SJHL Playoffs Game #1 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Game 1

North Stars 2014-15 Regular Season Record: 28-20-6-2

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat Kindersley in a shootout. The recap is here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/stars-beat-klippers-to-wrap-up-regular-season/

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From NorthStars.ca – “Friday at the Civic Centre will be Kinsmen Telemiracle night at the Civic Centre, as their will be a donation table set up. Donations collected will be added to the total raised by Reed Delainey with this year’s Miracle Mission. For every point Delainey scored this season $10 from CJV Carpet, $10 from L & M Wood Residue and $10 from P & E Logging will be donated to Telemiracle.”
  • Crowd: Playoff hockey at the Civic Center. It’s amazing. The fans really come out to support the team and make a lot of noise. The Stars last year were getting crowds of 1,300-1,400 people. My first year when they faced Humboldt in the North Final there were crowds of well over 2,000. I hope that a lot of people will turn up this weekend. Playoffs can be make or break for a Junior A hockey program and a time to make some money that will help the team in years to come. I know it’s a Wildcard round and that might not draw as many people but it’s a Friday night, the weather is getting nice, there isn’t much else going on tonight in town and so….why not check out what should be a great game?
  • Home Ice: It wasn’t much of an advantage at times this season for the North Stars. But that part of the season is over. This is essentially a whole new season. And what happened in the regular season? It doesn’t really matter at this point. It tells us who gets home ice and that’s about it. Once the puck drop’s tonight and the game is underway all that matters is tonight. The North Stars have always been strong away from the Civic Center. If they get off to a good start at home tonight they could be a team no one wants to face in the post-season.
  • Rematch: These two teams met in the post-season last year with the North Stars winning the best of 7 series in 5 games. The Bruins had won a Wildcard series versus Flin Flon to get to the series versus the Stars. So this is the second straight year these teams will go head to head and the second straight year the Bruins are in the wildcard series. There are just 7 players on the North Stars roster who were involved in that playoff series last year.
  • Health: The North Stars have been banged up all year long and that trend continues into the post-season. They really could have used some time off before getting the playoffs started. But they don’t get that luxury. There are a few guys who should return to the lineup tonight. But there are also a few who could miss out as well. What can you do though? Get the guys on the ice that are ready to play and go to battle with those guys. There’s no reason this team can’t compete with any team in the league even if they have to call up an affiliate or two. They’ve shown that all season. Hopefully at some point though we see a full strength lineup as I would love to see what they could do.
  • Special Teams: The Estevan Bruins had a very good power play in the regular season. Their PK struggled. The Stars power play was near the bottom of the league and their PK was in the top 3. So it will be an interesting battle. A good penalty kill taking on a good power play and a penalty kill that struggled at times against a power play that struggled at times. The Stars PP was better in the second half of the season though and could be a big key for the team. Generally in the playoffs you get less chances on the power play so those chances become even more crucial. The team that capitalizes on those opportunities has a great chance to win a series.
  • OT: The North Stars went to overtime more than any other team in the regular season. They went to OT or beyond with Estevan twice. Don’t be surprised if there is extra hockey played in this series.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Nick Fountain 2) Igor Leonenko 1) Jake McMillen
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Baxter Kanter
  • Head to Head:
    Estevan 3 @ Battlefords 6 (Jan 23 2015)
    Battlefords 1 @ Estevan 0 (SO) (Jan 18 2015)
    Battlefords 4 @ Estevan 5 (OT) (Nov 21 2014)
    Estevan 2 @ Battlefords 9 (Oct 18 2014)
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Humboldt
  • North Stars Upcoming Playoffs Schedule:
    Game #2 – Mar. 7th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 9th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    Game #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place (if necessary)
    Game #5 – Mar. 12th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Impose – The Bruins style of play is quite a bit different from the North Stars style. It’s important that the North Stars impose their style of game on the Bruins and don’t get caught up in playing a more wide open run and gun style game.

2) Hit – The Stars aren’t the biggest team in the league but they can hit. Kanter’s line will be a big key. Leonenko being physical will go a long way. Brenden Heinrich can crush guys. The Stars have shown in the past that they can wear teams down in the post-season. As coach Atcheynum used to say, hits thrown in game 1 are like deposits in the bank that you can cash in on later in the series.

3) Finish – The Stars lately have been finishing their chances at a pretty high rate. They have guys going into the post-season with confidence who are playing well and scoring. There’s no reason that can’t continue. The key is when you get a chance that you finish that chance. In the playoffs that’s even more important because chances tend to be fewer and farther between.

North Stars Lineup:

To Follow

Stars beat Klippers to wrap up regular season

The North Stars jumped out to an early lead in Kindersley when Jake McMillen scored for the third straight game. Jake being on a hot streak and rolling into playoffs playing well is a great sign for the Stars. McMillen’s 13th of the season was actually partially stopped by Kindersley goalie Nathan Hargrave but fluttered in off his blocker.

Igor Leonenko got off to a strong start in the game and threw a nice early hit on Joel Webb to prevent the Klippers’ defenseman from getting away a good shot. The Stars had a pretty good first period and I am sure the shots were not as lopsided as the shot clock in Kindersley suggested. Ryan Rewerts was solid in that opening frame but most of the shots he faced were routine saves on shot from the outside.

McMillen was dangerous all night and during some first period 4-on-4 he had a nice rush, drag and shot that went just wide. Rewerts then made a nice save on Marc Dubeau from a sharp angle. The Klippers probably only had 2 or 3 scoring chances in the opening frame.

The Stars made it 2-0 when a rebound off a scramble came to Igor Leonenko and from a sharp angle he was able to roof the puck for his 8th of the year. Owen LaClare had a late rush for the Klippers but Jake Calverley played it well taking the body and allowing his team mates to clear the puck away from the slot area.

Early in the second the Stars went up 3-0. McMillen dropped a puck to Connor Sych at the right point and his shot went post and in on Hargrave. Less than 4 minutes later the score was tied. The Klippers with 3 straight goals in the space of 3:17. Dubeau’s shot just trickled home and then Connor Garden was alone in front and was able to score on the backhand. It looked like the third goal was knocked in with a high stick but it was allowed to stand. So early in the second it was 3-3.

McMillen then did great work down low to draw a penalty and on that power play he set up Leonenko for a one-timer that beat Hargrave low along the ice. Leonenko finished the season with 9 goals despite not playing until the game before Christmas and only featuring in 21 games. That’s a 20 goal pace and Igor will be a key figure for the Stars in the post-season.

Rewerts then made several key saves in the latter stages of the second including a diving cross crease save. And there was a fight between Brock Weston and Landon Gross that was probably a draw. Brenden Heinrich dropped the gloves with Tyler Anderson but not much happened and I am not sure either guy really landed a punch. At the end of it all the Stars had a lead to take to the third period.

