SJHL Game 13: North Stars at Notre Dame Hounds

The 5-7 North Stars will wrap up a lengthy road trip tonight in Wilcox when they face the Notre Dame Hounds. The Hounds come in to tonight’s game with a 6-5-0-2 record which is good for 3rd in the south.

For the North Stars today will feature a tour of the University of Regina before heading out to Wilcox for tonight’s game. Some of the players on the team can’t or perhaps don’t want to go the NCAA route and so CIS will obviously be a very good option for them. So today we get a chance to see what a CIS program is like.

Interesting note for you this morning. The North Stars are the only team in the league that hasn’t played an overtime game yet. Nipawin and Melville have each gone to OT 4 times.

And Jake McMillen is now up to 3rd in the league in rookie scoring tied with team mate Josh Betinol. McMillen also has a current 4 game point streak going.

Recent Games:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • The Hounds last game was a 3-2 win in La Ronge back on Saturday night. That was the third game in three nights for the Hounds who were on the road in Nipawin, Flin Flon and then La Ronge. That’s a tough trip to take and then return home with just one night off and have to play again. But that’s junior hockey.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars lost to Weyburn last night 5-2 the final. The Stars led 2-0 before the Red Wings scored 5 unanswered.

Players to Watch:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • Brandon Millin. He has 8 goals and 11 points so far this year to lead the Hounds. Offensively they can struggle at times so Millin has to be good for them.
  • Carson Grolla. One of the top D men in the league and an offensive threat as well. Logs a lot of ice time and patrols the Olympic size ice in Notre Dame very well.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Connor Creech. He was outstanding against Estevan and after a night off last night I would imagine he will be back in between the pipes tonight. Creech looked sharp in practice in North Dakota as well so I think he’s going to be good again tonight.
  • Luke McColgan. I thought he had a pretty good game last night. In fact I think he’s been playing very well since he got back into the lineup after having a slight injury. He’s been getting chances to score and he converted in Estevan. Could have a big night tonight.

Head to Head:

  • Back on October 11th the North Stars won 5-2 on home ice over the Hounds. The Stars trailed 2-0 after the first but then took over to score 5 straight and win. Justin Waskewitch had a goal and 2 helpers. Kyle Hall and Jake McMillen each had 2 points. Connor Creech made 21 saves for the win.

Special Teams:

Notre Dame Hounds:

  • PP: 11-66 (16.7% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 47-59 (79.7% – 9th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 14-66 (21.2% – 4th in SJHL)
  • PK: 47-60 (78.3% – 10th in SJHL)

A tour of UND and a fantastic hockey game

Here is a gallery of the pics I took during the trip down to UND on Saturday.

It was a long day that started early when the players hit the ice for a practice on the University of North Dakota’s Olympic size ice sheet. That was after just a few hours sleep but the guys seemed to have a pretty decent practice. That was followed by watching the game day skates for both Alaska Anchorage and the home town team.

Blake Tatchell was one of the first guys on the ice for the UAA Sea Wolves and stood out in his yellow practice jersey. Between bouts of staring at the beauty of the Ralph Englestad Arena I managed to watch some of the UAA skate. They worked on a lot of board play which paid off later on that night.

UND skated after that and they looked good. There are something like 16 NHL draft picks on that team. They spent some time later in their skate with some of the D men working on one timers. It was an impressive display of power and accuracy.

After the skates we went on a tour of the facilities that the UND hockey team has access to including a locker room that I caught a glimpse of bud didn’t catch on camera. It’s a nice room. There are pictures everywhere in that rink highlighting successful teams of the past and they really highlight former players who have gone on to success at the NHL level.

Everything is first class and top notch in that building. Between the training facilities, the weight room and the players lounge I am not sure why anyone would leave that rink. Except to go to class of course. The stick room was a hit with the North Stars players. But that facility is near perfect in every way.

We left and went for food after that and had a quick nap before returning for the game. Seeing the building close to full and sitting in the student section was pretty cool. The students have a bunch of chants and cheers that they go through and the in-rink production is NHL caliber. Tatchell took the opening face-off to start the game and then each period and the OT. He was also first out on the power play most times and was on the ice with a minute left and his team up 1. Unfortunately UND scored on a shot that may have gone in off of Tatchell who was trying to block the shot.

