The Battlefords North Stars pull off a 5-3 come from behind win in Estevan

The Stars actually had two or three shots very early on during their first shift of the game. But after that it wasn’t a very good frame for the Stars. The Bruins really took the game over at that point and the game really could have been over after the first if it wasn’t for Graham Hildebrand. He made 16 saves in that opening period to keep the Stars in the contest. Hildebrand was beaten twice late in the period despite his best efforts. In fact on the Bruins opening goal at the 14:26 mark of the period the Stars goaltender actually made about 4 saves before the puck was finally popped home. You just can’t let a team get that many whacks at a loose puck without eventually giving up a goal. Tyler Poskus was the Bruins who eventually opened the scoring.

Not long after that Robbie Newton was hammered down in the neutral zone with what looked like a pretty lean hit from my angle. The Stars didn’t like it and Tanner Quinn jumped in to defend his teammate. Neither Quinn nor Austin Yano was able to get a hand free and so it was more of a wrestling match than a good fight. It did look for a moment like Quinn had his right hand free but he told me after the game he’s left handed so the right isn’t his favoured hand with which to punch. Quinn got an extra 2 for instigating as well as a 10 minute misconduct to go along with his fighting major. Yano just the 5 for fighting.

The Bruins made it 2-0 before the end of the period in part because of a power play. Estevan has the league’s best power play so the fact the Stars only allowed 1 power play goal on 9 Bruins opportunities was a huge factor in the game. The Bruins second goal of the first did come just seconds after Blake Tatchell, who served Quinn’ extra 2, had returned to the ice and before the Stars could get all 5 guys into the play. So while it wasn’t a power play goal for the Bruins it was the next closest thing. Again nothing Hildebrand could do as the puck was deflected beautifully by Derek Whitehill up under the bar.

I bumped into Tim Rollins dad during the first intermission and we talked briefly about the period. He was right when he said it couldn’t have been much worse. He also said somewhat prophetically, “there’s no where to go but up” and the second frame was an improvement for the Stars. The Stars almost got on the board 29 seconds into the middle frame when Blake Tatchell found Brett Miller all alone in front but Mills was robbed by Tyler Ross. The Stars then killed off an early Bruins power play after Kyle Hall was called for hooking trying to break up a possible 2 on 1.

At the 6:36 mark of the second a Bruins clearing attempt his Jordan Ethier and stayed in the zone. That led to the Stars first power play of the game as Roger Tagoona was hauled down charging hard to the front of the net. 18 seconds after that the Stars had the puck in the neutral zone and Tanner Schwab was blown up by Tyler Kauk. The point of contact was the head and despite a size difference the call on the play was a hit to the head. That’s a call that has gone against the Stars several times this season notably when Travis Sparrow picked up a suspension for a hit against Flin Flon before Christmas. That’s the right call based on what I have seen so far this season being called. The Stars scored on the resulting 5 on 3 but it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t without controversy. It was late in the 5 on 3 when Tim Rollins and Ethier combined to get the puck in the Bruins net. One of Estevan’s D men knocked the net off the moorings as the puck went in. Was the net off before the puck crossed the line? I can’t say. All I know is the referee awarded the goal despite the protests of Bruins fans and players.

That made it 2-1 Bruins who had their 2 goal lead back not long later. A great rush up the left wing and into the Stars net by Tyler Paslawski, I thought it was Poskus to be honest but Paslawski got the assist on the play, was followed by a great cross crease pass. Dylan Smith made no mistake as he had a tap in that Hildebrand again had no chance at stopping. That made it 3-1 Bears after the 40 minutes of play. It was the Bruins only power play goal in the contest.

Boyd Wakelin was on the broadcast again tonight and as was the case all weekend he was outstanding. He said that if the Stars came out in the third and played Stars  hockey they could come back. The Stars have shown great character all season coming back to win 5 out of 13 times when trailing after 40 minutes. They would have to attempt the comeback tonight without Braeden Johnson however as he did not come back onto the ice for the third period. More on his status later.

The kid line set the tone early in the third. Tanner Quinn hadn’t seen much ice in the game because of all the PIMS he wracked up in the first period. Once they were re-united that line got back to work. Their first shift of the final frame was outstanding and the Stars seemingly never looked back.

It was the 20 year olds that got the Stars within a goal when Blake Tatchell’s line had an absolutely dominant shift with pressure in the attacking zone for what seemed like a minute. Maybe more. That pressure paid off after great work from Brett Miller and Ethier down low the Stars worked it to Brody Luhning at right point and then all the way back around to the left point. Blake Tatchell took the puck right before Woody Klassen got to it and settled it down before passing to Woody who had continued on down the wall. The Stars D man powered to the front of the net like an old fashioned power forward. The puck rolled off his stick right to Tatchell who had followed the play to the front of the net. Tatch made no mistake and the Stars were back within a goal.

Less than 2 minutes later Tatchell tied the game. This time the goal was set up by great effort from Ethier at the front of the net. He was lying on his stomach after being knocked down in front but kept whacking away as Ross tried to hold the puck out. Eventually with the puck still loose Tatchell swooped in and buried his second of the game. You don’t see the Stars with over the top celebrations for goals too often. But Tatchell gave it a little extra after that goal. It was a clear signal that the Stars were tired of not playing well and fired up to finish the Bruins off.

The Bruins top ranked power play had a chance to turn the momentum as Travis Sparrow went off shorty after the tying goal. He was called for interference after knocking an Estevan player down battling for a loose puck. It was a borderline call but the Stars didn’t complain too much they just got down to work on the penalty kill. After another good kill Travis Sparrow returned to the ice and promptly set up the game winner. Set up is kind of a loose term really as Sparrow just fired the puck out of his own zone to Tanner Quinn who did the rest. On a similar rush to the one by Paslawski that set up the Bruins third goal Quinn rushed into the zone up the left wing. Instead of passing out front though the Manitoba native, in front of his parents who were in town watching, went in behind the net and tried a wrap around. Not only did he try it he completed it. That made it 4-3 Stars and the kid line which was excellent all weekend had a reward for their hard work. Quinn was also the Stars forward who stepped up to protect his team mate earlier in the game.

