North Stars beat Bombers and some other notes

The Battlefords North Stars win streak reached 8 games tonight on the road in Flin Flon. The final score was 5-4 in a shootout.

The Stars strong start to the game led to an early power play. Perhaps it was too early as Kyle Hall’s line came out to start the man advantage but it was their first shift. They hadn’t had a chance to get into the game yet. To get a feel for the puck and to get their legs going. So the powerplay got off to a slow start and the Bombers took some early momentum out of a good penalty kill. Later in the first Hall’s line had a pretty good shift. Tanner Schwab’s shot was well stopped but the rebound came right to Brett Miller. He was unable to find the puck in his feet before the Bombers cleared the front of the net. That was maybe the North Stars best chance of the period that was flying by as there weren’t very many whistles early on and the game had a real nice flow. Flin Flon picked up a couple power plays late and they were able to capitalize when Riley Storzuk scored on a redirect. Tanner Clark had all kinds of time in the high slot to get away the shot and Creech had no chance once it changed direction. That goal came with just 35 seconds left in the first period. 1-0 Bombers after the first 20 minutes of play.

In the second period the Bombers scored first to go up 2-0. The line of Storzuk, Young and Blair struck again. They had a very good game. The Stars really turned things on in the second period after they went down two goals and it wasn’t long before they had turned the game around. Blake Tatchell scored on a wrap around to cut the lead in half and a few shifts later Tatch got a nice stretch pass right up the middle. He was taken down on the break away before he could get a good shot away and the ref signaled a penalty shot. With 4 goals in his last two games already Tatchell was never likely to miss and he made no mistake skating in and snapping blocker side as the goalie may have over played on the possible deke. It was an interesting game in terms of momentum swings because seemingly as soon as the Stars tied the game Flin Flon cranked it up again and started to buzz around in Battelfords territory. All that pressure paid off as the Bombers scored again before the end of the second. Storzuk with his second to make it 3-2 heading to the 3rd frame.

When trailing after 40 minutes the Stars were siting at 2-3-0 on the season. So they have had some experience coming from behind in the third frame. They did it in Nipawin only to lose in a shootout. This time the Stars actually took the lead. First Braeden Johnson scored to tie the game. Johnny was on the goal line to the left of the goaltender and spun on the backhand throwing the puck towards the net. The puck was loose at the side of the net so Johnson just stopped and whacked away until eventually the puck popped home. It was a greasy goal. Not the usual goal from Johnson and his linemates. But a great goal none the less. The type I am sure coaches love to see. It wasn’t skill that tied the game for the Stars it was determination and effort. Or maybe a nice mix of both. Blake Tatchell scored on the power play about a minute later when he skated off the near side half wall and sniped over the shoulder of Desautels. There wasn’t much room near side but Tatchell was able to pick the corner. It completed his second straight hat trick as Tatch scored 3 against Humboldt on Friday night. That goal came with about 6 minutes left. The Stars couldn’t hold the lead this time though as Riley Storzuk completed his hat trick as well. Dylan Balaski made a nice feed cross ice to the point where Tanner Clark wristed it toward Creech’s cage. The shot would have gone wide but Storzuk was free back down and the puck either hit him or he redirected it home. Either way the Bombers top offensive player found a way to get it done late.

So we went to over time where the Stars should have had a power play. The Bombers had 5 skaters on the ice, OT of course is 4on4, and the extra guy who came over the boards played the puck. An obvious call that was missed. So to a shootout we went. It was tied after 3 shooters as well as these two teams couldn’t find a way to settle the game. Sudden death rounds of the shootout are always fun especially when they go to a 7th or 8th shooter. Brody Luhning who was helping me out providing colour tonight and he was begging for Tanner Schwab to be given a chance in the shootout. Eventually the injured D man got his wish. Schwab skated in on the goalie and made a great shot fake. Desoutel bit hard on the fake and with the goalie frozen on his way down Schwab snapped it high up under the bar. Wheldon was the final shooter for the Bombers and he actually deked Connor Creech out of his shoes but missed a wide open cage with a backhander up over the bar. Schwab picks up his 4th game winner of the season as the Stars move to 14-4-0-1 on the season. Their 8 game win streak is the longest in the league so far this season and it could get longer. The Stars play on home ice for another 5 straight games coming up. They don’t hit the road again until November 18th.

