4-12 start to a banner in the rafters. It was a season full of drama and twists and turns. And it will always be remembered.

1 – Michael Gudmandson

The first game he played with the Stars. I got to the Civic Center and had no idea the Stars had picked up a goalie. He was known to me from his time with the Stars the season before. So I knew Michael a little bit. I also knew how much he had bounced around. I didn’t know he was going to go on and claim the MVP award for the entire league, another favourite moment was seeing him get his award, but I knew he was a guy who hadn’t found a home in his career. The self proclaimed suitcase came in was given a chance and he grabbed it with a 42 save win in his first game. I am so glad he found a home in his 20 year old season.

2 – Robin Yew

Another player who joined the Stars mid-season and another one that I had some knowledge of from his time as a AAA Star. His first goal stands out as it was a big one. The Stars scored three times in the final period against Melfort with Robin tying the game less than two minutes from the end of regulation. The Stars went on to win the game in the shootout. Robin scored his first North Stars goal in his first game. And it helped the Stars gain a couple points on their road to winning the Kramer Division title.

3 – Tanner Quinn

It’s a strange one but one of my favourite memories of Quinn was from that game in Estevan that really stands out in the mind. November 1st and Quinn absolutely battled his ass off in the final minute. But the Bruins tied it with 3 seconds left. It was looking at Quinn after that goal that made me think the Stars wouldn’t be able to bonce back the next night. He was almost distraught. But he and his team rallied and got the win the next day in Notre Dame which is a testament to the mental strength of Quinn and his team mates. In the playoffs I know Quinn was one of the guys calming everyone down after the Bruins tied it late helping lead to the Kendall Fransoo OT winner. Quinn wore an ‘A’ this season and deserved it for helping turn around the season.

4 – Dillon Forbes

My favourite memory of Dillon Forbes is a tough one to narrow down. I have been following the North Stars for three seasons and Dillon has been on the team for all three. Just like Quinner. Forbes was named playoff MVP and what stands out to me is the bruise on his leg that he showed me one night at Lifetime Fitness. He never missed a game and never missed a beat. His leadership helped the Stars grab two wins in Estevan, when the injury was fresh, and his status as an all time great North Star was cemented. What a warrior. I will also remember his new found one-timer blasting past goalies on the power play.

5 – Braden Lacoursiere

It was a tough season at times for Braden as he was in and out of the lineup. That’s never easy especially for a young player who is itching to make his mark. Both Braden and Robin Yew were great down the stretch and made it very difficult for the Stars to pick a lineup. On October 30th the Stars won what was the 6th of an 8 game winning streak. Lacoursiere scored the game winner. His second goal of that month and he ended up with 2 on the season.

6 – Kendall Fransoo

Another midget aged defenseman making his mark on the North Stars. His OT winner against Estevan and his first ever SJHL goal earlier in the season were both memorable. But nothing stands out more than a classic Fransoo shift against Melville in the playoffs. A couple of blocked shots, a big hit, a good clearance and then some rough stuff after the whistle in front. He just blocked so many shots this season.

7 – Latrell Charleson

I didn’t know much about Latrell until early in the season. I can’t remember which game it was or what the situation was but my favourite memory of Latty was early in the year. We thought he was a stay at home guy. Big and physical and of course mean. But then a moment happened when he was skating out of his own zone at the civic center and right at his blue line he toe dragged around a fore checking forward. There was a lot more to Latrell than met the eye. And what a great season he ended up having as an 18 year old with a very bright future.

8 – Kyle Schmidt

One of my favourite memories of Kyle Schmidt was off the ice. At the kick off breakfast I sat with Kyle and we had a pretty good time. He’s always got a joke and a smile. On the ice though I would have to say that open ice hit he landed at the Civic Center that was the talk of the town for a few days. His steady presence helped get the best out of Jake Erickson and as captain he was a big part of the team not falling apart after that 4-12 start.

9 – Cam Blair

His could also a hit. I mean, how can I not think back fondly on a perfectly executed open ice hit. One of the biggest I have ever seen. But my favourite memory is his two game game against Estevan in the clinching game 5 as the Stars won their opening round series.

11 – Nick Fountain

His goal against Estevan in game #2 which turned out to be a game winner could be the winner. But I love a moment in a game in Humboldt. I think Jack Petrino ended up scoring the goal. But it was a massive open ice hit from Founts in the attacking zone that freed up the puck. Nick didn’t get an assist on the play but it was a great hit in the face off circle that led to a goal and was typical Fountain.

12 – Luke McColgan

Early in 2014 the North Stars won a pair of games in Flin Flon and it was McColgan who helped carry his team to those two wins. His play in January and February was a big reason the North Stars were able to win so many hockey games and claim the division title. His game winner in the second game was perfection. A Bomber player had taunted the Stars bench after a tying goal. McColgan obviously didn’t take kindly to that as the Stars killed of a late power play and once they were back to 5-on-5 McColgan weaved around 4 Bombers before sniping a beauty past Simon Hofley.

14 – Ben Greenaway

Tough to over look his goal against Kindersley. But my favourite Greenaway memories are fights. Last year’s with Bryden Serafini was epic. This season it was a fight against Kailum Gervais in Yorkton that stands out. It may have been a draw but the fight sparked the North Stars who went on to win the game 4-0. That was before the long losing streak but they won the division by a point so those 2 early on the road in Yorkton, a very tough place to win, helped the Stars win the Kramer title. Greener is another guy who I will miss and I am glad he found his home as a North Star.

15 – Blake Young

November 19th. Deflection goal with less than a second left to tie a wild game with Kindersley that the Stars eventually won. Without that deflection they wouldn’t have had the points to win the division. The maturity that Young showed this season was noticeably higher than the previous season. His speed and strength and those bursts up the wing before powering to the net will always be remembered. The game he had in Melfort the night he committed to UMD was also a stand out game. The Stars won 4-2 with Young putting up an assist in an all around solid game.

16 – Jake Erickson

After Luke McColgan’s slick deke on a short handed rush against Melville in game 4 it was Erickson following up to score the goal that helped the Stars on the road to a 5-1 win avoiding elimination for one game at least. It was a great read and my favourite part was Erickson’s celebration. He started to celly then paused to make sure the goal was awarded and then broke out into celebration again. A good memory to go with plenty of others including his go to move of spinning away from pressure at the last second in his own zone before firing a pass out to a streaking forward.

17 – Regan Yew

The Stars blew a lead late in Estevan just after Yew was picked up. He then came into the lineup the next night and scored the tying goal in the third period versus Notre Dame. That was a goal that really helped turn the Stars season around. Moving forward he will play more center and has a great ability in the faceoff circle. His two goal game against Humboldt early in the new year also stands out.

