Johnson with the Oil Kings

I was planning this post today and then kind of forgot about it as I got into the World Junior game. Braeden Johnson played last night for the Edmonton Oil Kings, thanks to Starsfan for reminding me in the comments section, and should be in the lineup tonight as well. Johnson is a former Saskatoon Blade so he knows the WHL pretty well. North Stars fans are obviously concerned about losing Johnson but at this point he is just with Edmonton on a 4 game basis. The Oil Kings are without 4 players who are representing Canada at this point. Captain Mark Pysyk is a D man on Canada’s WJC team. Three young Edmonton players, all of whom are very good players, are representing Canada at the World Under-17 Challenge. So short handed the Oil Kings were making their way through Saskatchewan and tabbed Johnson as a player to call up on what I suppose you could term an “emergency” basis. He is not expected, at this point, to miss any North Stars games. The 4 game stretch with the Oil Kings would wrap up on January 1st and the North Stars don’t play again until January 3rd.

Best of luck to Braeden as he gets another taste of WHL action. I for one would love to see him bury a few tonight in Moose Jaw. As I write this the Oil Kings and Warriors are tied at 2 headed to the third period. The other thing I will say from a North Stars perspective is I hope Johnson stays healthy as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

So I spent a couple hours the other day putting together a post game report detailing the North Stars 3-2 loss to Humboldt on Wednesday. And then a combination of me, airplanes and computers meant the post was lost. I apologize for that. I just didn’t have it in me to sit down and write it again. And it’s the holidays and I figured no one would be reading it at that point anyway.

 

So I will just say to everyone who has made my move to Saskatchewan so smooth and enjoyable I want to say thank you. To all North Stars players, coaches, staff, family, friends and fans thank you for allowing me to have the best job in the world and the best of the season to all of you. I look forward to seeing what this team does in the new year.

Until then though I am going to enjoy some relaxation.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

SJHL Game #39: Humboldt Broncos at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars host the Humboldt Broncos tonight at the Civic Center at 7:30. I will be broadcasting the game live on CJNB/CJNS starting with the SaskTel Pregame Show at 7:15pm. It’s the final game for the Stars before the winter break.

Recent Game:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • The Broncos come into tonight’s tilt having not lost in regulation in 12 games. Humboldt beat Kindersley 3-2 last night and haven’t lost since a since November 23rd when Flin Flon beat them in a shootout. The last Humboldt regulation loss was back on November 18th when Yorkton picked up a 4-1 victory.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars are on a 3 game losing skid since falling 5-0 in Humboldt back on December 11th. They followed that game up with a loss in La Ronge in a game the Stars played pretty well. Alex Rajotte was standing on his head in that game however and the Stars were shutout. They then lost 9-1 to Flin Flon on home ice. That’s the last time the Stars played. Nearly a week ago. They’ve had a week to stew on an embarrassing loss. We will see how that affects their game tonight.

Who’s Hot:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • Andrew Johnston. The Broncos top offensive forward is always a handful and lately he has been very good. 4 points in his last 5 games.
  • The Broncos have been getting offensive from all over the lineup of late so it’s hard to pick out one forward who is hot. That’s why they are such a tough team to beat.
  • Matt Hrynkiw. Didn’t play last night. In the three previous games he has played he’s been outstanding. He’s one of the main reasons the Broncos won in La Ronge when Hrynkiw stopped 74 of 78 shots over two games. Both those games last weekend in La Ronge went to a shootout. Hrynkiw won both. Including a shootout that went 17 rounds. Hrynkiw made saves on 16 straight shooters to steal the win for Humboldt.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Not available. Roger Tagoona was pretty good against Flin Flon offensively. He scored and his line had some other chances. Tagoona had a third period deflection that just missed as well. But as a team they’ve been struggling.

Players to Watch:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • Taylor Duzan. The diminutive forward plays a big game. He is a lot of fun to watch and very shifty with the puck. The former Klipper is always worth watching.
  • Robbie Ciolfi. Last time Humboldt was at the Civic Center Ciolfi missed the game. That’s too bad for fans who like to see good players in action. Earlier in the season Ciolfi had a 2 goals and an assist at the Civic Center when the Stars won 6-4 thanks to a Blake Tatchell hatty.