Nick Fountain scored to give the Stars a two goal lead. Hargrave had a tough time with a dump in that went off his glove and trickled to the side of the net. The clearing attempt went to Fountain and he fired the puck home off the post. Kolby Johnson threw a high hit on Kevin Bendall and Connor Sych stepped in but Johnson wouldn’t drop the gloves. Owen LaClare was on hand to get in between the two young combatants. Nice to see Sych step up to protect a team mate. Bendall and Levi Kleiboer were both in the lineup as the Stars try and get healthy for playoffs.

The Klippers got the game back to a tie with a pair of third period goals. The tying goal that made it 5-5 was a dump in off the end wall that bounced hard out towards the slot and then in off the skate of Rewerts who couldn’t get back to his post in time.

The Klippers had the best chances in overtime but Rewerts stood tall.

In the shootout McMillen and Havens each scored and the Klippers could only beat Rewerts once so the Stars picked up the extra point and go into the post-season with a win under their belts. The Stars and Klippers split their season series with each team winning 4 times and each losing twice in OT or a shootout. So they each took 10 points from head to head games. The Klippers did win the first two matchups on the opening weekend. The Stars took the two most recent meetings.

SJHL Game #56 – Battlefords North Stars at Kindersley Klippers

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 27-20-6-2

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 – 7:00pm
  • Puck drop – 6:45pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost in a shootout. You can find a recap here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/north-stars-lose-final-home-game-of-regular-season/

Storylines:

  • Awards: Just to recap the award winners. This is from the North Stars:“The Rookie of the Year is forward Matt Havens. The Bannerman Photo Most Improved Player is forward Baxter Kanter. The winner of the Humanitarian Award is third year-forward Jake McMillen. The Winner of the Bertha Hill Memorial Fan’s Choice Most Popular Player was veteran forward Nick Fountain. Michael Statchuk was named the Knight of Columbus Top Defenceman. The Most Dedicated Player Award sponsored by Billie Choque was second-year defenceman Jake Erickson. The Bridges Most Valuable Player Award went to forward Reed Delainey. The night before the North Stars also handed out the second of two True-North Stars Awards, which includes a free suit from Bill and Don’s Men’s Wear. Logan Nachtegaele was presented with the award earlier in the season and this time around it was Brock Weston. Statchuk was also presented with a cheque for $2,500, which is a scholarship from North West Hockey Development Association.”
  • Rivalry Cup: The Klippers have 4 wins in head to head games this season. The North Stars have 3. Thanks to a few overtime and shootout games the Klippers have 9 points and the North Stars have 8. So if the North Stars win in regulation they win the Rivalry Cup. A North Stars overtime or shootout win would result in each team having 10 points and 4 wins. So it will take a North Stars regulation win to take the Rivalry Cup. Last year the Stars lost the Cup to Kindersley but won the Kramer Division this year the opposite can happen. Let’s hope the Stars prevent the Klippers from doing a double.
  • Final Game: For the 20 year old players this will be their final regular season game in Junior hockey. Jake Erickson, Nick Fountain, Brenden Heinrich, Michael Statchuk and Spencer Tremblay will have one more game and then hopefully a long playoff run before they move on to the next phase of their hockey careers. Hopefully, no matter what happens, this is one to enjoy.
  • APs: The North Stars continue to battle the injury bug and it is starting to look like hoping for a fully healthy lineup is a waste of time. They will roll with whoever they can get in the lineup and use AP players where they can. They will have a couple in the lineup tonight as they look to get through the final game of the season unscathed. This team is getting closer to being healthy but they need a little luck in that regard. At the end of the day they have some good young prospects who have, and will continue, to step up and provide high quality play while guys are out of the lineup.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Brenden Heinrich 2) Jake McMillen 1) Jordan Townsend
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Matt Havens
  • Head to Head:
    Kindersley 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Dec 10 2014)
    Kindersley 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 30 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ Kindersley 3 (Oct 21 2014)
    Kindersley 3 @ Battlefords 2 (OT) (Oct 7 2014)
    Battlefords 2 @ Kindersley 1 (SO) (Sep 27 2014)
    Battlefords 3 @ Kindersley 4 (OT) (Sep 20 2014)
    Kindersley 5 @ Battlefords 2 (Sep 19 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Kindersley 18-12-1-1
    Battlefords 14-15-2-1
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Nipawin at Flin Flon
  • North Stars Upcoming Playoffs Schedule:
    Game #1 – Mar. 6th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #2 – Mar. 7th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 9th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    Game #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place (if necessary)
    Game #5 – Mar. 12th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Prep – This game is the final chance for the North Stars to tune up prior to the playoffs. What style do they want to play? What identity do they want to stake out for themselves in the post-season? Hit, take care of the puck, play as a unit, and protect the middle of the ice. All of those, and more, are areas this team will be looking to continue to work on in tonight’s game.

2) Play Hard – This one shouldn’t be an issue. But with bigger things to look forward to it is important that the Stars take this game seriously. You want to go into the playoffs playing well, playing with good habits, and confident. Plus, you don’t want to have to try and dial your intensity back up to playoff level on Friday.

3) Poise – The North Stars have to keep their heads tonight. Stay disciplined. Not get away from what they are looking to accomplish from tonight’s game. I don’t mind a little rough stuff. I don’t mind a little trash talk. As long as the Stars are able to stay focused on their task.

North Stars Lineup:

Rewerts

Tremblay

Fransoo – Sych

Calverley – Kleiboer (AP)

Weston – Vermeulen

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich

Fountain – Mitchell – O’Sullivan

Havens – Townsend – Leonenko

Bendall (AP) – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, Statchuk, Saharchuk, Delainey

North Stars lose final home game of regular season

The Battlefords North Stars wrapped up the home portion of the regular season with a 4-3 shootout loss versus Notre Dame.

Prior to the game the North Stars handed out some of their regular season awards. I was on the air and tried to jot down the award winner. I think I got them all:

Top Rookie – Matt Havens
Most Improved – Baxter Kanter
Humanitarian – Jake McMillen
Most Dedicated – Jake Erickson
Top Defenseman – Michael Statchuk
Fans Choice – Nick Fountain
Team Award – Reed Delainey

The Stars were without Statchuk, Delainey and Matt Saharchuk for tonight’s game but did get Jake Calverley back in the lineup. Levi Kleiboer played again as an affiliate.

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The first period was almost all North Stars. Brock Weston had a couple early shots and one through a screen provided by Nick Fountain was barely saves by Alexi Thibodeau. Another Weston shot was partially blocked and trickled just wide. Bryce Hall, Matt Havens, and Brenden Heinrich had a 3-on-1 rush but Thibodeau made a glove save. Nick Fountain and Jordan Townsend exchanged passes before Towny took a shot that Thibodeau fought off with his glove and pad.

