Stars season review

I always have a tough time sitting down and writing these blog posts after the season comes to an end. There is so much to remember and so many things to say that I end up not being able to get it all down right away.

This past season the North Stars were never able to get their entire roster on the ice at the same time. Starting with Jake McMillen in fall camp, and followed by Igor Leonenko during the first game of pre-season, the North Stars never had a fully healthy roster. Brock Weston missed time. Reed Delainey, Matt Saharchuk, Brady O’Sullivan, Jake Erickson, Logan Nachtegaele and others all missed time with injuries.

So we never truly got to see what the North Stars could have been had they been healthy.

But we know what they were with the injuries and that is a team with heart. All season long and through the playoffs I never heard a player make an excuse. Blame the injuries. Or feel bad about the circumstances. They simply put their heads down and went to work.

The team was ranked pretty high early in the season thanks in part to a hot start. They were battling with Kindersley for top spot in the division. Then they hit a tough patch and really struggled through some adversity. But again no excuses were ever made.

I think that the Stars did well to go as far as they did in the post-season with the injuries that they faced although they maybe should have finished off the Bruins sooner. I also think that if they had won game 2 versus Kindersley that would have been a different series.

The performances of Nick Fountain, Brenden Heinrich, Michael Statchuk and Spencer Tremblay were tremendous down the stretch and into the post-season. Jake Erickson as well but he wasn’t on the ice as much in playoffs as the Stars needed. That was a key loss.

What a wild season it was too. Taurean White left to take over as a head coach. The Stars ended up brining on Braeden Johnson and he did a tremendous job to help the Stars right the ship late in the season.

The North Stars young players that are eligible to return give hope for a great season starting in September with fall camp. Weston, Connor Vermeulen, Jake Calverley and the pair of Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych give the Stars a solid base. Another year of Ryan Rewerts will give the Stars a stable presence in goal. And they return a bunch of offense. The top line of Saharchuk, O’Sullivan and Delainey could be joined by Jake McMillen, Igor Leonenko, Bryce Hall, Matt Havens, and Jordan Townsend. Jackson Bond could also return. Plus energy guys like Baxter Kanter, Otto Mitchell and Logan Nachtegaele.

Then there are guys who could join from the midget AAA ranks and we saw some of those guys this season when they were ‘APs’. Guys like Troy Gerein and Layne Young. Cody Spagrud and Levi Kleiboer. There are more as well. I think this team could be set up to be flat out dominant next season.

They may want to get a little bigger and maybe a little more veteran presence on the back end. But they could be scary good.

And if they are that good next year it will be in part because of the lessons learned this season.

But if I am thinking back on this season for the North Stars I can’t help but think about Logan Nachtegaele and what he, and his family, went through. The way Logan and his mom handled everything was amazing. I don’t think I will ever stop being impressed by that young man.

The way the community rallied around them was remarkable. The way the team came together in support as well. It tells me so much about the North Stars family, the people they recruit and develop and this community as a whole. I’m proud to be affiliated with this community and this team. It’s board, staff, volunteers and fans as well as the players are all first rate.

I’d rather lose as a North Star fan than win with anyone else.

SJHL Quarterfinals – Game #3 – Kindersley Klippers at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Kindersley Leads Series 3-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars are on the brin kof elimination after falling 6-2 last night in Kindersley. The Klippers able to jump out to a 4-0 lead after the first period once again. Marc Dubeau was found all alone in the slot and fired to the top corner past Spencer Tremblay to open the scoring. Not long later Devin Case scored a power play marker to make it 2-0 and a sense of deja vu came over the rink in Kindersley.

The Klippers got another later in the frame when Braden Oleksyn, again on a power play, popped home a rebound. And with the Stars on the power play late in the first period Joel Webb raced away in alone on Tremblay and made no mistake to make it 4-0 after the first.

The Klippers increased their lead with another power play goal in the second. This time it was against Ryan Rewerts who replaced Tremblay in net. The shot went in off the post as Webb scored his second of the game. That was early in the second. But from there on out the North Stars were able to steady the ship.

The got goals in the third period from Igor Leonenko. He slid the puck home after a shot from Jake Calverley was blocked to the side of the net. And then Matt Havens made a nice little backhand drop pass to Jake McMillen on a power play and he fired in off the post. By that time the Klippers had added a 6th goal though and the final score was 6-2.

The North Stars now trail the series 3-0.

There were a ton of penalties in last night’s game and I have never seen so many 5-on-3 power plays. I think the Klippers have about 4 of them and one lasted for well over 3 minutes. There were two fights as well. Owen LaClare taking exception to ahit from Baxter Kanter that was a little late. Kanter got anextra two for interference. It wasn’t much of a fight in terms of punches landed but Kanter did get in a few shots. Connor Sych then dropped the gloves with Landon Gross and tagged the Klipper with a straight right that dropped Gross. The benches got into it after that a little as well. There’s still plenty of fire in this series.