The Stars had all the momentum at this point but Zach MacLellan, against his former team, Austin Yano, who was excellent all night, and the Bruins didn’t go away quietly. Graham Hildebrand still had to make 12 saves in that final period and he made all 12 of them. Travis Sparrow was hurt with 6 minutes left in the third when he took a big hit along the wall just inside the Stars zone. Sparrow got up right after the hit and looked like he wanted to rip someone’s head off. Then he stumbled and fell down. The play continued and I was critical of the ref for that aspect of the play. Hopefully he just didn’t see what happened on the play and didn’t realize Sparrow was dazed. I am always of the opinion that if a player is down hurt the whistle should go right away so they can get treatment. Sparrow got up just after the play was whistled down and skated to the bench where he stumbled again before heading off the ice. I am not sure every player in the league who have made their way off the ice under their own power in a similar situation. The Stars captain is pretty tough though.

With 4 minutes left in the third it looked like Tanner Quinn might have powered his second of the game over the line. It wasn’t clear to me if the puck was 100% over the line anyway so the fact the whistle had already gone meant it wasn’t a goal and I think that was the right call. The Stars kid line did seal it not long later. Brody Luhning made an All Stars play at the right point to set up the goal. How many D men in the league would get the puck at the point with 3 opposition players in his face and hold onto the puck? Luhning had his head up, realized all of the Bruins were backing off further into their own zone, and eventually found Woody Klassen at the left point after the Stars had all gotten into the attacking zone. Klassen’s shot was tipped in front by Ryne Keller to make it 5-3 Stars with 1:57 left.

That goal to ice the game for the Stars might not have happened if not for a great shift by Roger Tagoona 30 second earlier. Tagoona was all over the ice during the shift. He started catching the eye when he dove Superman style in his own zone to knock a puck out to the neutral zone. A diving high stick clearance? Don’t see that too often. The Stars forward then blocked 2 or 3 shots later in the shift before diving on top of a loose puck in the high slot to get a whistle. The Stars bench was fired up after that play and they won the game a couple minutes later. Blake Tatchell took a couple penalties late in the frame but it was already too late for the Bruins.

So the Stars play a third period that could have been one of the best 20 minutes they’ve played all year and find a way to win. It was harsh on Ross in the B’s net as he was solid. I thought Kauk and Yano had strong games and they both looked very good on the Bruins power play that showed flashes despite only scoring once. Olson and Nuefeld were dangerous throughout and if it wasn’t Hildebrand could have easily scored 3 or 4 goals in the game, particularly in the first two periods. Zach MacLellan was solid as well against his former team. Mac did what he does best last night. He got to pucks in his own zone quickly, moved the puck quickly and generally made the right decision with and without the puck. I’m glad he chose to report to Estevan and I hope it really works out for him there.

There was one other moment worth mentioning. That was after the final horn when Tim Rollins tried to recover the puck. The Bruins decided they didn’t want the Stars to have it so suddenly after the horn there was Tim Rollins surrounded by a couple Bruins players, including Neufeld, trying to stick handle the puck back to his own end. Rollins then tried to fire it back down to Stars territory only to fire a perfect tape to tape pass to a Bruin. There was some jawing after that but nothing really came of it all. Other than a good laugh for yours truly.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Roger Tagoona. If for nothing other than that once shift. It was a shift that really was that good. The Stars PK could have won the award as well. From Kachur, Berg, Sheeran and the whole D to Kyle Hall, Tanner Schwab, Tim Rollins, the kids and some other guys who don’t normally kill penalties it was a solid special teams effort for the Battlefords North Stars.

So it wasn’t the prettiest of weekends and the Stars only took a step tonight to get back to where they were earlier in the season. But it was a step and it was in the right direction. And maybe the best part of the whole evening? The Bruins are the North Stars next opponent. So this game will be fresh in the memory when these two teams meet again at the Civic Center Friday night.

SJHL Game #49: Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

The North Stars take on the Estevan Bruins tonight looking to pick up win number 2 on this current Southern road trip. The Bruins feature several former North Stars in their lineup and have been playing very well of late. They’ve won 4 in a row.

Recent Game:

Estevan Bruins:

  • Last time out they beat Nipawin in overtime. That game was on Friday night. While the Stars were playing Notre Dame last night the Bruins were resting and waiting for tonight’s game.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars beat Notre Dame 2-1 last night. It wasn’t a pretty game by any means but the Stars got the win which is always a good result on the road.

Who’s Hot:

Estevan Bruins:

  • Zach MacLellan has 4 assists in two games with the Estevan Bruins. He’s been good for the Bruins since deciding to report after being traded by the North Stars. Calder Neufeld is another former North Star. He has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 2 games.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Defense. The Stars have allowed just 10 goals against in their last 6 games. That’s an average of 1.67 goals against in that span. That strong play is in part because of the goal tending that Hildebrand and Creech have provided as well as the return of Travis Sparrow to the lineup and plenty of other factors as well.

Players to Watch:

Estevan bruins:

  • MacLellan. The North Stars players all really liked Zach. He was a popular player in the locker room. It will be fun to see how the game goes tonight as he faces his former team for the first time.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Graham Hildebrand. I am expecting Hildy to get the start tonight after his excellent performance last night. Now would be a great time for Hildebrand to get hot as the Stars gear up for the playoffs.