18 – Brenden Heinrich

The night after Yew tied the game against Notre Dame it was Heinrich’s turn. He poked the puck off the stick of Weyburn goalie Rylan Parenteau’s stick and into the net. Heinrich’s first of the year wasn’t his nicest but it was huge as it helped the Stars get rolling in the right direction.

19 – Ryne Keller

The Stars had three really long winning streaks this season. One of them started just before January and began a 13 game win streak. Keller had a 6 game point streak in the midst of that win streak including 7 points overall in that stretch. He had a great game in La Ronge in a 5-3 win putting up 2 assists. He also had 7 points in January. What stands out though is that he was sick and didn’t make the trip to Kindersley. That was the only game of the season, the final one, that he missed. To play the style he does and only miss one game was incredible. I wish he had been on the bus home to celebrate that win and the Kramer Division title.

20 – Reed Delainey

This one is an obvious one. That goal in Notre Dame. After a heart breaking loss the night before against Estevan the Stars some how rebounded with an OT win in Notre Dame. Regan Yew tied the game in the third, as we mentioned earlier, and Dillon Forbes was able to set up Reed Delainey who scored the winner in OT. There must have been something in my eye that night or maybe some allergies because I had a tear in my eye after that goal. Delainey is going to be very good for the Stars in the long term.

21 – Jack Petrino

Petrino was a great addition for the North Stars with his penalty killing and face off prowess alone. He had a tough time getting going offensively this season but he did score some memorable goals. Until the final two games of the regular season the Stars only beat Kindersley once. It was Petrino who opened the scoring in that game on November 19th. A short handed break away and it was a beauty deke finish.

23 – Taylor Reich

The game winner against Kindersley that clinched the division title. Reich was a great pick up as a center with similar credentials to Petrino. He ended up with 10 goals as well. I was glad Reich became a North Star and that goal against the Klippers will never be forgotten.

24 – Jake McMillen

A two goal game late in the season versus Nipawin. The Stars pulled away in the third and McMillen scored on a deflection and then just a sick dangle coming out to the slot before firing home. It was all the things that McMillen is capable of and will bring more of next season. He scored a couple deflections in the playoffs as well. For a smaller guy he battles so well and goes to dirty areas. And as that goal against the Hawks showed he has unreal hands.

25 – Igor Leonenko

Igor came out of the gates quickly scoring 5 goals in his first 8 games including a 4 game goal streak when he found success against Melville and Yorkton. My favourite though was a beauty of a game winner in Nipawin as the Stars rolled to one of their biggest wins of the year. At the time it helped the Stars to a 4-5 record right before a long losing streak. But it was a great goal and a fun game to call in the Cage.

27 – Josh LaFramboise

LaFramboise came in as an ‘AP’ and had a two assist game against Humboldt. It’s always good beating the Broncos and Boisey along with Reed Delainey and Regan Yew have an unreal game as the Stars picked up 2 big points early in the new year. He is going to be a good player for the Stars moving forward and showed signs of being ready now when he got chances.

35 – Darren Martin

Came so close to getting his first career SJHL shutout against Notre Dame late in the season but let in a goal late on a dump in. You know he was upset about that. But about a week later the Stars needed to go 3 for 3 on a southern road trip and it was Martin stepping up in Notre Dame to pick up the third win of that weekend. He was huge that night and especially in the third period in a tight game with his mates looking tired. Getting that shutout, in his final start of the season, was a memorable moment.

There are so many others worth mentioning. Austin Evans’ goals and shootout winners. Casey Parker with his shutout in Yorkton. Robin Carlson’s big goal in Notre Dame. Matt Sheeran, Spencer Gosselin, Joren Johnson Alex Bechtold, Luke Lee Knight and Robbie Newton as well. All players who were with the Stars and played a role in their division title in their own different ways. Plus ‘AP’ goalie Ryan Rewerts. All players who were part of a great 2014.

Finally I want to thank all the players, coaches, staff, board members and fans of the North Stars for another wonderful season. Next year I will call a North Stars game for the first time without Dillon Forbes and Tanner Quinn on the team and it will be weird. Those guys are warriors. All the graduating players will be missed but never forgotten after a magical season.

Thanks to Matty Ryan for everything he does and everyone at the radio station. I had the best seat in the house to sit and watch the 2013-14 Kramer Division Champions!

Playoffs!! Game #5 Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Millionaires lead 3-1

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 -  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires 2 – Battlefords North Stars 1

Game #3Melville Millionaires 5 – Battlefords North Stars 2
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 5 – Melville Millionaires 1

Game #5 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Tonight – Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars came out with their backs against the proverbial wall on Wednesday night in Melville and with their season on the line they played their best game of the playoffs so far. And that’s what it will take to continue working their way back into the series.

The third period of game 3 the North Stars got into some penalty trouble and that seemed to continue into game 4. But with Dillon Forbes in the box after a roughing call it was Luke McColgan who took over. A steal at his own blueline and the California native was in alone. McColgan faked to the backhand twice and just when Isaiah Plett thought he had McColgan going to the forehand the Stars forward went back hand one last time. His shot though hit the post. Luckily, if you believe in luck, Jake Erickson was on hand to pop in the rebound before Isaiah Plett could cover the puck. Erickson told me after the game that he figured that he had better be on hand if there was a rebound. And he did just that.

Not long after the Stars went in front the Regan Yew was called for roughing. It was a good call as Yew had gotten his hands up when throwing a hit. But not even 10 seconds earlier the Mills had gotten away with a penalty when Genereux gave Nick Fountain 7 crosschecks in the back. All 7 went uncalled. Instead of being discouraged or frustrated the Stars scored again short handed. Taylor Reich came across the blueline and rifled a wrist shot past Plett from the high slot. Just inside the post, above the pad and below the blocker. A perfectly placed shot from the Estevan product. For both Erickson and Reich it was their first of the playoffs.

The Stars had a chance on the power play later in the period to extend their lead but they couldn’t beat Plett and the Mills strong defense.

In the second period another Stars forward scored his first of the post season. Tanner Quinn skated on to a loose puck after Dillon Forbes had carried into the Mills zone. Quinn was in alone on Plett and went to the backhand and roofed the puck for a 3-0 lead. The Stars biggest lead of the series. I thought Quinn was at his best in game 4 even before he scored the goal. He was strong on the puck all game, skating hard and being very physical. He also played between the whistles which was something that set the tone for the rest of his team mates.

Late in the second, Lane Harbor scored a rebound goal after Gudmandson had once again made the first save. That made it 3-1 and I did secretly wonder if that might spark the Mills. But the North Stars responded well. Blake Young, in by far his best game of the series, carried out of the corner and slid the puck under a diving Plett. So it was 4-1 heading to the third.