Notes:

–       I mentioned at one point that Brett Miller had kind of ran into the Bombers tender. It turns out that wasn’t true. It looked from my angle like a collision but it was the puck that got up and hit the goalie. Miller just happened to be cruising through the area at the time Desautels was falling to the ice after taking the shot up high.

–       A big thanks to Brody Luhning for joining me on the broadcast tonight. He did a good job, as it can be hard for a player to know when to talk and what to say. But he had good insights and I thought he did a great job expressing them succinctly, which is the real trick.

–       Tatchell know has a 9 game point streak which is second best in the league behind his line mate Braeden Johnson who is on an 11 game streak with at least one point. I am sure Tatchell currently leads the league with his two game hat trick streak though.

–       The North Stars have allowed 8 goals in the last 2 games which is 1.5 goals per game more than their season average up until that point. With almost a full week until the next game I expect that the defense will be tightened up for the Humboldt game on Saturday. There were some clips on the game tape from last night’s game that the coaches think will be good teaching tools.

–       The North Stars moved up to 12th in the CJHL’s top 20 rankings. They are the only SJHL team in top 20 right now. The Nipawin Hawks have fallen to an honourable mention position.

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North Stars face Flin Flon for first time

I love alliteration. Absolutely love it. I am currently listening to: Mat Kearney

First of all it wasn’t a great night last night for the North Stars in terms of Bauer teams losing. Nipawin picked up a 4-0 win in large part because of Justin Waskewitch who filled up the score sheet. Humboldt bounced back with a big 2-1 win over Weyburn which ends the Red Wings 6 game win streak. And Flin Flon won on home ice 5-4 over Notre Dame. Riley Storzuk is having a fantastic season and had a great night with 3 points. With that Weyburn win by the way the Stars winning streak sitting at 7 is by far the best in the league. La Ronge is the next hottest team having won 2 in a row.

So the Bombers played tonight on home ice and now they will wait around for the Stars to show up tomorrow. The Bombers in their last 10 games have a 7-3 record which would be tops in the league if it weren’t for the North Stars. A nice matchup of two of the in form teams in the SJHl is on tap.

It’s a long bus ride and it will be interesting to see who comes out with more jump tomorrow evening. I know the Stars coaching staff will be keying on playing Stars hockey right from the puck drop. The coaching staff and the players for the Stars don’t accept the bus travel as any kind of reason or excuse for a slow start. I know the coaches make sure we get to the rink nice and early and the Stars have a lot of time to get ready for the game. So even though it is a very long ride, and a very early morning for some of these guys, I expect that the Stars will come out flying.

There is also the lingering playoff exit feelings that the Stars have to get out of their system. It was the playoffs last year that helped in some ways to shape this team into the strong unit we see today. The Stars lost to the Bombers in the super series and the leadership group of this year’s team very much feels like they came unraveled last year. That’s part of the reason they have really come in with a great attitude this season. They also felt like they weren’t enough of a team and so this season steps have been taken to ensure they are a more close knit unit.

All of this means that the Stars will most likely have been looking forward to coming to Flin Flon and playing in their building again. What better way to test that new attitude? The new team ethic that they have developed? Go to the place where you learned those lessons and show that they have well and truly been overcome.

It will be interesting to see who plays with Zack MacLellan as well. I thought Grayden Turner played well against Humboldt so perhaps that unit will stay together. From what I have heard Brody Luhning is out for a week or so. I expect he will likely be back next weekend when the Stars host Humboldt. Beating the Broncos without Brody was a nice victory for the Stars and their depth. But getting him back will be a boost. In the meantime it will fall to guys like Jorgensen and Turner to play slightly bigger roles on the back end. So far they seem perfectly capable of doing so.

So I think it could be a very good game. The Bombers could tie the Stars at the top of the Bauer if they win tonight and then win their games in hand. So it’s a big game early in the season that could give Battlefords a nice cushion atop their division. Flin Flon comes into the game with the top offense in terms of goals per game in the entire league. They have scored 8 fewer than Humboldt but they have played 3 less games. Estevan are in a similar position. So the Bombers goals for per game that sits a little above 4 is unmatched in this league. The Stars still have the top defensive team in the league. Allowing exactly 2.5 goals per game. So what will give? Will it be like the Humboldt game the other night at the Civic Center and the Stars offense will have to be the Star of the game? Or will their defense stimy the Bombers?