Storylines:

  • Scholarships: We spoke about it last night on the broadcast but I just want to formally say my congratulations to a pair of North Stars. Jake Erickson has officially committed to Air Force. He will play division 1 hockey there next season and go to school. Air Force Academy. That’s pretty cool. It’s a well deserved scholarship for a great young man that I have enjoyed getting to know. His family are here visiting and his parents were with him when he found out he was going to get that opportunity. And all of that makes me so very happy. Also, Brenden Heinrich will be heading to play Div. 3 hockey next season at Norwich. And again congratulations go out to a really talented hockey player. Heinrich does so many things well on the ice that he is going to be a really useful player for Norwich moving forward. That’s a young man that has come a long way in two years as a North Star and has matured a lot. That makes 3 Division 1 scholarships (Delainey, Sych and Erickson) and one Division 3 schoalrship (Heinrich) so far this season. That’s a hell of a successful season no matter what happens the rest of the playoffs.
  • Elimination: There’s nothing much else that needs to be said. It’s a win or go home game for the North Stars. They must win or they are done. Brenden Heinrich, Nick Fountain, Michael Statchuk and Spencer Tremblay will be on the ice for potentially the last time in their junior careers. Can they extend the series?
  • Home Ice: In a strange quirk the North Stars always seem to play deciding games on home ice. A Game 7 win in OT versus Nipawin in 2012. A Game 6 loss that same year versus Humboldt. A game 3 loss the next season versus Melfort. A Game 5 win at home last season versus Estevan was followed by game 5 loss at home versus Melfort. And early in this very playoffs a game 5 win at home over Estevan. For some reason the North Stars playoffs under Coach Hasselberg have either been won or lost at the Civic Center. That trend could continue tonight. Let’s hope that it doesn’t.
  • Havens: The North Stars got Matt Havens back from injury last night and he looked pretty good as he picked up an assist. He’ll be even better now with a game under his belt. But the North Stars will be without Bryce Hall once again. The Stars will have the same lineup tonight that they had last night. They will continue to battle with the players they have and have said they are happy with the work they ‘APs’ have done. They can’t get any fresh legs into the lineup or any of their missing key players back. But that won’t stop them from battling to fight off elimination.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Cody Young 2) Matt Havens 1) Joel Webb
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Kendall Fransoo
  • 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: Notre Dame at Flin Flon, Melville at Nipawin, Melfort at Weyburn
  • Playoff Schedule:
    Game #1 – Kindersley 9 – Battlefords 0
    Game #2 – Kindersley 3 – Battlefords 2 (2OT)
    Game #3 – Kindersley 6 – Battlefords 2
    Game #4 – Mar. 18th – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #5 – Mar. 20th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    Game #7 – Mar. 24th – 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) Special Teams – The Klippers have 8 power play goals in the series. The North Stars have one. Kindersley has also scored a couple short handed. If the North Stars can’t find a way to at least get a draw in terms of special teams play they will have a tough time forcing a game 5.

2) Draws – The North Stars were crushed in the faceoff circle last night. They were constantly chasing the puck and the Klippers took advantage. The Stars have to find a way to win more draws and possess the puck more.

3) Contributions – This one is taken directly from coach Hasselberg on last night’s post-game show. He said every single player in the lineup tonight has to contribute. Not in terms of goals necessarily. But in any way possible. Find a way to impact the game in a positive way. They need everyone if they are going to extend the series.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Saharchuk – Fountain – Leonenko
Kanter – Townsend – Nachtegaele
Bendall ‘AP’ – Mitchell – Vermeulen

Scratches: O’Sullivan, Delainey, Hall, Erickson, Kleiboer ‘AP’

SJHL – Quarterfinals Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Kindersley Klippers

Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Kindersley Leads Series 2-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost a heartbreaker in game 2 as Darcy DeRoose scored in double OT to lift the Klippers to a 3-2 win and a 2-0 series lead.

The North Stars played a very good game in game 2 and had a decent start with a chance for Leonenko that was stopped by Evan Weninger and then Michael Statchuk threw a big hit on Marc Dubeau. Moments later it was 1-0 Klippers. Owen LaClare crossed the blue line and ripped a wrist shot past Spencer Tremblay. Connor Vermeulen was stopped as he walked off the wall with a good shot and then Dubeau hit the post at the other end.

‘AP’ defenseman Levi Kleiboer made a nice play in the first to block a pass from Owen LaClare. Nick Fountain got a body check on Shaun MacPherson and got the puck out front. The puck was jammed at before squirting to Jake McMillen. He went to his forehand and roofed the puck to tie the game at 1.

It was 2-1 about two and half minutes later. A shot looked to have deflected off Connor Sych, off the post and in. Devin Case was given credit for the goal.

Matt Saharchuk had a nice chance walking in towards the slot but couldn’t beat Weninger. During 4-on-4 play the Klippers had a double chance that was stopped by Tremblay. First DeRoose was stopped and then the rebound was repelled as well. At the other end Brenden Heinrich’s shot was spit out but Jake McMillen couldn’t control the rebound.

