The North Stars won their final road game of the regular season last night in Kindersley. For the 1991 born players in the Stars lineup it was the final regular season road game of their SJHL careers.
It was the Stars 40th win on the season which is normal over in Humboldt but in the rest of the SJHL and here in the Battlefords it’s a mark that doesn’t get reached too often. So congrats to the Stars coaches and players. It’s not that meaningful right now as the playoffs loom and this team wants playoff success. But looking back after the season it should be something the Stars take some satisfaction and pride in achieving.
The first period last night was a little bit strange in the way the game flowed. I thought the Stars were much better than Kindersley in the opening stages as each line got their first shift or two. Then I felt the game evened out for a spell before the Stars took over again in the second half of the period. The shot totals ended up favouring the Stars in each period and the first was no exception. Roger Tagoona opened the scoring when he put home a big rebound after great work from Tanner Schwab who got an assist. I thought Schwab was good last night and really probably should have scored. He had several good chances throughout the game and probably finished with 4 or 5 shots on goal. The Stars got another goal late in the period when Jordan Ethier and Blake Tatchell combined to set up a scoring chance. Tatchell was going away from the net on his back hand and just dropped the puck off for Miller who had plenty of net to hit. 2-0 after the first period of play. It could have been a lot different though if it weren’t for Connor Creech. The Klippers were awarded a penalty shot late in the first period, about 3 minutes before Miller scored at the 18:50 mark, and Creech made a good blocked save on Trent Hermary. Creech was solid in net making 22 saves for the win and stopped an Alex Laird break away later in the period. Despite the Stars dominance at times they still needed a few good saves from their tender.
The second period was much more even in terms of the play and the Klippers got within a goal midway through the period. Austin McDonald scored his 13th of the year to make it 2-1. But the Stars seemingly were sparked into life by the goal as they took over the game after that goal. I believe the shots in the second period were something like 10-5 in favour of the Klippers when they scored. The Stars responded less than a minute later. Tatchell set up Miller again but the big forward was unable to convert. Ethier and Tatchell got the puck back down behind the Kindersley net and Ethier fed it out front to Miller who made no mistake on the second chance. That made it 3-1 Stars and it was pretty much in the bag at that point. The Stars ended up outshooting the Klippers 7-1 the rest of the period. They scored again before the second frame was over and this time it was Ethier. He was set up in the slot and Brett Miller drove the net. As Miller was cruising to the front of the net and distracting Brandon Stone in the Kindersley net Ethier was snapping the puck past the glove side of the goalie to make it 4-1 Stars after 2 periods.
In the third the Stars dominated some more and scored 2 more goals. Braeden Johnson was trying to pass back door to Kyle Hall and the puck went off a leg and deflected into the net. A huge slice of luck for the Stars forward but who says he didn’t deserve it? He had several bounced go against him lately including a goal waived off in Flin Flon. The Klippers responded straight away scoring almost directly off the face off. 10 seconds after Johnson’s goal and Alex Laird was celebrating his 7th of the year. Jordan Ethier scored his second of the game to round out the scoring for the North Stars. The final goal was on the power play so the Stars end up going 1-5 on the man advantage and the Klippers were 0-2 on their power play opportunities.
The Stars and Klippers will meet again tomorrow night to close out the regular season. I will have the action live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15 with the SaskTel Pregame Show. It will be the final regular season game of the junior careers of Tatchell, Miller, Klassen, Berg, Kachur, Ethier, Wakelin and Hildebrand. You can be pretty darn sure that Hildebrand will get the start in net for the Stars just as he did on opening night against Kindersley back in September. Hopefully with much better results this time.
By the way for those asking, and I have answered this question before although not here on the main page, now that the midget AAA Stars season is over some players from that squad will be called up to the North Stars. They will practice with and travel with the team I am sure. Some of them over the course of a, hopefully, long playoff run will also see some game time. Who those players are I can only speculate at this time. But much like Dillon Forbes did last season players from the ‘trips’ will be apart of the playoff run for the North Stars.