But Tatch was also on the ice for a goal in the first period and played well. He set up a couple team mates in OT and they maybe should have scored the game winner on those passes but the game ended 3-3 and I thought Blake was one of the better players for Alaska.

The quality of the hockey was pretty high and the game itself was very entertaining. It’s a little more of a chess match than the SJHL game and there are less mistakes. I was impressed with UAA’s board play and generally the way both teams controlled the puck. Alaska definitely controlled the boards with their big forwards in the attacking zone and that helped them to a 3-2 third period lead. It was a shame they couldn’t hold on for the victory. But a 3-3 tie on the road against UND who are ranked #2 in America, or were at the time, is a nice result early in the season.

All in all despite not much sleep, a lot of busing and a McDonalds run thanks to a young man named Cody it was a wonderful trip and a great day.

 

Edit****

I uploaded a few videos to youtube as well.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCFz9DCihmvVJGfaw9RGqoQ/videos?view=0

North Stars lose 5-2 in Weyburn

The Battlefords North Stars have now lost 2 in a row on their current Southern road trip.

It was a pretty good road period for the Stars in the first. They controlled the play pretty well and outshot their opponents. Casey Parker was sharp when tested and for the most part the Red Wings didn’t get much offense going. In fact, from where I was sitting, the Wings fans were getting on their team as the first period went on. They weren’t happy with how Weyburn was playing and a large part of that was the North Stars strong period.

The Stars got on the board and took a deserved lead when they got their first power play of the game. Samuel Normandeau went off for interference. Spencer Gosselin and Brody Luhning teamed up to get the puck to Jake McMillen and he did the rest. McMillen rushed up the middle and had a step on the D man who was slow to turn. Once McMillen got in the zone and got a step on his man it was over. He was shaded over to the left side of the slot and rifled a wrister past the glove of new Weyburn goalie Jean-Phillipe Boucher.

The Stars made it 2-0 not too long later. Robbie Newton found a loose puck at the side of the net and just threw the puck on net. It found a way past the sprawled goalie and Ryne Keller picked up an assist. The Stars closed out the period playing well and ended up with 15 shots.

That was a period that they should have been able to build on. But they came out a little flat in the second. The second period has been a rough one for the Stars so far this season. And it bit them again. But having said that the Red Wings didn’t really get going under a bad bounce led to a goal. I do remember thinking that the game was flat and the Stars needed to get going. I also thought they had missed a chance to bury the Wings in the first period.

A dump in from outside the blue line from Brandon Ganz landed in front of Casey Parker who had the puck covered but it landed in the blue paint and instead of bouncing into Parker’s pads it hopped straight up into the top corner. That made it 2-1 and the Stars were already on the back foot a little. They couldn’t get things going after that. Carter Struthers scored 3 and a half minutes later it the game was 2-2 heading to the third. A bouncing puck came out to the slot and Struthers had time to fire it home.

The Stars have been pretty good in the third period so far this season. But they couldn’t turn momentum. Miguel Pereira scored a beauty pretty early in the third when he beat Parker short side up high over the shoulder. He didn’t have much to shoot at but found the corner to make it 3-2 Wings. Austin Rosslein scored midway through the period and later Brody Luhning lost an edge and fell leading to a short handed 2-0 with the Wings top two offensive performers. Ryan Ostertag and Pereira made no mistake. That’s the way the game finished. But not before Ben Greenaway fought for the second straight game. He beat Cody Fiala who I don’t think even threw a punch. But it was a pretty short fight before the linesmen got in between them.

So the Stars lose for the second straight game. And for the second straight game they were outworked. The Stars were making no excuses after the game. Coach Hasselberg on the air said they have to work harder. No matter how much busing they’ve done lately. And captain Robbie Newton told me the same thing when we were chatting here at the hotel.

The Stars will have to get a good nights sleep and have a better effort tomorrow night in Wilcox. The Stars versus the Notre Dame Hounds will be a good game and I will have all the action starting at 7:45. The game starts at 8. Lets hope the Stars snap out of this little funk. I thought they were going to really build on that win over Yorkton. That hasn’t happened. But a good win tomorrow will be a nice way to head into this coming week when they host La Ronge on Friday.

