The Battlefords North Stars are one win away from matching their season high 9 game win streak.

It only took 26 seconds for the North Stars to take the lead last night. I would imagine it was a little disheartening for the Estevan Bruins who probably spent some time laying out a game plan that involved trying to stop Blake Tatchell from having an impact on the game. And that went out the window after less than half a minute. Tatchell found a way to re-direct a bouncing puck into the top corner past Steven Glass. Woody Klassen and Brody Luhning picked up assists on the goal. The Stars were very good in the first frame and controlled the play. The scored again when Tanner Schwab took what he called a  “half clap” on the rush. Skating down the left wing Schwab was trying to go high glove with a shot from the toe end of his stick. He got it with the heel end though and it eluded Glass through the 5 hole. I thought Glass was outstanding and deserved to be the third star of the game. That’s the only goal he would maybe want back.

The Bruins got one back against the run of play when on the power play a Derek Whitehill shot was blocked by the Stars but the puck ricocheted right to Taylor Reich who made no mistake. It was the only power play of the game for the Bruins and the league’s leading PP unit struck. The Stars played a very disciplined and smart game though and that was the only time they would be short handed in the game.

So it was 2-1 after the first period and the shots favoured the Stars 13-5. Right at the horn to end the first we saw the best fight I’ve seen all season. Grayden Turner is such a tough young man and he does not give an inch to anyone. Some pushing and shoving led to Turner dropping the mitts with  The second period started pretty well for the Dylan Schellenberg. Neither guy is over 6 feet so I wouldn’t call it a heavy weight fight but it was a beauty none the less. They just stood toe to toe throwing hay makers for what felt like at least a minute maybe more. It would be unfair to either player to decide a winner so let’s call it a draw. Turner did not return to the game as his knuckles were pretty banged up.

In the second period the Bruins started to find their feet and I thought they were the better team for the first 6 or 7 minutes of the frame. And if they had scored instead of hitting the cross bar it could have been a different story. But Graham Hilebrand made a couple saves the Stars got it cranked back up and the second half of the game was pure domination. Blake Tatchell and Cole Olsen got tied up at one point and both were called for holding. During the 4 on 4 play the Stars struck to make it 3-1. Ryne Keller and Brett Miller both ended up screening the goalie while Zach MacLellan and Woody Klassen played catch at the point. Klassen found MacLellan and then backed along the line towards the middle of the ice. MacLellan slid the puck back to Klassen who one timed it into the top corner. Glass never saw it. It was a perfectly placed bullet from Klassen who scored his 6th goal in 10 games. On that pace if the Stars stud D man had played the whole season so far he would be the 5th highest goal scorer in the entire league forwards included.

Blake Tatchell scored his second of the night on a nice pass from Tim Rollins before the second period was over to make it 4-1. Tatchell and his linemates Rollins and Johnson had several odd man opportunities and plenty of scoring chances. Perhaps they should have scored a couple more goals. Coach Hasselberg after the game called it a “quiet” 2 goal performance from Tatchell. Sometime during the second period Robbie Newton left the game as well. He had a lower body injury that I don’t think it serious. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the lineup Friday. Captain Travis Sparrow didn’t even dress last night as he deals with an ankle issue that was caused by a blocked shot in Flin Flon several weeks ago. He wants to be in the lineup Friday but it might make sense for the Stars to hold him out. There’s no reason to rush their captain back onto the ice the way they are playing right now.

The third period was all Stars. They must have had control of the puck for 75% of the period in the offensive zone. Despite the Bruins trailing and needing shots to get back in the game Graham Hildebrand had to make just 3 saves in the third period. Boyd Wakelin scored a nice one timer of his own to round out the scoring. Final score was 5-1 Stars. Final shots on goal were 32-16.

With the win the Stars have now won 8 in a row and incredibly 17-1-0-1 is their record in their last 19 games.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Grayden Turner. He didn’t play after his fight at the end of the first but the fight alone was enough to win the award. The kid just will not quit or back down from anyone. It’s impressive. And Boyd Wakelin and I were talking about it this morning Turner is handy with the puck as well. He is a solid depth player that every team needs and he deserves some recognition. So he gets it here.