In the second Kleiboer had a shot stopped and Saharchuk’s rebound shot was blocked. Kendall Fransoo hit Carlos Grouchy hard before Saharchuk had a chance to tie. He took the puck to the net and then spun to his forehand as he powered across the crease. His spinning move led to a shot that Weninger stopped. Nick Fountain had a partial chance but didn’t have much speed on a partial breakaway and couldn’t finish. MacPherson and Kanter then caught knees and the Klipper’s captain was down. He was also assessed a kneeing penalty which was served by someone else as MacPherson was helped off the ice.

The Stars power play struggled in the game and Michael Statchuk’s one-timer went wide. The Stars couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 and it was still 2-1. Weninger made a good stretching pad save on a Brock Weston one-timer as well.

Fountain tied the game late in the second. On a beauty move he faked a wrap around attempt and then from the side of the net cut towards the goal, dragged the puck low and around Weninger’s pad before firing home from the side of the goal.

In the third there was no scoring but that doesn’t mean it was boring. The Saharchuk line had chances but Leonenko fired high. Heinrich had a backhand shot on a power play go just wide. Fountain found Saharchuk who was hooked on his way to the net. The Stars had 5-on-3 for 33 seconds but couldn’t score. Saharchuk’s deflection was stopped by Weninger on a Weston point shot. Townsend went tic-tac-toe with Saharchuk to McMillen but he couldn’t get a shot off on the door step.

Fransoo then made a nice play to out-wait a shot blocker who went down to the ice. Fransoo then shot from the high slot and the puck was loose in the blue paint. The Stars couldn’t find it though and somehow Weninger kept it out.

With Fountain off for tripping, Connor Sych had several really good shot blocks on a Klipper power play late in the third. Leonenko was stopped again with a chance from the slot. Kanter fired high and wide. Spencer Tremblay was quietly great after the second goal and late in the third kept the puck out with good strength to keep his foot against the post. The Stars drew a penalty late that carried over to the first OT period.

The Stars had a couple shots on the power play but couldn’t score. The shots in OT1 were 16-14 as both goalies were outstanding. Leonenko was set up by Townsend and Saharchuk but again shot right at Weninger and was stopped. Townsend had a great back-check to break up a 2-on-1. Not long later LaClare was on a 2-on-1 and Tremblay made the save. Connor Navrot had a chance to pull away but the puck rolled off his stick. He threw it out front but no one was there to try and score.

McMillen set up Heinrich. He dragged and shot but was unable to score. Then with 5:10 left in OT1 the glass broke. So they fixed it quick, and again great work by the rink staff at the Civic Center, and had a flood. The two teams finished the first overtime without scoring and then switched ends to start the second overtime.

Spencer Tremblay had a few good saves and then the Stars chance to win. Igor Leonenko had a chance again and with the puck loose in the slot, after some thought it had gone in already past Weninger, a penalty shot was given. The Klippers had knocked the net off the pegs on purpose. Leonenko though tried to deke and the puck rolled off his stick in close before he could shoot.

Moments later at the other end, DeRoose was able to jam home at the side of the net and as the puck squeaked under Tremblay the Klippers skated off to celebrate taking a 2-0 series lead.

The final score in two overtimes was 3-2. Afterwards the talk was about that being one of the best games at the Civic Center in recent memory. I have seen some good ones and that one was up there but the North Stars came out on the wrong end.

Storylines:

  • Rivalry: These two teams will be meeting tonight for the 13th time this season including pre-season, regular season and now playoff games. They don’t like each other. That dislike was evident early in the season and has only grown since. There were a lot of penalties. A lot of scrums and more last game. It’s only going to get more intense and more interesting as the games move along.
  • Swing Game: The North Stars win tonight at it’s a 2-1 series with the Stars having a chance to tie the series on home ice tomorrow night. If they lose tonight they will face elimination tomorrow night at home. Talk about a swing in the series depending on which way it goes in Kindersley this evening.
  • Road Games: The North Stars won the 3 of 4 games in Kindersley in the regular season. So they will know that they can win on the road. They will have to win in Kindersley a couple times to win the series. But they can’t worry about that tonight or where they stand in the series. They simply have to try and win the hockey game tonight. Having confidence that they can win in Kindersley should help.
  • Special Teams: The North Stars power play has not been good so far in the series. And that’s really a big difference in the games especially last game. The Stars had chances in the third and into OT to win the game on the power play and couldn’t get it done. They also had a lot of scoring chances on both the power play and during 5-on-5 play that they didn’t convert. Moving the puck, working hard and finishing chances will get the Stars a lot of goals including on the PP.
  • Injuries: It wouldn’t be another North Stars game without some more injury news. Tune into the pregame show today or check the blog later for lineups. The Stars may be getting a player back in the lineup but they have lost another key guy to injury. It appears this injury run of bad luck is going to continue so the Stars will just have to find a way to continue to battle through the adversity.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Nick Fountain 2) Evan Weninger 1) Spencer Tremblay
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Kendall Fransoo
  • 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: Notre Dame at Flin Flon
  • Playoff Schedule:
    Game #1 – Kindersley 9 – Battlefords 0
    Game #2 – Kindersley 3 – Battlefords 2 (2OT)
    Game #3 – Mar. 17th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
    Game #4 – Mar. 18th – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #5 – Mar. 20th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    Game #7 – Mar. 24th – 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) Power Play – If the North Stars get power plays then they have to find a way to score on the man advantage. That’s the bottom line. On the road especially. And against a goalie as good as Weninger. There must be goals on the power play or at the very least lots of shots and chances and momentum to be gained.