Jake McMillen than had a chance but missed a bouncing puck the first time. His second attempt from a sharp angle went off the outside of the net. Jake Calverley had a shot stopped and Baxter Kanter jammed the puck just wide. Jared Martin had the best chance for the Hounds but Tremblay made his best save of the period.

In the second period the Stars got on the board. Brenden Heinrich got loose on the PK for a short-handed breakaway. Heinrich made no mistake as he went 5-hole to open the scoring. The Stars got another one quickly as Jake McMillen scored. In between the two Stars goals Tremblay actually made a couple of really good saves to stop Anderson on the powerplay and Cummings was robbed as well.

McMillen’s goal was set up by a great rush from Jordan Townsend. Townsend went wide with speed to the goal line and passed to the slot for McMillen to go roof for the Stars to grab a 2-0 lead. The Hounds called their timeout. They scored not long after and Spencer Trapp set up Martin who made it 2-1.

The Stars got a power play but Sam Aulie had a chance short handed. It was broken up by a nice back check from Brenden Heinrich. Heinrich then had a one-timer on the power play that went just wide. Evan Werle tied the game as the puck came to him off a scramble and he fired home from the slot. That made it 2-2.

The Stars were very physical in the game and maybe the most physical they’ve been all year. There were a lot of big hits in the game. Havens got a big piece of Kindrachuk. Kanter blew up Trapp. Fransoo got a huge hit on Williams as the hitting really picked up.

Tremblay robbed Lightfoot with the blocker after a back door set up from the Hounds. He then made a diving cross-crease save that was his best of the game. McMillen and Heinrich each had a chance later on a good shift. Heinrich’s shot appeared to hit the crossbar.

In the third McMillen had a great left wing rush but was stopped. Then Tremblay stopped Aulie with a pad save. Lightfoot threw a high hit on Jake Erickson who appeared to be okay after and finished the game. The Hounds captain got 2 and 10. He maybe should have had more.

The best chance of the final period for the Stars? Matt Havens powering out of the corner. But his shot went straight into the glove of Thibodeau.

In the third Baxter Kanter threw a clean hit on Aulie but Walsh didn’t like it so the two dropped the gloves. Kanter and Walsh with a spirited tilt that was probably a draw. Not long later Williams and O’Sullivan were tangled up and slashing at each other. Then they fought and both stood toe-to-toe throwing rights with no defense. O’Sullivan was leaking after the fight but appeared to be in good spirits as he watched the end of the game.

Late in the third Sych set up Erickson for a one-timer and Erickson beat Thibodeau. The Stars had a lead. But the Hounds pulled their goalie and got a goal with the net empty. Cummings able to slide the puck home through the 5-hole.

After overtime solves nothing the Stars couldn’t get a goal in the shootout. And Cummings was able to score in the 5th round to win the game for the Hounds. The Kindersley Klippers had already won their game in a shootout though so the Hounds can no longer win the division. The Klippers are 2015 Kramer Division champions. The Stars game Tuesday in Kindersley won’t mean anything in terms of the standings. But the Rivalry Cup will be on the line.

Also with tonight’s results the North Stars know they will face Estevan in the Survivor Series round. It sounds like Friday, Saturday here for games 1 and 2. Games 3 and 4 will be Monday and Tuesday in Estevan and game 5 Thursday back here in North Battleford. It’s a best of 5 Survivor Series so games 4 and 5 are only if necessary.

SJHL Game #55 – Notre Dame Hounds at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 27-20-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The Battlefords North Stars beat the Weyburn Red Wings 2-1 in overtime last night. With that win the Stars wrapped up 5 wins out of 6 versus Weyburn this season. Every game between the two teams was decided by just a single goal.

The North Stars are still working on getting healthy and played last night with just 5 defensemen. They tried to get an ‘AP’ into the lineup but the player they wanted to call up got sick and couldn’t play.

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The first period was probably the best in terms of entertainment for the fans. It was a pretty open period with some end to end action. Matt Havens set up the first good chance of the game as he stole the puck from Jack Burgart in behind the Weyburn goal. With the Wings goalie scrambling to get back in position, Havens sent the puck out to Igor Leonenko in the slot. But the pass wasn’t on the right side of Igor’s body and he couldn’t get a good shot away toward the empty net.

The North Stars opened the scoring when Michael Statchuk threw a puck wide of the net on purpose looking for a nice bounce or deflection. The puck went to Jake McMillen and he beat Burgart from a very sharp angle. We didn’t see much of Statchuk after that as he left the game. It sounds like he’s a little banged up but removing him from the game was mostly precautionary. The Stars dropped Connor Vermeulen back to defense for the rest of the game and once again had 5 D. But they were short up front.

Spencer Tremblay was busy in the first period and he made several saves on the penalty kill. The Wings had 4 power plays in the opening frame including about 45 seconds of 5-on-3 time but couldn’t beat the Stars goalie. Tremblay seems to be hitting his best form just in time for playoffs.

The Stars had chances short handed as well. Jake McMillen almost scored as he was set up in the slot by Brenden Heinrich. His spinning shot from the slot was kept out by Burgart though. Later in the period on the PK McMillen had a good rush up the wing and he powered to the net but his backhand shot was stopped.

Burgart’s best save of the period may have come on a Matt Havens shot that the Wings goalie saw late thanks to a good screen from Nick Fountain.

The Wings best chance of the frame came late in the first period as they had what looked like a tap-in back door. But Jake Erickson got his stick in the way and prevented Neuberger from scoring.

In the second the game slowed down a bit and I thought the pace was more like a playoff game. The Wings continued to get some shots but mostly from the outside. Brock Weston had a great chance on a feed from Bryce Hall. The cross crease pass set up Weston but his shot went high over the net. Logan Nachtegaele had a nice rush in the frame and a rising shot that was stopped by Burgart.

The Wings tied the game in the second period on a controversial goal. It looked like the puck was covered by Tremblay but eventually the ref saw the puck trickle across the line and indicated a goal. The Ref wouldn’t talk to anyone else about the decision and the goal stood. From what I heard from fans at that end of the rink there’s no way the ref could see the puck and when they can’t see the puck they are supposed to blow the whistle. The goal stood though and we were tied.

The Stars were further reduced in numbers when Brenden Heinrich was ejected for a Check from Behind penalty. It was an accidental collision and there was no way Heinrich meant to hit the Wings player into the boards. He may not have even deserved a penalty let alone 2 and a game.

The Wings had a short power play to start the third and Tremblay was forced into two good saves early on. Brady O’Sullivan had a very strong final period as he had 3 or 4 shots on goal in the final period. Burgart made good saves on chances for Connor Vermeulen, Brock Weston and O’Sullivan. At the other end Tremblay was also solid and Kendall Fransoo broke up a 2-on-1 with a nice defensive play.