In the third it was the Cam Blair show. First he fired a wrist shot past Isaiah Plett to make it 5-1. That was it for Plett as he was replaced in favour of Richard Palmer. That was a move designed to get Plett ready for game number 5. Blair then threw one of the biggest hits I’ve seen. He caught Colin Mospanchuk in the neutral zone with a perfect body check. Shoulder into the chest. I’ve seen the replay a lot. It was a perfect hit. And after staying down it was very nice to see Mospanchuk skate off under his own power. You never want to see anyone get hurt.

The game got a little chippy after that as you can imagine. And it sets things up nicely for the next game.

The Stars ended up heavily outshooting the Mills, chasing their goalie and hitting the heck out of the home team. It was just one game but it gives the Stars a chance to play another home game at the Civic Center.

Storylines:

  • Home Game: The Stars gave themselves a chance to play another home game in this series. And there is nothing better than a Friday night playoffs game at the Civic Center in April. The place should be loud and busy and hopefully the North Stars can embrace the challenge of giving their home fans a chance to witness a win in this series. SO far in the playoffs the Stars are actually just 2-3 on home ice. 2-1 versus Estevan and 0-2 so far versus Melville.
  • Experience: The North Stars have three players left over from a playoff run a couple years ago in which they were able to come from 3-1 down to beat Nipawin. They then came from 3-0 down to force a game 6 versus Humboldt. The Broncos won that game 6 in OT to move on to the SJHL finals. So the Stars have some guys who have been here before. They know what it takes to get back in the series. And they know what it feels like to fall short. They need to draw on all that experience.
  • Veterans: The Stars have 20 year old players who will end their Junior careers whenever the Stars season ends. Gudmandson, Schmidt, Forbes, Blair, Quinn, Greenaway, Reich and Blake Young who will move on to school next year. These guys don’t want to go out on a loss. They all played very well in game 4 and will be relied upon for however long this series continues.
  • Lineups: At this time of year both teams are going to be banged up. Guys are playing hurt. Last game the Mills brought in Ostertag and Sutherland in place of Ashton Clark and Eric Meyer. Mospanchuk didn’t return after the hit from Blair. The Stars have healthy options they could bring in to the lineup if they need to make a change. It will be interesting to see who is and who isn’t in the lineup.
  • Margin for Error: The home team for game number 5 once again won’t have any room for error. They have to be at their best for another 60 minutes as they once again face elimination. The Stars won’t mind though as they have been in this situation several times before this season. And they did very well in game 4 in the same scenario.
  • Spring Camp: The North Stars will be holding their spring camp at the Civic Center this weekend. The schedule for the camp is up on http://www.northstars.ca The future of the North Stars will be on the ice for scrimmages several times over the weekend. They will get to make an impact on the Stars coaching staff and the staff will get to make an impression on the players. Game 5 on a Friday night at the Civic Center is a great way to show the young players just what the North Stars program is all about.

Game Notes:

  • First Goals: The Stars got first goals of the post season from 3 guys. They got a point from Luke McColgan. And Cam Blair was back on the score sheet. But the Stars got offense from throughout the lineup. And hopefully got some guys going as well. Balance was the order of the day in their regular season as they got offense and contributions from all over and that returned in game 4.
  • Shorties: Those first period goals last game were the Stars first short handed goals of the playoffs. The Stars had 6 regular season short handed goals. Neither Taylor Reich or Jake Erickson scored a shorty in the regular season.
  • Regulation Win: The North Stars hadn’t beaten the Mills in regulation in a long time prior to game #4. How long? Well it hadn’t happened this year in the previous 3 games of this series or in the 4 meeting in the regular season. Last season the Mills were 4-0 against the North Stars. So you have to go back to December 2nd of 2011 for the last North Stars win in regulation. Blake Tatchell had 2 goals and an assist in that win. Brody Luhning had a goal and 2 helpers. Woody Klassen had 4 assists. Connor Creech picked up the win in net.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Another 60 – It’s pretty simple for the Stars. They had their best effort of the series in game 4. And they were good for a full 60 minutes. That’s the key to winning in this series. They have to complete a full game at their best if they want to force a game 6.

2) Shots The North Stars heavily out shot the Mills in the previous game. They were shooting from everywhere. Good accurate shots as well. And they were hounding out rebounds. That’s the way they have to play. Take care of the puck, move it quickly and when they get to the attack fire away.

3) House – Protecting “the house” is all about competing. Wanting it more than the other guy. The Stars did that in game 4. They actually did it in game 3 until the third period as well. If the Stars protect the front of their net and get to the front of the Melville goal then the Stars will win in their house, the Civic Center.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Delainey
Quinn – Reich – Heinrich
Regan Yew – Petrino – Greenaway

Scratches: Leonenko, Robin Yew, LaFramboise ‘AP’, Fountain

Playoffs!! Game #4 – North Stars at Melville Millionaires – HCUC

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Millionaires lead 2-0

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 -  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires 2 – Battlefords North Stars 1

Game #3Melville Millionaires 5 – Battlefords North Stars 2
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars are on the brink of elimination after last night’s 5-2 loss in Melville. The North Stars fell behind early on in the game when they were unable to clear a rebound. Michael Gudmandson was good last night and several goals against were on the second and third rebound. The opening goal was popped home by Lane Harbor after a couple of Gudmandson pad saves.

The North Stars responded a couple minutes later with Jake McMillen again hitting the back of the net. For the second game in a row McMillen was able to deflect a good point shot past Isaiah Plett in the Mills goal.

In the second period the North Stars played perhaps their best period of the series so far. They controlled the play for long stretches and the Millionaires were struggling to deal with what the North Stars were throwing at them. Latrell Charleson threw a big hit on Eric Meyer that I think was clean. There was no call on the play. I didn’t have a great view but I didn’t see much wrong with the hit. Meyer appeared to be okay immediately after the hit but moments later went down in a heap and I don’t think he returned to the game.

Adam Dibella took exception to the hit and stepped in to fight Charleson. Latrell is a big strong kid and he handled himself well in the fight. Dibella didn’t get a chance to throw many punches and Charleson took the decision.

The North Stars had a lead to play with in the third period thanks to a power play goal from Braden Lacoursiere. He was likely only on the PP unit because Charleson was in the box at the time serving his fighting major penalty. Lacoursiere was able to step into a puck and fire it past Plett. Ryne Keller with the assist and the Stars had a 2-1 lead to play with heading to the final period.