2) Discipline – The Stars and Klippers got pretty heated in game number 2 and the Klippers will sometimes lose their cool. The North Stars can take advantage if they can stay disciplined and continue to rile up the Klippers at the same time.

3) Presence – The Stars have to get more bodies to the net and get in the face of Evan Weninger. Spencer Tremblay was good in game 2 and showed he can go toe-to-toe with Weninger. So the Stars know they’ve got that in their own zone. At the other end they need to get to the net and get deflections, rebounds and jam plays. That presence in front of the Kindersley net and a presence in front protecting Tremblay will be key.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Sych
Statchuk – Kleiboer ‘AP’
Calverley – Spagrud ‘AP’

Fountain – Saharchuk – Leonenko
Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele
Vermeulen – Townsend – Weston

Scratches: Hall, Delainey, Erickson, O’Sullivan, Bendall ‘AP’

SJHL Quarter-finals Game #2 – Kindersley Klippers at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Kindersley Leads Series 1-0

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

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

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost 9-0 in game 1 back on Friday night. The Klippers scored 4 in the first, 4 in the second and got one late in the third. Darcy DeRoose led the way with 3 goals and an assist. The nice thing about that game is that it still only counts for one win in the series.

Storylines:

  • Bounce Back: The North Stars are known for their ability to bounce back from defeat. I’ve seen many times that they have the ability to come back strong from a rough outing. They did it in game 2 versus Estevan. Game 5 as well. Everyone on the team from Spencer Tremblay on to the D and the forwards can and will all play better this evening. I am sure of it.
  • Recovery: After playing 6 times in 8 days the North Stars had a day off yesterday. Sounds like they were on the ice but only for about 20 minutes of hard skating and then they worked on some other stuff like special teams. Let’s hope that day of mostly resting will mean the North Stars are fresh and ready to go tonight. If they have more jump tonight and have their legs then they can really skate the Klippers and see if they can keep up.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars won two big games in the Estevan series on home ice. Game 2 after dropping the first game on home ice and then game 5 as well. The Stars didn’t have a home ice record of which they would be proud in the regular season. But that doesn’t matter now. They have a couple wins at home in the post-season and they need to protect that home ice in this series. In the regular season the Klippers won 3 times out of 4 at the Civic Center. The Klippers know they can win here in the Battlefords. So that’s something the Stars will have to overcome.
  • Midget Stars: In the previous round of playoffs the North Stars and AAA Stars each won games 2, 3 and 5 of their series to move on to the next round. Then both teams lost game 1 of the next round. So they have been mirror images so far. The Stars won last night in overtime to even their series with Tisdale at a game each. Let’s hope the coincidence of the parallel results continues in tonight’s game.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Braden Oleksyn 2) Marc Dubeau 1) Darcy DeRoose
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: 
  • 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: No other games
  • Playoff Schedule:
    Game #1 – Kindersley 9 – Battlefords 0
    Game #2 – Tonight – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 17th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
    Game #4 – Mar. 18th – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #5 – Mar. 20th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    Game #7 – Mar. 24th – 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) Smart – Coach Hasselberg said after game 1 that the North Stars have to be smart with how then approach the Klippers. The Stars are the smaller team so they can’t just run around hitting everyone trying to win the physical battle. They have to win battles in more ways than just by throwing hits. Still, it is important to finish checks. But the Stars have to be smarter than they were in game 1.

2) Fast Start – The Klippers got a couple of early goals in game 1 and the North Stars were always fighting an uphill battle. That’s hard enough to do at the best of times but when a team has played a lot of hockey? Maybe they didn’t have the legs to try and really fight back into the game. No excuses though, the North Stars have to be better early on tonight.

3) PK – The North Stars gave up 3 power play goals in game 1 of the series. They gave up 2 goals to the Klippers power play in each of the first two games of the season and then after that the Stars had one of the best penalty kills in the league. If the Stars give up power play goals to the Klippers they are going to struggle. They have to be rock solid on the PK as they were for most of the season.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Sych
Statchuk – Kleiboer ‘AP’
Calverley – Spagrud ‘AP’

Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Weston – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

SJHL Quarter-finals Game #1 – Battlefords North Stars at Kindersley Klippers

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
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

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.

Storylines:

  • 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.

Other Notes:

  • 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:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Stars down Estevan in Game 5

The Battlefords North Stars beat Estevan 5-2 last night at the Civic Center in Game #5. The Stars now move on to face Kindersley in Round 2.

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The North Stars got the first goal of the game on a beauty by Nick Fountain. He showed great patience to walk into the slot and beat Tyler Fuhr. The Stars got two more in the second period as Matt Saharchuk blew past the Bruins D to score his second of the series. Then Baxter Kanter stole a puck that went to Otto Mitchell and he got his first of the post-season.