Battlefords North Stars

  • I don’t know if Blake Tatchell, Tim Rollins and Boyd Wakelin will all be back in the lineup tonight as all 3 missed the Flin Flon game. So lets keep our eyes on Woody Klassen. After a very hot start to his season since returning from Greenville Woody has cooled off of late. He’ll want to head into the Christmas break on the right note. I expect a big game.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 0 @ Humboldt 5 (Dec 11 2011)
  • Humboldt 1 @ Battlefords 2 (Nov 5 2011)
  • Humboldt 4 @ Battlefords 6 (Oct 28 2011)
  • Battlefords 5 @ Humboldt 4 (Oct 7 2011)
  • The North Stars and Broncos effectively split the season series last year. They both picked up 7 points in the games between the two teams last season.
  • Brett Miller, Tanner Schwab and Blake Tatchell have all averaged a point a game or better this year against Humboldt.
  • Matt Backhouse, Andrew Johnston and Robbie Ciolfi have all done the same against the Stars. Ciolfi has a very impressive 8 points in 3 games against the Battlefords North Stars.

Special Teams:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • PP – 18.1% (9th) PK – 83% (2nd)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 18.2% (8th) PK – 79.5% (10th)
  • The Stars were 6th in PK before the Flin Flon game. They’re special teams, much like their goals against and goal differential, took a beating in that game.

Other Notes:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • Neither of Humboldt’s current goaltenders has faced the Stars this year. Deven Dubyk is now gone to Red Deer and won’t be back. He has 3 starts against the Stars. Tyler Marble got the other. Matt Hrynkiw and the newly acquired Colin Dzijacky have yet to see the Stars.

Battlefords North Stars

  • One advantage the Stars have over their opponents is offense from the backend. The Stars’ Brody Luhning still leads the league in scoring by a defenceman and Woody Klassen, despite playing just 19 games so far, is also in the top ten. Zach MacLellan is 13th. No other team has 3 D men ranked that high in the league. Weyburn has 3 in the top 17.

The Big Stat(s):

  • 19 goals against. The last 3 games the Stars have allowed 19 goals. The North Stars defensive play has been a key part of their success and the aspect of their game that they take the most pride in. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Stars will return to being a very tough team to score against. They will need to tonight. The Broncos lead the SJHL in goals scored with 156.

North Stars skid stretches to 3 after 9-1 Bombers demolition

The first period got off to a pretty good start for both teams. There was a tremendous amount of flow. Not a lot of whistles. A handful of chances for both teams. In fact I wonder how different the game would have been if Devin Buffalo hadn’t made a ridiculously good pad save to steal a goal from Kyle Hall. You just never know how big a moment like that is to the course of the entire game. The only real difference in the first was special teams. Brody Luhning was called for tripping after a hip check and the Bombers scored on the power play. Seconds after Roper missed the top corner by just inches. the Bombers opened the scoring. Dillan McCombie scored the goal and he would play a big role in the rest of the game. Later in the period Brandt Wheldon took a huge hack at Roger Tagoona and broke his stick. He was called for tripping as he did knock the Stars forward down. The Stars PP though wasn’t able to connect. With 2 minutes left in the first Kyle Hall, who had a very good first 30 minutes to the game, made a great rush wide on his man and then powered to the front of the net. Buffalo stopped Hall and then somehow kept Grayden Turner and Robbie Newton from jamming home the rebound. It was 1-0 Bombers after a pretty good first period for both teams.

In the second things got out of hand for the Stars. Less than 2 minutes into the frame the Bombers scored on the power play again. A Bomber pass went off a skate and right to Brett Penner who made no mistake. The Bombers were great all night at earning bounces and capitalizing on them. 4:19 into the period the Stars were back within 1 as Roger Tagoona scored on a beautiful set up by Hall. Aother great rush by Hall using speed to get wide on his man led to the goal. Hall firing across the crease to set up Tagoona who scored the Stars first goal in 7 periods and about 5 minutes. 3 minutes later Hall was buzzing again and with a little puck luck the Stars could have tied the game. 6 minutes after the Stars made it 2-1 the excellent Tagoona deflected a point shot just over top of the net. That was at the 10:28 mark of the second period and sometime around this mark is when the game went sideways for the Stars.