But that’s where the wheels came off. The Stars took a couple early penalties including one for having too many players on the ice. The Mills scored on the second of those penalties to tie the game. Another rebound goal past Gudmandson who made the initial save. Moments later Kyle Schmidt hacked at Sam Williams who was on a partial break. The ref awarded a penalty shot. I didn’t think it was a clear break away but none the less the Mills suddenly had a chance to take the lead. Williams made a nice move to the back hand and beat Goody.

So suddenly with 2 goals in 18 seconds the Mills had the lead and the Horizon Credit Union Center was rocking. So were the North Stars. And they weren’t able to regroup in time. Reed Murray scored two more goals as the Mills pulled away for a 5-2 victory. The home side went 3-9 on the power play and scored on a penalty shot as well. The Stars lost their cool a little in the third.

Both Colin Mospanchuk and Ashton Clark were helped off the ice at various points last night. Mospanchuk was able to return in the third and help spark his team to the win. I don’t think Clark returned to the game.

Melville now has a chance on home ice to win their 8th straight game to open the playoffs and sweep their way through two rounds and into the league finals. The North Stars must win tonight to extend the series and their season.

Storylines:

  • Sweep: The Mills swept the Kindersley Klippers in the previous series. So they have experience closing out a team on home ice. They have been on an incredible roll through the playoffs so far. The North Stars will be going up against a team that is supremely confident. They will have to overcome the Mills and their momentum if they want to force a 5th game in the series which would be Friday night at the Civic Center.
  • Race to 4: The North Stars approach doesn’t change in a playoff series whether they are up 3-0 or down 3-0 in the series. It’s a race to 4 wins and it doesn’t matter how or when you win those 4 games. As long as the Stars get to 4 before the Mills. The North Stars don’t have any room for error now. But the Mills haven’t won the series yet. They haven’t gotten win number 4 yet.
  • Destiny: The North Stars can’t think about it tonight because they can’t win all 4 games at once. All they can do is win game #4 this evening. But the last time the North Stars won a league championship they came from 3-0 down to win a series. That is what they will have to do this year if they want to have a chance to win the league title.
  • Second Period: The Stars were fantastic in the second period last night. That was the kind of hockey this team is capable of playing. And the Mills struggled with the Stars. The road team will need to play that way for a full 60 minutes in order to pull out a victory. They know what they are capable of producing on the ice and I am sure they know that they haven’t played their best hockey yet in this series. The Mills deserve a lot of credit for playing so well and maybe they find a way to win if both teams are at their best tonight. The Stars will play a great game for a full 60 and see what happens.
  • Rebounds and Deflections: The North Stars have scored 4 goals in 3 games so far in the series and 3 have been deflected. The Mills scored 3 or 4 goals last night that were on rebounds. Both teams are having a tough time scoring on the first shot. Which is to be expected at this time of the season. The North Stars have to be a little better at controlling the ice in front of Michael Gudmandson and clearing rebounds.
  • Spring Camp: The North Stars will be holding their spring camp at the Civic Center coming up this weekend. I will post a spring camp schedule a little later this week. It’s a chance for young players to experience the North Stars program. They will be on the ice for scrimmages several times over the weekend. They will get to make an impact on the Stars coaching staff and the staff will get to make an impression on the players. Game 5, which is still if necessary and let’s hope it is necessary, on a Friday night at the Civic Center would be a great way to show the young players just what the North Stars program is all about.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Just Win – It doesn’t matter how they do it. If they win 8-7 or 1-0 in 5 overtimes. If they play bad and find a way to grind out a win or dominate for a full 60. It doesn’t really matter how they do it or what it looks like at this point. The North Stars just need to find a way to win tonight’s hockey game. Win pretty. Win ugly. Just win.

2) Protect the House Clearing rebounds and controlling the front of the net will go a long way to clinching a victory tonight. Gudmandson was good last night and made the first save pretty much every time. The Stars control their house and they have a great chance to extend the series.

3) Full 60 – We have seen flashes of it so far in the series but we haven’t seen a full 60 minutes of North Stars hockey. A full 60 is what is needed. No matter what the score is at the time. No matter if the bounces seem to be going their way or not. No matter what the refs decide is a penalty or isn’t. On the PK or the PP. A full 60 minutes effort of the brand of hockey that the North Stars are famous for producing. That’s the order of the day.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Delainey
Quinn – Reich – Heinrich
Fountain – Regan Yew – Greenaway

Scratches: Leonenko, Robin Yew, LaFramboise ‘AP’, Petrino

Playoffs!! SJHL Semifinal: Game#3 – North Stars at Melville Millionaires – HCUC

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Millionaires lead 2-0

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 -  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires 2 – Battlefords North Stars 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 1st @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars are in a big hole after a 2-1 loss in game 2 of the SJHL semifinals on Saturday night.

The Stars and Mills were tied after a first period in which the Stars came out of the gates quickly but couldn’t beat Isaiah Plett with a couple of decent scoring chances. The Millionaires got better as the period went along and were helped out when Luke McColgan, who had a lot of jump in the early going, was sent off for a hit to the head. That’s a 2 minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct. The Stars killed the penalty but were without McColgan for the last 7 minutes of the opening period and the first 5 of the second.

Early in the second period the Millionaires grabbed a lead. Juts 2:27 into the period it was Sam Williams with his first of the playoffs. Landon Farrell found the puck down low and fired out front to Williams who was able to beat Gudmandson.

It took a couple more minutes after the goal, and the return of McColgan helped, but the Stars started to take over the game after falling behind. I thought they got better and better as the second period progressed. They ended up out shooting the Mills 13-7 in the period but again couldn’t beat Plett.

They did just that early in the third. Jake McMillen standing right on the doorstep and he was able to tip the puck past Plett. Latrell Charleson and McColgan drew the assists. The Stars now have 2 goals in 2 games versus Plett and both were deflections. That shows just how good he has been so far in this series.

The Stars made one mistake in the third period and it lead to a partial 2-on-1 which was stopped by Gudmandson. But Alec Brandrup followed up and popped home a loose puck to put Melville in front for good. The Stars ended up out-chancing the Mills in the final period but couldn’t pull of the victory.

The Millionaires now lead 2-0 heading back to Melville and they are 6-0 so far in the playoffs.