Next up for the North Stars is a 3 game road trip this weekend. It starts Friday in Melville and I will have the call for you starting with the SaskTel pregame show at 7:15 on CJNB/CJNS and http://www.cjnb.com

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North Stars host Estevan looking to win 8th straight

The Estevan Bruins are one of the Sherwood’s top teams despite heading into the Civic Center tonight on a little bit of a slide. Just 4 wins from their last 10 games means the Bruins are now third in the South and could fall even more as Yorkton has games in hand. Offense is obviously not the problem. The Bruins score more than any other team in the league. But they also give up goals at an alarming rate. 116 goals for is the most in the league and 100 goals against is only behind Melfort, Notre Dame and Kindersley.

The Bruins special teams play is also very good. They kill penalties better than anyone in the league and score on the power play better than anyone else. I mentioned this the last time the Stars were set to play the Bruins but Estevan’s goal difference is plus 17 on special teams. The have scored 17 more goals on the power and short handed than they have given up when short handed and on the power play. Their overall goal difference on the season is plus 16. In other words? The Bruins have allowed 1 more goal 5 on 5 than they have scored.

It is definitely a Bruins team with some warts. And it’s now obvious that Coach Keith Cassidy wasn’t happy with his team as he has made several trades of late. Brandon Stone was sent to the Klippers for futures. Jesse Bernard was dealt to Nipawin for Tyler Paslawski and Tyler Poskus. Since those moves? The Bruins haven’t won a game. That slide also coincides with the last time these two teams met.

The Stars picked up a 4-1 win in a game that they played very well. The Bruins have not won since that game. But in all fairness up until last night when they faced Kindersley they were losing to very good teams. (the North Stars and Weyburn) Smith, Olson, Neufeld is one of the best lines in the league. They have incredible special teams and a D that moves the puck well. I don’t think anyone will be taking this Bruins team lightly. They are dangerous no matter what kind of record they have posted of late.

As for the North Stars? Well. What can I say that I didn’t say in my last post? It is getting hard to describe how good this team has been so far this year. The standings tell the story though. The Stars have a 7 point lead over Weyburn atop the SJHL standings. They are 8-1-0-1 in their last ten and with a win would have just 1 regulation loss for the Month of November. They are 18-3-0-2 since the start of October.

And they have Blake Tatchell who is now the only player in the league on pace for more than 100 points. The power play had 4 goals last time out and the second line of Kyle Hall, Roger Tagoona and Tanner Schwab were dynamite. If those two aspects of the Stars game are firing on all cylinders (the second line is of course part of the PP success of late as well) then this Stars team goes from strength to strength. They are the class of the SJHL right now until someone proves otherwise.

After tonight’s game the Stars head Southish for a 3 game road trip. Melville, Yorkton and Melfort. It will be another difficult trip and you would wonder with some teams if their focus would wander from tonight’s game to the weekend. That doesn’t happen with this team and it’s pretty impressive to watch. I know for a fact that the coaching staff puts a lot of thought into how to address the players to ensure their focus is on the game at hand.

Connor Creech was solid to spectacular against Estevan 10 days ago and was very good last time the Stars played. Will he be back between the pipes tonight? Or will Graham Hildebrand get the start? He missed the last game as he was sick but I am sure he is ready to go.

To find out you had better head down to the Civic Center tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30.

Battlefords North Stars Mid-Season Report Card

Offense: A-

The Stars have scored the third most goals in the entire SJHL. Only Estevan and Humboldt have more at this point in the season. Blake Tatchell leads the way with 25 goals. Braeden Johnson and Tim Rollins are also in double digits. And the Stars have 14 goals from their D corp which is pretty good. Kyle Hall and his linemates Tanner Schwab and Roger Tagoona are just starting to get cranked up as well and with the form they are in at the moment the Stars should continue to be one of the highest scoring teams in the league. So why the minus? At times this year they’ve relied a little too much on Blake Tatchell and his linemates. Otherwise there is not much to complain about with this team’s offense.