17 seconds after Tagoona’s tip just missed tying the game the Bombers made it 3-1. At the 10:45 mark McCombie found himself on a 2 on1. He held and shot himself low blocker on Creech and just inside the post. A perfectly placed shot and a bit of a back breaker. It has to be tough to feel like you are playing well and the bounces won’t go your way. But the Stars needed to stick with it and they didn’t. As tough as it is to say because I respect how hard this team works most nights and I know how much they care but it seemed like they started to pack it in once the breaks seemingly went against them. Perhaps that’s too simplistic an explanation. But it’s how it looked from the outside looking in.

3 minutes later it was 4-1 as a point shot from Clark was stopped as Creech saw the puck through all kinds of traffic. The rebound went right to a Bomber though and Balaski scored. It was 5-1 after 2 when a point shot was deflected by Cameron Blair past Creech. That was the end of the night for the Stars goalie. Graham Hildebrand replaced him for the last 2:29 of the second period.

Hildebrand came out to start the third and the Bombers were able to beat him 4 times. 2:17 into the period a shot was deflected bar and in by the Bombers. At this point you must have noticed that several Bombers goals were deflected in and the Stars missed a couple deflections. When people talk about puck luck this is what they mean. But the Bombers earned that luck. They got to the front of the net more, they did a better job of protecting their net and tying up sticks. They won battles. All those things add up over the course of the game and make it seem like one team was unlucky. Some luck will always play a part in a game. But it doesn’t decide the outcome.

Dillan McCombie came out of the box and scored on a breakaway to make it 6-1. The Bombers would score 3 more goals to round out a 9-1 win. The worst Stars loss of the season by a large margin. The Bombers are a good team but the Stars made them look even better. As I said before though there is no need to panic. The Stars will try and find a way to work their way out of this funk. I don’t doubt their character and determination.

The Bombers went 3 for 5 on the power play and another goal came before Woody Klassen could get back into the play. So special teams needs to be better for the Stars. Tanner Quinn fought again as he stepped up to fight Justin Schoffer after a questionable hit from behind.  Late in the game Travis Sparrow threw a hit that I thought was clean. But I had a terrible angle. I was almost directly above the play. A side view would tell more about where contact was made, if Travis left his feet and all of those types of things. The Bombers coaching staff, who I find to be one of the most approachable and honest, thought it was worthy of a suspension. Mike Reagan was quick to say though that the size difference between the two players may have played a role in the injury.

I have a feeling Sparrow will be missing some games in the near future. If nothing else Sparrow is wracking up the fighting majors.

The Stars now have several days to regroup before hosting Humboldt on Wednesday. That’s a big game for the Stars to set a tone before heading off on Christmas break.

Late night ramblings on the nature of fans

I will have a more detailed look at tonight’s loss tomorrow. We will get into the goals and the fights and the hits. I will also update the status of a couple Bombers players who were injured over the course of the game. Hopefully they are okay. But I want to get something off my chest first.

 

It’s about the people who will revel in the Stars current losing streak. You know them. You will see them around rinks in the SJHL tomorrow. Or on twitter. Or on message boards. They will be enjoying the struggles of these young men far more than they should. They will say things like, “I knew they weren’t that good” and “they were winning with smoke and mirrors.” And other ridiculous comments of that nature. So this post is directed at those people.

The Stars are a good team going through a rough patch. They are a good group of young men who have worked hard to get where they are so far this season. No one is giving them anything. No one is crowning them as champions. And no one should be writing them off either.

(I want to make it clear I am not defending the North Stars recent play. They haven’t been good enough and they know it.)

Earlier in the season people were writing off the Humboldt Broncos. They weren’t the only team either. La Ronge wasn’t good enough I heard people say after two weeks of the season. Right now people are talking about the Melville Millionaires and their struggles. Estevan were riding high a month ago. They aren’t right now. Both are good teams capable of bouncing back and being very formidable. Nipawin couldn’t be beat early on. Then couldn’t win for a while after that. Which team are they? We still don’t know.