Storylines:

  • Unbeaten: The Mills haven’t lost so far in the playoffs. And 5 of those 6 wins have come by a single goal. Maybe they are some sort of team of destiny. Or maybe they have been getting a little lucky. The most likely answer though is simply that they have a good team that is playing well at the right time with a goalie who is on a roll. It doesn’t really matter at this point from the North Stars perspective. What matters is finding a way to stop the Mills roll. The are unbeaten so far but that doesn’t mean they are unbeatable.
  • Road Warriors: After last night’s double OT win for Yorkton the road teams have won every game so far this round. Which is strange. The North Stars put up a fantastic road record this season. They were actually better on the road than they were at home. And they are 2-0 on the road in the playoffs so far. They need at least a split in Melville to force a game 5 back at the Civic Center on Friday night.
  • Adversity: The North Stars have faced their share of it this season. And they’ve dealt with it very well. They have the right leadership group and coaching staff to overcome adversity. So they won’t panic at any point in  a series. And we know they won’t give up. The Millionaires should be expecting one heck of a fight from the North Stars as this series continues.
  • Power Play: The North Stars have now failed on 11 straight power play opportunities. They are struggling to score goals in the series and that’s partially because of the power play not finishing. That said though Coach Hasselberg was happy with the PP after game 2. They moved the puck well and created opportunities. It’s only a matter of time before they start scoring. As long as they keep drawing penalties as they have in the series so far then they should be fine.
  • Spring Camp: The North Stars will be holding their spring camp at the Civic Center coming up this weekend. I will post a spring camp schedule a little later this week. It’s a chance for young players to experience the North Stars program. They will be on the ice for scrimmages several times over the weekend. They will get to make an impact on the Stars coaching staff and the staff will get to make an impression on the players. Game 5, which is still if necessary and let’s hope it is necessary, on a Friday night at the Civic Center would be a great way to show the young players just what the North Stars program is all about.

Game Notes:

  • OT: The Stars and Mills have each played 1 OT game so far in the playoffs. And both teams are 1-0 in OT. The other semifinal series has seen overtime in each game so far. Humboldt has played OT 4 times and Yorkton 3 overall in the playoffs. I can’t tell if the other teams have had a lot of overtime games or if the Stars have had less than normal. Will we see OT in Melville?
  • First: The Melville Millionaires have scored first in 5 of their 6 games so far in the playoffs. Game 1 versus the Stars was the only time they haven’t and they came back to win that game as we know. With the way Plett is playing it’s important for the Stars to play with leads. Hopefully they can jump out to an early lead in game 3.
  • Shorty: Neither team has a shorthanded goal so far in the playoffs. Both the Stars and Mills scored shorthanded in the regular season. Landon Farrell was second in the league with 4. Ben Greenaway, Blake Young and Jack Petrino all had 2 short handed goals in the regular season.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Get to Plett – The North Stars have created chances in this series and especially in game 2. They simply need to do a better job finishing those chances. Plett has been outstanding so far so it won’t be easy. The Stars have maybe been squeezing the stick a little too tight. Perhaps heading out on the road will help them relax and enjoy the challenge of trying to beat Plett and the Mills.

2) Limit Mistakes The Stars didn’t make a ton of mistakes in game #2 but the Mills capitalized when they did. That’s been the Melville way so far in the series and the playoffs. So the North Stars will simply have to play as close to mistake free hockey as possible, which they are capable of as we have seen this season, and convert a higher rate of their chances than the Mills.

3) Get a Win – It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be, and likely won’t be, easy. The North Stars just have to lean on their experiences this season. Lean on the fact that they are a great road team. Lean on the fact that they have a great group of young men with skill, speed, toughness and tenacity. So find a way to get a win. Scratch, claw, fight. Whatever it takes.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

Young – Blair – LaFramboise ‘AP’
McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Quinn – Petrino – Heinrich
Greenaway – Reich – Regan Yew

Scratches: Leonenko, Delainey, Fountain, Robin Yew

Playoffs!! Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 -  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Tonight@ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 1st @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost 4-1 last night to the Melville Millionaires as the Mills were able to steal home ice away from the Stars early in the series.

There were some similarities to the previous round as the Mills came into the Civic Center and outplayed the Stars. They also won by the same 4-1 score that Estevan managed in game 1 of the previous round. Blake Young scored early for the Stars as they struck on the power play. A Kyle Schmidt point shot was re-directed off the post and in as the Stars jumped on Melville. The Stars had earned the power play on a nice move from Jake McMillen to get to the front of the net. He was hauled down and the Stars scored on the power play. A great start.

But from there is was all Mills. They tied the game with a first period power play marker of their own. A shot from the line hit Colin Mospanchuk at the side of the net and rebounded past Gudmandson. They then scored early in the second to make it 2-1. Reed Murray with a nifty backhand redirection that got past Gudmandson and juts snuck inside the far post.

Gudmanson was then beat by a shot off the rush just 32 seconds into the third and the Mills got an empty netter late. it wasn’t the North Stars number 1 goalie at his best. Although I am not sure he takes much blame for any of the goals I know Goody will not be happy having given up 4 goals and he will be looking to bounce back tomorrow.

The keys for the Stars in the loss? It appeared the Millionaires got under the skin of the North Stars and that’s something coach Hasselberg talked about in the post-game show. It’s also something that will need to be addressed. The Stars also went 1-8 on the power play and after that early first period marker they didn’t do much to get to the front of the net or to bother Isaiah Plett. Of his 38 only a handful were tough and very few were through traffic.

Storylines:

  • Bounce back: The North Stars bounced back against Estevan with a much better effort in game 2. They will need the same thing tonight at the Civic Center. I did not think the North Stars had a very good game last night. Give the Mills all the credit as they were fantastic. The North Stars will need to be much better to compete with this Melville squad.
  • Physical: Game 1 was very physical from both teams. It’s going to be a long hard grind of a series. Both teams will be battered and bruised. The Stars didn’t manage the puck well last night. They didn’t get as many pucks in deep as we are used to seeing. And because of that they weren’t as physical as we are used to seeing. In order for the Stars to grind the Mills D they need to be better with the puck especially in the neutral zone.
  • Penalties: A combined 12 power plays and I thought there were several infractions that went uncalled for both sides as well. Could have been a lot more chances on the man advantage. The North Stars in particular need to play on the edge where they are physical and intense but without crossing the line. I think I would be fine with this series being played mostly at 5-on-5 as I think the Stars will be just fine playing that way.
  • Second Period: Once again I thought the North Stars had a rough second period. Not sure why it keeps happening but I know it’s something they will be looking to correct. They also need to be ready to play early in periods as they given up some early period goals so far in the playoffs. A couple little corrections that could take the Stars a long way.
  • Puck Management: Whether it was misguided passes or passes that weren’t fielded cleanly the North Stars struggled moving the puck last night. They made some bad decisions. And all in all they didn’t put pucks where they want to put them. How many times did they fluff a dump in or fan on a pass? Too many to count. That will have to chance tonight. They must take care of the puck which is the way the North Stars are famous for playing.