I am going to go for a run here in a minute then I will be uploading pictures and writing about yesterday’s trip to North Dakota.

SJHL Game 12: North Stars at Weyburn Red Wings

After an amazing trip down to North Dakota the North Stars are back North of the border to face the Weyburn Red Wings. I will have a lot more on a great game between Blake Tatchell’s UAA Sea Wolves and the UND Sioux later tonight once I get back to the hotel and upload the pictures I took. I will recap the whole day including the game which ended 3-3 and featured a freshman former North Star who had a very good game.

But first let’s focus on tonight’s tilt with the Red Wings.

Recent Games:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • The Wings have lost 3 in a row since a somewhat surprising 7-4 win over Flin Flon. Most recently the Wings dropped a 2-1 game Friday when they hosted Melfort. Weyburn has won just 1 of their last 10 games and with just 3 wins so far this season currently occupy the bottom spot overall in the SJHL.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars lost to Estevan back on Friday night at Spectra Place. The North Stars weren’t very good for the first two periods of that game. I felt that they started to get going a little bit in the third period. By that time they were already down 3-0 and when Luke McColgan scored to give the team some life it seemed like maybe once again the comeback was on. But the Stars didn’t get any closer and lost 4-1 after an empty netter. The game would have been a lot worse had Connor Creech not been excellent. He stopped a couple of break-aways in the game. ANd went post to post to make desperation saves a couple times as well. He even stopped former team mate Roger Tagoona on a break away.
  • After the game coach Hasselberg said he felt it was the first time this season that the North Stars had simply failed to show up and work. They were out worked by Estevan and lost.
  • Ben Greenaway made his Stars debut and took a couple of penalties but he fought to try and spark his team. He also played with a lot of energy. You know you will get that from Greenaway.
  • Keenan Martens also played as a Star for the first time. He clearly has very good hands and poise with the puck. He needs to be a little better in his own end as he gets used to the Stars system.

Players to Watch:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • Miguel Pereira. Leading the way for the Wings with 21 points so far this season in 14 games. That is good for 4th in the league. 21 points for a team that has only scored 40 goals so far this season and has a power play with just an 11.1% efficiency rating is pretty amazing.
  • Ryan Ostertag. He has 9 goals for the Wings. Which means he has combined with Pereira for almost half the Wings goals this season. No other player has more than 6 points on this roster.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Brody Luhning, Kyle Hall, Braeden Johnson, Justin Waskewitch and Evan Ripley. Coach Hasselberg challenged his 20 year old players to be better after the Estevan game. On the Ultra Print Coaches Show after the game he said he wants more from those players. Lets see how they respond tonight. I could see all of them having an impact on the outcome of this game tonight.

Head to Head:

  • This is the first match-up this season between these two teams. Last season the North Stars went 3-1 against the Wings.

Special Teams:

Weyburn Red Wings:

  • PP: 6-563 (11.1% – 11th in SJHL)
  • PK: 57-80 (71.3% – 12th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 13-63 (20.6% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 43-56 (76.8% – 11th in SJHL)

Stars lose 4-1 in Estevan

The North Stars lost 4-1 in Estevan tonight. They now head to Grand Forks to watch the UND hockey team play Blake Tatchell’s UAA Sea Wolves.

Since we will be in the US I won’t be on my laptop or phone until Sunday. I’ll have lots of reaction to tonight’s game, plus lots of info on the trip south and a preview of Sundays game in Weyburn posted on Sunday.

Stars head South to watch UND vs UAA

I wanted to quickly post about tomorrow’s off day for those who haven’t heard as of yet. The North Stars will be headin South immeditaely after tonight’s game. The team, and I will be tagging along, will be headed to Grand Forks. Tomorrow they will practice at the UND home rink which will be followed by a tour of the facility and some other activities. It’s designed as a team building trip but also as a chance for some of these players who are considering the NCAA route to see what they are striving towards.
Tomorrow night the UND hockey team will be hosting the UAA Sea Wolves who will be led by former North Star Blake Tatchell. I am pretty excited to see Tatchell in action and to hopefully get a chance to catch up and see how he is liking university life. UND is ranked 2nd in NCAA hockey so it will be a stiff test for Tatchell and his new team mates. He does already have a couple goals so far this season. I am sure I will also run into some of Blake’s friends and family tomorrow as well. A strong contingent of Battlefordians will be on hand.

