Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Game 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 – 7:30pm
- Puck drop – 7:15pm
Last game recap: – TheNorth Stars beat the Estevan Bruins 5-2 last night. I did a quick recap for the blog here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/2137/
The North Stars dominated the first five minutes o the hockey game last night. Jordan Townsend almost scored but his back hand shot went through the blue paint and out the other side. The Stars strong start did draw a penalty and a goal. Nick Fountain able to spin in the slot and slide the puck home after a Michael Statchuk point shot. Igor Leonenko also drew an assist.
The Stars had a chance to increase the lead but Matt Saharchuk couldn’t get his pass through to the stick of Fountain on a 2-on-1. Leonenko made a nice drop pass to Jake Erickson who was back in the lineup after missing 5 games including the first 4 of the series. Erickson’s shot hit Tyler Fuhr and stayed out.
Saharchuk then went to the backhand with a patient move but Fuhr stopped him in close. The Stars had other chances in the frame including Otto Mitchell dragging and shooting high.
Spencer Tremblay was busy at the other end making several key saves as the Bruins came on in the middle of the period. Connor Sych also had another strong game and his timely shot block on Keegan Allison kept the Bruins scoreless. Sych then broke up a short handed rush by the Bruins when he knocked a pass out of mid-air that was intended for Keaton Longpre who was on a 2-on-1 with RT Rice.
The best chance for the Bruins came off an Erickson turnover. His only mistake of the game as he was good in his return. Lynden Pastachak closed right in but was stopped by Tremblay. Brenden Heinrich was set up for a one-timer at the other end but his shot was deflected wide. In the final seconds Jason Duret was found in the slot all alone and he fired over the net. The Stars had a 1-0 lead going to the second.
In the middle frame the Stars were very good start to finish and built on their lead. Jake McMillen set the tone early in the frame with a huge hit on Pastachak. That was the San Berg Collision of the game.
Erickson had a good chance from a sharp angle but Fuhr saved. Jake Calverley tried to wrap around but was stopped. Leonenko was then sprung for a break away by Saharchuk but Fuhr made the glove save. Mitchell set up Nachtegaele back door but his shot whistled just wide.
The Bruins got a power play and spent the entire first minute in the Stars zone but Tremblay made a couple of good saves and the Stars cleared. Kendall Fransoo then crunched Pastachak with another solid hit.
A goal was coming though for the Stars and it was Saharchuk. What a return he has had since missing the end of the season. He blew by Charles Manley like he was standing still and powered through the low slot. Saharchuk was then able to slide the puck past Fuhr. 2-0 North Stars.
McMillen tried to set up Heinrich. He couldn’t get his stick down to direct the pass into the net. Then it got physical. McMillen got hit high. No call. Heinrich crushed his man Pachal. A penalty was called on the play. But down 2-0 the Bruins decided to go after Heinrich. 3 of them rushed in and the refs evened up the calls. A game 5 on the road and down 2 goals the Bruins needed to keep their cool and get a power play to try and close the gap. Instead the Stars were further in front.
Baxter Kanter pestered his man all the way around the Estevan net and then poked the puck away as the Bruins tried to escape their zone. Otto Mitchell was on hand to wire his first of the playoffs past Fuhr.
Sych was sent off for tripping after a good move and rush up ice by Pastachak. Fransoo then made a really nice shot block and Fountain dove to clear the puck. The Stars PK was excellent on that Sych penalty with Erickson breaking up the play in front and clearing.
Josh Reiger then slashed Logan Nachtegaele for no reason and went off. The Stars couldn’t extend their lead. Short handed Pastachak tested Tremblay but he made the save. It was 3-0 going to the third.
The Stars had more chances. Sych fired wide from a good position. Heinrich tried a wrap around that was stopped. Allison then showed great patience to get a good shooting position but Tremblay squeezed the puck against his body and kept it out.
Connor Vermeulen and Saharchuk teamed up to steal the puck from Rice and get it to Fountain. He walked right into the slot and finished off the play. 4-0 North Stars. Cruise mode. Except the Stars don’t like to do things the easy way.
16 seconds later Taylor Ross was in alone and beat Tremblay high blocker. Just under 5 minutes later Ross set up Pachal and the AP defenseman’s shot got by a screened Tremblay. The Stars called their time out not long later to get their guys rested and ready to go for the final 8 or so minutes.