The point is hockey season’s aren’t won and lost in November or December. I was defending Humboldt to anyone who would listen a month or two ago. “Give them time to figure out their lineup” and “they are going to be good” were common statements I made dozens of times. The Broncos haven’t lost in regulation in nearly a month. You simply can’t judge a team on a two or three week period and you definitely can’t judge them on a 3 game period.

The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year. During the regular season they had a 3 game losing streak where they were blown out by a good Detroit team. They year before the Blackhawks had a 3 game losing skid during which they lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-3. What is my point? Good teams go through rough patches. Now I am not saying the North Stars are going to win the SJHL championship. No one knows what’s going to happen come playoff time. There are a lot of good teams, players and coaches in the SJHL. A lot of very strong teams in the Bauer. And any of 5 teams in the North could get hot at the right time and win it all.

After tonight’s game no one is going to say the Bombers will win it all. They might win it all because they have a very good team and are led by a very good coaching staff. But this one result doesn’t mean they are the team to beat in the SJHL. It doesn’t mean they are going to win it all. Just like their loss the night before at the hands of Nipawin didn’t mean they definitely fail to win the championship. These are the ups and downs of a long regular season. Teams are never as good as wins make them seem and never as bad as losing makes it appear.

So the critics will sharpen their knives and start carving this team. In fact I am sure they’ve already started. Let me just say these last few things. First of all you don’t win hockey games with smoke and mirrors. You don’t win 9 in a row with smoke and mirrors and you certainly don’t win 13 in a row by smoke and mirrors. You also don’t lose 3 in a row because of bad luck. Teams win games because they earned them through hard work. The Stars won 13 in a row earlier this season because night in and night out they were winning battles, out working and out competing their opponents.

The last few nights the Stars have been outworked and outplayed and they have lost. They are embarrassed. Coach Hasselberg said those exact words after the game. He said as a staff and as a team they have to figure out the problem and work hard to fix it. I am sure they will. Because no matter what the gloaters will say this team isn’t as bad as it looks right now. The sun will come up tomorrow and when it does the Stars will still be on top of the SJHL standings. And they’ll have to put their work boots on to make sure they stay there.

Of course none of what I just wrote will stop certain people from basking in delight because the North Stars are losing. Some people will revel in any good team losing. Humboldt, La Ronge, Weyburn or any other team will go through a rough patch and people will take great pleasure in those struggles. Perhaps that’s the nature of fandom. I just personally don’t like it.

SJHL Game #38: Flin Flon Bombers at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars host the Flin Flon Bombers tonight at the Civic Center at 7:30. I will not be broadcasting the game. It’s the penultimate game for the Stars before the winter break.

 

Recent Game:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • Flin Flon played last night in Nipawin and came out on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline. Brandt Wheldon scored the lone goal for the Bombers. Andy Desautels took the loss in net. The Bombers are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars had won 13 in a row until back to back shutouts against Humboldt and La Ronge. Against the Ice Wolves Tuesday the Stars pumped shots on Alex Rajotte but didn’t do a good enough job getting traffic to the net. The power play let the team down and luck wasn’t on their side. Woody Klassen’s bomb from the point goes in instead of off the post and out and the game could have been a different story.

 

Who’s Hot:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • Brett Penner. He is on a 4 game assist streak. Has 3 goals and 4 assists over that stretch.
  • Penner is also on a 6 game point streak and has 10 points over that stretch.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars have been shutout in back to back games. So not really anyone is hot right now.
  • Except Jordan Ethier. I just realized Ethier was on an 8 game point streak when he left the SJHL to go to Chilliwack. So that streak can continue tonight.

 

Players to Watch:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • With Riley Storzuk out of the lineup you will want to watch out for the likes on Penner, Blair, Young and Mysiorek for Flin Flon. All of them are fun to watch.
  • The Bombers are a pretty fast skilled team so there’s plenty of entertainment value throughout the lineup.