In OT the Stars were excellent. O’Sullivan and Fountain had a great first shift during 4-on-4 OT and the Stars built on that strong shift and scored the winner. Brock Weston’s rising shot appeared to go in off Burgart who may have been screened. Weston has 3 goals this season and all 3 are in games against Weyburn.

The Stars were short a few players last night after losing Statchuk and then Heinrich. But they battled and found a way to pull out the win. Tonight will be another tough test for the Stars as they get ready for the playoffs.

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “The Battlefords North Stars play their final regular season home game against the Notre Dame Hounds. The game-day sponsor is North Battleford Hyundai. Prior to the game the North Stars will hand out the majority of their regular season awards on the ice. The fourth and final Kramer Auction Shootout Showdown was rescheduled from Friday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, Feb. 28. Once again, 10 players and a goalie will be auctioned off during the intermissions in the lounge upstairs and they will compete in an elimination shootout after the game. There will also be interviews in the Prism Cable Hot Stove Lounge after the game as well.
  • Final Home Game: The North Stars wrap up the regular season games at the Civic Center tonight. They need a win to get back to a .500 record in home games this season. Weyburn is the only other team in the league that has lost more at home than they won. Even Yorkton was above .500 at home. So the North Stars will want to get back to that mark and get a big win tonight. They know they haven’t played the way they wanted to this season on their home ice and in front of their fans. It’s not for lack of effort or determination though. Once the playoffs start everything is wiped clear and it all starts again. So that record will go out the window. Tonight’s game is mostly about taking another step in the right direction towards their best game. They will need that best game for the playoffs.
  • Health: Michael Statchuk left the game last night although it sounds like it isn’t anything like a serious injury. Jake Calverley could be back tonight for the Stars. Saharchuk and Delainey are getting close. So the Stars could be back to full health sometime soon. In fact, with a little luck, they could maybe be at full strength for playoffs (or as close to full strength as you can be at this time of year as everyone will be a little banged up with bumps and bruises). It would be nice to get a little luck with the health for the first time all year. With the way Havens has been playing lately, and McMillen is now starting to find his best game as well, the Stars could have a very tough team to beat in the post-season. Three lines with real offensive threat and a great energy line that bring physicality. Let’s hope the Stars get some luck here the next few days.
  • Playoff Matchup: Last night’s games helped to clear up the picture for the playoffs a little bit. The Stars know now they can’t matchup in a Survivor Series against Melville or Humboldt. They can still end up facing any of Weyburn, Estevan or La Ronge. Estevan and La Ronge play their finals games of the season tonight. So after tonight we have a very good chance of knowing who the Stars will matchup against.
  • Deja Vu: The Kindersley Klippers are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games played. The Notre Dame Hounds are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10. That has allowed the Hounds to pull within a point of Kindersley. If the Hounds beat the Stars and the Klippers lose in regulation then the Stars and Klippers game on Tuesday would be Kindersley’s last shot to win their division. A lot has to happen for Kindersley not to lift the Kramer Division title…..but I wonder if they feel a little deja vu after what happened last season. By the way, that lone regulation loss in the Hounds last 10? That was at the hands of the North Stars. Despite that loss though you have to wonder if anyone wants to meet the Hounds in the playoffs. And if they were to pull of the remarkable and get into 2nd as the Kramer Division champs they’d have a lot of home ice to work with in the post-season. This is a huge game for the Hounds.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Jake McMillen 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Brock Weston
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Notre Dame 2 (Feb 17 2015)
    Notre Dame 4 @ Battlefords 2 (Feb 12 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Notre Dame 3 (SO) (Jan 17 2015)
    Battlefords 1 @ Notre Dame 0 (Nov 23 2014)
    Notre Dame 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 1 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords 17-5-0-1
    Notre Dame 6-11-2-4
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Kindersley, La Ronge at Flin Flon, Estevan at Melville, Nipawin at Melfort
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Offense – The North Stars have scored more than 3 goals in a game just twice since 2014. With several key guys out the Stars have had to grind out low scoring wins. Which is great preparation for the playoffs. But it would sure be nice to see the offense break out a bit and get rolling heading into the post-season. Very tough to do against Notre Dame so if the Stars can capitalize when they do get chances to attack that would help them heading into playoffs.

2) Physical – The Stars were very physical against Melfort. I thought they weren’t as hard hitting last night. That’s an area to get tuned up for playoffs as well. You want to avoid injury obviously so the best way to do that is to play hard and fast and be the aggressors physically. Send a message to the other playoff teams in the league.

3) Outside – The North Stars have done a great job the last couple weeks of keeping the game to the outside in their defensive zone. That’s allowed Spencer Tremblay to make a lot of saves and allowed the Stars to block a lot of shots. Obviously you want to limit shots if you can but more importantly you want to limit scoring chances against and the Stars have done that pretty well. Notre Dame is a team with a lot of depth and a lot of guys who can hurt you on the attack so the Stars will need to keep things to the outside once again and control the middle of the ice.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Sych
Vermeulen – Weston
Erickson – Kleiboer (AP)

Leonenko – Townsend – Havens
Calverley – Kanter – Nachtegaele
Heinrich – McMillen – Hall
Mitchell – O’Sullivan – Fountain

Scratches: Statchuk (inj), Delainey (inj), Saharchuk (inj)

SJHL Game #54 – Weyburn Red Wings at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 26-20-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The Battlefords North Stars lost 5-1 to the Melfort Mustangs in their last game a week ago tonight. I thought though that the Stars played pretty well. They certainly came out with a game plan to be very physical and the early exchanges saw the North Stars hitting the Mustangs a lot. Melfort didn’t get a shot until about 8 minutes into the first.

The Stars had some chances in the opening period to create offense but Matt Havens had a pass to the slot blocked before it reached it’s target. Otto Mitchell set up Nick Fountain but his sharp angle shot was stopped by Richard Palmer. Spencer Tremblay was solid again for the North Stars and he made a good save on a 2-on-1 as the Stars goalie slid out to stop the puck before Travis Mayan could make a move. The shots in the period ended up 10-8 Melfort. But the Stars were physical, intense, quick and good in the first period.

Early in the second Matt Havens made a nice steal and spun to get a shot that was stopped. The last few weeks has seen Matt Havens really arrive in the SJHL. He’s going to be some player and will be a huge key for the Stars in the playoffs. His billet mate threw a large hit on David Heath in the second period on the PK that ended up being the San Berg Collision Collision of the game.

Baxter Kanter threw a big hit that drew a crowd and eventually the Stars came away with a power play. After helping to draw the PP it was Kanter helping to get the Stars on the board. He was jamming the puck towards the goal when it came free for Brady O’Sullivan to pop home and it was 1-0 North Stars.