Game Notes:

  • Shots: The North Stars don’t lose very often when they outshoot their opponent. But when they it’s because they weren’t able to get to the dirty areas and weren’t able to create traffic in front. That was the case last night. It will be interesting to see how many shots the Stars get tonight and how many are with a guy planted in front.
  • McColgan: While he didn’t get on the score sheet I though Luke was one of the North Stars best players last night. His line looked dangerous at times. And McColgan himself? Plenty of jump. He’s played well against Melville this season. He could be a huge key.
  • Crowd: Another 1,500 people in the Civic Center last night. The Wilkie Outlaws were playing a provincial final game at home. That may have cost the Stars a few fans. Hopefully another big crowd turns out tomorrow night. No matter what happens the North Stars always work hard and the game are always entertaining. And a big crowd can really help the Stars as they need a bounce back game tonight.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Big Players – Coach Hasselberg mentioned on the post-game show that the big players need to be big players. He meant that literally. It wasn’t big players in terms of their best players needing to play well. (which they do) But in terms of their bigger players physically need to play big. They have some bulk up front that needs to used to good effect on the Mills D and in front of Plett.

2) Composure Coach Hasselberg also mentioned the Mills beaking the Stars and getting under their skin. So there is another area where the Stars can and will be better. If the just focus on  playing their hockey they will likely get the last word. With wins.

3) Consistent – The home town boys need a solid full 60 minute effort. Take care of the puck. Go to the net. And do it consistently for the full game.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Yew

McMillen – McColgan – Delainey
Young – Blair – Keller
Quinn – Petrino – Heinrich
Fountain – Reich – Greenaway

Scratches: Leonenko, Regan Yew, Lacoursiere

Playoffs Round 2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

 

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Friday @ 7:30pm- Civic Center
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Saturday @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 1st @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat Estevan 2-1 back a week ago on Friday the 21st. The Millionaires beat Kindersley 1-0 on Wednesday the 19th. Both teams have had some time off and should be fresh.

Storylines:

  • Regular Season: The Mills won 3 of the 4 head to head meetings this season with the North Stars lone win coming in a shootout. But the two teams haven’t played each other in a really long time. October 29th was the last time these two teams met. The Mills have wins of 4-2, 3-2 and 4-3. The North Stars win was 5-4 in a shootout. So 3 of the 4 games were decided by a single goal.
  • New Look: There are several new faces on these two teams since the last time they met. The North Stars didn’t play a game against the Millionaires with the Yew twins on the team. Or Michael Gudmandson. And Cam Blair faced them with Flin Flon but not with the North Stars. Kyle Schmidt only got into two games versus Melville. Jake McMillen just one. The Stars haven’t seen Melville since they lost Tyson Predinchuk and TJ Reeve and added Sam Williams. These teams will look and lineup differently than they did earlier in the season. If anyone can even remember those games way back at the start of the year.
  • Similarities: These two teams are very similar in a lot of ways. They were separated in the standings by a single point. They have the top two candidates for Coach of the Year which Melville head coach Jamie Fiesel won. They have great goaltending. They skate fast, work hard and hit. And they battled each other closely all season long. Each team lost just once in regulation in the regular season when leading after two periods. They have similar special teams numbers. They were the top two road teams in the SJHL this season and both are 2-0 on the road so far in playoffs. The list goes on and on. They basically played 4 games this season that were decided by a single goal, one had an empty netter, so we know they are closely matched.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars closed the regular season on a great run and they were able to catch Kindersley for the Kramer Division title. But Melville faltered a little down the stretch as well and that enabled the Stars to catch them as well. That late rally gives the North Stars home ice advantage in this series which could be huge as it is almost certainly going to be a long hard fought series.
  • Secondary Scoring: Scoring of any kind could be hard to come by. The Stars scored 11 goals in 5 games against Estevan. The Mills scored 10 goals in their 4 game sweep of the Klippers. But 5 of those goals came in game 1. These two teams have already played a bunch of close hard fought playoff games. Secondary scoring will be huge in this series. We know what the top guys like Blair and Young for the Stars and Mospanchuk and Farrell can do for the Mills. The Mills got secondary scoring from guys like Walz, Constant and Harbor in round 1. The Stars got a little from Nick Fountain and the D corp. For the Stars a big series from the likes of McColgan, McMillen and someone like Reich or Delainey could go a long way to tipping the balance.

Game Notes:

  • Goalies: Isaiah Plett is the top goalie so far in playoffs. He is 4-0 with a 1.49 goals against and has stopped 95 percent of the shots he has faced. Michael Gudmandson is 4-1 with a 1.70 GAA and a 94.4 save percentage. Both goalies have a shutout.
  • Stars struggles: It won’t have any bearing on this series because the teams are so different from earlier this year and of course from last year as well. But it’s interesting to note that the Mills have beaten the Stars 7 out of the last 8 meetings. They were 4-0 last year and 3-1 this year. In the last 16 games the Stars are 6-10 which means they were 5-3 the two years previous.
  • Regular Season Scoring: For the North Stars it was Luke McColgan, which is encouraging for the Stars, who lead the way with 6 points in 4 games. Latrell Charleson had 4 points in 4 games versus Melville. Igor Leonenko had 2 goals and 3 points versus the Mills. Allan Kilback paced the Mills with 5 points in those 4 games.
  • PIMs: Remember who often the Stars were in the box at the start of the season? Dillon Forbes had 54 PIMs in games against the Mills. The Mills had 21 power plays in 4 games versus the Stars this season. The North Stars don’t have that same problem anymore. They were great at staying out of the box versus Estevan. That will be big in this series.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Secondary Scoring – I touched on it earlier. We know what the top guys can do. The Stars will get offense from Blair and Young. They need to continue to get offense from other areas and in particular the second line.

2) Special Teams With the special teams units both being so similar it could come down to a big kill at a key moment that makes the difference.

3) Timely Scoring – I think almost every game in this series is going to come down to a goal or two at most. So scoring a goal at a key time will be huge. The Stars got key goals at key times, both 5-on-5 and on the PP, in their series win over Estevan.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Yew – Charleson

Quinn – Petrino – Heinrich
Young – Blair – Keller
McMillen – McColgan – Leonenko
Fountain – Reich – Greenaway

Scratches: Regan Yew, Delainey, Lacoursiere

Gudmandson named SJHL MVP

For the second time in the past three seasons a North Star has been named the SJHL’s Most Valuable Player. And it would be tough to argue with this year’s selection. After joining the North Stars in mid-November Michael Gudmandson helped lead the team on a super charged run to the Kramer Division title as they swept past the Kindersley Klippers on the final weekend of the season.