Battlefords North Stars

  • With Tatchell out it will be interesting to see how Braeden Johnson handles a bigger role in the offense. A good chance to show Stars fans that Johnson will be able to lead this team offensively next season as a 20 year old. Plus a chance to prove his numbers aren’t being inflated by playing with one of the league’s top players.
  • Jordan Ethier. There will always be lots of eyes following the new guy whenever he is on the ice. Plus as an offesive threat he will need to help out in the absence of Tatchell.
  • Kyle Hall’s whole line. They were playing really well leading up to the Humboldt game. Look for them to get back on track.

 

Head to Head:

  • Flin Flon 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 8 2011)
    Battlefords 5 @ Flin Flon 4 (SO) (Oct 30 2011)
  • Tatchell and Storzuk each have 5 points in the 2 games head to head between these two teams. Shame we won’t see them tonight.

 

Special Teams:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • PP – 18.6 (9th) PK – 78.7 (9th)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 18.5 (10th) PK – 80.5 (6th)

 

Other Notes:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • Have been without top scorer Riley Storzuk for a while now. Haven’t played that well in their last 10 games picking up just 5 wins. But when healthy this is still one of the top teams in the SJHL.
  • Starting yesterday with a loss in Nipawin the Bombers kicked off a stretch where they play 12 of 13 games on the road. This is going to be a stretch where we really find out if my statement above is true.
  • 13-4-1-1 on home ice. 6-6-1-2 on the road. This could be a tough couple weeks for the Bombers if they don’t improve on the road. One of those road wins came in the Civic Center.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Grayden Turner should draw into the lineup as a forward. That means the Stars could have as many as 6 players (Sparrow, Newton, Turner, MacLellan, Daughtry, Toneff) looking for their first goal of the season.
  • The Stars don’t play again after tonight until next Wednesday the 21st when they host the Humboldt Broncos. That is the Stars only game between tonight and January 2nd. I am looking forward to seeing what a rested, healthy and rejuvenated Stars team will look like in the new year.
  • The Stars power play at home is 20.1% and 15.1% on the road.

 

The Big Stat(s):

  • Blake Tatchell needs 33 points the rest of the season to reach 200 for his SJHL career. After tonight there are 20 games left on the schedule for the Stars. At his current point per game pace Tatchell would get 34 points the rest of the way. That would leave him 3 short of 100 for the season.

Norht Stars Injury Updates

The North Stars will be without 3 key players tonight when they host Flin Flon. I am currently working on a game preview which will be on the blog soon. But I wanted to get this info out to you as soon as possible. Here is the deal on the 3 players out of the lineup.

Boyd Wakelin: Hurt his hand against La Ronge. I saw Wakes today and he said he will be playing against Humboldt on Wednesday. Nothing is broken just some serious bruising. I don’t know if Wakelin will actually play before Christmas but the fact he wants to play and thinks he will be able to play is good news. Sounds like he won’t be out long term.

Tim Rollins: Has been dealing with a lower body injury for a while. It’s a problem that he has been able to play through so far and Coach Hasselberg told me today it isn’t too serious. They were hoping to get to the Christmas break without have Tim out of the lineup but have decided it isn’t worth the risk at this point. It sounds like Rollins could be back against Humboldt but perhaps they will hold him out to give him some extra time to heal up. If Rollins were to return on January 2nd that would give him 20 days of rest.

Blake Tatchell: Tatchell is in a similar situation to Rollins. Tatch has been dealing with an upper body injury for most of the season. Coach Hasselberg said the decision to rest Tatchell tonight was for similar reasons to Rollins. And the same can be said for Tatchell and a possible return against the Broncos. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t. It’s important for the Stars to return in the new year as healthy as possible.

For more from Coach Hasselberg on these injuries and the acquisition of Jordan Ethier tune into the 6pm sports tonight on CJNB/CJNS or online at http://www.cjnb.com

Every good team needs a French Canadian

Sorry about the lateness and briefness of this post. I have spent most of today on a bus back from La Ronge or in bed trying to sleep off a massive headache. I think I managed to win the battle but I still don’t feel great. I also have the pleasure of broadcasting a senior hockey game tonight in Medstead so this is going to have to be brief as I said.