Head to Head:

  • Estevan 1 @ Battlefords 5 (Nov 29 2011)
  • Battlefords 4 @ Estevan 1 (Nov 19 2011)
  • 7 players in the North Stars lineup have 2 points in their 2 games against the Bruins. That includes Jared Samborski, Tanner Quinn, and a couple of D men in Luhning and Klassen. Blake Tatchell has 5 points in the 2 games.
  • Cole Olson has assisted on the Bruins only 2 goals this season against the Stars.

Special Teams:

Estevan Bruins:

  • PP – 25.2 (1st) PK – 82.3 (4th)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 19.4 (5th) PK – 79.8 (7th)

Other Notes:

Estevan Briuns:

  • The Bruins are one of the least penalized teams in the SJHL. 8 teams have more PIMs this season. They are also an incredibly streaky team. The Bruins have scored 8 or more goals 5 times this season. On 2 their occasions they have scored 7 goals. They have also given up 6 or more goals 8 times.

Battlefords North Stars

  • The North Stars with a win would be the only team in the SJHL with 16 road victories. Humboldt has 15 but have played 3 more times on the road this season than the Stars. No one in the SJHL has traveled as well as the North Stars.

The Big Stat(s):

  • 18. The Bruins have managed just 36 shots on goal against the North Stars this season in two games. That averages out to 18 per game. The Stars have done a great job limiting the Bruins offense in the two encounters between these two teams. The Bruins strong power play is another factor that can decide a game. The Stars have done a good job in that aspect of the game as well. The Bruins have scored both their goals this season against the Stars on the power play. They are 2 for 6 on the man advantage against the Battlefords PK. But two have given up just 6 power plays in 2 games is a great way for the Stars to slow the Bruins offense.

North Stars beat ND Hounds 2-1 in Wilcox

The Battlefords North Stars scored twice in the first frame and it was just enough as they managed to hang on for a 2-1 win over the Notre Dame Hounds.

The first period was the Stars best of the night by far as they got off to a good start. Just 43 seconds into the first the Stars got a power play when Troy Murray went off for a trip. The power play didn’t last long however as Tanner Schwab ended up in the box after a too many men on the ice penalty.  The Stars first unit power play went off the ice 52 seconds into the power play and they were replaced by 6 skaters. It took me a moment to realize why the whistle had been blown and what call was being made. So very early on in the game the Stars and Hounds got to play a little 4 on 4 hockey. Mitch Boucher set up perhaps the best chance of the 4 on 4 play when his cross ice pass forced Graham Hildebrand into a good save. The Stars then went short handed briefly after Murray returned to the ice.

The Hounds first power play of the game last just 1:08 and they weren’t able to get much going. Out of the box Tanner Schwab was found by Ryne Keller for a break away. On the broadcast I said it was Newton who made the pass. That’s a bit of a blunder. It’s gotta be hard to confuse Keller with Newton. None the less Schwab was in alone on Matthew Smidt and made no mistake snapping it past the blocker for his 11th of the season.

The Stars doubled their goal output a little later in the period when Tim Rollins skated into the Hounds zone down the right wing. He wristed one on net that somehow beat the Hounds goalie between his arm and his body. It wasn’t a great goal but shows why coaches like it when players shoot the puck. Get it on net because anything can happen. That goal ended up being the game winner. Now leading 2-0 the Stars had a power play that I still can’t believe didn’t end up with a goal. Jordy Sealey was tonight’s power play contestant and would have picked up a pizza from 2 for 1 family pizza if not for Smidt, a couple of Hounds D men, some luck and who knows what else. The puck was actually loose in the blue paint 3 times during the power play. So somehow the Stars lead was just 2 after the first period. Both teams were 0-2 on the power play in the frame.

In the second the Hounds came out of the gates quickly. They forced the Stars back onto their heals a little but I would imagine the Stars players would not be happy with how they played in that second frame. Midway through the second and the shots in that period were 5-1 Hounds. Thanks to the strong play of Graham Hildebrand in the Stars net the score was still 2-0 Stars when the Hounds hit a post and a crossbar in the space of about 2 minutes. With 4:09 left in the second coach Hasselberg had seen enough and called his timeout. The Stars responded pretty well to whatever was said on the bench as they closed out the period with some strong play. Tim Rollins even had a great chance for his second of the game as he was alone at the side of the net but the puck hopped over his stick. It would have been a tap in for Tim to score his 14th of the year but perhaps the bad ice at the end of the period was to blame for a bouncing puck.

So it was still 2-0 Stars after 2 periods in large part to some luck and some great goaltending. In the third the Hounds continued to play solid hockey limiting the Stars to just 4 shots in the frame. But again as much as the Hounds were doing well the Stars will feel they weren’t doing enough well. A bad backcheck 5 mintes into the period led to perhaps the best chance of the game up to that point for the Hounds. Catlin Folye is a big body and not the fastest skater so the fact he wasn’t picked up as he went to the front of the net will be disappointing for the Stars. Foley redirection on his backhand side rolled wide and the Stars dodged a bullet. 2:30 minutes later and the Stars should have taken a 3 goal lead. Blake Tatchell made a nice move just inside Hounds territory and set up Braeden Johnson at the side of the net. The back door feed gave Johnson all kinds of open net to shoot at but again the puck went over a Stars stick and the chance was gone. Robbie Newton had another good chance not long after that but missed high and wide on the blocker side.

Just when you thought Graham Hildebrand was going to pick up his league leading 5th shutout the Hounds got a bit of a break to get within a goal. The Hounds had been playing pretty well so who is to say they hadn’t earned that break as a shot from Ben Morgan, who had been given far too much room in the attacking zone, hit Travis Sparrow in front and deflected passed Hildebrand. It looked like the Stars net minder had the shot covered and was about to blocker it away into the corner. It was certainly harsh on Hildebrand who was excellent and perhaps the reason the Stars ended up winning the game.

