So I thought I would start to wrap up the Hawks vs Stars series with some thoughts. Tomorrow morning we will start to look ahead to Humboldt.
– First of all the fans of the Battlefords North Stars. Congratulate yourselves for your performance. The Stars averaged 2,200 fans for the 4 home games in the series. And that includes a Monday night and a Tuesday night game. There were also about 100 Stars fans in Nipawin for game 6. The players and coaches for the Stars all acknowledged that the fans were a big part of the comeback. I’ve never experienced fan support on the road the way I did in game 6. It was amazing.
– A big thanks to the Nipawin Hawks for providing me with so much great hockey to watch and to broadcast. That team forced the Stars to the brink and they did it short handed. They showed great character in the series. They were also very classy in all my dealings with the players, staff and coaches of that organization. I want to say a special thanks to Doug Johnson and Darren Opp. Great guys and not just in the hockey sense but even just sitting around having a chat. It’s a shame they aren’t still coaching hockey right now.
– The North Stars were the better team in 6 of the 7 games in this series and I do think they deserved to win. And by better team I mean in terms of being more physical, creating more scoring chances and keeping the puck much better than the Hawks. Nipawin plays a style that can cause it to look like they are being outplayed by more than they are and at times they seem to play a rope-a-dope style. Davis Jones allows them to play that way. But when I think back to game 2 and game 3 in particular I think the Stars should have won those games. The fact they didn’t says a lot about Jones and the Hawks.
– I think the Hawks simply ran out of gas at the end of the series. The Stars were much more physical and threw a lot more hits than the Hawks. Doug Johnson said to me before game 6 that if the Stars weren’t banged up the Hawks hadn’t done their job. I didn’t say anything. But as far as I have seen, and I don’t think anything is being hidden from me in this regard, the Stars are remarkably healthy. I don’t think I’ve seen a team after a 7 game series that is as healthy as the Stars. They have some bumps and bruises, that’s normal for a hockey team, but is anyone playing through an injury? No. The Stars went with the same line up for games 5-7. That shows how healthy they were and are going into the Humboldt series.
– I have been known to be hard on officials in my time as a play by play guy. And as always there were some strange calls/non-calls in the series. But when looking back on the 7 games as a whole I think the officials did an outstanding job. They don’t get much credit when they are good and they do get a lot of flack when they aren’t very good. But it was a series where the two teams were allowed to play and allowed to decide the series at 5 on 5. (for the most part)
– Connor Creech did a great job after coming in during game 4. He ended going 3-1 in the series with a 1.67GAA which is second behind Mitch Kilgore of the Weyburn Red Wings. The Stars and Humboldt Broncos have 4 of the top 6 goalies in playoff GAA in the league. In other words both teams have 2 very good goalies and can play defense. Goals might be at a premium again in round 2.
– To go to overtime in game 7 was an incredible way to end a series. Coach Hasselberg’s first playoff series as head coach of the North Stars won’t be forgotten any time soon. For personal reasons I will never forget this series. It was my first game 7 as a broadcaster and of course that means it was the first game 7 OT that I’ve ever had a chance to call as a play by play guy. I doubt I will ever forget Roger Tagoona’s OT winner.
– I think we had pretty much everything you can have in a 7 game series. The only thing I can think of that this series didn’t have was a penalty shot. We had shutouts, 2 overtimes, a come from behind win, a short handed goal, and some shattered glass.
That’s all for now. Check back later today for more on that epic game 7.