The North Stars were starting to come out of their struggles a little when Gudmandson arrived but they took off when he grabbed the starters role. The Stars brought Gudmandson in as almost a roll of the dice as they were looking for a 20 year old veteran goalie. A young tandem of Darren Martin, who ended up having a heck of a rookie season, and Casey Parker, a great young man and player, wasn’t what the North Stars were looking for in net. So they brought Goody in to compete for the job and on that first weekend he took off with 2 wins and a shutout. He never looked back.

Gudmandson ended up with sparkling numbers. 20-3-0-1 in his 24 starts with a 1.74 goals against average. Gudmandson stopped 94.4% of the shots he faced. He was a huge part of the Stars going from a 4-12 start to Kramer Division champs and was also a big part in their first round series win over Estevan.

It was the year of the goalies in the SJHL with Ryland Pashovitz also being honoured as the SJHL’s top rookie and Kale Thomson named the top goalie after posting 8 shutouts. But it’s Gudmandson who had the biggest impact on his team as he stabilized the North Stars in goal as they posted one of the league’s best defensive records. To be fair the North Stars improved as the season progressed and they do have a great group of defenseman, plus two way forwards, playing in front of Gudmandson. But when it comes to the last line of defense it was Goody making all the key saves.

It’s a special story as Gudmandson bounced around a lot in his career. He made stops in the NAHL with Dawson Creek. The VIHJL with Oceanside. The BCHL with Nanaimo. The CCAA with Nait, after attending North Stars training camp, before finishing last season with the Humboldt Broncos. This season Goody was in the MJHL with Neepawa before rejoining the Stars. He was a self described “suitcase” before finding a home here in the Battlefords. To finally land in the right spot with the right team and to run with that opportunity, to show what a talented player he was all along, well that is all part of what made this season so special.

So now he has SJHL MVP honours to go with his Kramer Division MVP award and multiple goalie of the week awards.

A couple seasons ago it was North Battleford native Blake Tatchell taking home the MVP award. So in my three seasons of broadcasting North Stars hockey I’ve been lucky enough to witness two MVP seasons. Tatchell and the Stars fell in the North final that season. Here’s hoping Gudmandson can lead the Stars even further in this year’s playoff run.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The SJHL also announced some more awards yesterday on their website. Cam Blair was named the SJHL Player of the Week. During the past week in three games played Blair posted 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points. He led the Stars offensively in their 3 straight wins during the voting period. And with at least a point in all 5 games versus Estevan it was arguably Blair who was the Stars MVP in round 1 of the playoffs. He has done exactly what the North Stars were looking for when they traded very good players to get Blair from Flin Flon.

Round 1 Audio Highlights

Here is an audio highlight package from the North Stars round 1 victory over Estevan. I will have more later today on the MVP award for Michael Gudmandson and the player of the week award for Cam Blair.

North Stars reach semifinals with 5 game series win

Series Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Last Game:

The Battlefords North Stars eliminated the Estevan Bruins last night with a 2-1 victory at the Civic Center.

The Bruins jumped out to an early lead with their top line providing the offense yet again. A Tanner Froese shot came back off the chest protector of Michael Gudmandson and the loose puck went right to Cory Kosloski. He was able to bat the puck across to Austin Daae who finished into the empty net.

Gudmandson shut the door the rest of the way. He ended up making 20 saves for the win which seems like a pretty easy outing but several of those saves were top notch. Gudmandson was a real key for the Stars in this series giving up just 8 goals in the 5 games and 4 in the final 4 as the Stars streaked to the series win.

The Stars tied the game late in the first period when Latrell Charleson set up Cam Blair. Charleson was along the wall skating up the right wing into the Bruins zone. His pass to the high slot found Blair. The Stars forward closed in on Gibney and used the D man as a screen before firing in on the blocker side just inside the post.

The Stars were 0-1 on the power play in the first and were able to stay out of the box.

The second period was when Gudmandson really stood tall. He made a number of great saves on the 9 shots he faced including a fantastic save with the arm/glove to rob Froese. The Stars were 0-1 on the power play in the second and after really controlling the first had a bit of an off period. The Bruins out shot the Stars 9-8 in the middle frame.

In the third it was the Stars starting to take over once again. They had 13 shots and got the goal they needed. It was Blair again on the power play beating Gibney. For Blair that was goal number 5 in the series to go along with 2 assists as he was the Stars top offensive player in round 1.

The Stars were able to shut the door late and not give the Bruins anything. The third period was also the only period in which the North Stars were in the penalty box. But the PK was outstanding killing both Bruins PP chances. The work last night of Petrino, Quinn and Heinrich was outstanding. I thought the Reich line was excellent as well with Reed Delainey closing the series with two really good performances.

The Stars now have about a week to rest and get healthy. There were some guys who were a little bumped and bruised after a tough 5 game series with Estevan so the rest will be beneficial.

After game 1 the Stars for the most part were pretty locked in defensively as they were able to limit scoring chances against a really good offensive team. They will need to continue to work on their defensive structures as the Mills have a strong offensive group as well.

We will have more on that series coming up this week. But for now we can enjoy a great 5 game series win over a tough and gritty Bruins team. With a special shout out to the 1,500 fans at the Civic Center last night.

Playoffs!! Game 5 – Estevan Bruins at North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: Stars lead series 3-1

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

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

20140319_211845_resized

Last game recap: – They say the playoffs will breed unlikely heroes. Like game 1 in the Melville Kindersley series when a player who had scored 4 goals in the regular season, Brady Constant, scored a hat trick in his first playoff game. Well for the North Stars the unlikely offensive hero was Kendall Fransoo. Early in overtime the Stars got the puck in deep and were able to recover it with good work down low from Nick Fountain. Taylor Reich took the loose puck towards the right corner and then fired a pass out front.

Originally I thought Reed Delainey missed the puck in the slot but after seeing a replay it sure looked like he meant to let the puck slide through his legs and all the way to the point. Reed said after the game that it was in fact intentional.

Fransoo was manning the line and took that puck and hammered a slapshot past Matt Gibney. Fountain was working his way to the front of the net but I am not sure they he managed to get a screen. Lynden Pastachak was also in the lane but it looks like Fransoo just blasted the puck right by Gibney.

Before the OT winner that game was similar to the game on November 1st when the Stars were on their losing streak and gave up a goal with 3 seconds left and then lost in a shootout. This time they got a different result.

Blake Young scored 14 seconds into the second period after a pretty quiet first. The big news out of the opening period was that Tanner Quinn didn’t return to the ice for the remainder of the game. His status for tonight’s game is uncertain. As is Ben Greenaway’s after he got sick following game 3.

The Stars had finished the first on the power play after a double minor for high sticking against Pastachak. Young’s goal came 1 second after the second penalty had expired early in the second. Cam Blair got the puck to Young in the slot area and Young was able to get to the backhand and roof the puck past Gibney.