The North Stars lost last night in La Ronge 3-0. For those of you who missed the game live on CJNB/CJNS there were massive delays as no officials showed up. The game had been moved from tonight back to last night sometime earlier in the season and no one told the referee/referees. So that delayed the start by about 45 minutes. It didn’t seem to affect the North Stars as they came out pretty strong of the opening faceoff. But they couldn’t beat Alex Rajotte. That was the theme of the night. You gotta give Bob Beatty and his well coached team a lot of credit. They did a great job protecting the front of the net and clearing rebounds. They also made sure Rajotte could see the shots he was facing and he stopped all 58 of the pucks that the Stars shot at him.

Graham Hildebrand was good as well and especially in the third period where he stepped up and slammed the door shut. He made one of the more remarkable pad saves you will see all season. But the Ice Wolves beat the Stars tender 3 times in the second period. Marc Andre Carre, any North Stars aside for bias reasons, is the best player in the SJHL that I have seen this season. He’s incredibly good with the puck, he’s and mobile and perhaps because of the small ice surface or the fact that La Ronge only had 9 forwards I don’t know but Carre was very noticeable on the ice every time he took a shift. His goal was a partial break where he stepped into a slap shot and ripped it over the glove of Graham Hildebrand.

Patrick Tran scored short handed and Nathan Boyer, who ended up with 3 points on the night, scored on the power play. Speaking of the power play. The Stars had some 5 on 3 time, and a lengthy double minor after a high stick, in the first but were unable to score. They ended up going 0 for 7 on the man advantage.

Tempers and frustrations boiled over at times in the third period. Roger Tagoona and Alex Vandenameele started the fisticuffs in the third period. Late in the frame Boyd Wakelin perhaps got away with one as he got under the skin of Marc Andre Carre. The Ice Wolves forward took exception and went after Wakelin in front of the La Ronge bench. That set off a scrum featuring all 10 skaters on the ice. Carre got 2 and 10, Alex Rajotte got 2 for unsportsmanlike and eventually Louis Joseph Sawyer dragged Dillon Forbes out of the pile and the penalties on the play are incredibly strange.  Sawyer strangely got5 for fighting and a game while Forbes only got 2 for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct. Forbes won the fight as he stung Sawyer with a straight right hand that landed square in the face. Sawyer went into defense mode after that and I can’t say I blame him. Somehow Tanner Schwab got 5 for fighting and a game according to the scoresheet. He was on the ice at the time but he didn’t fight anyone. How Travis Sparrow didn’t get a penalty in all that was strange. He was all over a couple Ice Wolves while the melee was ongoing. Perhaps that’s where the mistake was made by the ref? Schwab wears 12 while Sparrow wears 2.

Later in the game Roger Tagoona was in a vulnerable position against the end boards as he was down on his knees and Brett Hope hit him anyway. No call on the play, especially madenning for the Stars bench after a completely phantom head shot call on Brett Miller earlier in the period, and Tanner Quinn stepped up to fight Hope. Hope pummeled Quinn who was giving up a lot of size in the fight. But good for him for stepping up and protecting his team mate.

So a good win for La Ronge and another game without a goal for the Stars. Teams are going to go through some adversity in a season and we will see how the Stars respond tomorrow night on home ice.

The Stars also made a move today picking up Jordan Ethier in a trade with Chilliwack of the BCHL. Ethier was in La Ronge earlier this season but it didn’t work out. He had 22 points in 28 games with the Ice Wolves and 2 assists in 8 games for Chilliwack. From what I have heard he is a big kid with good hands who needs to be coached. Hopefully he will fit in with the Stars team right away as he may be in the lineup tomorrow night. My understanding is this has been in the works for a few days and is not any kind of panic move after losing a couple games. The Stars coaching staff is far too level headed to make a panic move and they do a lot of due diligence before making any moves.

So in part because of a strong performances from Quebec natives Marc Andre Carre and Alex Rajotte the Ice Wolves pick up a 3-0 win over the Stars. And now the Stars have a Quebec native of their own.