In the third, Fountain scored again to make it 4-0. But the Bruins responded. 16 seconds later Taylor Ross scored on a break away.  Then ‘AP’ defenseman Brayden Pachal scored to make it 4-2.

But the North Stars re-grouped and closed out the game. Fountain got his hat trick goal into an empty net to finish the series with 6 goals and an assist. Saharchuk had 2 goals and 5 assists so he had 7 points as well. Igor Leonenko had 3 goals and 5 points in 5 games.

The North Stars had Jake Erickson back in the lineup and he was excellent. Fransoo and Sych were once again outstanding and Statchuk provided the leadership and steady presence on the back end. Every line and every player contributed to the series win as well.

But I do want to say a special tribute to the ‘AP’ players who filled in so well. Cody Spagrud, Levi Kleiboer and Kevin Bendall had a big hand to play in the series and the North Stars have a lot to look forward to with these young guys.

Also, congratulations to the Estevan Bruins. They provided a stern test for the North Stars and showed a lot of character and determination as well. They have a bright future to look forward to next season.

I will have much more on the game tomorrow as we get set for game 1 in Kindersley tomorrow night.

But for now North Stars fans, enjoy this:

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SJHL Playoffs – Game #5 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Series tied 2-2

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 lost game 4 in Estevan. Check the recap here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/bruins-force-game-5/

Storylines:

  • Elimination: The series will end tonight. The winner moves on the loser is done. If the Stars win they will move on to face Kindersley. If the Bruins win they will head to Melfort to face the Mustangs. Because of that quirk the Weyburn Red Wings still don’t know who they will face in the quarter final round. The last time the North Stars played in a game like this where the series was going to end no matter who won? They beat Nipawin in a game 7 at the Civic Center in overtime. I remember it like it was yesterday. These are games you don’t forget.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars were much better than Estevan over the course of the regular season and that’s why the game will be played here in the Battlefords tonight. That’s the reason you play those games. So that you can play a game like this at home. It doesn’t guarantee anything of course and the Bruins have won at the Civic Center once in this series before. So anything can happen. But let’s hope that the home town crowd is big and loud and helps get the Stars over the line.
  • Lineup: The North Stars have been playing with 3 APs in the lineup the last couple games. The Bruins with one. It sounds like maybe the Stars will be getting a regular or two back in their lineup tonight. I am not sure how healthy the Bruins are at this point. It will be interesting to see who gets into the game tonight.
  • Goaltending: Spencer Tremblay and Tyler Fuhr have really battled each other in this series. Every game decided by a single goal. The goalies stats are almost identical. Tremblay has a .911 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. Fuhr is at .908 and 2.77. In a game like this I think the goalies will also be so important and either one is capable of stealing a game.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Kendall Fransoo 2) Matt Saharchuk 1) Tyler Fuhr
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Logan Nachtegaele

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Trust – In a game like tonight the guys on the ice are going to have to trust each other and work together as a unit. They have to believe in each other and rely on each other. The Stars are successful when they work as a 5 man unit. That means they have to do their job and know that the other guys on the ice are going to get their job done as well.

2) Step Up – There are going to be chances for someone to step up and be a hero. All of the guys who suit up tonight will have to be mentally ready to be that guy. Whatever it takes to be that hero. Scoring a goal, a big save, getting a puck off the glass and out, blocking a shot or throwing a big hit. Whatever it takes and whoever it is there will be moments in this game that will require someone to step up. Which ever team is ready and willing to do that will be successful.

3) Intimidate – With a big crowd on hand and raring to go I think it is key for the North Stars to come out flying and really take the game to the Bruins. Lots of hits and pressure. Play with speed and confidence. And let the Bruins know that the Stars are not going to go down without a massive fight. It’s likely that whichever team wants it more will win tonight so let’s see the Stars want it. Make them think very early that it’s going to be a long night.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Calverley – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Weston, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

Bruins Force Game 5

The Battlefords North Stars were once again without 5 regulars as they battled the Bruins last night at Affinity Place. With their season on the line, Estevan managed a 3-2 victory to force a 5th and deciding game in the Wildcard Series.

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With APs Levi Kleiboer and Cody Spagrud in the lineup on defense, Connor Vermeulen was used as a forward last night. And he had a couple of early hits as he looked to provide a physical presence. Spagrud had a nice early shot block that got the Stars bench fired up. The excellent Matt Saharchuk then set up a scoring chance that eventually led to Nick Fountain being hooked. The Stars scored on the power play. Igor Leonenko walked out of the corner and right into the slot before firing home passed Tyler Fuhr to get the Stars on the board.

Connor Sych then had a fantastic penalty killing shift to help the Stars maintain the lead. Brenden Heinrich drew a penalty by moving his feet but the Stars couldn’t increase their score. Fuhr made a blocker save from a nice shot by Bryce Hall and the line of Mitchell, Kanter and Nachtegaele had a good shift in the attacking zone.