The Hounds had a chance late with an offensive zone faceoff and their net empty but Kyle Hall made a good play at the side of the net and eventually the Stars were able to see out the last few seconds of the game. It wasn’t pretty and again I didn’t think the Stars played very well but they got the 2 points and a road win in Wilcox.

In my opinion the Stars need to start getting it cranked up here as we make our way through the final stretch of the season. This team was put together for a run at a championship and this season will be judged based on what happens in the postseason. But it would sure be nice to go into the post season on a nice run. The Stars have a chance tomorrow night to make it 2 of 3 on this Southern road trip. A win would also move the Stars to wins in 5 of their last 6 games. That would be a nice base from which to launch an assault on the rest of the season.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Kyle Hall. Won a couple of key faceoffs in his own zone late. Blocked a pass at the side of the net in the last few seconds as well. Overall I thought he looked sharp again. Kyle’s speed is a real weapon at both ends of the ice and he along with Tagoona and Schwab/Ethier looked pretty strong at times.

Join me tomorrow night as the North Stars face some former team mates in Estevan. Pucks drops at 6pm with the SaskTel pregame show on CJNB/CJNS starting at 5:45. You can also tune in online at http://www.cjnb.com

SJHL Game #47: Battlefords North Stars at Notre Dame Hounds

Please note the start time tonight is actually 7:00pm.

The Battlefords North Stars will have to move on from a tough loss last night as they play the middle game of 3 in 3 nights. This could be a trick game for the North Stars who have Estevan tomorrow night. Sandwiched in between Weyburn and Estevan is a team in Notre Dame that is lagging behind in the Sherwood standings. But the Hounds have been playing very well of late. Winners of 4 of their last 5 the Hounds are also very good on home ice. The 11-8-0-3 mark for the Hounds at the Duncan McNeill Arena shows that they are much harder to beat at home than on the road.

Recent Game:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • Last time out they beat Kindersley 3-1. Brandon Kuse scored the game winner as the Hounds bounced back from a loss the previous game. In their last 5 games the Hounds have beaten La Ronge, Flin Flon, Kindersley and Melfort and lost 5-3 on the road in Weyburn and as we saw last night the Wings are very good at home. So this is a Hounds team playing well.

Battlefords North Stars:

Who’s Hot:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • Ben Morgan. Morgan is on a 4 game point streak and has 3 goals and 7 points in that stretch. But he isn’t the only one on lengthy streaks. Dillon Schwartzenberger and Greg Ferguson are both on 5 game streaks and in that stretch they both have 8 points.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Brody Luhning had 2 assists last night against the Wings. That gives him 3 helpers in the last 2 games.

Players to Watch:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • Carson Grolla. The big D man is third in the SJHL for defenseman scoring. The Trail, BC native is the Hounds top overall D man and logs a lot of ice time for Notre Dame.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Robbie Newton. Along with his linemates last night Newton had a solid game and looked dangerous. Boyd Wakelin said on the air last night that he has a feeling Newton is going to have a good weekend. I have that same feeling.

Head to Head:

  • Notre Dame 1 @ Battlefords 6 (Nov 25 2011)
  • Battlefords 5 @ Notre Dame 4 (SO) (Nov 20 2011)
  • Notre Dame 2 @ Battlefords 6 (Oct 22 2011)
  • Carson Grolla has 3 goals in 3 games against the Stars this season and 17 pims. Ben Morgan and Todd Christian each have 4 points in 3 games.
  • Braeden Johnson and Blake Tatchell have been dynamite against the Hounds this year and they each have 6 points in 3 games. Woody Klassen has 2 goals and 2 assists in 2 games so far against Notre Dame.

Special Teams:

Notre Dame Hounds :

  • PP – 19.4 (6th) PK – 76.5 (12th)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 19.6 (5th) PK – 79.6 (7th)

Other Notes:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • The Hounds have played the fewest overtime games in the league this season with just 3. The Stars are third in the league having gone to extra time 10 times. The Hounds haven’t seen much success in their limited chances as they have lost all 3 OT games that they’ve played and all 3 losses were in shootouts. One of those shootout losses was at the hands of the North Stars.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Should have plenty of support at the game tonight. There are several parents in attendance including the two Manitoba born players Tim Rollins and Tanner Quinn. Brett Miller’s and Blake Tatchell’s parents are in the area as well. Kyle Hall’s dad and I had a nice chat before the game last night.(There may be more that I haven’t seen yet as well) And on top of that the Midget AAA Battlefords Stars are on the ice in Notre Dame at 4 this afternoon and the last time I spoke with coach Lorne Nielsen he said they were planning to stay and watch the North Stars game. So it will be almost like a home game for the North Stars tonight.

The Big Stat(s):

  • 7. Tonight’s start time. I didn’t realize it until today even though it was on the SJHL website but the game tonight is at 7. The SaskTel pregame show will be at 6:45pm.

North Stars lose on the road in Weyburn 3-2 the final

The Battlefords North Stars lost for the first time this season against the Weyburn Red Wings. The Wings were hosting their parents and billets weekend so they were clearly fired up for this contest and they were also out to prove that they could beat the Stars.

The Wings led after the first period of play despite what appeared to be a pretty even period. The only goal of the first frame was scored by Coltyn Sanderson on a bit of a broken play. Give a lot of credit to Sanderson for battling the puck to the front of the net and eventually pulling the puck around Connor Creech on the back hand and sliding it home. The Wings forward was battling the puck almost the whole play but stuck with it to eventually score. The Stars D won’t be happy with the play though. Too many guys were drawn to Jesse Ross and no one really made enough of an effort to knock Sanderson off the puck or onto his read end.