The Stars had chances to extend the lead. a 3-on-3 rush almost ended up with a scoring chance for Jake Erickson. Havens had a wrap around stopped by Palmer. And Bryce Hall had a glorious chance after he was set up by Havens. The beautiful little reverse feed found Hall all alone in front. He looked up to pick his post and the puck stopped in some snow. Hall fanned and the chance was gone.

The Mustangs then got two quick ones to take a lead. A nice rush saw Mayan and Boyer exchange passes before Tristan Frei tipped home past Tremblay. That power play goal tied the game. Less than a minute later Mayan’s shot got past Tremblay who may not have seen the shot through a screen. That little 2-3 minute spell where the Mustangs came on and the Stars couldn’t quite respond may have decided the game. If the Stars had been up going to the third? Who knows what happens.

With the lead to play with and with first overall and home ice throughout the playoffs to play for as well the Mustangs needed the win and in the third they got it. 3 more goals and a very strong period from Melfort wrapped up the 2 points. That included an empty net goal. Spencer Tremblay was so good he didn’t deserve to see 5 goals up on the board at the end of the night but the Stars were still fighting right to the final minute.

I thought the Stars battled incredible well considering they had 2 ‘AP’ defensemen in the lineup. Both Levi Kleiboer and Dawson Boehm were solid in their SJHL debuts. Connor Sych was on a fly down as he is being recruited by a Division 1 hockey program. Jake Calverley joined Reed Delainey and Matt Saharchuk as injured players out of the Stars lineup. I also thought the Stars really made Melfort work for the first 40 minutes. The D pair of Riley Boomgarden and Health really had to work hard in their own zone all night. But in the end the Mustangs just had a little too much for the Stars.

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “The North Star play the Weyburn Red Wings, which could be a potential SJHL Wildcard Series showdown. The North Stars and Red Wings will face off at 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre. Access 7 and Crime Stoppers are the game-day sponsors and will have tables set up in the lobby for the game.
  • Playoffs: Every team in the SJHL is in action tonight. There’s still a battle between Notre Dame and Kindersley for the Kramer Division title which Kindersley could clinch this evening. Melville, Weyburn and Estevan all still have a shot at the Sherwood crown. The Nipawin Hawks and Flin Flon Bombers each have 70 points and a shot at 5th. Melfort is first overall. The Notre Dame Hounds look to have 4th wrapped up. The North Stars are definitely finishing 7th. Yorkton is out. Those are the only 4 that we know for sure and technically Notre Dame can still be caught by the two teams behind them in the standings. Who will the Stars face in the Survivor Series round? We may know by the end of Saturday night’s games. But we do know this game tonight against Weyburn is a potential playoff match and the Stars will be planning on going into the playoffs playing their best hockey of the season. That starts tonight.
  • Surprises: The North Stars had to use a couple of affiliates on D last game. In Weyburn, it was Cody Spagrud helping out. Lately there has been a surprise for me each time I have gone to the rink on game day and found out who was in and who was out of the lineup. I am hoping for some surprises in terms of getting guys healthy. It would be nice for the Stars to have a healthy lineup ready to go for the first game of the post-season.
  • Last Weekend: This is the final weekend of the regular season. And once again I am blown away by how quickly it past me by. It always happens. It seems like just yesterday that I was at the rink watching rookies hit the ice and now here we are wrapping up the regular season. The Stars have two more home games before closing out in Kindersley on Tuesday. Then the playoffs. I think I am really going to take the time to enjoy this final weekend of regular season hockey at the Civic Center. Hopefully a lot of fans do that as well.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Justin Boyer 2) Baxter Kanter 1) Travis Mayan
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Feb 16 2015)
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Jan 16 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Weyburn 3 (Nov 22 2014)
    Weyburn 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Nov 16 2014)
    Weyburn 0 @ Battlefords 1 (SO) (Nov 14 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords 16-5-0-0
    Weyburn 5-11-0-5
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Humboldt at Yorkton, Notre Dame at Kindersley, Flin Flon at La Ronge, Melville at Estevan, Melfort at Nipawin
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Grind – The North Stars have won 4 of the 5 meetings with the Wings this season and all of those games have been decided by a single goal. In fact, the last 4 meetings have all ended with a 3-2 score. So this should be another good game for the Stars to get ready for the post-season. They will get a chance to play in a close game with Weyburn scratching and clawing for a playoff berth. Should be a good tune up for playoff hockey. In order to win the North Stars will have to match the Wings intensity and grind out a W.

2) Message – The North Stars were very physical against Melfort. That’s a style that could really help them in the playoffs. And since this is a potential playoff match you want to see the Stars send a message. If Weyburn is on a bus back here next weekend for a playoff match-up you want them to be thinking about all the times they got hit last time they faced the Stars and how hard the game was to play in. Plus we just want to see the Stars locking in their best game and that game involves hitting people.

3) Stay Healthy– The North Stars injury list this season has been a little bit ridiculous and over the top. It would be nice to see them at full strength for the post-season and I am hoping that the Stars manage to avoid anyone getting hurt tonight. But all they can do is go out and play hard and hope for the best. A little good luck wouldn’t hurt either.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Erickson
Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych

Leonenko – Townsend – Havens
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – O’Sullivan – Mitchell
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Calverley (inj), Saharchuk (inj), Delainey (inj)

SJHL Game #53 – Melfort Mustangs at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 26-19-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars won their second straight on Tuesday when they beat Notre Dame 3-2. Here’s the recap: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/north-stars-come-back-to-beat-hounds/

Storylines:

  • Tests: The North Stars have recently won games away from home against Nipawin and more recently versus Notre Dame. Two of the top 4 or 5 teams in the league in terms of the standings and in terms of how I personally view the league. Both Nipawin and Notre Dame have a shot to go on long playoff runs based on their rosters and the way they play. And the Stars have won in their barns. The North Stars can still be one of the top teams in the league and we have seen that this season. Tonight is another massive test against the top team. The Mustangs have the best balance of any team in the league. They have 4 strong lines, 3 good D-pairs and no real weaknesses. Just the team you want to face to get yourself ready for the playoffs.
  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “Northland Power is the game-day sponsor and the Battlefords Initiation Stars will take to the ice during the first intermission. There will be post-game interviews in the Prism Cable Hot Stove Lounge after the game. This is also the second, and final, ticket redemption night of the season. Any unused season tickets will be accepted as admission for this game. There will be two 50/50 draws at the game. Anyone who purchases a ticket before the 10-minute mark of the first period will have a chance to win the previous 50/50 draw of $990, which was unclaimed from last game as well as be entered in the regular third period draw for the game on Friday night.”
  • Playoffs: The North Stars can wrap up 7th place with a win this evening. They are likely going to finish 7th anyway barring a very strange finish to the season. Elsewhere in the SJHL tonight, La Ronge is taking on Weyburn that’s a match-up with huge playoff implications. La Ronge isn’t in must win territory yet but they are pretty darn close. Also, Estevan is playing tonight as they host Yorkton. And Humboldt has a tough test on the road versus Nipawin. It’s going to come right down to the wire to figure out who the North Stars will face in a Survivor Series.
  • Close Games: The North Stars have played a lot of one goal games this season. And you have to hope that the experience gained by playing in those situations will help them once the playoffs start. The last two games the North Stars have played have ended 3-2 for the Stars. The Weyburn game arguably wasn’t that close in terms of how the Stars played. But in the end that’s what the Stars have had this season. A lot of tight games.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Kendall Fransoo 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Igor Leonenko
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Kendall Fransoo
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 0 @ Melfort 3 (Jan 9 2015)
    Melfort 4 @ Battlefords 2 (Nov 28 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ Melfort 3 (SO) (Nov 5 2014) 
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords – 18-7-0-1
    Melfort – 8-15-0-3
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Humboldt at Nipawin, La Ronge at Weyburn, Flin Flon at Melville, Yorkton at Estevan
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Manage the Puck – The North Stars have to be careful in tonight’s game. The Mustangs have a great transition game and are very dangerous off of turnovers. They skate well but they move the puck even quicker. If the Stars don’t get puck deep then the Mustangs will have chances to create offense.