Heinrich was called for a blow to the head penalty and was given 2 and 10. The Bruins tied the game on the ensuing power play. A nice passing play ended up on the stick of Taylor Ross backdoor and he made no mistake.

The Stars tried to up the physical game as Kanter got a nice hit on Pastachak and McMillen caught Douglas with an open ice hit. ‘AP’ forward Kevin Bendall almost scored a rebound after Leonenko fired on target but Fuhr made both saves and it was 1-1 after 1.

After killing part of a penalty to start the period the Bruins got some momentum. Ross had a shot straight from a face-off win that Spencer Tremblay was able to stop. Douglas took a shot that hit traffic in front and got passed the Stars goalie. 2-1 Bruins.

Leonenko and Jordan Townsend teamed up to get a shot and Bendall fired the rebound just wide. Tremblay made a save at the other end before Michael Statchuk jumped in the rush and almost scored. The game was stretched and end to end. Kendall Fransoo threw a nice hit on Levi Barnstable. Then Wyatt Garagan hit Bryce Hall and it was a dangerous hit. High and right to the head. Jake Calverley stepped in. Garagan appeared to say no to the fight and then dropped the gloves moments later perhaps trying to gain an edge on Calverley. The fight was probably a draw.

The Stars got a power play as Garagan got 2 and 10 for the hit and 5 and a game for fighting. I thought 2 and 10 was not enough based on the hit I saw on Hall. But that’s not my decision to make. It looked like a very dangerous hit to me and I was glad Hall was okay. The Stars made the Bruins play with another power play goal.

Matt Saharchuk appeared to bunt the puck into the net with his stick but it also looked like it may have gone in off his hand. I couldn’t tell as the puck was on the other side of Saharchuk’s body from my vantage point. Replays I saw were not really conclusive either. In the end the goal stood and the game was tied. The Stars are now 4 for 17 on the power play in the series.

Logan Nachtegaele almost scored a rebound after a nice rush up ice by linemate Otto Mitchell. Sych then made an excellent diving stick check shot block on a Bruins power play to prevent what looked like a sure goal. Fransoo, Sych, McMillen and Heinrich had a penalty kill shift that almost lasted the full 2 minutes. But they kept the Bruins from scoring and got off the ice.

Tremblay then made a number of key saves including one beauty with his left pad. Fransoo threw himself in front of a shot for a key block and the Stars didn’t allow another goal in the period despite running into penalty trouble late in the second frame.

In the third the Bruins got the game winner. A point shot hitting traffic in front and changing directions past Tremblay was the game winner. Manley was given credit for the goal. I had the scoring chances in the period at roughly 8-2 in favour of the North Stars.  Leonenko had a chance in the slot. Mitchell a spinning back hand shot. McMillen and Heinrich teamed up but Fuhr was there as well.

Baxter Kanter tried a backhand wrap around but couldn’t smuggle the puck home. Vermeulen’s drag and shot was stopped by Fuhr. Sych was robbed with a nice lunging save. McMillen, Hall and Heinrich worked an opening for Spagrud but again Fuhr was there to keep the Stars from scoring a third goal.

Kendall Fransoo tried a warp around of his own and it was loose for a moment in the blue paint before Fuhr covered. Fountain had a chances as well but the puck slid off the end of his stick on the backhand and he couldn’t get a shot on target. Saharchuk couldn’t beat Fuhr with a sharp angle shot as the Stars forward tried to pick the top corner.

In the end the Stars got their net empty but couldn’t tie the game. Sych took a penalty but prevented an empty net goal in the process. That allowed the Stars to again pull Tremblay and get the game to 5-on-5 in the Bruins zone. But Fuhr wouldn’t be beat and the series is now even at 2.

The North Stars and Bruins will play a game 5 tomorrow night at the Civic Center. The winner moves on. The loser’s season is over. Tickets are available online starting this morning and at the rink from 9am to 4pm and 6:30pm to 9pm this evening.

SJHL Playoffs Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Stars lead series 2-1

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
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars took game 3 in wild fashion last night in Estevan as they came from 2 down after 40 to win. That win brings the North Stars to within a game of the next round of playoffs.

The Stars were without 5 regulars last night including Brock Weston and Matt Havens. They joined Brady O’Sullivan, Jake Erickson and Reed Delainey on the sidelines. So the Stars called up 3 affiliate players: Levi Kleiboer, Cody Spagrud and Kevin Bendall.

The first five minutes of the first period was not a strong portion of the game for the North Stars. They seemed to be slow out of the gates and fighting the puck a lot. I mentioned on the radio that they needed a good shift to settle in. And they got it from the excellent Jake McMillen. His line was flying and Brenden Heinrich almost scored on a rebound off Tyler Fuhr. The Bruins goalie made the save but the shift sparked the Stars.

On the next shift they scored. Nick Fountain was set up by linemates Matt Saharchuk and Connor Vermeulen and Fountain was able to score his own rebound. With the Stars in front Spencer Tremblay made a nice glove save through traffic. Brenden Heinrich then used the Bruins D as a screen but was unable to beat Fuhr.