There’s only one way to find out. (okay there are several but this is the best way) Join me on CJNB/CJNS at 5pm in the Battlefords for puck drop. The pregame show is at 4:45 local time here in Saskatchewan.

Some random thoughts

I love point form.

– The blog post last night was a little rushed as I had to go out to Edam and pick up some friends who hadn’t planned a safe ride home. So I wanted to put down some more thoughts on last night’s game. Also always plan a safe ride home.

– The Stars usually send out Ryne Keller’s line to start a game and set a tone. Las tnight they had a rough first shift. But I thought they were excellent for most of the game after that first shift. The rest of the first period they spent most of the time in the attacking zone. And of course that huge 5 minute penalty kill was a great moment for a lot of Stars including all three of Keller, Newton and Wakelin. They probably blocked about 10 shots combined in that one 5 minute stretch. I was glad to see them get on the scoresheet as well.

– The Humboldt Broncos green road jerseys are super nice. The big HB on the front is the only sticking point that I have with them. I still like them. I just can’t decide if I would like them more without the HB.

– With no Brody Luhning the North Stars defense allowed 44 shots and 4 goals. He is an important member of that group. But they may have allowed that many shots anyway because the Broncos are a very good team. And I though all 3 D pairs played well for the Stars. There were shifts, at different times, where all 3 got running around a little in their own zone. But Humboldt are capable of doing that to anyone.

– I want to give a special mention to Grayden Turner and Zack MacLellan. Mac was without his usual D partner and he and Turner slotted in nicely together. They were good on the PK as well and MacLellan helped out the offense as well with a number of great passes.

– Curits Toneff and Dallas Jorgensen are a nice third pair. I honestly don’t understand how Jorgensen was released. He is just so solid. To get that pair for free? That’s a good piece of business for the Star.

– Jake Daughtry threw what I thought looked like a clean hit and ended up tossed from the game and giving the Broncos a chance to get back in the game with a 5 minute major power play. A number of people I talked to at the rink thought it looked clean. But everyone I talked to was a Stars player or fan. I would love to see video of the hit again. Hopefully Matt Glowa is okay. The Broncos play today so I will see if he is in the lineup and let you know.

– Travis Sparrow threw a hit after the whistle on an offside late in the first period that I said on the air with Branden Crowe was a hit designed to fire up his team a little. To change the momentum a little. And it worked. The Stars scored not too long later. It was interesting speaking with Trav’s parents after the game because they spoke of that hit almost right away. He’s the captain for a reason and he will do whatever it takes to help his team win a hockey game.

– Speaking of the Sparrow’s Trav’s brother just graduated recently from the U of S so a big congrats to the entire Sparrow clan. I am still a few credits short of graduating University. So I know what a great accomplishment it is to make it all the way through. Travis also threw a big hit in the game on Andrew Herle that seemed to stun him and I was not sure if he returned to the game or not. Again hopefully Herle is fine. Sparrow and Herle were apparently team mates at some point in their careers.

– I am strangely excited to get to Flin Flon tomorrow. First of all because I haven’t seen them yet this year. They didn’t even get to the showcase until after we had left. They have hit a bit of a rough patch here lately but they were playing very well earlier this year and look to have a pretty strong team. I can’t wait to know more about them.

– I also can’t wait to see the rink and experience a game there. I have heard a lot about the building and the fans so hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. And I don’t think it will.

– And it’s worth mentioning again. The Stars have won 7 games in a row and are the top team in the SJHL. They are also already half way to last season’s win total.

– Let’s finish with happy birthday wishes to Kyle Hall and Ryne Keller. Ryno turned 17 back on the 25th and Hallzy turned 19 today. Also Jake Daughtry celebrated a B day yesterday by getting thrown out of the game on a bad call. And Tanner Schwab recently had one as well. Good now that’s out of the way lets focus on hockey.

The North Stars travel to Flin Flon tomorrow and the game will be live on CJNB/CJNS starting with the pregame show at…well I am not sure what time to be honest but I am working on it. The league website lists it as a 6:00pm CDT start time. My understanding is that would be 5pm Battlefords time. But I am not sure about that. I will look into that and have more for you tomorrow.