Defense: A

The North Stars are the top defensive team in the entire SJHL and it’s not really even close. The teams that are close to the Stars in terms of fewest goals allowed are Nipawin and Yorkton and both have played fewer games. Once they have played as many times as the Stars have the Stars gap will be even bigger. Travis Sparrow leads the way in a shut down role and is also a great leader for this team. His strong play has helped Dillon Forbes who is having a very solid rookie year on the SJHL’s top team’s top D pair. With Luhning and Klassen there is plenty of offense to be had from the back end. And Curtis Toneff and Zach MacLellan have been excellent as well. Matthew Sheeran is an unknown at this point but once he is healthy the Stars expect him to be a big help. Grayden Turner provides depth, toughness and a never say die attitude. The forwards commitment to D has been good as well. It has been a total team effort keeping pucks out of the net.

Goaltending: A+

The Stars goalies are the top two in the league for goals against average. They are also both in the top 10 for save percentage. Graham Hildebrand also has 3 shutouts. Creech has 1 and combined the team has 4 shutouts on the year. No other team has more than 2. The Stars goaltending has been everything they could have asked for and more.

Special Teams: B-

The power play has not been good so far this year although with 4 power play markers the other night the Stars have started to figure it out a little. With those goals the Stars are up to 5th in the league. With their offensive talent that’s not high enough. Luckily this is the mid-season report and there is plenty of time to figure it out. The penalty kill is actually ranked worse at 6th in the league. But it has been very good for the most part this season. The Stars have allowed slightly less than one power play goal against per game this season. The Stars are among the teams with the most power plays against so far on the season so keeping the PK unit off the ice will be something to try and improve on as the second half kicks off tomorrow.

Coaching: A+

Nothing too much to say about this topic. Coach Hasselberg and Coach Atcheynum have been terrific. I think they bring passion , experience, guidance and understanding to this team. They have a great balance between them and I have seen how much work gets put into their jobs. I have nothing but great things to say about the job they have done for the team. And they have been a great help to me as a new broadcaster for this team as well.

Intangibles: A

The Stars block shots. They stand up for each when the need to whether that be with a fight or a hit or just in a scrum after the whistle. They work hard and do the little things that it takes to win games.

Overall: A

What can I say? This was a pretty easy post to write. The team is ranked 5th in Canada. They are atop the SJHL standings and they have won 7 in a row. They just came off a 9 game win streak. Let us all hope the second half of the season is a lot lie the first half.

First Half Awards:

MVP: Blake Tatchell
Unsung Hero: Jared Samborski
Rookie of the Half: Tanner Quinn (Forbes and Keller honourable mention)
Top D man: Brody Luhning (Sparrow honourable mention)
Top Defensive Forward: Boyd Wakelin

 

I am really looking forward to the start of the second half tomorrow night. It’s going to be a very good game and I will have more on Estevan tomorrow. Also I spoke with Coach Hasselberg today and I will give you my take on any potential moves on the horizon with December 1st looming.

Let’s hear it for the Stars. 6-1 over ND Hounds gives Stars 7th straight win.

I thought the North Stars came out a little flat to start the game tonight. Perhaps a combination of the fact that they had a couple days off since finishing a stretch of 4 games in 5 nights and the fact that a few guys are under the weather. In fact Graham Hildebrand was sick enough that he didn’t dress. The North Stars had midget AAA Battlefords Stars goalie Blair Mahon dressed as the back up. I know the coaching staff will never make excuses and the team won’t either but it’s understandable that after a long stretch of road games followed by a couple day break a team would be a little sluggish to start.

But the Stars got going following a couple good shifts in a row from Keller’s line and Wakelin’s line. Despite the somewhat slow start the Stars were outshooting the Hounds badly and at one point I believe the shots were 11-1 Stars. Ty Reichenbach was keeping his team in the game with several good saves. He especially seemed to have Roger Tagoona’s number robbing him a couple of times in the first. The Stars got a late 1st period power play when Tanner Schwab took a high stick that drew some blood. The double minor was called with 1 minute left in the second meaning it would wrap around into the second period unless the Stars scored. And they did. Blake Tatchell firing a shot through the 5 hole on Reichenbach just as time expired in the period to give the Stars a deserved lead.