I have to run I will have more for you tomorrow as the Flin Flon Bombers come to town.

SJHL Game #37: Battlefords North Stars at La Ronge Ice Wolves

Recent Game:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • La Ronge has won 8 of it’s last 10 but like the Stars are coming off a loss. The Ice Wolves had won 5 in a row until they took a 3-2 loss against Melville on Saturday. Myles Hovdebo took the loss in net stopping 29 of the 32 shots he faced. Marc Andre Carre hada goal and an assist for the Ice Wolves.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars had won 13 in a row until laying an egg Sunday in Humboldt. It wasn’t a good performance from the Stars. But they were on a pretty darn good run of games before that. Every team no matter how good is going to have some rough games from time to time. The important thing is how they bounce back. How they respond to that poor effort.

 

Who’s Hot:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • Carre, Enns, Hladun are all on fire. Hladun had a hatty and Enns 2 + 2 in the Ice Wolves 7-1 win over Melville Friday night. They were all on the scoresheet in a losing effort for the Ice Wolves the next night.
  • Alex Rajotte has won 4 straight starts for the Ice Wolves since a 6-5 to Humboldt back on November 22nd

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Graham Hildebrand has been good of late. The Stars haven’t lost with Hildebrand in net since November 10th. Connor Creech was pretty good against Humboldt all things considered but Hildebrand is the hotter of the two right now.

 

Players to Watch:

La Ronge Ice Wolves

  • Carre is the big one. He’s been outstanding since returning from the CHL and is the man the Ice Wolves offense revolves around.
  • Brett Hope. The Ice Wolves don’t get much offense from their D the way the Stars do but they play a very solid game in their own end for the most part. And Hope is the lynchpin. He’s big, strong and moves the puck pretty well.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Roger Tagoona. Has been playing well of late along with his linemates Kyle Hall and Tanner Schwab. Tagoona does something with the puck at least once a game that makes me say the word ‘dangle’.
  • Zack MacLellan. Solid play in his own end and lately has been doing a great job with his point shots. They are low along the ice for the most part which helps the forwards get deflections. MacLellan is tied for 4th on the team with 18 assists.

 

Head to Head:

  • La Ronge 0 @ Battlefords 1 (Oct 25 2011)
  • Battlefords 2 @ LaRonge 4 (Oct 5 2011)
  • La Ronge 0 @ Battlefords 2 (Sep 24 2011)
  • Blake Tatchell has 5 points in the  3 games between these two teams this season. That’s a pretty amazing stat when you consider the Stars have only scored 5 goals against La Ronge in those 3 games. In other words Tatch has been in on every goal scored by the North Stars against La Ronge this season.

 

Special Teams:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • PP – 17.1% (11th) PK – 81.6 (4th)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 19.3 (8th) PK – 80.2 (6th)

 

Other Notes:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • In the midst of a 13 game home stand. They’ve won 5 of 7 so far. Have to try to pick up as many points as possible as they have a lot of road games towards the end of the season. Overall they are 13-5 on home ice this season.
  • The Wolves are 1 point back of Flin Flon for 3rd in the Bauer and need to win games to keep pace. The Bombers have played 3 fewer games as well.
  • 18 year old forward Wilson Dumais has played just 4 games since coming to the Wolves from Nipawin. The former Prince George Cougar has 3 assists in those 4 contests. He was acquired for futures.
  • 6’3 20 year old forward Brennan Wright who was brought in from the North Bay Trappers hasn’t played yet for La Ronge due to injury. He may get into the game tonight.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Haven’t lost 2 in a row in regulation all season. They are 4-1-0-1 in games following losses. They’ve lost 2 in a row on 2 separate occasions but in both cases one of the two losses was in a shootout.
  • Curtis Toneff was a healthy scratch against Humboldt. He missed 2 games during “the streak” due to a lower body injury. Which means I can say that the Stars have won 9 in a row with Toneff in the lineup.
  • The Stars have only won once in their last 5 visits to La Ronge. Last season the Ice Wolves were 5-2 against the North Stars

 

The Big Stat:

  • Get a lead early. The North Stars are 19-0-0-1 when leading after 2 periods of play. The Ice Wolves are 15-0-0-1 when leading after 2 periods of play. Whoever is winning this game heading to the third is pretty much guaranteed to win the game. Unless I just jinxed it.