7 wins in a row for North Stars as they beat Humboldt 6-4

What a fantastic game at the Civic Center tonight as the North Stars pick up a hard fought 6-4 win over the Humboldt Broncos.

The Broncos came out strong in the first period.  The RBC Cup hosts have been playing better of late and they had a strong start to the game. Their top line set the tone on the first shift as they got the puck in deep and got right to the forecheck. That led to an early scoring chance that Graham Hildebrand turned away. The shots were 12-8 in favour of Humboldt in the first period and I would guess the Stars blocked another 12 as the Broncos were buzzing around in Stars territory for a lot of the first period. The pressue eventually led to some power plays for the Broncos. They scored on the first as several Humboldt players whacked away at the side of the net. Eventually Andrew Johnson popped it home. Graham Hildebrand didn’t like the fact that the whistle hadn’t gone and he let the ref have it. That led to another penalty. The Stars PK was very good for the rest of the game after that first advantage and they killed of the Hildebrand minor. It looked like Hildy had kept his team in the game and they would head to the locker room down a goal and get a chance to regroup. But late in the first the Stars managed to tie the game. Dillon Forbes was leading a rush when he dumped the puck into the corner. It seemed like the wrong decision but turns out Forbes knew just what he was doing. Tim Rollins got to the dump in and fired around for Blake Tatchell who spun and fired and made no mistake. 1-1 after the first period in part because of goaltending and shot blocking.

The second period was the Blake Tatchell show. He scored an unassisted goal going straight forward off the face off and beating Devin Dubyk glove side with a nifty back hand. Boyd Wakelin then scored to make it 3-1 with assists to Sparrow and Keller before Tatchell scored again to complete the hat trick. Tatchell was playing at a whole other level in the second and he helped set up another goal when he combined with Schwab to set up Brett Miller. Robbie Ciolfi scored a determined effort that made the score 5-2 after 40 minutes. A period in which the Stars out shot the Broncos 18-7.

In the third Ciolfi scored again, his 14th of the season, as he was all along back door to pop home a rebound. It was 5-3 and the Broncos were back within 2. And then came the turning point of the game. The Stars Jake Daughtry threw what appeared at the time to be a good hit. But it hurt Matt Glowa who stayed down on the ice for a long time. Hopefully he is okay. Daughtry was eventually given 5 and a game for a blow to the head despite the ref not having his arm up on the original play. The Broncos were in the Stars zone for a large majority of the 5 minute power play but Hildebrand was rock solid, the Stars threw their bodies on the line to block shots and somehow they killed the major off. Any time you kill off a 5 minute major it is a huge momentum boost. Even more so when Braeden Johson came out of the box to pick up a loose puck and go down the ice on a 2 on 1 with Brett Miller. Johnson slowed up and waited for the perfect abgle before saucing it over to Miller whose one times arrowed into the back of the net. The nail in the coffin. Graham Hildebrand still had to make a number of saves down the stretch, and he was beaten once more on a Josh Roach bullet with 20 seconds left, as the Stars held on for the win. The final score was 6-4.

So Graham Hildebrand’s strong play continued as he faced 44 shots in the game. The Stars complete a 5 game home stand with a perfect record of 5-0. They’ve won 7 in a row overall. Breaden Johnson, Tim Rollins and Black Tatchell all extend point streaks and the Stars get a day off before heading to Flin Flon on Sunday. A game I will have for you live on CJNB/CJNS. I will have more on tonight’s Humboldt game and the up coming Flin Flon encounter tomorrow. Until then have a great night.

Quick Humboldt Preview

So I just realized that I forgot to do a preview of the North Stars game tonight. The stars host the Humboldt Broncos at the Civic Center tonight. The Broncos come in one game under .500 after an OT loss their last time out. This is a team loaded with talent. They are hosting the RBC Cup and they have a boat load of talented players.

In fact they may have too many good players. The team has spent the early part of the season changing their lineup more often than I change my well….you get the point. They haven’t developed any chemistry yet. Outside of the top line that is because Johnson Johnston and Ciofli have been dynamic. Once this team finds its core players and maybe makes a few trades they will be the team we all thought they could become. In my opinion it’s only a matter of time.

