SJHL: Battleford North Stars look to bankrupt Millionaires

Let’s start with the Battlefords North Stars. Normally on a game preview I like to start with the team the Stars are playing against because that’s the team that we need to learn about prior to the game. But at the start of a 3 game road trip that sees the Stars face Melville, Yorkton and Melfort in consecutive nights I thought I would start with the Stars.

A couple weekends ago the Stars swept a 3 game in 3 night stretch against Estevan, Weyburn and Notre Dame. And they needed shootouts in two of the games to get the wins. It’s not an easy thing to do. Go out on the road with hours and hours of bus travel and play 3 games in 3 nights and throw in over time and shootouts it starts to add up. Not that the team would ever make excuses. Nor would I make excuses for them. That’s the way the schedule works sometimes in junior hockey. Every team has to deal with it. And the Stars aren’t cutting anyone any slack when they come into the Civic Center after playing in Kindersley the night before. This is what teams have to deal with in this league and the teams that deal with it the best are usually the most successful.

The Stars have won 8 in a row as I am sure you know. They are playing incredible hockey of late and as far as I can see executing their game plan very well. I don’t break tape though and I don’t know what the exact game plan is on any individual game. I pick up fragments of it from being around the players and coaches so I have an idea. And I like what I have seen. But I know the coaching staff from the Stars will have found aspects of their game that can be improved. In my recent posts I have maybe not done a good enough job explaining just how excellent I think the coaching staff has been this season. They have been great and I know they go out of their way to make sure the players on the North Stars know exactly what is expected of them. I also know that they work hard to make sure that the Stars know how well they are doing without getting complacent about it and always looking for ways to get better.

Tonight the Stars face the Melville Millionaires and should get a good test from the Mills. Despite 2 recent losses to Yorkton this Millionaires team has been playing very well of late. And with nearly a week to sit and think about those two losses Melville will have a lot of pent up frustration. So perhaps those losses in a home and home last weekend will motivate the Mills even more. They pushed the Stars hard the last time these two teams met. At the Civic Center on November 12th Boyd Wakelin scored a beauty on the back hand in OT to seal the 2 points for the Stars who haven’t lost since. For more on that game check out my post game report from that night here.

The Mills as I mentioned lost two last weekend to Yorkton. Before that they had won 8 of 9 and picked up a point in the game they lost to the Stars. So they were pretty much as hot as the Battlefords North Stars. They picked up Blake Voth in the trade that sent Roger Tagoona to the Stars and he has not disappointed. Voth is 5-1 so far as a Millionaire and has a goals against under 3. Voth’s save percentage is .921 which is the same as Graham Hildebrand who leads the league. So that tells you how good he has been. On the same day the Mills picked up Russell Trudeau. He has been amazing. In 11 games in the SJHL Trudeau has 14 goals and has scored over 2 points per game. That’s a rate higher than Blake Tatchell. If Trudeau scored at that rate for as many games as Tatchell has played this season? Trudeau would have 9 more points that Tatch. And we know how well Tatchell has played this season. That’s an amazing start to his time in a new league.

Trudeau isn’t the only dangerous player the Millionaires have to offer. Jesse Mireau was recently the SJHL’s player of the week and has 14 goals this season. Ian McNulty leads the Mills with 17 goals and 46 points. So they have the offense and they have the goaltending. From what I saw of them at the Civic Center a couple weeks ago I think maybe the defense is the area that is the Mills biggest concern. Tyson Newell is an elite offensive D man in this league and has a point a game rate. They can move the puck but at times they struggled to get the puck out of the zone against the Stars forecheck. Although they aren’t the only team that has had that struggle this year. So if there is an area the Stars can try to expose it may be the backend of the Mills.

I will have more on the SaskTel pregame show starting at 7:15 tonight live on CJNB/CJNS. Puck drops at 7:30. You can tune in online as well http://www.cjnb.com

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1 Comment

  1. To me what makes a good team is the fact that the players are a team. No one is the superior power, each does their job and each rejoices in the others efforts. No one calls down the others and everyone supports everyone else. When you do that it is fun to play and that makes it fun even on the road. I would like to encourage the fans to come out for the home games and watch the team grow the louder the fans cheer.

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