Moving On

Some of you may have noticed that the job that I currently do here at the Radio Station was posted to an online job board yesterday. And it is true, I am moving on.

I will still be around for the coming winter, working here at the radio station and at the rink as often as possible. But I will no longer be the voice of the North Stars. This is not a decision I took lightly as being at the rink, with the headset on and calling a hockey game for the wonderful fans here in the Battlefords has been the highlight of my time here. In my 4 years, and 4 seasons, in this capacity nothing has brought me more joy than those 3 hours I was on the air live from rinks around Saskatchewan. But as I said, I feel it is time to move on.

That means someone new will get the chance to experience being the voice of this team in this market. It’s a unique experience and one that every broadcaster should get to enjoy at least once. Anyone who comes here to do this job will leave a better person and broadcaster.

I know this because I am a better person. I have learned from the great coaches of the North Stars and especially Kevin Hasselberg and Blair Atcheynum with whom I spent a lot of time at the rink, on the buses and away from the rink at times as well. If you want to learn about passion, dedication, hard work and integrity there aren’t many people better to observe and learn from. The players and their hard work, attitudes to the game and the excitement they brought on the ice enriched me as well. And I literally can’t put into words how much I loved meeting and engaging with fans, parents, billets, other team’s coaches and broadcasters, volunteers, officials and the wonderful bus drivers who keep us all safe on the road. Jill, Trent, Dale, Michelle, Sean, Cheri, Tyler, Larry and Jordan especially. Hopefully you know how much I enjoyed working alongside and getting to know you all. You’ve all contributed to my life in positive ways. Thank you very much.

The families of the players do merit special mention. You made me feel so special all these years. Like I was the best broadcaster in the world and like I was part of your family. Thank you.

And last but definitely not least, to the Dekker family, Rawlco Radio and the Jim Pattison Broadcast group. To David Dekker, Geoff Smith and Karl Johnston thank you so very much for this opportunity and for supporting me all these years. And to allow me to continue on at the station as well. What a gift you have given me and one that I cannot ever hope to repay. All of my co-workers from the great Doug Harrison to the hilarious Colin Stockwell and my good friend Kelly Bitner, all the sales staff over the years, and everyone who makes this station the best place to work that I can imagine, thank you so much.

There are more people obviously but I don’t want to spend all day making sure I remember everyone and then still forgetting someone and feeling bad. From fans, to players and their families, to volunteers, to co-workers I think you know who you are and I want you to know how much I appreciated everything.

A final word on Matty Ryan. As much a part of the broadcast over the last 4 years as me. The best opp, colour guy, North Stars fan, and friend for which I could have hoped.

The memories, good and bad, are numerous and unforgettable. I’m truly blessed to have had this experience in my life.

I’m not sure yet exactly what my new role will be with the radio station but as I said I will still be around the rink this winter. Which means I will get to hang out with the fans and parents and vent my frustration with the refs and just in general be a fan of this team. I always was a fan. Now I get to express it more explicitly.

This blog isn’t going anywhere for now but I don’t know how often it will be updated.

Stars pull off a blockbuster trade

The Battlefords North Stars have pulled off another trade and this time it’s a blockbuster. The Stars have sent last season’s leading scorer Matty Sahatchuk to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in exchange for forward Dustin Gorgi and future considerations. Both players are 1995 born and entering their final years in Junior Hockey.
Saharchuk is from Fort St James BC and in his lone season in the SJHL posted 16 goals and 36 points plus 8 point in 9 playoff games.
Gorgi is a Red Deer native with plenty of experience. He split last season between Olds and Grande Prairie in the AJHL. In 119 career AJHL games, the 6’3 190 pound Gorgi has 47 career points. He also played in and won the Telus cup back in 2012-13 with his hometown AAA Red Deer Chiefs.
The North Stars have now added three players this summer in trades that are all 6’2 or taller.
It’s a little surprising to see Saharchuk headed back to BC as he didn’t get a lot of opportunity in Vernon a couple seasons ago to show what he could do. With the North Stars this past season the forward was given top line minutes and lots of power play time. He would have been a big cog in the offense again this season. Hopefully Matty is given a chance to shine in Salmon Arm. I’m sure he’ll find himself continuing on in the game of hockey in after his junior career is done. Plus I am sure it is exciting to be playing close to home once again.
I just spoke with North Stars GM Kevin Hasselberg about the trade and he said it was a case of Saharchuk wanting to be closer to home if possible for his final junior season. The Stars are also really excited to add Gorgi who Kevin says is a great character player with size and the skill to replace Saharchuk in the lineup. Like I said, it seems like the Stars got a really nice return here for a very good player. You always hope in these cases the trade is a win-win for both organizations and for the players involved.
I also asked Kevin about the size of the players he has picked up this season. He said that getting bigger was a factor. But he also stressed that they team also wanted to make sure they were adding character and skill. He believes they have done that in the trades they have made. Coach Hasselberg also singled out the players that have committed to the team for the coming season in terms of new recruits. He’s very excited for the group of players that are coming in and for the coming season.
The North Stars look to be a young team again this season. But a very deep team with plenty of skill and size.
For more on the trade check out the North Stars website http://www.northstars.ca and keep up to date with the “Who’s Coming to Camp” feature. (Which I am loving and I think is a fantastic addition to the site. Well done Trent!)