In the second period the shots were a little more even but the play wasn’t. The Stars scored three times including a couple more on the power play. The first goal of the period came when Dillon Forbes took a point shot that got through on the goaltender. Reichenbach kicked out a big rebound and Ryne Keller and Tanner Quinn whacked away. Quinn eventually got the goal to give the Stars the 2-0 lead. Sparrow and Daughtry were given assists on the play (don’t ask me how or why) but I expect that to change. Roger Tagoona scored on the power play to make it 3-0. A goal that was well deserved after his strong play and numerous chances in the first. After Catlin Foley took a penalty Dillon Forbes was called for unsportsmanlike and we had some 4 on 4 action. During that stretch the Hounds took another penalty. The Stars capitalized when Brody Luhning set up Woody Klassen for the one timer. The goal came just as Foley and Forbes stepped onto the ice so we can call it a 5 on 4 goal. Not that it matters too much what matters is the effectiveness of the Stars PP and their second line. Both were excellent for tonight and that bodes well for this team.

Notre Dame did get a second period goal from Carson Grolla on a shot that handcuffed Connor Creech. But it was 4-1 heading to the third and as well all know by now this Stars team wins games when they are ahead going to the final period. After tonight the Stars are 14-0-0-1 when leading after 2. They got two more goals in the third as well. Woody Klassen scored his second of the game on a power play on a nice solo rush. Klassen ended up swooping behind the Hounds net and throwing a puck out front. It hit something and went in. Not the way you would draw up a PP goal but they all count. Kyle Hall rounded out the scoring calling for a pass in the slot and getting it. Hall wired a one T past Reichenbach seemingly before he had a chance to move.

So the Stars win 6-1 on home ice to move to 16-1-0-1 in their last 18 games. They have also now won 7 in a row. Not too bad.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
It’s a tough one tonight. Very good team effort so not a lot of guys really stand out. They were all good. I can distinctly remember seeing Robbie Newton win several battles along the wall and throwing a couple good hits that separated man from puck on the forecheck. So I am going to give the award to Robbie for tonight’s game.

The first period was fairly even although I thought that maybe the Stars had slightly edged possession and territorial play. But the shots on goal were 15-7 Hawks in the first period. (more on the shots later) Coach Hasselberg said after the game that he didn’t think the shots were necessarily indicative of the overall play and I would tend to agree. The Hawks didn’t just edged the shots counter they scored the first periods only goal. Alex Laird scored the goal. Bollefer and Jensen the assists. Which Bollefer you ask? I have no idea. The scoresheet doesn’t differentiate between the two when it lists assists.

The second period was much more representative of the overall play. The Stars outshot the Hawks 15-9 and scored 3 times. Blake Tatchell tied the game with his 23rd of the season. Roger Tagoona made it 2-1 when he found a puck in the slot, spun, and fired it past the glove hand of Taran Kozun. Brett Miller then did all the hard work on the 3rd goal as he raced it to beat Kozun to the puck and as tghe goalie was now well out of his net Miller just poked the puck free to Tatchell who had an easy backhander into an empty net to make it 3-1.

The third was a little more even as the teams exchanged goals first Kyle Hall on the power play made it 4-1 as he roofed the puck on a nice feed from Schwab. All three members of the second line had 2 points as Hall, Schwab and Tagoona start to really play well together. The Stars killed off a long double minor to Tanner Quinn for high sticking when the score was still 4-1 and a couple of Hawks PP goals could have changed the game. Stuart Holland did make it 4-2 when he skated down the left wing into the Stars zone before stopping up in the face off circle and firing past Hildebrand. But the Stars came right back the other way and scored a beauty. Just 27 seconds after the Hawks had got within 2 the Stars young line scored. Tanner Quinn made a nice backhand saucer pass to Jake Daughtry who quickly slid the puck cross ice to Ryne Keller who had an empty net to fire into. Keller now with 5 goals on the season and a 6 game point streak.

Hildebrand ended up making 34 saves for his league leading, tied with Mitch Kilgore, 12th win of the season. Hildy is also tops in save % and GAA just ahead of Connor Creech. But you have to feel bad for Taran Kozun in the Hawks net. The Stars were only listed with 5 shots in the third but I would guess they had close to 12 or 13. I noticed several times a Stars shot was not put up on the shot counter on the scoreboard. Kozun had a pretty good game but his stats certainly won’t reflect it. That isn’t to say that he cares about his personal stats but as an outsider looking in I thought the shot counter could have been a little more accurate.

None the less the Stars have now won 6 in a row and are a staggering 15-1-0-1 in their last 17 games. They are also unbeaten in regulation when leading after 20 minutes. And of course they are the top team in the SJHL and a gap is starting to emerge between the Stars and the rest of the Bauer division.