The Stars were much better in the second frame as they started to do a better job of getting pucks down in deep and getting the body on the Weyburn defense. I was particularly impressed with Tim Rollins and his line mates as they used their speed to get in on the forecheck and wreak havoc. It didn’t lead to a goal for Newton, Schwab or Rollins but they certainly had a strong game. Schwab was noticeable using his speed several times to get to the puck first and win battles along the wall. The Stars tied the game when Roger Tagoona, who has been pretty good lately without enough rewards, got something for his effort. Roger was along the near-side boards at the outside hashmarks and seemingly falling down. But he threw the puck on net and somehow it went under Kilgore. The Weyburn goalie had a very strong game but that was a bad goal.

Early in the third the Stars had their first lead of the game. Brody Luhning did a great job to hold the line and get a shot through towards the Red Wings net. Kilgore made the save but Braeden Johnson hacked the rebound past Kilgore. It was the Stars only lead of the game and it didn’t last long. 26 seconds to be exact. Jordon Hoffman was excellent all night along with Miguel Perreira and Sam Williams on the Wings second line and it was Hoffman who tied the game. From his knees Hoffman had a couple whacks at the side of the net before calmly lifting the puck past Creech. The Stars goalie, as well as captain Travis Sparrow, was livid that the goal was allowed to stand. They thought the net was off it’s moorings. At the time I speculated on a couple of different reasons for the anger as I didn’t have a great view of the play. But Hoffman and the Wings won’t really care because they tied the game and that’s really all that matters.

The third period was pretty even with both teams having chances and both teams having power play opportunities. The Stars PP couldn’t get much going all night and that was something coach Hasselberg was not happy about after the game. With just under 3 minutes to go Jack Kennelly scored what stood up as the game winning goal. A Braden Kmita shot from the point hit Sparrow and was deflected right to Kennelly at the side of the net. He managed to slide the puck along the ice and past Connor Creech before the Stars goalie could get all the way across and up against the post. It was a lucky break for the Wings but give them credit because lucky breaks don’t mean anything if you don’t finish the play and that’s exactly what Kennelly did. The Stars pulled the goalie late and had the puck down in Weyburn territory but they couldn’t mount much of a charge and so the game finished 3-2 Wings.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Tanner Schwab. I thought he and his line mates Robbie Newton and Tim Rollins had a strong game and Schwab was good in his return. The whole kid line was very good tonight but I just couldn’t choose between them so I went with Schwab.

Next up for the North Stars they travel to Wilcox to take on Notre Dame tonight at 7:30. I will once again have all the action live on CJNB/CJNS and www.cjnb.com starting with the SaskTel pregame show at 7:15.

SJHL Game #47: Battlefords North Stars at Weyburn Red Wings

The Battlefords North Stars head out on a 3 games in 3 nights road trip through the Sherwood starting tonight in Weyburn. The last time the Stars went South for a similar trip, games against Weyburn, Notre Dame and Estevan, they won all 3 but needed OT or a shootout in 2 of them. In fact the comeback against Notre Dame on the third night showed a lot of character. To exert the energy to come from behind late in a game after playing that much hockey in so short a time frame is impressive. The Stars will need similar energy levels and commitment this weekend.

Recent Game:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • Last time out they beat Kindersley 4-1. The game prior to that the Red Wings beat Notre Dame 5-3. The Wings have won 4 straight and all of them on home ice. That’s not surprising as the Wings have one of the league’s best home records. Weyburn is 19-2-0-1 on home ice and just 13-12-0-0 on the road. Only the North Stars and Humboldt have that many home wins and the Stars have played more times on home ice. So it’s perhaps no surprise that Weyburn is on a nice run as they have made their home rink a fortress and they are taking advantage of a portion of the schedule that has them on home ice a lot.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars have won 3 in a row including their most recent contest when they came from behind in the third period to beat Melville in overtime. You can read the recap of that game right here.

Who’s Hot:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • Coltyn Sanderson is on fire. He has 3 goals and 5 points in his last 3 games for the Wings. He isn’t the only one on his team on a streak though. Keegan Bruce is on roll a well. Bruce has just 1 goal in his last 6 games. But he has 11 assists and 12 points in that span. That’s currently the longest point streak in the SJHL.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Woody Klassen is also on a roll. The Stars D man has 7 points in his last 3 games. Last time out he had 1 goal and 2 assists helping to power the North Stars to that come back against Melville.

Players to Watch:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • Jesse Ross. Why not mention the other member of that amazing Red Wings top line? Bruce, Sanderson and Ross are 3 of the top 6 scorers in the entire league and Ross is on top of the pile. North Stars fans have seen how good Blake Tatchell has been all season. So they can imagine how good Ross has been. He as 39 goals this season which is 4 more than Tatchell.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Brody Luhning. The last time the Stars went South to play Estevan, Weyburn and Notre Dame Luhning put up 2 goals and 3 assists in 3 games. He was instrumental in the come back in Wilcox and was very good on the power play that trip.
  • Tatchell had 2 + 4 on that same trip for 6 points in 3 games.

Head to Head:

  • Weyburn 3 @ Battlefords 5 (Jan 7 2012)
  • Weyburn 3 @ Battlefords 6 (Dec 10 2011)
  • Battlefords 5 @ Weyburn 4 (Nov 18 2011)
  • Tatchell has 8 points in 3 games against Weyburn this season. Braeden Johnson has 5 points in 2 games. Tagoona has 4 points in 3 games. Miller, Schwab, Luhning all have 3 points in 3 games.
  • How about Jordan Ethier? He must love playing Weyburn. In 4 games against the Wings when Ethier was with La Ronge he had 3 goals and 3 assists. In 1 game as a North Stars against them he had 2 goals. That’s 5 goals and 8 points total in 5 games for Ethier against the Wings.
  • Jordan Hoffman, a former Kindersley Klipper, has played 6 games this season against the Stars. He has 5 points in those game. Jesse Ross leads the way for the Wings with 5 points in 3 games so far. Bruce, Sanderson and Ryan Whitell all have 4 points in 3 encounters with the Stars.