North Stars make trades, add size

Yesterday the Battlefords North Stars pulled off two somewhat complicated trades to acquire some size for the up coming season.

http://www.northstars.ca/news_article/show/532806?referrer_id=618157

The North Stars traded defenseman Brock Weston to the Portage Terriers of the MJHL. In exchange the Stars acquired 20 year old defenseman Jordan Wiest. Wiest spent last season playing with the Surrey Eagles and was picked up by Portage in a separate trade. Wiest comes to the Stars after playing 103 career junior games in which he has put up 4 goals. He’s described as a stay at home D-man. What the Stars must have liked in Wiest, other than the experience of a 20 year which they lost in dealing Weston, is the size. Wiest is listed at 6’3. He is also a right shot defenseman and those are always nice to have on the roster. The Stars having a big, tough, solid D-man on the ice might allow one of the younger guys like Connor Sych or a Kleiboer or Spagrud type to really open up a bit and provide a little more offense for the team this season.

I personally really like Brock and will be sad to see him gone. We spent a lot of time talking last season, especially at the gym. Brock worked incredibly hard to come back from a pretty serious knee injury. I think it was injury that really robbed him off a chance to show what he could do on the ice last season. Portage is likely in a bit of a rebuild after hosting and winning the RBC Cup last season. That will hopefully mean a lot of ice time for Brock in his final junior season.

In the other deal the Stars sent Connor Vermuelen and futures to the Whitecourt Wolverines in exchange for the rights to Carson Pickett and futures. The Stars then flipped Pickett over to the Kindersley Klippers in exchange for forward Connor Navrot. Navrot played with Beardey’s last season where he was excellent in putting up 18 goals and 41 points in 44 games. Navrot is listed at 6’2 inches tall and plays big. He featured in 13 games as an ‘AP’ with Kindersley last season as well as 8 post-season games. He faced the North Stars a few times and I am sure he impressed the Stars coaching staff with the way he plays the game.

Vermeulen had a tough first season with the Stars and if I remember correctly he may have been forced to play through and battle through some injury trouble as well last season. It’s a shame it didn’t quite work out for Connor here as I know he wanted to come to the North Stars last season and was really excited to play in this community. Hopefully he is excited about the prospect of playing in Whitecourt and will get a chance to play a lot for the Wolverines this season.

With Navrott being from Martensville Saskatchewan it is noticeable that the Stars seem to be adding even more Saskatchewan kids to the roster than years passed. With guys like Layne Young and Troy Gerein coming up from the Midget AAA Stars as well as Tanner Nagle from the Tisdale Trojans to go along with the base of Saskatchewan players that were already on the team. The previously mentioned Kleiboer and Spagrud will have a chance to make the team up from Midget AAA.

It also appears the Stars want to get bigger and these trades certainly add a lot of size to the Stars roster. Not that Brock and Connor are small players by any means but it does appear the Stars wanted to add to their bulk. They were a smaller team last season and certainly smaller than the Kindersley Klippers who knocked the Stars out of the post-season. Connor Sych, Kendall Fransoo (who plays even bigger than he is) and now Wiest is a pretty good base to start from on the back end in terms of size and toughness. And Navrot adds to the presence up front.

By trading away two D-men and getting back just one, the North Stars also opened up a spot on the roster. Some of the younger defensemen that are coming to camp will have an even better chance to make the team.

While it’s fun to dream on what the team could be moving forward, in the end it’s always tough to see guys traded that both had a positive impact on the North Stars on and off the ice. We all wish both Brock and Connor and their families all the best in the future. And thank them for their contributions to the Battlefords over the past year.

North Stars AGM

The North Stars Annual General Meeting was last night at the Civic Center. The team has a new executive following the meeting.

Troy Slywka is the new president and takes over for Darren Huxley. Hux did a fantastic job with the team and with the ice fishing derby over the years. He will be tough to replace but I am sure Troy is up for the job. Slywka will also serve as the team’s Governor which means he is the Stars voice at SJHL meetings. Shandon Riechert is the new vice president and alternate governor.

Other members of the executive are Tanner Daniels who is the new second vice-president. Karen Reis is the treasurer and Debbie Presesky is the secretary. In total there are 13 board members.

As for the financial situation, the North Stars lost money last season. The loss of nearly 8,000 dollars came mostly from down years for the Ag Project and the Ice Fishing Derby. The weather on the day of the Ice Fishing Derby probably kept away some walk up types from participating and I am sure that near blizzard hurt the Stars profits from that event.

As for ticket sales at the door, sponsorship dollars, overall attendance, 50/50 revenue and the golf tournament? All were up compared to the previous season.

The North Stars have information that suggests it costs them 9,000 dollars per game to run the team throughout a Junior A season in the Battlefords. That means an operating budget of nearly 500,000 dollars. It also means that the team really relies on the fan and corporate support to make junior hockey work. The economic benefits to the area from having a team are positive. The SJHL has data that suggests the team generates a benefit of 150,000 dollars for the Battlefords with another 195,000 dollars of indirect benefit.