It was also very nice to see Kyle Hall’s line get going. Hall has been creating a ton of chances lately and I said repeatedly that they were going to break out soon. The Stars coaching staff challenged them in Notre Dame to be better and they have responded in the right way. Tanner Schwab and Roger Tagoona were excellent alongside Hall and that’s very good news for the Stars.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Robbie Newton. I noticed Newts throughout the game blocking shots and throwing the body. He was often the first man in on the forecheck and for the Stars to be successful that first man in has to get a body on the puck carrier and Newton did that well. He also did great work on the penalty kill especially that 4 minute double minor to Tanner Quinn.

This was an entire team effort though for the North Stars as they played very well. The puck possession game was solid. The forecheck looked good to me from my vantage point. And Coach Hasselberg said after the game that he was going to have fun breaking down the game tape. Which means he liked what he saw. There will of course be aspects of the game the Stars can work on and they will look to build on this solid effort on Friday night. Notre Dame is coming to the Civic Center with puck drop at 7:30.

WCC and Stars v Hawks

Firstly, in case you missed the news the last few days it is official. Starting next year there will be no Anavet and Doyle Cups and in their place there will be a Western Canadian Championships that will consist of each branch’s champion and a host team. The top 2 from the Western Championships will then head to the RBC Cup. 2013 will be the first year for the Championships and it is important to note that Hockey Canada is completely on board with this event. As Bill Chow told me a couple months ago there was never any serious consideration that the Western Junior A leagues would pull out of the RBC Cup. Nanaimo Clippers owner Ken Wagner and the BCHL confirmed the news in the past few days on 106.9 The Wolf in Nanaimo. BC has been chosen to host the inaugural event and Ken Wagner also confirmed that the Clippers will be bidding to be the host in 2013.

I will have more during tonight’s broadcast and on next week’s Co-op Leisure Time Sports Fix.

To tonight’s game. The Nipwain Hawks are tonight’s opponent and are a team that has had it’s recent struggles. They have only won 3 times in their past 10 games after an incredibly hot start that had them riding high atop the SJHL. The Hawks recently made a trade sending Tyler Paslawski and Tyler Poskus to Estevan in exchange for Jesse Bernard and a couple of prospects. Paslawski apparently wanted out, or at least that’s what I have heard. The Hawks picked up a very good young player in Bernard who has struggled to adjust to the Junior A level. But he was the top scorer in Manitoba midget hockey last season. He is joining a very young talented Hawks team that is good this year and will most likely be scary good next year.

The Hawks are led offensively by Tad Kozun who is a rookie putting up point a game numbers so far. But he has slowed down a little of late as have several of his team mates. The Hawks are quick and transition very well. If the Stars turn the puck over it will end up as a scoring chance for the Hawks. Which in a lot of ways means it’s a great opponent for the Stars. Coach Hasselberg and Atcheynum want the Stars to play a puck possession game. They hate turning the puck over and especially hate it when it happens in the neutral zone. If the Stars play their game Nipawin will be in tough.

The Stars have faces the Hawks 4 times so far this year and have won just once. Those matchups were earlier in the season though and the Hawks haven’t seen the Stars since Woody Klassen returned and Roger Tagoona was added through trade. In the games between these two teams so far Mitch Doell and Just Waskewitch have been the players to watch for the Hawks as each guy has 3 goals. Tatchell and Johnson have 6 points each in the 4 games so far.

Oh and I would be surprised if the Stars have forgotten the celebrations of Tad Kozun from earlier in the season when he taunted the Stars bench after an empty net goal. No one has spoken about it that I have heard. But that doesn’t mean they don’t remember. That could mean that the game could get physical at times.

7:30 the puck will drop from the cage. The SaskTel pregame show starts at 7:15. CJNB/CJNS or online http://www.cjnb.com

North Stars win 5th Straight

Well it wasn’t the prettiest win a hockey team has ever recorded but it was a win for the North Stars last night in Wilcox. The Stars weren’t at their best, a combination of tired legs and a strong Notre Dame effort, but they scratched and clawed their way to a 5-4 shootout victory.