Special Teams:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • PP – 19.3 (7th) PK – 82.3 (2nd)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 19.9 (5th) PK – 79.3 (8th)

Other Notes:

Battlefords North Stars

  • Blake Tatchell has committed to the University of Alaska Anchorage. It’s a full ride scholarship to go to school and play hockey in the NCAA. It’s great news for a real good kid and his family. It’s also a big deal for the North Stars, Midget AAA Stars and all of the other teams and coaches that helped develop Tatch over the years. I will have lots more on this over the course of the weekend so make sure to check back in on the blog frequently. And don’t miss tonight’s pregame show.

The Big Stat(s):

  • Between November 11th and December 30th the Weyburn Red Wings went 14-1-0-1. The shootout loss was a North Stars win on the road in Weyburn. The regulation loss was a North Stars win on their home ice at the Civic Center. So far this season the North Stars have seemingly had the Red Wings number. You just know the Wings will be gearing up to change that tonight. It should make for an unreal game.

North Stars come from behind to beat Mills 4-3

I am not going to talk about the first period too much because really nothing much happened. There was decent flow to the game and the shots I think were around 8 a piece but really there was no stand out moment. Not even really a decent scoring chance to talk about.

The second period however had lots of talking point. The Stars opened the scoring early on in the second period when a point shot was deflected in front. The deflection actually got too much of the puck to cause trouble for Blake Voth on the original shot but where the trouble came from is the deflection knocked the puck right to Woody Klassen at the side of the net and he made no mistake.

The Stars made it 2-0 midway through the period when Tim Rollins used his good speed to create a turnover in the neutral zone. The Mills were trying to exit the zone but Rollins caught the D man from behind and eventually the puck made it’s way to Robbie Newton inside Mills territory. His pass into the middle found Blake Young who slid it home along the ice for his first Stars goal in his first game. He was called up from midgets to help out last night. Tanner Schwab and Boyd Wakelin are still out injured and Dillon Forbes was suspended. Forbes will miss Friday’s game in Weyburn as well. The score actually could have been 3-0 for the Stars because at one point Woody Klassen ripped a one timer that thundered into the crossbar.

The Stars Mitch Berg took a roughing penalty later in the second period that was behind the play and I never saw. Berg didn’t like the call as he skated off the ice. Melville capitalized late in the power play after the Stars had done a decent job on the PK when Ian McNulty took a pass in the slot and beat Graham Hildebrand with a quick shot that I don’t think the goalie saw. Less than 2 minutes later the score was tied again and again it was McNulty.

There was some controversy on the third goal as the Stars bench and fans clearly thought the play was offside at the line. I heard players, coaches and fans yelling that it was 5 feet offside. But I spoke with Coach Hasselberg after the game and he saw the replay and confirmed it was onside and the linemen got it right. The Mills scored on the play to take a 3-2 lead heading to the third after scoring 3 goals in 3:46 late in the second.

At some point early in the third period Braeden Johnson threw a clean hit on Connor Bradshaw and unfortunately Bradshaw’s chin and Johnson’s shoulder collided at one point which seemed to have Bradshaw out on his feet. Coach Fiesel after the game called it “one of those plays in hockey” and went out of his way to mention it wasn’t a dirty hit. Bradshaw left the game and despite returning to the bench Coach Fiesel did not use Bradshaw again. There was another scary moment in pretty early on in the third when Lucas Froese got tangled up with the linesmen and they both fell to the ice. Because of how they were tangled up Froese couldn’t get his hands up in time to break his fall and went face first into the ice. There was a lot of blood and he did appear to be out cold. A stretcher was called for and after a long delay Froese was taken to hospital.

The reports I heard today suggest that both guys are okay. Froese will be out for about a week but it sounds like the nose wasn’t broken as was originally feared and there aren’t any signs of post concussion syndrome. The news on Bradshaw was similarly positive and it sounds like he could even be in the lineup tonight. In both cases that’s very good news.

The Stars took three penalties in the first half of the third period and managed to kill all 3 of them. That really seemed to give them some momentum and 28 seconds after the third kill the score was tied. Woody Klassen jumped up into the play in the offensive zone and Blake Tatchell filled in for him at the point. Klassen eventually set up Tatchell with a drop pass. It was at this point that the Mills made a mistake. 3 different Melville players saw Tatchell with the puck and had a chance to close him down. But they all chose to pick up other guys. Connor Lowe-Wylde had probably the best shot to get to Tatchell but Kyle Hall was alone in the slot and Lowe-Wylde went to Hall. Tatchell seized on the open ice skated down into the faceoff circle and snapped the puck past Voth.

It’s a goal I know the Mille are going to be very unhappy about when they watch it on tape. But it’s also a great learning opportunity for them as well. The Stars had a late power play when McNulty, the games second star, took an interference penalty when he knocked Ryne Keller down in the neutral zone. to be honest I thought it was a bad call. Considering everything the ref had let go up to that point I just didn’t like the consistency he showed making that call late in the period. The Mills PK was unreal though and is part of the reason the game went to OT. Connor Lowe-Wylde went a long way to making up for giving Tatchell all that open ice when he put in one of the best PK shifts I have seen all year.