On Monday on the way to Wilcox to play Notre Dame the North Stars will be stopping at the U of R for another tour which will be a nice stop for those players considering going the CIS route.

All in all it will be a fantastic trip. I will blog about it when we get back to Canada on Sunday as we get set for the Weyburn game that night. And I will try to upload some pictures as well. Jillian Miller made the trip as well. She is the North Stars marketing manager. And I believe there will be some stories and info and pictures from the trip going up on the North Stars website.

So for the most part tomorrow I will simply be playing the role of Blake Tatchell fan. I am pretty excited to just sit and watch Tatch play hockey as a fan rather than a broadcaster. And since the UND arena is one of the top facilities in the entire USA I am really looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be a real treat.

But for now I have a game tonight to look forward to as the North Stars take on Roger Tagoona and the Estevan Bruins.

In case you’ve never seen it here are a couple pics of the beautiful Spectra Place looking even better in year 2.

SJHL Game 11: Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

Well tonight’s game should be very interesting. The North Stars are on their way south to face the Estevan Bruins. And the Stars and Bruins just complete a trade last night.

The Stars sent Roger Tagoona and a prospect named Carter Folk to the Bruins for two list player 95 born goalie Ryland Pashovitz and 95 born forward Wyatt Johnson. Johnson was a point a game player last year with the Saskatoon Blazers. He’s currently shown on the roster of the Red Deer Rebels. Pashovitz is a goalie with the Moose Jaw Generals  who has very good numbers so far in the early going. Folk is a D man with the Regina Pat Canadians.

As for Roger Tagoona he’s a 20 year old forward who has great hands and will get a chance to play a lot in Estevan. Roger is a good kid as well and I’ve always liked dealing with him around the rink. And I love his enthusiasm for the game of hockey. You can hear Roger a lot of the time during the game and he is always having fun. Hopefully he will be successful in Estevan.

We will get a chance to see Roger in the Bruins colours tonight.

The other move the Stars made was to send Nick Fountain to Winkler on a conditional try out. Nick is going to be good for that team. I like the way he plays the game and the pesky role he enjoys playing. His departure should open a spot in the lineup for Ben Greenaway.

 

Recent Game:

Estevan Bruins:

  • The Bruins last game out was a win over the Weyburn Red Wings by a score of 5-2. Before that they dropped a pair to Flin Flon although they did manage to pick up a point in one of those games as they lost in overtime.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars beat Yorkton on Wednesday night at the Civic Center 4-3. Matt Sheeran scored the game winner.

Players to Watch:

Estevan Bruins:

  • This is an easy one. Roger Tagoona. He will be in the lineup tonight for the Bruins. Always fun watching a player against his former team and with this game occurring within 24 hours of the trade going down it sets up well.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Keenan Martens. Not sure if he will be in the lineup tonight. If he is then obviously I can’t wait to see the game tonight. It’s always fun watching a new player make their debut with a new team.
  • Ben Greenaway. Could make his debut tonight. I know he’s been dying to play ever since his injury in preseason against Humboldt. I liked what Greenaway brought to the team in that exhibition game. If he brings that game tonight he will be a big help for the Stars.
  • Ryne Keller. For reasons I can’t divulge.

Head to Head:

  • This is the first matchup this season between these two teams. Last season the North Stars won all 4 games against the Bruins.

Special Teams:

Estevan Bruins:

  • PP: 7-51 (13.7% – 10th in SJHL)
  • PK: 41-45 (91.0% – 1st in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 13-57 (22.8% – 4th in SJHL)
  • PK: 37-50 (74% – 11th in SJHL)

North Stars come back to beat Yorkton 4-3

The Battlefords North Stars staged a dramatic third period comeback last night at the Civic Center to beat one of the SJHL’s top teams.