Ryne Keller got his team off to a great start, and extended his point streak to 5 games, when he opened the scoring 29 seconds into the first period. A Brody Luhning shot went off a leg and right to Keller who knocked the puck into the net. 1-0 Stars on the first shift of the game. And they were the better team for most of the period but were unable to find another goal. Ty Reichenbach was strong in the Hounds net and they get great effort from their D especially the captain Carson Grolla. That effort allowed the Hounds to tie the game after 1. A power play goal, and that would be a theme, for Greg Ferguson allowed Notre Dame to head to the locker room tied in a game in which they had been out played.

In the second the Hounds work ethic drew a couple of power plays and they capitalized when Todd Christian scored on the man advantage to make it 3-1 Notre Dame at that point. The Stars were playing their third game in three nights and so it would have been easy to fold up shop and head home. But they rallied and late in the second started to take it to the Hounds again. He’s been playing well of late but needs to get back to scoring and Kyle Hall did score short handed after great work by Tanner Schwab to power the puck up the wall and towards the net. Hall and Schwab both went hard to the blue ice and found a way to get the puck past Reichenbach. The official score sheet has Woody Klassen as the assist but is should be Schwab. Brody Luhning then drifted a shot over that shoulder of the Hounds goaltender on the power play to make it 3-3. There was a good screen in front and I don’t think Reichenbach ever saw it.

The score was 3-3 heading to the third and once again the Hounds power play gave them the lead. Grolla stepping into a slap shot from the high slot as the puck was loose and Grolla was able to take a couple good hard strides and then rifle it past Connor Creech. The Stars started to come on after that and earned themselves a power play. The man advantage has been a struggle for the Stars but on this ocasion Brody Luhning’s slap shot found it’s way past Reichenbach to tie the game. Luhning’s second of the game forcing over time. Brett Miller had a strong game and picked up assists on both Luhning goals. The Stars had chances to win it, including a full 2 minutes of 5 on 3 that the Stars couldn’t capitalize on in part because of an offensive zone penalty that made it 4 on 3, in regulation and over time but had to do so in a shootout. The first Hounds shooter scored to make it 1-0 but Tagoona tied it, Creech made a blocker save and then Tatchell roofed a back hander to give the Stars the lead. Christian had to score for the Hounds or the game was over but he couldn’t get a shot away against Creech and the Stars were able to celebrate a perfect 3-0 road trip.

Creech picks up his 8th win of the year in front of a scout who was their to watch him play all weekend. His strong play is being noticed. Brody Luhning now has 23 points on the season from the back end in just 22 games. Blake Tatchell extends his point steak to 16 games as well. So a lot of Stars, not surprisingly considering the record, are having great seasons. The North Stars have now won 5 in a row and sit atop the SJHL at 20-5-0-2 on the season.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Wokrking Player of the Game:
Blake Tatchell. He didn’t have his usual impact offensively picking up just the one point but I thought he had a very strong effort on the night. His work on the forecheck and in his own zone was strong. This is usually an award for a 3rd or 4th line guy but really it’s just for whoever I notice giving a lot of effort and a lot of hard work. Last night that was Tatch. Honourable mention has to go to Brett Miller who had a strong effort and picked up 2 helpers.

Next up for the Stars is a game in Nipawin tomorrow night. That game will be live on CJNB/CJNS at 7:15 with the pregame show. You can also stream it online at http://www.cjnb.com

3 for 3 Stars sweep southern road trip

The Stars beat the Notre Dame Hounds 5-4 in a shootout tonight to sweep their 3 game trip. Brody Luhning had a pair of goals for the Stars who have now won 5 in a row. It’s been a long weekend and I’m not feeling great so I will have more tomorrow. Check back in the afternoon for a post game/post roady wrap up.

Stars getting set to take on the Hounds.

The North Stars are looking to wrap up a perfect road trip with a win tonight in Wilcox.

The Notre Dame Hounds are near the bottom of the Sherwood division and have been struggling of late. The Hounds have lost 3 in a row and have won just twice in their last ten games. They were a .500 team up until this ten game run of results and will be looking to get back on track on home ice tonight. They played on their home ice last night and had a second period lead on the La Ronge Ice Wolves before the Wolves pulled away in the third and won 7-4. Notre Dame is led by Brandon Millin and Todd Christian offensively. They have 19 goals combined. Ben Morgan is also a good offensive player who had 2 points against the Stars the last time these two teams met.