The Mille were trapped on the ice for pretty much the whole 2 minutes as the Stars buzzed around in the attacking zone. But Lowe-Wylde conservatively I would say he blocked 5 shots. Allen Kilback blocked a couple as well. It really was an inspirational effort. Blocking a Woody Klassen slap shot can’t be fun and to continually get in the way of Klassen and Luhning bombs from the point showed great heart. That helped force OT and in the extra frame the Mills conceded another goal that will leave them angry.

Off the opening face off Blake Tatchell won the draw back to Brody Luhning. Luhning went for a skate in the neautral zone, carried the puck into Mills territory and right into the slot. The Mills D kept backing off and backing off until they were in too deep and Luhning snapped it past Voth on the same side that Tatchell beat him. Again a soft goal for Melville to concede at that point and a goal they will feel they shouldn’t have allowed.

None the less the Stars pick up the 4-3 OT win in a wild seesaw game at the Civic Center.

How about Woody Klassen by the way? 1 goal and 2 assists and now has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 3 games. If he plays like that in the post season and gets this hot or stays this hot over a long stretch the Stars would be incredibly tough to beat. Now it’s probably asking for too much for Klassen to put up that many points a game but just to be that much of a threat as he has been the last few games really makes the Stars dangerous.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Roger Tagoona. I thought he had a very strong game despite not getting on the scoresheet. He was engaged physically, controlled the puck well at times and at some point in the third period he had an epic back check to break up a potential two on one that was developing for the Mills.

Next up for the North Stars 3 games in 3 nights down South. Weyburn on Friday night is the first of those games and I will have it live for you on CJNB/CJNS and online at cjnb.com starting with the SaskTel pregame show at 7:15.

SJHL Game #46: Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars host Melville tonight at the Civic Center. Tonight’s game is not on the radio at CJNB/CJNS. But it is the last game of the season that I will not be broadcasting. Starting Friday night in Weyburn every remaining North Stars regular season game and every playoff game will be live on the radio here in the Battlefords and online at cjnb.com

Recent Game:

Melville Millionaires:

  • Picked up a 6-5 overtime win over Yorkton. The Mills led by a score of 5-1 at one point in that game and let it slip. They are in a real dogfight with the Terriers for second in the Sherwood and that point that they threw away to the Terriers could come back to bite them on the real end. They lost their two games prior to that so the Mills don’t come in playing their best despite making several moves at the deadline.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars skated to a 3-2 come from behind win over the Melfort Mustangs in their last game. The Stars have now won 2 in a row. Check out the recap of that game right here.

Who’s Hot:

Melville Millionaires:

  • Lee Christensen has a goal and 2 assists in his last 2 games.
  • Michael Desjarlais has 2 goals and an assist over those two games as well.
  • Sean Aschim has 3 goals and 3 assists in 5 games since rejoining the Millionaires at the deadline. He was released by the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Woody Klassen has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 2 games. He also has 22 pims in that stretch.
  • Jordan Ethier has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 2 games. The former Ice Wolf has been outstanding as a North Star. Since returning from the Christmas break Ethier has scored 10 points in 8 games.

Players to Watch:

Melville Millionaires:

  • It’s got to be Sean Aschim tonight. Lots of offensive talent in Melville and I am not sure that Aschim will even be in the lineup. If he is? Keep your eyes on him. The Saskatoon native is a very good player.
  • If Blake Voth gets the start it will be interesting to see how he does against his former team.

Battlefords North Stars

  • Roger Tagoona. Again I always like watching guys perform against their former teams and Tagoona was with Melville until the Voth trade. Roger has looked good for the Stars a lot lately without necessarily getting the rewards he deserves on the point sheet. He just might break out tonight.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 5 @ Melville 2 (Dec 2 2011)
  • Melville 4 @ Battlefords 5 (OT) (Nov 12 2011)
  • Blake Tatchell andBrody Luhning have 6 points in 2 games against Melville this season. Tatchell has 5 goals and an assist. Luhning 1 goal and 5 assists. Braeden Johnson has 5 points in those 2 games.
  • Ian McNulty has 3 points in 2 games against the Stars.

Special Teams:

Melville Millionaires:

  • PP – 21.2 (4th) PK – 77.9 (11th)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP – 20.2 (5th) PK – 79.3 (9th)

Other Notes:

Melville Millionaires:

  • Brought in several new faces at the deadline including Aschim as well as Landon Hall from Dauphin, Connor Bradshaw from Melfort and Taylor Wasden from Kindersley.
  • Jesse Mireau has only played 35 games this season so far. When he is healthy this Mills team seems to be more dangerous, balanced and tough to beat. He is a key player that they need healthy.

Battlefords North Stars

  • The Stars are about to kick off a really tough stretch of games. After tonight they play 8 out of their next 9 games on the road. Also after tonight’s game they will only have 3 home games left in the regular season.
  • A lot of those games are long bus trips as well. Games in La Ronge, Weyburn, Estevan, Yorkton/Melville, and Flin Flon. So it’s a lot of miles on the bus but there is reason to feel optimistic. I’ll explain below.

The Big Stat(s):

  • 16-1-0-1. That’s the Stars record against teams in the Sherwood. (Big thanks to Craig Stein for posting this stat) The lone regulation loss was against Kindersley WAY back on opening night. The other loss was in a shootout at the hands of Yorkton back on November 10th. The Stars have several games left this season against the South. Including tonight they have 13 games left this season and 9 of those are against Sherwood teams.

New North Stars Intro

So first of all let’s take a moment to think about how wonderful Friday’s really are. Great day.

I interviewed former Saskatoon Blade D man Aaron Rome today for the Co-op Leisure Time Sports Fix. That interview will air Monday night at 8pm Sask time. I have to say, and not because I am a Canuck fan either, that the Nucks are the best team I have dealt with in terms of booking interviews. They email back quickly and are as helpful as possible. They call when they say they are going to call and both Canuck players I have interviewed so far have been gracious and professional. So I don’t have anything but wonderful things to say about the Canucks organization.