Humboldt Broncos snap Battlefords North Stars winning streak with 5-0 win

First of all I want to start by giving a lot of credit to the Humboldt Broncos who played a fantastic game last night. I knew they had a good team and they have been playing well of late. But that was still impressive. That’s the best I think I have seen a team play against the North Stars in a long time. Now the North Stars weren’t very good and I think it was one of those cases where the Broncos were good, the Stars were bad and the result was lopsided. Give credit to the Broncos though for at least in part forcing the Stars to not play up to their best.

The first period was fairly even although Coach Hasselberg said after the game it wasn’t as even as the shots made it look. The Stars gave up a goal to the Broncos on their first shot. The Broncos dumped the puck into Stars territory and somehow it ended up loose in the slot. Matt Glowa skated onto the puck and beat Connor Creech. The Stars had chances to this the game and did outshoot the Broncos in the first but were unable to score. Blake Tatchell looked to have a step on the D and a possible breakaway but fell as he crossed the blue line. Another good chance for the Stars fell to Kyle Hall but he fanned on a one timer in the slot. Those errors would come back to haunt the Stars as the Broncos took over. A bg moment in the game came when Jared Samborski hit Taylor Johnson from behind. Samborksi clearly hit Johnson in the numbers although from my angle I didn’t see how hard he hit the Broncos forward. Doesn’t really matter though as the ref had no choice but to toss the young Stars forward. If you see a guys number you have to hold up.

The second period was one of the worst of the season for the Stars in part because the Broncos were moving the puck so much better than the road team. Because of that puck possession the Broncos were able to take it to the Stars and outshoot them 20-7. The 5 minute major that Jared Samborski picked up for that hit from behind carried over to the second frame and that gave the Broncos 4:25 to work on the man advantage to start the period. They took advantage when Matt Glowa scored his second of the game. Robbie Ciofli set that one up brilliantly as he showed great patience before sliding the puck cross crease. Glowa had a tap in. It was 2-0 at that point and I said on the broadcast that it was the next goal that would make the difference. The Broncos got it and you could see it coming by the way they were playing. Matt Backhouse and Taylor Duzan set up Andrew Johnston who scored his 20th goal of the season.

It was 3-0 heading to the third period and the Broncos didn’t let up. They scored twice more first when Robbie Ciofli set up Matt Backhouse who wired a slap shot over the glove of Connor Creech. Taylor Duzan rounded out the scoring. He’s been outstanding for the Broncos since coming over in a trade with Kindersley.

There was some rough stuff in the third when Andrew Herle was getting a penalty for charging Woody Klassen. Jake Daughtry immediately stepped up to protect his team mate and went after Herle who wanted no part of the fight. Daughtry continued to hound Herle so Josh Roach stepped in and dropped the gloves with Daughtry. Roach landed one punch before Daughtry lost his balance throwing a haymaker and that was about it for the fight. Later in the period after a hit Roger Tagoona dropped his gloves and tried to go after Herle but again the Wilkie native, with his team cruising to a 5-0 win, didn’t see the need to drop the gloves. Tagoona got 2 for roughing and a game.

The final shots favoured the Broncos 35-28. Deven Dubyk was good when called upon as he picked up his second shutout of the season. These two teams play again on December 21st a game that will be live on CJNB/CJNS and I can’t wait for that one. The Stars will hope to play a much better game against the Broncos. I really want to see what would happen if both teams played their best games. I don’t know who would win but the hockey would be spectacular.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Jake Daughtry. Stepped up to protect his team mate. Threw some hits. Drew a penalty. He was one of the few guys who I thought had a decent game.

The Stars will look to start a new streak against a very good team in a tough barn for road teams to find wins when they travel North to face La Ronge tomorrow night. That game is live on CJNB/CJNS starting with the Sasktel pregame show at 7:15. I hope you will join me for what should be a very good game.