The Stars had a power play but weren’t able to get much going. A Michael Statchuk shot was stopped. Nick Fountain then set up Jordan Townsend for a one-timer but he fired wide. On a delayed penalty the Stars started buzzing and Igor Leonenko almost set up Nick Fountain but he couldn’t get  stick on the puck.

The Stars scored on teh ensuing power play. Leonenko fired rink wide up the the blueline and Jordan Townsend sent the puck right back on a diagonal to Leonenko and he was able to one-time the Stars into a 2-0 lead. Townsend was on the point on the power play thanks in part to the injury problems the Stars are facing.

Late in the first Otto Mitchell got a big hit in on Lynden Pastachak. The Bruins responded with a very good shift in the attacking zone. The Stars couldn’t clear. After good work by Allison and Pastachak it was the Duret brothers doing the damage. With the Stars still stuck in their zone, and on the same shift started by the Allison line, Jason Duret scored his first of the playoffs to make it 2-1.

The second period was all Bruins. Nolan Nicholas scored early in the frame on a long shot that went in off the post. That’s a goal Tremblay would like to have back I am sure. The Stars Matt Saharchuk and Brenden Heinrich tried to spark the physical game with big hits.

Somehow Jason Duret missed an open net from the top of the crease. He managed to fire wide. Bryce Hall was set up back door by a wrap around from McMillen that was stopped. Heinrich poked the puck to Hall at the side of the net and he missed.

The Bruins had other chances as Ryan Duret missed a good chance and Jordan Ross fired wide from in close. Allison was able to get around a sprawling Kendall Fransoo on a 2-on-1 and he set up Pastachak who made it 3-2 Bruins. A minute and sixteen seconds later Wyatt Garagan chipped home to make it 4-2.

The Stars closed the period with a few chances but Leonenko fired wide off a face-off win. The McMillen line had a strong shift but Connor Sych fired a shot over the net. RT Rice then made a nice play to tie up the stick of Nick Fountain as Leonenko tried to set up the SJHL player of the week for his second of the game.

In the third with the Stars down 2 the coaching staff decided to shorten the bench. Coach Hasselberg said after the game that it was no negative indication of the play of the APs. They just wanted to put the game in the hands of the veteran guys. And they delivered. It was 4-on-4 to start the period and then Matt Saharchuk took a goalie interference penalty that was questionable.

With the Bruins on a 4-on-3 power play the Stars got a bounce. Jake McMillen was able to skate onto a loose puck and get in alone. He was taken down and a penalty shot was awarded. McMillen went in and shot post and in on the glove side. That was almost a must score and McMillen was cool as a cucumber. That made it 4-3.

The Bruins were still on the power play and they set up Zack Douglas on a back door play but the defenseman somehow shot wide when it looked easier to score.

From there the Stars basically rolled 3 lines and two pairs of D. Sych and Fransoo followed by Statchuk and Calverley over and over again. Leonenko, Saharchuk and Fountain almost scored. Hall, McMillen and Heinrich had good shift after good shift. Nachtegaele, Kanter and Townsend were hitting.

Kendall Fransoo fired a point shot that went in off a Bruin. 4-4. Fransoo only ever scores against the Bruins and what a time to pop up and score a goal. Townsend was hit up high and Garagan went to the box. The Stars power play couldn’t score. Heinrich and Fransoo each had big hits moments later. Heinrich set up Sych for a shot from the slot but Fuhr made a spectacular glove save.

Nachtegaele then got a big piece of Pastachak for the San Berg Collision Collision of the game. The Stars were in front moments later. Bryce Hall was set up in the slot. He was able to drag and shoot a laser high glove to give the Stars the lead.

From there the shortened bench wrapped up the game with great shift after great shift. Tremblay shut the door and made a few key saves and the Stars were able to hang on late with the Bruins net empty.

The comeback win gives the Stars a 2-1 series lead and a chance to close out the series tomorrow night.

Storylines:

  • Elimination: The Estevan Bruins season is now on the line. And for the second straight season it could be the North Stars putting an end to the Bruins season. They will be desperate to force a 5th game back in the Battlefords and to win a playoff game in front of their home crowd.  
  • Fatigue: The North Stars shortened the bench last night and the third period saw the North Stars lean heavily on a few guys. Those guys will be feeling a little fatigued I am sure. In fact, with tonight being the 4th game in 5 nights in this series I am sure almost every guy on both teams will be feeling a little fatigued today. So they need to do what it takes to be ready to play tonight including eating, resting, hydrating and mentally preparing. Whichever team deals the best with these challenges will likely come out on top.
  • Health: The North Stars are missing key players right now. Some of those key players could be back in the lineup later this week. In an ideal world, from a North Star perspective, those players would draw back into the lineup for a game 1 versus Kindersley rather than a game 5 versus Estevan. The Bruins are a little banged up as well and the Stars have been hitting their key players a lot. Those players play a lot as well. So you do wonder how healthy they are heading into tonight’s game.
  • Streaks: Nick Fountain has a goal in each of the games in this series. Igor Leonenko now has a goal in back to back games. Matt Saharchuk is now on a two game point streak with 3 assists in the last 2 games. Nice to see some of these guys really stepping up and providing consistent offense. It’s what this team needs right now. Brenden Heinrich has a point in 2 of the games in this series. And now Jake McMillen is starting to take over. The Stars have some offense from the backend as well and Bryce Hall has 2 goals in the series.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Matt Saharchuk 2) Kendall Fransso 1) Jake McMillen
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Logan Nachtegaele
  • Regular Season 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 #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) Consistent – I did a rough estimate of face-off wins and scoring chances last night. The North Stars were well on top in both aspects in the first period and the third as well. But they really struggled in the second period. It wasn’t just on the scoreboard where they struggled. The North Stars can be very good. But they need to be good a little more consistently tonight.

