North Stars beat La Ronge in a shootout and some other stuff

So I took yesterday off after the long bus ride back from La Ronge and with it being Super Bowl Sunday and everything. But I am back today so I thought I would write a quick post about Saturday night’s game and maybe talk a little bit about the week to come for the North Stars.

Let’s start with the first period at the Mel on Saturday. I thought it was a pretty even period despite the Ice Wolves having a slight edge in shots. The Stars got an early power play when Ben Bula went head hunting. Both Blake Tatchell and Jordan Ethier were skating threw the neutral zone when Bula came flying in trying to throw a big hit on one of them. He led with his elbow and jumped nearly taking off Ethier’s head. If you read this blog regularly you know I rarely call out players from either team as I generally feel most players are trying to play a clean game. But that was a dirty play by Bula. I’m not sure what he was trying to do to be honest. Was it a chance to try and lay out Tatchell or a chance to go after a former team mate in Ethier? I have no idea but Bula got 2 and 10 for a blow to the head and hopefully the league takes a look at the hit. The Stars couldn’t score on the early power play to make Bula pay for his indiscipline.

Later in the period Kyle Hall had a break away from the blue line in on Myles Hovdebo but Hall couldn’t beat the Ice Wolves tender on the blocker side. Marc-Andre Carre was a game time decision and he ended up playing in the game. At times he didn’t really look like he was moving all that well but he ended up having a real good game. The best shift of the first period probably belonged to the Ice Wolves 4th line which featured 2 D men. Brennan Wright along with D men Franklin Cook, and Brett Hope had a strong shift with several shots and several chances midway through the first but couldn’t beat Hildebrand.

In the second period the Stars opened the scoring in the early going. Klay Kachur’s parents made the trip to La Ronge, and unfortunately got stuck sitting next to a fan that was a little loud. But they were rewarded for their journey when Klay opened the scoring. Tim Rollins and Brett Miller teamed up to force a save from Hovdebo. The rebound went right to Kachur and he scored from the right point. Hovdebo kicked out a big rebound to Kachur and was out of position allowing Klay to score the goal. I wonder if maybe Hovdebo wasn’t sure where the rebound went because he didn’t look great on that goal.

The Stars weren’t very good after that opening goal allowing the Ice Wolves to dominate the rest of the period. The shots were 21-8 and in this case a pretty good representation of the flow of play. Graham Hildebrand was in a pretty good mood on the bus on the way home and I am sure the second period had a lot to do with it. Hildy stood on his head despite allowing 2 goals. Aaron Enns scored his 19th of the year to tie the game midway through the period. Carre set the goal up with a good pass from behind the net out front to Enns. That came after about 30 seconds of good work on the part of the Enns, Carre, Ashdown line. They stayed out and had a couple more chances after the goal in what was the Ice Wolves best shift of the period which is saying something.

The Ice Wovles led after 40 minutes thanks to a bad change from the North Stars. Jared Samborski got the puck into La Ronge territory but couldn’t get the puck in deep. That line needed a change though and had to get off. The Ice Wolves played hurry up offense and got the puck to Boyer who scored before the Stars were fully involved in the play. Just after the play resumed the Stars should have had a power play. Kyle Hall was hammered down to the ice despite not being anywhere neat the puck. The ref I thought had a decent game but that one hit stands out to me as a call that was missed. It’s always dangerous to hit a guy when he isn’t really looking and isn’t prepared to be hit because he isn’t near the puck. Hall was fine though which was the most important aspect of the play. Brett Miller was belted down later in the period. I thought Ashdown jumped to hit Miller and could have been called for a charge. But play continued and moments later the Stars had too many men on the ice. They killed that penalty and got to the third down just 1.

One of the main reasons for the Ice Wolves strong play in the second was Patrick Tran. He won seemingly 75% of the face offs he took in the game and helped the Wolves gain a lot of possession of the puck. The Stars and Ice Wolves played a pretty clean third period with just one penalty called as the Ref let them play. The Stars were being heavily outshot heading to the final period but as is often the case with this team, that I am now calling the Cardiac Kids, they staged a third period comeback. The Stars started throwing shots on Myles Hovdebo from all angles and it led to the tying goal.

The kid line had a good shift getting the puck down into Wolves territory a couple times. The second time it was Jared Samborski who tipped the puck in from the neutral zone. The puck caused all kinds of problems for Hovdebo who didn’t play it cleanly. He then tried to dive out on top of the puck but couldn’t cover up. The Stars made him pay for those two mistakes. Samborski and Tim Rollins, who had come on for Ryne Keller at some point while the puck was in transit down the ice, dug the puck free and from almost behind the net Rollins banked the puck in off something and in the net. After the game he said he was trying to bank it in but still felt it was a lucky goal.

Neither team could find a goal after that and so the game went to OT and then a shootout. On Friday Brody Luhning was the 5th shoouter. He scored. So against the Ice Wolves he got to go first. And he scored. Pretty similar goals as it turns out. Luhning skating in slowing down and snapping the puck past the glove of Hovdebo. Hildebrand’s excellent game finished in style as he stopped all 3 Ice Wolves he faced in the shootout to seal the win.

So the Stars comeback again. That’s the 14th time this season they’ve scored in the last 10 minutes of a game to win or force overtime. They are now 8-8-0-1 in games they trail after 40 minutes of play. To try and put that in perspective the Stars are 22-0-0-1 in games when they lead after 40 minutes of play. Also the Stars are now 7-2 in shootouts and 4-0 in games decided in overtime. That’s an extra 11 points that easily could have gone the other way.

Mike Feeney’s Unsung Hard Working Player of the Game:
Travis Sparrow. Had a very solid game and despite a couple turnovers I thought he was good. He also took and gave out several big hits throughout the game.

Next up for the North Stars is a road trip to Yorkton/Melville on which I will have more a little later today.


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