The Stars are already a good team however and they have been playing very well. 4 straight wins so far on their homestand and 6 wins in a row overall has this team atop the SJHL. They are also by far the SJ’s most stingy team. They just don’t allow a lot of goals. Graham Hildebrand has been spectacular of late and Connor Creech leads the league in GAA. That says a lot about this teams commitment to team D. They have offense from some key guys and a group with great balance. And they’ve bought in.

The last time these two teams met the Stars won in Humboldt which is not easy to do. Tanner Schwab scored with 5 seconds left in that game for the win. Brett Miller has a big tying goal in that one as well. The Broncos will be looking for a little revenge. And you know the Stars would love to close out this stretch of home games with 5 wins out of 5 games.

Come see it live. Puck drops at 7:30 at the Civic Center

North Stars remain top of the SJHL with 1-0 win over La Ronge

The Battlefords North Stars are by far the top defensive team in the SJHL right now. In part because of a very strong goaltending tandem and in part because of a strong D crop lead by last week’s SJHL defenseman of the week Travis Sparrow. The Stars are currently allowing just 2.4 goals against per game and on their current home stand so far they have allowed just 3 goals in 4 games. And lets be honest for a second it should have been 2 goals as Nipawin scored with 0.4 seconds left after the Stars won a D zone faceoff but couldn’t clear the zone. Graham Hildebrand has allowed just 1 goal in his last 3 starts and again it should have been 3 straight shutouts. Hildebrand is the reigning goalie of the week in the SJHL and is having one heck of a month. 5 wins and just 1 loss in the month of October to go along with 2 shutouts, a 1.83 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Without sounding like a cheerleader it is nice to see Hildy really playing well in his final year with the Stars. This is the goalie that everyone knew he could be and it is great to see the hard work paying off. If you are a Stars fan you have to hope it continues. Now maybe it is impossible for a goalie to post numbers like that over a whole season in the SJHL but between Hildebrand and Creech the Stars know that they are going to have a chance to win every time they hit the ice this season.

Last night Hildebrand had to be good as Alex Rajotte at the other end of the ice was outstanding. La Ronge head coach Bob Beatty was not happy with his team’s effort last night although I thought they actually played pretty well for long stretches of the game. The Ice Wolves are also a good defensive team and they battled the Stars hard for 60 minutes. As the game ground on it seemed like one mistake would make the difference. These two strong defenses seemingly canceling each other out. There weren’t a lot of scoring chances for either team throughout the game. The Stars did have a 4 minute power play in the first period but were unable to score. The line of Tatchell, Jonson and Rollins had a couple of strong shifts in the first and I thought Samborski’s line was strong as well. But the Stars were unable to beat Rajotte.

In the second frame the Ice Wolves had a better effort as they evened up the shot counter but Hildebreand stopped everything thrown his way. He was almost beaten though when he mishandled the puck. The Stars goalie eventually got it to Zack MacLellan, who along with D partner Brody Luhning was excellent again, but MacLellan had a La Ronge player all over him. The miscue eventually led to a scramble in the Stars crease and with Hildy out of position the puck somehow bounced past about 4 Wolves threw the crease and out the other side. Hidlebrand after the game saying he got very lucky on the play and also said he still has no idea how the puck didn’t go in. The Stars second line had some strong shifts in the second frame and Tanner Schwab had a good chance skating into the high slot and snapping just wide of Rajotte’s net.

The Stars started to come on in the third and almost scored the game winner when a Blake Tatchell shot hit iron. The puck then dropped in behind Rajotte who managed to spin around athletically and clear the puck right off the goal line. The ref was right on top of the play to make the right call. No goal. But the Tachell line, and the Stars entire team, never got frustrated. They kept their composure. They stuck to the game plan for the most part and eventually it paid off. Somehow with VERY little speed and one hand on his stick Tatchell still managed to dangle his way into the Ice Wolves zone making the La Ronge D look foolish. He then pushed the puck to Johnson who found Rollins in the slot. It wasn’t the world’s best or prettiest finish but it got the job done. It was a similar goal to the one Rollins scored on Saturday night on the power play. Except that one hit the back of the net. Last night’s game winner for Tim barely crossed the line as he partially fanned on the shot. It counted though as the Stars held on late for the 1-0 victory.