Okay now here’s why I am really writing. Not long ago Daniel Fink posted on his website a new intro for La Ronge games on his radio station. If you go to his website here you should be able to find it in his audio portion under random bits. I thought it was pretty cool and obviously better than the intro I was running. And being a competitive guy I spent about 6 hours over the last 3 days working on a new intro that at the very least is in the same ballpark to being as good as Dan’s. I am not sure if it’s in the ballpark but I think it’s at least in the parking lot of the ballpark.  It features clips from interviews I have done with players and coaches throughout the season so far as well as highlights. A big thanks to Braeden Johnson, Brett Miller, Ryne Keller, Boyd Wakelin, Connor Creech, Graham Hildebrand, Tanner Schwab, Blair Atcheynum, Travis Sparrow, Brody Luhning (saying wow in one of the clips), Matt Sheeran and Tyler the in-rink announcer at Stars games.

I would love some feedback on it in the comments section or on twitter. Let me know what you think. Does it need anything? Can I drop anything?

It’s not a finished product but it’s getting close. Here it is as it stands now.

SJHL Recap: North Stars beat Mustangs in a thriller

The first period last night was a little strange. There were a few good shifts from the North Stars but for the most part it was a pretty lifeless period. The crowd in Melfort was pretty large for a midweek game and considering where that team is in the standings. But there still wasn’t much life and atmosphere on or off the ice at the Northern Lights Palace until later in the game. The Stars didn’t do a very good job of creating that energy for themselves which led to a pretty dull first frame. The Mustangs would have been very happy with the first period I am sure. They got a power play goal to lead 1-0 after the first 20 minutes and as they have all season under Gavin Holcomb the Mustangs worked extremely hard.

The goal was a pretty simple one but highly effective. The Mustangs got a point shot on net on the power play after Nathan Zimbaluk and Matt Saunderson did good work at the point and Avery VanBlaricom went right to the front of the net. His deflection went right through the 5 hole on Graham Hildebrand and the Mustangs skated off after the first with a 1-0 lead.

In the second the game started to get a little more physical and there were plenty of penalties called during the frame. 16 of them in fact by my count including a fight between Brett Miller and Carter Berg. The Stars started to come on a little as the frame progressed. The shots in the second started to edge in the Stars direction and so did the play. It still wasn’t vintage North Stars hockey but a power play goal from Woody Klassen on a one timer made it 1-1 after 40. And if it seems like I am breezing through the first two periods a little it’s because I am. I can’t wait to talk about the third frame.

The game sure got interesting in the final period. The refs put away their whistles, mostly, and let them play and the Stars really came on. They had numerous shifts at 5 on 5 that looked like power plays as they cycled the puck and controlled the play in the Melfort end. But they couldn’t beat Patrick Johnson in the Melfort goal. He was the first star of the game for a reason. His play was spectacular. How he was released by a couple different teams this season is beyond me. He was in net for the last 2 Mustangs wins and should have probably earned his team a win again last night with his strong play.

It certainly looked like he would get the win when Brendan Tash broke in on a partial break and beat Graham Hildebrand on the blocker side. That was one of just 8 ‘Stangs shots in the final frame. The Stars had 20. Johnson wasn’t going to be beaten though and so the Stars were forced to pull their goalie. With the extra attacker on the ice the Stars were forced back into their own zone where Woody Klassen was hit into the corner boards as he raced back for the puck. I thought it was a weak call to be honest and looking at replays I am not convinced it was a good call. It was similar to Woody’s hit on Marc-Andre Carre the night before though and in that case the Stars player was given a 5 minute major. So perhaps justice was done with the call. The Stars power play went to work with the net empty and a 6 on 4 situation.

After a good stick by Brendan Tash deflected the puck out of play early in the PP the Stars got another offensive zone draw. Kyle Hall and Jordan Ethier combined to somehow get the puck back to Woody Klassen and he blasted one past Johnson. The Melfort goalie actually got a piece of it but not enough to keep it out of the net. so with 1:04 remaining and the score tied at 2 I thought overtime was likely on the agenda. But Mitch Berg stepped up against his old team and won the game.

Berg was traded by the Mustangs to the Stars at the deadline. After being the go to guy on D in Melfort all season and wearing the captains ‘C’ on his jersey for Melfort you know it had to be strange for Mitch to play as the road team in that barn. He actually said as much after the game. Blake Tatchell’s line was one of the lines that really elevated it’s play in the fnal period and several times the dominated the puck in Melfort territory. It hadn’t paid off with a goal yet but with the seconds ticking away in the third there they were again cycling the puck and controlling play. Tatchell made some nice moves and eventually he and Braeden Johnson got the puck back to Berg who let go a wrister that flew past a partially screened Johnson and into the top corner.

Almost as if it was destiny Berg scored the winner against his former team. It’s was harsh on Melfort and especially Johnson to lose like that but I imagine it was a pretty special feeling for Berg to score that goal. He said afterwards that he wasn’t trying to pick the top corner he was just hoping to get the puck on net. And that’s something he does as well as any D man on the team and maybe in the league. His shots so rarely get blocked it’s amazing.

So the Stars escape Melfort with a dramatic and wild win that gets them to within 3 points of Humboldt atop the Bauer and SJHL standings. Once again the Mustangs showed why I have had so much respect for them this season. They might not win a lot but they never give up and they always work hard and that’s a real testament to coach Holcomb, his staff and players.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working PLayer of the Game:
Jared Samborski. Had a real solid game at both ends of the ice. He was physical throughout including a big hit on Carter Berg and he was strong on the PK.

Next up for the Stars a bit of a break, and some team building, before a game Tuesday night at the Civic Center as they host Melville.