The Stars won that game 6-2 on home ice as they were in the midst of that 9 game win streak. Connor Creech picked up the win in net that night allowing 2 power play goals. The Stars also scored twice on the power play but won the 5 on 5 portion of the game 4-0. Johnson and Tatchell each had 4 points and Tim Rollins had a hat trick in that game. Ty Reichenback is the Hounds top goalie and his numbers are pretty impressive. He is 8-8 on the season and has a save percentage of .890. Matthew Schmit is the back up goalie, and he started against the Stars the last time the two teams met, and he is 0-5 on the season. So the Hounds rely heavily on their number 1 goalie. Only Mitch Kilgore has more minutes played of the goalies in the SJHL.

Robbie Newton and Grayden Turner both fought when these two teams met at the Civic Center. So you have to wonder if we will see a pretty physical encounter. The only question will be how the ice affects the game. The Hounds play on an Olympic sized ice sheet when they play at the Duncan McNeil Arena. The Stars will have to adjust to the bigger ice but I don’t think they will let it affect their game.

That’s all for now tune in tonight at 7:15pm for the pregame show on CJNB/CJNS or online at http://www.cjnb.com

SJHL’s top team the Battlefords North Stars beat Bruins 4-1

The Battlefords North Stars felt that, despite last night’s win in Weyburn, they had room for improvement. And they certainly played a very solid game tonight in Estevan. The Stars outshot the Bruins 10-7 in the first period and scored the only goal of the frame when Blake Tatchell set up Braeden Johnson on a 2 on 1. Johnson made no mistake for his 13th of the year. The Stars first period tonight was very similar in a lot of ways to the first period in Weyburn. They controlled the play, kept things simple, had good puck support and were physical on the forecheck. Only this time they kept it up in the second period.

The Stars continued to wrack up shots in the second period and Ryne Keller’s sweet back hand pass found Tanner Quinn who made it 2-0 Stars after the second. That line was again excellent all night and they were rewarded with some points. Samborski ended up with two helpers in the game. The shots were 25-14 after two and against the league’s top scoring team limiting the shots the way the Stars did tonight is a great indication of how they played.

The Bruins have one of the league’s top lines, the league’s top offense, and the league’s best power play. But the Stars were controlling play in the offensive zone for the most part and keeping the dangerous Bruins attack hemmed in their own zone. A 2 goal lead is always dangerous though and the Bruins got within one when their power play struck in the third. D man Tyler Kauk beat Connor Creech in the Stars goal on a shot Creech never saw. That made it 2-1. The Bruins took the momentum and started to take the game to the Stars. But Creech held the fort and the Stars got the momentum back when Tatchell threw a great hit on the forecheck that freed the puck up for Johnson. Johnny and Tatchell combined to set up Brett Miller who fired home past the glove of Stephen Glass. The Stars scored an empty netter to pick up the 4-1 win.

A couple of plays really stand out for me as plays that really illustrate what this team is all about. The first was when Ryne Keller had the puck in the neutral zone with the Bruins net empty and the Stars up 3-1. Keller was on his own side of center and had time to try a shot at the empty net. Instead he took the two extra stride to make sure he didn’t ice the puck and then took a big hit to chip the puck into Bruin territory. A great team first play from the young forward and an example of the little things being done throughout the Stars lineup. Those little things add up over the course of the game.

The other moment was when Blake Tatchell had an empty net but chose to set up one of his team mates instead. Tanner Quinn was on hand to score his second of the night. An unselfish play that further illustrates what this Stars team is made of. They really are team first this season and as a hockey fan this is the type of team that I like to watch.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hardworking Player of the Game Award:
I can’t give the award to anyone from the Ryne Keller line as all three of them were so good tonight and got so many points together that they weren’t unsung. And that’s a big part of the award. So tonight it goes to Tim Rollins. He had a good game playing against the Neufeld line a lot of the time and he took a number of hard hits in the game. He also blocked a number of shots. So Rollins gets the award tonight. But I could have picked just about anyone from the Stars because it was that good of a team effort tonight.

That’s 4 in a row for the Stars who wrap up this 3 game southern swing tomorrow night in Wilcox against Notre Dame. That game will be live on CJNB/CJNS.