Tatchell, Johnson and Rollins all extend their streaks. Rollins has scored in 3 straight games. Johnson and Tatchell are both on lengthy point streaks. Hildebrand and the team D were the stories though as the Stars move to 12-4-0-1 on the season and remain in first place in the SJHL. They face Humboldt on Friday to close out their current 5 game home stand.

Stars beat La Ronge 1-0

Graham Hildebrand picked up the shutout tonight as the Stars got a 3rd period game winner from Tim Rollins to beat the Ice Wolves 1-0. That’s all for now as I have to hit the sack as I have to be up for work in something like 6 hours. I will have much more on the game tomorrow morning so check back around 8am and there should be a post game report up on the blog.

Stars set to host Ice Wolves

Let’s start by mentioning the SJHL’s players of the week which were announced sometimes late last night. Graham Hildebrand was named the goaltender of the week after his performances against Nipawin and Melfort. Hildy made 27 saves en route to a shutout of Melfort in a 3-0 Stars victory a week ago tonight. Last Friday Hildebrand stopped 32 of 33 shots as the Stars beat the Nipawin Hawks 2-1. The only goal scored by the Hawks came with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game. Hildebrand had a .938 save percentage in his two starts and was a fairly easy selection for goalie of the week.

Blake Tatchell and Braeden Johnson were both named as honourable mentions for the player of the week award. Both Stars forwards had 6 points as their team won all 3 games it played. Tim Rollins had 4 goals and an assist over the week and would have been a good selection as well. He scored a game winning goal as well.

And now for tongiht’s game the Stars host the La Ronge Ice Wolves at the Civic Center at 7:30. The Stars have picked up 5 straight wins going back to the first game of the SJHL showcase while La Ronge had won 4 in a row until dropping their most recent outing at home against Estevan. The Ice Wolves area lead offensively by Aaron Enns and Nathan Boyer who each have 10 points in 17 games. The Stars have played 1 fewer game and yet have 5 players with more than 10 points including D man Brody Luhning. Which illustrates just how much of a defense first team the Ice Wolves have become. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good team. They are in fact lead by a group of defensemen that are as good as any in the league. If you haven’t seen La Ronge yet this year then make a point to watch Brett Hope when he is on the ice tonight. He is a dynamite D man and perhaps one of the reasons the Stars top line with have to be very good tonight in order to generate much offense for their team.

La Ronge also has a top notch goalie in Alex Rajotte. The Quebec native is tied with Graham Hildebrand for the league lead with 2 shutouts this season and don’t let his numbers fool you. Despite the goals against average being a little high at 3.34 Rajotte is one of the best in the league when he is on his game.

The Stars did not play very well the last time these two teams met. Braeden Johnson was out of the lineup with a stomach bug and the top line was fairly ineffective. Brett Miller and the second line were good however and Miller picked up a Gordie Howe hat trick in that game. If the Ice Wolves concentrate their impressive defensive arsenal on the Tatchell line then you could see Hall, Schwab and Miller have another good game. The Wolves won the last meeting 4-2 and I know the Stars were very unhappy with how they played. They will be looking for revenge tonight. Not necessarily revenge against La Ronge but more so revenge against themselves for putting such a poor effort.

The Stars are currently the hottest team in the SJHL. They are ranked 15th in Canada. They have the reigning goaltender of the week. They give up fewer goals against than any team in the league. They are top in their division. They are in first place in the entire league. If you aren’t excited about coming out to tonight’s game you may want to check your pulse. I will see you at the Civic Center at 7:30.

North Stars announce Prpich trade

The Battlefords North Stars announced a trade today as they have sent forward Sam Prpich to the Neepawa Natives of the MJHL for future considerations. Prpich is an Okotoks Alberta native listed at 6’0” 190 pounds. In speaking with coach Hasselberg my understanding is that Prpich was moved because of his age and the fact he is an import. The Stars coach said that the defensive minded forward had “done very well” with the Stars. But the fact of the matter is Sam is a 20 year old import playing a shut down defensive role on a team with a lot of depth in those positions. It made Prpich expendable from an on ice perspective. If the Stars can find a younger player who isn’t an import to play that type of 3rd line shutdown role then it opens up a 20 year old spot and an import spot and gives them a chance to maybe make more moves to improve their team. The Blake Voth chip has yet to be played of course.So from an on ice perspective it makes sense. But it is unfortunate that a good kid like Prpich has bounced around so much in his junior career. Hopefully he will get a chance to settle into things in Neepawa and be a real contributor.