Justin Waskewitch and Roger Tagoona were both out of the lineup for the Stars last night. So it was nice to see some of the other top offensive guys step up. Braeden Johnson is on the scoresheet with an assist on the opening goal. I thought it was Kyle Hall but either way a North Star was all alone in the slot and fired just wide. Brandon Long was able to find the rebound and pop it home. That gave the North Stars a 1-0 lead a little over 5 minutes into the game. After that the first period was pretty even. Both teams had 8 shots. But it was a period that didn’t quite live up to the pregame hype. It looked like both teams were a little tentative. And I think I said in the intermission that I expected a much better second period.

Well it was a much better second period for the Terriers. After the first ten minutes of the frame Yorkton started to take over. A couple of power play goals gave them the lead. The first was a point shot that was tipped and changed direction. Connor Creech still got a little piece of it but the puck just snuck through the 5 hole. The second power play goal was another point shot. This time there were two Terriers in front and I had the perfect angle to see the puck get through the traffic and in the net. I couldn’t see Connor Creech so there’s no way the goalie could see the puck cleanly. The goal was also credited to Derek Falloon which means it changed direction in front. And the Terriers scored another late in the period to lead 3-1 after 2. That was a back hander that fooled Creech. The puck was rolling on the shot but I am sure that’s one Creech would like back. But he kept his team in it in the second when they weren’t playing very well. Creech stopped a couple of point blank shots including a partial break away.

There was a fight in the second period as well. Robbie Newton and Patrick Martens going toe to toe. Another fight in the game may have been the turning point.

The Stars started the third short handed as Nick Fountain took a roughing penalty right at the horn to end the second. The Stars had a great PK to start the third but 2 seconds after Fountain returned to the ice Dillon Forbes went off for tripping. But the Stars were undaunted and they killed that penalty as well. After a second period where they gave up 2 power play goals that was a nice response from the Stars. The Terriers also have the SJHL’s top road power play so a come back had to start with that PK effort.

Shorty after the Stasr got things back to 5 on 5 Ryne Keller was belted behind the net by Austin Bourhis. Tanner Quinn didn’t like the hit and immediately stepped in to fight Brouhis. Quinn may have lost the fight but it didn’t matter. 13 seconds after the fisticuffs the Stars were within a goal. Braeden Johnson found the puck on his stick in the slot all alone and he rifled a wrister past Dawson MacAuley’s glove. Less than a minute after Johnson scored the game was tied. Josh Betinol is having a heck of a week. He was named the SJHL’s Rookie of the Week and it was officially announced that he was named to the World Junior A Challenge Team West main camp. Betinol’s strong play continues last night and he scored his 5th of the year.

Betinol got the puck to Cody Bird and they skated down on a 2 on 1. Bird sauced it back over to Betinol who beat the Terriers goalie. So 3-3 and the Stars had the momentum. But they couldn’t score on a power play shortly after tying the game. Connor Creech made a couple of really good saves including a rebound save on a fluttering back hand that he saw late.

The were finally able to take the lead at the 12:42 mark of the final period. Matt Sheeran fired a nice pass ahead to Nick Fountain. Fountain carried into the zone up the left wing and fired a nice shot low and hard into the pads of MacAuley who made the save. But there was a big rebound loose in the slot. Sheeran had carried on into the rush after passing ahead to Fountain. The Stars D man got to the puck first and fired it over MacAuley. I am sure that Sheeran enjoyed that goal as he nearly jumped out of the Civic Center in celebration.

The North Stars were able to control the game after that goal and hold on for the win. The Terriers were not able to get the goalie pulled in the third to attempt a comeback. The Stars dominated the puck in the attacking zone for the final minute and a half or so. That was in part because of a great shift from the Keller, Quinn, and Newton line. The crowd really responded to that effort late and the Stars were able to enjoy a big win over a very good team.

The D really responded well in the third period. The Terriers had just 7 shots in the final frame which isn’t a lot considering all the power play time at the start of the third period. Connor Creech slammed the door shut. The D tightened up and that allowed the Stars to rally for the win.

With a big road trip looming this could be a big building block moment in this season. This young team is starting to figure out what they need to do to win games. There still needs to be a more consistent effort but overall you can’t help but have fun watching these kids.