2) Desperation – The Bruins have to win tonight or their season is over. That will create the kind of desperation that only an elimination playoff hockey game can create. The Stars will somehow have to try and match that intensity and desperation tonight.

3) Face-offs – Speaking of the face-off circle. When the Stars were winning in the dot they were controlling the game. They had the puck and the Bruins weren’t creating much in the way of offense. There transition game was limited. The North Stars can really take a lot of pressure off themselves if they perform well on draws.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Spagrud ‘AP’
Fransoo – Sych
Calverley – Kleiboer ‘AP’

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Bendall ‘AP’ – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, Weston, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

SJHL Playoffs Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Series tied 1-1

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
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars took game 2 on home ice to even the series at a game a piece. The recap is here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/north-stars-even-series/

Storylines:

  • Players of the Week: The SJHL Player of the week awards were handed out this morning. The North Stars picked up three awards. Nick Fountain was named Player of the Week, Connor Sych the Defenseman of the Week, and Bryce Hall Rookie of the Week. Thanks in part to the strong play of those three the North Stars beat Kindersley and picked up a win in game 2 over Estevan. Congratulations to all three and let’s hope there are plenty more awards to come.
  • Game 3: I couldn’t find data on the importance of winning a game 3 in a 5 game series but I think it’s pretty clear that tonight’s game is huge. I did find a paper that concluded that the team with fewer home games in a series winning an important game at home early in that series drastically increases their chances of winning the series. Now it’s a best of 5 and game 3 isn’t really early in the series but it is the Bruins first home game. At the end of the day, the Bruins want to try and win this series at home. To do that they must win tonight. A North Stars win at least guarantees a home ice game 5 if necessary. And you play all season to try and have those big games played on your ice surface in front of your fans. All of this is simply to say that game 3 is a massive game. But I think we all already knew that.
  • Road: The North Stars were the second best road team in the SJHL in the regular season. Their 17 road wins were second only to Melfort. Some of their notable road wins include beating Melfort, Notre Dame, Flin Flon, and Kindersley a couple times on their home ice. The Stars also won in Estevan this season. So they will be comfortable that their game, their preparation and their structure can and does succeed away from home.
  • Affiliates: The North Stars are still without Jake Erickson and Brady O’Sullivan. There are a couple other guys who are banged up and may not be able to go tonight. So there are a handful of affiliate players on the trip with the Stars and they made need to play important minutes in a playoff game. The North Stars will be confident though as these ‘AP’ players have come up a few times this year and shown that they can play at this level and aren’t intimidated. If called upon? They will perform.
  • Travel: The Estevan Bruins came to the Battlefords and won game 1. And now the North Stars make the almost 700km trip to Estevan on the day of a game. Earlier this season the Stars made the same trip and won. The key? Getting rest as much as possible on the bus, getting mentally ready on the way to the rink and then having a good pregame including a strong warmup.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Baxter Kanter 2) Nick Fountain 1) Spencer Tremblay
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Baxter Kanter
  • Regular Season 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 #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    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) Transition – My memory of games against the Bruins here in Estevan from the past few seasons are of Estevan being very aggressive with their transition and with their break out. Pushing bodies up ice and making very long passes to generate offense. That is something the North Stars will have to be ready to counteract.

2) Discipline – This series really started to heat up in game 2. And I do think that suits the North Stars just fine. They seem to really enjoy playing in that heat. But they also have to be smart. The fine line is to get your opponent off of their game while staying on yours. Play with emotion but don’t let emotions play you. The Bruins have a very god power play as well so that’s another good reason for the Stars to maintain that discipline. .

3) Tremblay – The Stars goalie has been great so far this series and that is going to need to continue. The Stars are missing some offensive weapons and have struggled to score so far in this series. But for the better part of 2 games Tremblay has been unbeatable. He’s actually given up more goals than his play has suggested he would. He was unlucky to give up a goal in game 2. And didn’t deserve to lost game 1. He’s going to be a huge key over the next few days and especially tonight.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Spagrud ‘AP’
Sych – Fransoo
Calvery – Kleiboer ‘AP’

Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele
Heinrich – McMillen – Hall
Leonenko – Townsend – Bendall ‘AP’

Scratches: Erickson, O’Sullivan, Delainey, Havens, Weston

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