The future considerations in the deal have yet to be determined as far as I can tell. Coach Hasselberg said basically it could be a player and it could be cash. When I know more on that I will pass it along.

Even though he would give me a rough time for being a Canuck fan Prpich will be missed. I thought he handled the move with a lot of dignity and class and I don’t think you can question his attitude in anyway. As I said before Prpich is a good player and a good person. I am hopeful that he will get a big opportunity in Neepawa to play every night and maybe even see more time on the ice and perhaps be given an expanded role with the Natives.

SJHL Battlefords North Stars 6 Notre Dame Hounds 2

No one has ever written better ballads than the Stones.

The Battlefords North Stars will go to bed tonight as the top team in the SJHL thanks to a 6-2 win over the Notre Dame Hounds.

It was a great night for the Battlefords North Stars not just on their home ice but elsewhere around the SJHL. Let’s talk about the Stars first. Coming off a big win over their rivals from Nipawin it was a slow start from the home team. The Hounds were obviously unhappy about their effort in Kindersley and were looking to take it out on the Stars. And they would have if it hadn’t been for Connor Creech. Creech made 12 saves in the first 14 minutes of the game as the visiting team was buzzing. On the back of Creech’s strong play the Stars got their feet underneath them and started to turn the tide a little. That lead to the first goal when Brett Miller’s quick hands brought a loose puck at the side of the net under control. Miller then pulled the puck to his backhand and popped it into the net. 1-0 Stars after a first period when they were very much the second best team. Schwab and Hall picked up assists as the second line helped turn the tide.

In the second the Stars played more like one of the better teams in the SJHL and they made the improved play count on the scoreboard. Zack MacLellan teaming up with Blake Tatchell on the power play to find Braeden Johnson who scored his 6th of the year. A little less than 3 minutes later is was 3-0 as Grayden Turner made a nice play to get the puck to Tanner Quinn who drove hard to the net on a delayed penalty call and with one hand on the stick shoveled it to Jared Samborski who went upstairs for his first goal as a North Star. That line was good throughout, Turner won a decision on a very good fight with Mackenzie Ryan, and they deserved the goal for their strong play. Tim Rollins made it 4-0 when he jammed a puck home at the side of the net. Tatchell was given the goal on the scoresheet but I expect that will be fixed at some point. Rollins from Tatchell and Johnson should be the scoring play. None the less the Stars second power play marker made it 4-0. The Hounds got one back before the end of the period as a shot got past Creech but rebounded off the post and before the Stars goalie could scramble around to find the loose puck it was in his net. Ben Morgan given credit for the goal.

The Stars are now 10-0 when leading after 40 minutes of play. And they sealed the game with a couple more goals in the third. Tim Rollins scored them both to complete the hat trick that he will eventually be correctly given credit for. Rollins should now have 9 goals on the season. Braeden Johnson assisting on both third period goals to finish with 4 points. The Hounds got one late as their captain blasted one past Creech. It was Grolla’s 4th of the year but much too little and way too late.

So the Stars win again on home ice their 4th straight victory at the Civic Center and 5th straight overall. Big credit to Connor Creech for holding the fort under his mate got going and a well done to all 4 Stars lines who contributed tonight. Also congratulations have to go out to Jake Daughtry for making his Stars debut. Jared Samborski for his first goal and Tim Rollins for the hat trick.

Next up for the Stars a home ice encounter with the La Ronge Ice Wolves Tuesday night at the Civic Center at 7:30. I hope you will come down and check it out. By the time the Stars hit the ice Tuesday night they will be ranked in the top 20 in Canada. This is the first place team in the entire SJHL right now and it’s time for the Battlefords to start getting excited about this team.

And the reason this was such a good night for the Stars? All the other Bauer teams that played Saturday night lost. Nipawin lost to Kindersley and La Ronge and Humboldt lost as well. So all in all a great evening for the North Stars.

PS. The Stars power play has had it’s ups and downs this season. Today was an “up” day. 2 for 4. Nice to see as that could be the aspect of their game that really puts this Stars team over the top.