2) Offense – The Mustangs have allowed 2 or fewer goals in 12 straight games. They have allowed 102 goals against this season in 51 games played this season. That’s exactly 2 goals against per game. For the North Stars to win the game they have to be solid in their own zone but they will also need to find ways to generate offense against a very good defensive team.

3) Keep Building – The Stars are coming off back to back wins in game where they played well. They took two good steps in the right direction. As much as I would love to see them play well tonight and show themselves and the league just how good they can play, I am not sure they need to win the game. Another good performance and another step in the right direction. Build on what they did early this week. The performance is more important to me tonight than the outcome.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Erickson – Kleiboer ‘AP’
Fransoo – Boehm ‘AP’

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Fountain – Mitchell – O’Sullivan
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Sych, Calverley (inj), Delainey (inj), Saharchuk (inj)

North Stars come back to beat Hounds

The North Stars grabbed a come back 3-2 win in Notre Dame last night as they were sparked by Igor Leonenko.

The Stars actually came out playing quite well at the start of the period and Kendall Fransoo’s rising right point shot was fought off by Benjamin Patt in the Hounds goal. With about 11 minutes left in the first the shots were 2-0 in favour of the North Stars. Not long later Spencer Tremblay made a nice pad save. Not long later the Stars were behind. Sam Aulie teed up a one-timer that appeared to hit the crossbar. The ref was in great position and immediately waved it off and play continued. At the next whistle the refs got together and eventually a goal was given. I am not sure how anyone else had a better view than the ref that was just on the goal line? In the end though they talked it over and someone must have been sure it was in the net.

Later in the period the Stars had a chance to tie when Brenden Heinrich found Bryce Hall out front. Hall’s shot though went off the heal of his stick and just wide. The Hounds went up 2 nothing on a breakaway goal by Cory Anderson. His shot was stopped but Tremblay couldn’t stop himself from sliding back into his own net. The puck did appear to be clearly across the line before the whistle went but again no goal was given. The refs talked it over, they did that a lot last night, and called it a goal. The Stars called a time out and re-grouped.

Brady O’Sullivan’s back hand pass to Nick Fountain on a Stars power play bounced passed Fountain in the slot and went to Igor Leonenko. He stepped into a big slapshot that rifled passed Patt and got the Stars on the board.

Late in the first Tremblay stopped a deflection and then the rebound was taken around the net on a wrap around attempt but Tremblay stopped that as well. It was 2-1 after 1.

In the second the Stars were outshot 11-9 but the first half of the period was all Hounds. Jake Calverley fell awkwardly and went off limping and in a lot of pain. I was surprised to see him return later in the period but glad that he was okay.

The Hounds had a 2-on-1 with Andrew Cummings setting up Jared Martin. Martin’s quick one-time shot was stopped by Tremblay. The Stars didn’t get their first shot of the period until over 5 minute had been played. Jordan Townsend took a feed from Matt Havens and went to the net. I was shocked there was no penalty as Townsend had a Hound draped all over him and didn’t score.

More controversy later in the period. Connor Sych took down a Hound player in the corner and a delayed penalty was coming. Sych then tried to get up and get back in the play and the Hound put him in a VERY clear headlock and wouldn’t let him up. Right in front of the referee. He blew his whistle with the Hounds in possession of the puck so I figured both guys were heading off. Then the puck went in the net behind Tremblay a few seconds after the whistle and the ref who blew the play down pointed for a goal. The Stars bench was all set to explode. After discussion the goal was rightfully disallowed. The whistle had gone. Sych was then the only player to go to the box. So why was the whistle blown? I am not sure. I am sure that Sych was livid with the call. The Stars killed the penalty with Tremblay making save after save.

And that penalty kill seemed to give the Stars momentum. After back to back kills they tied the game. Igor Leonenko sent Matt Havens in alone. Havens has some pretty sick hands. A little fake to open up the goalie and a backhand through the 5-hole made it 2-2.

Sych had a shot stopped and the rebound went right to Logan Nachtegaele who appeared to have an open net but the puck bounced and his shot just missed. End to end action saw Bryce Hall set up Jake Erickson for a chance but Patt turned Erickson’s shot aside. Tremblay made a good save seconds later at the other end of the ice. Brenden Heinrich had a tough start to the second period but a very strong finish with a few great shifts in a row. his rush helped set up a couple of chances including Jake McMillen who just missed.

Igor Leonenko found a loose puck with 2 minutes left in the period and his spinning slap shot beat Patt low along the ice. A goal that the goalie would like to have back for sure. I think Igor may have partially fanned and that could have fooled Patt.

In the third Dion Antisin got into it with Leonenko and they both went off. During 4-on-4 Patt robbed McMillen with a glove save. Tremblay then had a nice glove save off his own moments later.

The Stars took back to back penalties in the period but the PK was great. Tremblay has really found his form here late in the season. And the Stars blocked shots like crazy. O’Sullivan, Fransoo several times, and Logan Nachtegaele with memorable shot blocks in the period. Logan dropped down in front of Evan Werle, who has an absolute cannon, to block a shot. It hurt but it kept the Stars in front. Tremblay’s best save of the game was during a massive scramble in front. With sticks and bodies everywhere the Stars goalie really battled for his ice, tracked the puck and mad a save before covering up.

After the Stars took 3 straight penalties it was the Hounds who lost composure late. Lightfoot for tripping, Walsh for boarding Jake Calverley, Trapp for slashing Leonenko (a moment in the game that should be looked at by the league), Lightfoot again for a cross-check, and Cummings for hooking. It was a parade to the box. The Stars had 2 lengthy spells of 5-on-3 but couldn’t put the game away. Antisin and Fountain got into late as Antisin stood right over top of Fountain who was on the ice. The Hound forward wouldn’t let Fountain up so as the Stars forward tried to force his way to his feet both players ended up wrestling and both went off. It was all right below me in the press box and I thought it was a strange call to send Fountain off as well.