The Stars head to Estevan tomorrow morning before a trip to Grand Forks on Saturday. I will have more on that tomorrow.

SJHL Game 10: Yorkton Terriers at Battlefords North Stars

First things first. I didn’t notice it last week but Brody Luhning was named the SJHL’s D man of the week two weeks ago. Well deserved and it won’t be the last such award for the league’s best defenseman.

This week Josh Betinol was named the SJHL’s Rookie of the Week. Betinol had 4 points in 2 games including 3 points in that 1 goal loss to Humboldt. To be honest, after his performance in La Ronge and Flin Flon he maybe should have won the award the week before as well.

And more great news for Josh has been announced today as Betinol has been named to the Team West Camp in Calgary at the end of the month. Betinol will compete with 60 other players for a spot on the Team West roster for the World Junior A Challenge. It may cause Betinol to miss some games for the Stars but it’s still great news for the player and the team.

Tonight’s game at the Civic Center should be a beauty. The Terriers are tied for top spot in the league and are ranked in the top 20 in Canada. And they will be coming in mad after losing last night in Kindersley. Yorkton is a team that always gets the most out of their players. I really like their coaching staff led by Trent Cassan. They do a great job and are always a pleasure to talk to and interview. All in all a great organization and I look forward to these matchups.

By the way it is also election day here in Saskatchewan and our news department will be covering the local City Council elections during the game. We will still be on the air and you hopefully won’t notice a difference in the broadcast other than election updates a couple times a period and during the intermission.

 

Recent Game:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • The Terriers lost last night in Kindersley 4-3. Former Terrier Warren Shymko was the difference making 56 saves for the win last night.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars beat Melfort 5-4 in their last game back on Friday night at the Civic Center.

Players to Watch:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • The Norrish twins. Always fun to watch and capable of the spectacular from the back end. Plus as a Cauck fan I like watching twins play hockey.
  • Nathan Murray. Has 13 points in 12 games so far this season including 4 goals. It’s a big step forward for Murray who is thriving this season in an offensive role. He had just 19 points in 42 games last season.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Keenan Martens. Not sure if he will be in the lineup tonight. If he is then obviously I can’t wait to see the game tonight. It’s always fun watching a new player make their debut with a new team.
  • Braeden Johson. Has been very good so far this season. Scored last time out and I have a feeling Johnny is poised for a big game here soon. Could be tonight.

Head to Head:

  • This is the first matchup this season between these two teams. Last season the teams split the season series each winning twice. The Stars also picked up a point in a shootout loss at home on November 8th. The Stars won 5-2 and 3-0 and the two games they lost were the aforementioned shootout 5-4 and on Feb 7th there was a 4-2 loss.

Special Teams:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • PP: 15-59 (25.4% – 3rd in SJHL)
  • PK: 45-51 (88.2% – 4th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 13-49 (26.5% – 1st in SJHL)
  • PK: 30-41 (73.2% – 11th in SJHL)

North Stars pick up D man Keenan Martens

The Battlefords North Stars added a D man yesterday acquiring Keenan Martens from the Nipawin Hawks.

With Kyle Schmidt playing well in Saskatoon the Stars needed to add a defenseman to the mix as they were carrying just 6 D men on the roster. In order to improve the depth of that area of the team the North Stars snapped up Martens.

Martens was on waivers and was claimed by the North Stars in exchange for future considerations. Coach Hasselberg explained this deal to me this morning when we spoke. You can hear what he had to say on the noon sports on CJNB/CJNS. But basically the way it works is that Martens was being traded out of province for cash and when that happens other teams in the SJHL can claim the player off waivers. And the futures in the move would then still be cash.

Martens is a talented offensive D man who was excellent against the North Stars in last season’s playoffs. He is also well known by the Stars and is familiar with some of the players on the roster so the Stars know that they are getting a quality person as well as player. Because of a need on the backend, the fact that they know the player well and because they know that Martens will be a great fit in the locker room the Stars snapped him up.

According to the release from the Stars, Martens will be with the team starting tomorrow at practice at the Civic Center. They face Yorkton on Wednesday.