With the score still 1-0 the Stars got a huge save from Michael Gudmandson. Latrell Charleson had just finished belting Lynden Pastachak when the Stars lost the puck and it came right to the slot to Tanner Froese. He was all alone but couldn’t beat the glove of the sprawling Gudmandson.

The Stars then hit the crossbar and post in rapid succession later in the frame. Reed Delainey was back in the lineup and had a good game. His shot hit the bar and the rebound went right to Nick Fountain who spun and fired off the post. I seem to remember a similar play in Weyburn earlier this season when the Stars hit iron twice back to back like that and I am sure Nick Fountain was involved in that play as well.

The Stars went 0-5 on the power play in game 4 but both of Young’s goals came just after penalties had expired. His second goal was again set up by Blair. After a nice move around Pastachak, again just out of the box, Blair rushed into Estevan territory, went wide, swooped behind the net and then tried a wrap around. He was stopped but Young poked home the rebound.

From there it was a matter of the Stars missing some chances to extend the lead and the Bruins missing chances to close the gap. The Bruins started not taking penalties and got better as the third period progressed. Garagan missed a great chance in front before Austin Daae got on the board. He was stopped on the first attempt by Gudmandson but got his own rebound and scored on the back hand.

The Stars were holding on a little at this point but looked to have the job done. Unfortunately they were unable to clear the puck. David Robertson’s pointshot was deflected by Tanner Froese in front and it was 2-2 with 4 seconds left. There was a lot of debate about whether it was a high stick. It looked close to me on the rebound but the Stars didn’t complain too much and we went to OT.

After the game coach Hasselberg said his team will look to learn from the 3rd period and get better at playing with the lead. They now have a chance to win the series tonight.

Storylines:

  • Elimination: The 4th game is the toughest to win in any series. The Bruins have plenty of 20 year olds who will not want their junior careers to come to an end. Plus younger players who won’t want their season to end. Down 2 goals with a little over 5 minutes left the Bruins still fought back to force OT in game 4. They showed just how determined they are in that game. The Stars will have to be at their best to win tonight’s game and end this series.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars have a chance to win a series on home ice for the first time since beating Nipawin in game 7 on home ice two years ago. That was the last time the Stars won a playoff series as they then lost the north final to Humboldt in 6 games. And last season the Stars lost in the wildcard series. It’s always great winning a series at home in front of a huge crowd. But like I said it won’t be easy tonight.
  • Home Ice, part 2: The home team in this series is 1-3 so far. The Stars won game 2 at the Civic Center but other than that the road team has won each game.
  • Overtime: That was the first time in this series that OT was played. But there have been plenty of OT games in the playoffs so far in the SJHL. There were two last night. The Bruins played a bunch of OT against the Bombers in the wildcard series. The Stars are 1-0 in OT so far. The Bruins are 2-2. Each series in the quarterfinals has had at least 1 OT game. The Stars were really good in the regular season in one goal games which could serve them well in the postseason.
  • Unlikely Hero: Last game it was Kendall Fransoo scoring a goal. What will it be tonight? Who will make the big play that sets up his team for the win? It’s always fascinating watching the playoffs develop to see different players taking on different roles. Seeing a young player come through in a clutch moment. I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.
  • Travel: The new SJHL playoff format has the potential to spit out some cool matchups. Melville versus Yorkton for a league final is still a possibility. Imagine a season ending at some point in the future with the North Stars and Klippers going head to head for a league title? That would be incredible. But the worst has happened in terms of the Bruins travel schedule. Up to Flin Flon for games last round and now up to the Battlefords for the second time. I empathize with their players and staff being on the bus that much. That’s just a lot of travel. The BCHL has 3 division and they playoff within the divisions and then the 3 winners will play a round robin style format. I’m not sure that’s the answer either.
  • Other Action: There is one other game tonight in the SJHL with Yorkton hosting Notre Dame. The Terriers won in OT last night and now lead that series 3-1. So they can move on with a win. The Humboldt Broncos won 3-2 in OT against Melfort last night. That series is tied 2-2. Game 5 goes tomorrow night. Not to get ahead of ourselves because there’s a lot of hockey to be played tonight. But IF both the Stars and Terriers win tonight then three of the four series will be done. That would just leave Humboldt and Melfort and that series looks like a potential 7 gamer.

Game Notes:

  • Point streaks: Cam Blair’s goal streak came to an end in game 4 but his point streak continued. With his 2 helpers last game Blair now has 5 points in 4 games. Kyle Schmidt is on a 2 game assist streak and now has 3 points in the playoffs.
  • Shutout Streak: Michael Gudmandson put up a pretty impressive streak of 169 minutes and 11 seconds. From early in the first period of game 2 until late in the third in game 4. That’s about as close as you can get to a 3 games shutout streak without getting more than 1 shutout.
  • Penalty Killing: The Bruins went 2-5 on the PP in game 1. Since then they are 0-12. The Stars PK has been excellent. The Bruins PK in the playoffs is operating at 94.6 percent. That’s tops in terms of the teams left in the playoffs. Partly because of the strong play of the goalies in this series but the PK units have been great.
  • One Penalty: The North Stars only allowed the Bruins one chance on the power play in game 4. Which is obviously a fantastic performance. The Stars played physical but composed and between the whistles. They skated away from places where they may take a penalty. I said on the broadcast if the Stars take 3 or fewer penalties they have a great chance to win.
  • Crowd: There were 1,400 fans at the Civic Center on Saturday night for game 1 and a little over a thousand for game 2 on a Sunday night. So I can only imagine how big the crowd will be for a Friday night game with the Stars having a chance to move on. 1,500? More than that? Close to 2,000? All I know for sure is that I am very excited to get to the rink tonight.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Front Foot – The North Stars sat back a bit in the third period of game 4. Which is natural with a 2 goal lead and that’s why a 2 goal lead is the worst in all of hockey. It will be important for the Stars to come out on the front foot and stay there.

2) Opening Frame Coach Hasselberg said on the post game show after game 4 that the first period tonight will be a key. He talked about setting the tone on home ice. It goes hand in hand with the first key. The first 20 minutes could decide the whole game.

3) Desperation – The Bruins season is on the line. Their 20 year old players will be desperate to keep their careers going. The whole team will be desperate to force the series back down south. The North Stars will have to match that desperation.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Schmidt – Erickson
Forbes – Fransoo
Yew – Charleson

McMillen – McColgan – Leonenko
Young – Blair – Keller
Quinn – Petrino – Heinrich
Fountain – Reich – Delainey

Scratches: Greenaway, Robin Yew, Lacoursiere

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