During that 4-on-4 Tremblay made another huge save on Werle then the Nachtegaele shot block I mentioned earlier helped the Stars hang on.

The Hounds were short handed for the last 1:30ish and got their net empty to make it 5-on-5. Nick Fountain missed the empty net. Tremblay was not going to be beaten and the Stars got the win.

That’s two in a row for the Stars and they know they have even more to offer moving forward. They were good this week and know they can get even better. And now they get to test themselves against the best team in the league on Friday when the North Stars host Melfort.

SJHL Game #52 – Battlefords North Stars at Notre Dame Hounds

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 25-19-6-1

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 – 7:45
  • Puck drop – 8:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars got off to a good start last night coming out of the gate playing very well. They were without Reed Delainey and Matt Saharchuk again and an ‘AP’ defenseman named Cody Spagrud filled in for Connor Vermeulen. Spagrud was up from the Midget AAA Swift Current Legionaires and had a solid debut. He makes a very good first pass and I expect we’ll see more of him in the future.

The Stars got on the board on an early power play. The Stars were already on a man advantage when Jake McMillen drew a hooking call when he powered the puck towards the front of the net. The Stars couldn’t score on the 5-on-3 but did convert on the second power play. Igor Leonenko went behind the net and then stopped up and passed the puck back out front against the flow. McMillen was alone out front and the Stars had a 1-0 lead.

Mike Eskra caught Otto Mitchell in open ice with a big hit. Not long later Nick Fountain got a big hit on Josh Cronin that won the San Berg Collision Collision of the game. The Wings got a couple of first period power plays and had chances but Spencer Tremblay made some key saves. Brendan McKay looked like he had a back door tap in but the Stars D did just enough to force McKay to tip the puck wide on a nice pass from Matt Eng. Then Aidan Teilborg had a weak shot that hit the post and then Tremblay was able to flop down on top of the puck and get the whistle.

The Baxter Kanter line had a good shift later in the first period with Kanter landing 2 good hits and Jake Calverley had a good hit on that shift as well. And Jake McMillen preserved the Stars one goal lead with a great back check on a possible 2-on-1 late in the first.

The Wings had an early second period 3-on-1 but Kendall Fransoo played it very well and the Wings didn’t even get a scoring chance out of the rush. McMillen and Heinrich had a good early second period shift that led to Bryce Hall drawing a penalty and the Stars converted. Good passing set up the goal as the puck went from Statchuk down to the corner to Heinrich and he fired back up to the far point for Brock Weston to one-time his first of the season.

A few minutes later the Stars made it 3-0 as Weston scored his second of the period and the season. This time it was Statchuk making the pass to tee up Weston for the one-timer. Matt Havens, who has been playing very well of late, drew the second assist. At that time the Stars were 3-4 on the power play. Statchuk broke up a 2-on-1 late in the period as he sprawled and prevented the pass getting across to the loose Wing forward. And on a late 2nd period Wings power play it was McKay again back door and again he was not able to get enough to tip the puck home.

Spencer Tremblay was perfect on 19 shots heading to the third and the Wings tried to shake him up as McKay ran the Stars goalie in the third. Jordan Townsend broke up a chance for the Wings when they tried to pass to an open man in the slot. Townsend collapsing to the net to break it up. McMillen had a great shorthanded rush in the third for the Stars but couldn’t slide the puck into the net before he bumped Nick Malvin. Malvin had come in to replace Jack Burgart after the Stars third goal.

The Wings got some 5-on-3 time in the third and with 7 minutes left and down by 3 they pulled the goalie to make it 6-on-3. They couldn’t score and it was still the Stars up 3 late. The Wings then scored twice with the net empty in the final 3 minutes. Donovan Lumb poking at a puck and it may have bounced in off Tremblay who was scrambling  back to his post. Then Eskra popped home a rebound with a minute left to make it 3-2. That’s as close as the Wings would get though. The Stars choosing not to use their time out and it worked as the guys took care of the puck in the last minute to wrap up the win.

Overall, I though it was a great performance and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Stars took their foot off the gas a little late and other than that they had as close to a full 60 as they’ve had since Christmas break. They took a big step in the right direction as they gear up for playoffs.

Storylines:

  • Playoffs: Not that it was ever a real concern but the two points yesterday ensured the Stars will make the playoffs. They look to be pretty well looked into 7th in the standings barring a remarkable finish from the Humboldt Broncos. From 7th the Stars would face the #10 seeded team in a Best of 5 Survivor Series. The winner of the Survivor Series would then take on the #2 seed in the first round of the best of 7 portion of the playoffs. Right now that #2 seed is….Kindersley.
  • Big Ice: The Hounds home games are played on a big ice surface. Olympic sized ice in fact. Usually that means the Stars have to defend a big ice surface on the third game in three nights scenario that they usually end up with on a southern road trip. This is a little different. The Stars did have a busy weekend with the Ice Fishing Derby and played yesterday. But it’s not a three in three situation. And they have more than 24 hours between the games thanks to the 3pm start yesterday. So they should be a little more fresh in the legs than they usually are in Wilcox. Still, it’s a lot of ice to cover and they will have to really battle tonight.
  • Offense: The North Stars have played the Hounds 4 times so far this season. They are 1-2-0-1 so far in those 4 games. The problem? They’ve scored just 6 times this season against Notre Dame. Their only win this season versus the Hounds was a 1-0 win earlier this season. In order for the Stars to beat the Hounds they need to do more to score goals. That’s why one of the keys to the game is traffic to the net. Special teams will also be important for the Stars.
  • Close: The North Stars have lost just 5 times in regulation in games decided by one goal. The Hounds in the same situation have just 3 regulation losses. Combined these two teams have won 36 games that were decided by a single goal. They are both good in close games and experienced. So if the game is close late, as it usually is when these teams play then it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. The North Stars are also 10-0-1-0 when leading after the first and 12-0-0-0 when leading after 40. The Hounds are 21-0-0-2 when leading after two periods. Don’t expect to see a comeback tonight. Having a lead is massive.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Spencer Tremblay 2) Michael Statchuk 1) Brock Weston
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Nick Fountain
  • Head to Head:
    Feb. 12 – Notre Dame 4 @ Battlefords 2
    Jan. 17 – Battlefords 2 @ Notre Dame 3 (SO)
    Nov. 23 – Battlefords 1 @ Notre Dame 0
    Nov. 1 – Notre Dame 3 @ Battlefords 1
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Notre Dame 6-10-2-4
    Battlefords 16-5-0-1
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: La Ronge at Humbldt, Melfort and Flin Flon
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 20 Melfort – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Final Period – The North Stars are a very good third period team. Lately that’s been their best period game after game. But lately they have usually been behind and chasing the game. Last night the Stars had a lead and the third was a bit of a let off from what they did in the opening 40 minutes. The key? For the Stars to play every period like it’s the 3rd period and they are battling for a win.