So what does that all mean? The North Stars are still in a strong position and despite losing a little money this season are still financially viable. The team made a lot of money during the 2011/2012 season when they went to the North final before losing to Humboldt. It’s my understanding that the team was able to bank some money that season and had a cushion.

You are always hoping to see the team make money each season though in order to stay in a stable financial situation and to be able to continue to build a strong team on the ice. So in the coming season let’s once again hope to see the crowds, 50/50, and sponsorship money rise. with a little more luck on the Ag project and Derby that would lead to a strong season for the team off the ice. I have a feeling this is going to be a very good season on the ice starting in late August and at this time next year we will be talking about a massively successful 12 month period in North Star history.

SJHL AGM Notes

The North Stars and the SJHL released some info about the upcoming season following last weekend’s AGM.

In terms of the schedule, the Stars will once again face Kindersley 8 times, Notre Dame and Humboldt 6 times. Unfortunately it appears that the Stars also have to face Flin Flon and Weyburn 6 times each. Neither of those teams is an ideal match in terms of travel. Although for Flin Flon there aren’t many options in that regard. I know the Bombers also like to play in the Battlefords right before Christmas so that they can then drop their players off at the airport so the ones that need to travel by air can return home for Christmas holidays.

But if the SJHL is smart and has the North Stars face Weyburn and Flin Flon at the SJHL showcase in Warman that will eliminate some of the extra travel for the teams. It is cool that the Stars announced 3 neutral site games. Perhaps that means that the Stars and Notre Dame will continue their tradition of taking the SJHL to new parts of the province? Two seasons ago it was Edam and this past season Carnduff as the two teams played on Hockey Day in Saskatchewan.

Getting so many Friday and Saturday night home games can only be a positive development for the North Stars. Presumably, the more weekend home games they have the more people will come to see the team play. And an already very stable franchise will continue to remain viable in this market.

As for the showcase I mentioned, I couldn’t be more pleased that the SJHL has gone back to a more traditional format. Each team will now play 2 actual games at the showcase event which means, provided they are healthy and in the lineup, just about every player in the league should be seen by the scouts. That’s just so much better than having to pick a few players from each team to send to the event. From a broadcasting perspective there will have to be some work done to get things in Warman ready and set up but that’s a minor issue that shouldn’t be too hard to solve. All in all this move for the SJHL, the showcase, the scouts and most importantly the players is a positive one.

For more on the upcoming season check out NorthStars.ca and be sure to purchase your season tickets for 2015/16!!!

SJHL Draft goes tomorrow

The inaugural SJHL Bantam draft is all set to go tomorrow in Nipawin.

The draft will be 6 rounds long with the North Stars holding 5 picks. They traded their 3rd round pick.

I spoke with GM and Head Coach Kevin Hasselberg earlier today about his strategy heading into the draft. Like most of the SJHL staff, Hasselberg does not have any previous experience with a Junior ‘A’ draft. He says the Stars have made a list of who they think are the best players and will work from that list to make their selections. He also said the Stars will try to focus on local players from the surrounding areas. Hasselberg says easy travel for families to come see their kids, potential relatives in the area, and other business factors means players from surrounding areas make a lot of sense. But that strategy could change if those player have been selected by other teams. The North Stars will be prepared to draft any player that they think can be helpful to their organization in the future.

The SJHL will still have an auto-protect system so young hockey players from the Battlefords will still be property of the North Stars when they turn 15.

Once a player has been selected by the Stars and placed on their list, the Stars will then begin the process of building a relationship with the player and his family.

With the GMs and coaches around the league all together you can expect some interesting discussions to take place and potentially some trades as well with draft picks recently being moved in a big deal between Estevan and Kindersley. More deals of that nature could be on the cards this week in Nipawin.

The SJHL will take care of their scheduling meeting this week as well. That will take place Friday, also in Nipawin.

North Stars add Posch

From the Battlefords North Stars:

By Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars and Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League finalized the future consideration portion of a trade made at the January trade deadline.

The Battlefords acquired the rights to Tanner Posch as the future considerations for trade that sent forward Ryne Keller to the Flyers reuniting him with former North Stars coach Ken Pearson. Posch, a Leduc, Alta. native, recorded six points (three goals – three assists) and 49 penalty minutes in 41 regular season games with the Flyers this season. Posch is a 6’0”, 190-lbs right-handed shot who turns 20 this summer.

Posch played 12 games during the 2013-14 season with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the MJHL. He played his minor hockey and Midget AAA hockey with the Leduc Oil Kings, who hosted the 2012 Telus Cup.

Posch is expected to be at North Stars Camp in August and looks forwarded to the chance to extend his junior hockey career in the Battlefords.”

http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=64578

Based on what I saw at fall camp and what I know of the North Stars prospect list along with who they are able to return to the team from last season’s roster? The North Stars appear to have a ton of forward depth heading into the 2015-2016 season.

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’

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