Bryce Hall had a strong shift and set up Sych but he fired high. Tremblay then made saves on chances for Allison and Jason Duret later in the game. The Bruins pulled their goalie and were buzzing but eventually the Stars cleared and Nick Fountain scored into the empty net to complete his hat trick.
As far as I can tell that’s the first North Stars hat trick since Kyle Hall in an 8-2 win over La Ronge way back on November 17th of 2012. The Stars had plenty of guys (Luke McColgan, Josh Betinol, Spencer Gosselin, Brody Luhning, Kyle Hall and Jake McMillen each a few times, Blake Young, Austin Evans, Cam Blaie, Reed Delainey, Matt Saharchuk and more) score twice in a game. But that was a long time between hat tricks. Including playoff games? By my count 161 games.
- Familiar Foes: The North Stars and Klippers met twice in pre-season and 8 times in the regular season. They will now play at least 4 more times and you have a feeling this won’t be a short series. So they know each other pretty well. There won’t need to be much in terms of coaching guys about what to expect. They will know what each other wants to do out on the ice and the players should have an idea of what they need to do to be successful. Xs and Os should be well ingrained so these games will be about who executes better and who wants it more.
- Turn Around: The North Stars played last night and beat Estevan to move on. They now get to face Kindersley tonight. That’s a quick turnaround for the Stars. On the plus side? They have a ton of momentum as they are coming off a huge win. They are used to playing playoff hockey. They should be very much in game shape. The Klippers have had some time off so will be fresh and re-charged but will they be rusty? It’s a fascinating match-up and we will see how it shakes out tonight.
- Overtime: We didn’t see any overtime game in the Estevan series. Which is somewhat surprising because of how often the Stars went to overtime in the regular season. The Stars and Klippers went to OT in 4 of their 8 matches this season. And another game was won by Brady O’Sullivan with a goal that came with a few seconds left in regulation. So they almost had 5 OT games. The season series was really close, they are big time rivals and they are both excellent hockey teams. So some OT would not be a surprise.
- Rivalry: This is a series I was hoping to see last season at some point in the post-season but that wasn’t to be. The Melville Millionaire spoiled the party when they swept the Klippers. When this current playoff format was introduced by the SJHL this series was for what we were hoping. Local rivals. A few hours apart. A playoff series that could be one for the ages. Well, we get that series this season and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
- Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Spencer Tremblay 2) Matt Saharchuk 1) Nick Fountain
- Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Jake McMillen
- Regular Season Head to Head:
Battlefords 6 @ Kindersley 5 (SO) (Mar 3 2015)
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)
- Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Melfort, Nipawin at Melville, Flin Flon at Notre Dame
- Playoff Schedule:
Game #1 – Tonight – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
Game #2 – Mar. 15th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
Game #3 – Mar. 17th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
Game #4 – Mar. 18th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
Game #5 – Mar. 20th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
Game #7 – Mar. 24th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
(The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)
Some Keys for the Stars:
1) Momentum – The Stars are fully up to playoff game speed and have a lot of positive feelings coming off last night’s win. If they can carry that momentum into the game tonight maybe they can jump on the Klippers early on. The Bruins did it to the Stars last season and got off to a good start winning game 1 after coming off a Wildcard series win. The North Stars will try that same game 1 feat tonight.
2) Underdog – The North Stars and Klippers appear to be pretty evenly matched after what we saw in the regular season. But the Klippers are the #2 seed in the series and have home ice advantage. the North Stars are coming off a hard fought 5 game series and have several key players out injured. The Klippers are fresh and should be healthy. I would think that would mean most people consider the Stars the underdogs. I think they should embrace that role. There doesn’t appear to be any pressure on the Stars. It’s all on the Klippers. If the Stars play an underdog role, scrap and claw and play with no pressure they should do really well.
3) Traffic – I personally think that, other than the North Stars goalies, Evan Wenninger is the top tender in the SJHL. And I don’t think I am the only one who thinks that. This kid is an outstanding goalie and is tough to beat. So the Stars will have to get in his grill and stay there. They will have to find a way to get deflections and rebounds. If they can make life uncomfortable for Wenninger they will have a much better chance to win tonight’s game.
North Stars Lineup:
Fransoo – Sych
Statchuk – Spagrud ‘AP’
Erickson – Kleiboer ‘AP’
Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Calverley – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele
Scratches: Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens, Weston