2) Battles – The Stars lost a lot of puck battles against the Hounds at the Civic Center last week. At times they looked slow and using speed is one way the Stars can win battles. They also just flat out didn’t show the desire that they need to show. Last night the Stars chipped and chased and got to pucks. They showed that desire and it led to them recovering pucks and getting puck possession, drawing penalties and scoring goals. That’s the blueprint for the Stars to stick to tonight.

3) Traffic – The North Stars didn’t get as much traffic to the front of the net, against Notre Dame the last time these two teams met, as they would have liked. Thibodeau is a very good goaltender in this league so one of the keys to the game will be making sure that there is a good screen in front and some deflections.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych
Erickson – Calverley

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Mitchell – O’Sullivan
Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Saharchuk, Delainey

SJHL Game #51 – Battlefords North Stars at Weyburn Red Wings

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 24-19-6-1

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 – 2:45
  • Puck drop – 3:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost 4-2 to Notre Dame on Thursday night at the Civic Center. The Stars fell behind 4-0 in the first period and were never able to recover.

The Hounds opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush. Ian Williams sent the puck across to Sam Aulie and the Hounds forward blasted home a one-timer past Ryan Rewerts. It was still 1-0 thanks to a great save from Rewerts when he went post to post to stop Jared Martin. The Stars had a chance to tie as Matt Havens set up Igor Leonenko in front but Leonenko’s shot fluttered wide.

The Hounds made it 2-0 about 30 seconds later. Martin able to set up Cummings who showed good patience to deke around Rewerts using a team mate as a decoy and sliding the puck home. It was 3-0 later in the frame as Devin Gerun was able to steal a loose puck that bounced past the North Stars D at the Hounds blueline. From about the red line Gerun was in alone on a breakaway and he beat Rewerts through the 5-hole.

The Stars made the goalie switch at that point although I don’t think Rewerts had much blame attached to him for the score. Spencer Tremblay came into the game in relief and was excellent. He was beaten just once on 27 shots.

The Stars almost made it 3-1 but Bryce Hall was robbed by Alexei Thibodeau when Hall was all alone in front. The Hounds 4th goal, and Aulie’s second of the game, appeared to be kicked in. But the ref signalled that the goal counted.

The Hounds played well in the second period and could have added to their lead. But Tremblay was outstanding to keep the score 4-0. In the third the North Stars made a game of it. Matt Havens was the Stars best player Thursday and he hit the scoresheet when he set up Igor Leonenko to make it 4-1. 2:02 later and the Stars were within 2.

It looked like Michael Statchuk poked home a loose puck in the slot area but Nick Fountain was given credit. After the Stars were within 2 goals they had 2 power play but the Hounds regrouped and had a couple good penalty kills and then they were able to see out the game for the victory.

Storylines:

  • Schedule: The North Stars are coming off a very busy portion for their schedule. From January 15th until February 7th the North Stars played 12 games in a 25 day span. And for a large chunk of those games they were without key players due to injury and suspension. It’s not an excuse at all but you do wonder if some guys have been forced into roles they aren’t familiar with and into extra ice time that has led to some fatigue. With just one game last week let’s hope the North Stars are recharged and ready to go down the final stretch of the season. After tomorrow night’s game in Notre Dame the Stars have a 9 day stretch with just one game. This is a part of the schedule just before playoffs that the North Stars can really benefit from.
  • Return: The North Stars will get one player back in the lineup this afternoon for sure. Jake Calverley’s harsh 4 game suspension is over and he is set to return to the lineup. I am not sure of the status of Matt Saharchuk or Reed Delainey but I would imagine the two forwards, and the Stars top two scorers, are getting closer to a return. can you imagine having a health scratch or two? It’s been so long for the North Stars that’s it tough to remember what that’s like. A fully healthy lineup, if they get to that point this season, will give the North Stars a chance to rest guys who need it. It will let them chose a lineup based on who is playing well and the opponent being faced.
  • Standings: The La Ronge Ice Wolves look like they will be putting a little pressure on Estevan for the final playoff spot. Weyburn could be sucked into that battle as well. They have won 2 straight though and look pretty comfortable for a Survivor Series berth at this point. There is a chance that this could be a matchup in a Survivor Series as the North Stars still hold down the 7th seed.
  • Afternoon start: Today is Family Day here in Saskatchewan so the Stars are playing the Wings at 3 this afternoon. A holiday Monday afternoon start? This is the first time I have experienced a game like this in the SJHL. So it will be a bit different. The bus left the Battlefords early this morning and the guys will have to be ready to go a few hours earlier than they are used to. Luckily, it’s the same for both teams, the preparations should be the same just pushed up earlier in the day and it will give the Stars a little extra rest before tomorrow night’s game versus Notre Dame.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Matt Havens 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Sam Aulie
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Jan 16 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Weyburn 3 (Nov 22 2014)
    Weyburn 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Nov 16 2014)
    Weyburn 0 @ Battlefords 1 (SO) (Nov 14 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Weyburn – 5-10-0-5
    Battlefords – 15-5-0-0
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: No other games tonight
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 17 at Notre Dame – 8:00 pm @ Duncan McNeil Arena
    Feb. 20 Melfort – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) First Goal – The North Stars have had a little trouble this season when they give up the first goal of the game. Especially lately when they’ve had some decent first periods only to find themselves behind. I think it’s a key for the North Stars to get a lead early and play with a lead for a while today.

2) 4 lines – The North Stars are still going to be short a few forwards with Delainey and Saharchuk still out but if everyone else is ready to go with Jake Calverley returning from injury then they can once again roll all 4 lines without having to double shift anyone or create lines. Last game Connor Vermeulen was playing forward for a while as the Stars went with 5 D. If they are able to have 18 skaters and use them all then the North Stars will be more fresh come the third period. The Wings are a hard working team and so the Stars will need to be energetic in that final 20 minutes.

3) Saves – The North Stars lately have had their backup come into the game and make a lot of saves. Rewerts in La Ronge and then Tremblay on Thursday were able to give the Stars at least a chance to make the game close and get the goalie pulled late to make it interesting. But they need some saves early from whoever gets the start. Yes, the team must be better in front of their goalie and that needs to happen right from puck drop. But the Stars also need their goalies to be on top of their game as they are capable of being two of the top guys in the league when they are rolling.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych
Erickson – Spagrud ‘AP’

Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – O’Sullivan – Mitchell
Calverley – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Vermeulen, Saharchuk, Delainey

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