Game 25: Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires

The Battlefords North Stars close out a tough 5 game stretch of games tonight in Melville. The Mills are sliding lately but are a very good offensive team and they showed that in the Stars previous meeting with the Mills. The Stars have picked up 13 points in their last 8 games a stretch in which they are 6-1-1.

They may be short a few regulars but whoever is in the lineup will be ready to go for a tough test again this evening.

Recent Games:

Melville Millionaires:

  • The Mills only have 1 win in their last 9 games. Most recently they suffered a shootout loss at the hands of the Yorkton Terriers. That was the second half of a home and home in which the Terriers won both. It’s been a tough schedule for Melville. Humboldt, La Ronge, Flin Flon (twice), Yorkton (twice), and Nipawin (twice) had defeated the Millionaires during this stretch where they have struggled.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars lost last night in Yorkton 3-2 the final score. The Stars did pick up a point for an overtime loss.

Players to Watch:

Melville Millionaires:

  • Nathan Boyer and Brennan Ritchie. The two newest Mills should be in the lineup tonight. They were picked up in a trade with La Ronge and will add to the Mills depth. Boyer is a very good two way forward who always seems to play well against the North Stars.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • With some guys banged up and another not feeling great I am not sure what tonight’s lineup will look like for the Stars. There could be a few AP players in the game tonight. So join me for the pregame show and we will talk about the players to watch.

Head to Head:

  • Melville 10 @ Battlefords 4 (Sep 28 2012)
  • The North Stars actually dominated the first period of the previous meeting and led 2-0 after 1. It was all downhill from there. But coach Hasselberg said last night that when they looked at it on tape it wasn’t as bad as the score suggests. He also said it was early in the season and both these teams are different than they were back at the beginning of the season. Brody Luhning, Braeden Johnson and Kyle Hall each had 2 points for the Stars in that loss. Allan Kilback, Ian McNulty, Lucas Froese, Russell Trudeau, all had Sean Aschim 3 point for Melville. Michael Sagen had a goal and 3 assists for 4 points.

Special Teams:

Melville Millionaires:

  • PP: 20-100 (20% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 83-107 (77.6% – 10th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 23-121 (19% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 92-119 (77.3% – 11th in SJHL)

 

 

Advertisements

North Stars lose 3-2 in overtime

The Battlefords North Stars battled hard last night to pick up a point thanks to a 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of the Yorkton Terriers.

The North Stars were forced to play the game short a couple forwards as Luke McColgan was feeling sick and Braeden Johnson is dealing with a lower body injury. Both players took warmup but were unable to go. That left the Stars with 9 forwards and 7 D men. At times, when a forward was in the penalty box, the extra D man would move up front to help out on the forward unit.

The Terriers opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game on a scrabble in front of Connor Creech. Nathan Murray was given credit for the goal on a shot that somehow fluttered up in the air over top of Creech and landed in behind the goalie in the net. After a couple good shifts for the Terriers and the goal the North Stars started to find their feet and get back into the game.

The Stars were able to tie the game midway through the first period. Joren Johnson got away a very good wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Dawon MacAuley glove side. The puck hit the post, bounced back towards the slot, then hit the back of the goaltender and trickled over the line. It was maybe a tad fortunate that the puck took the bounce that it did to end up in the net. But it was a great shot by Johnson as he scored his first ever Junior A goal. Johnson has been great in his 2 games with the North Stars so far.

That goal came just 18 seconds after Ryne Keller came out of the penalty box. The North Stars PK was good again last night and Keller was able to pick up an assist on the goal. Keller now has points in two straight games. The Stars killed two Yorkton power play opportunities in the first. The second was an elbowing penalty against Dillon Forbes. That was a strange play. I didn’t see the penalty call on Forbes as it occurred in front of the net. I was watching behind the play as Ben Greenaway threw a hit on a Yorkton player in front of the benches. Tyler Giebel didn’t like it and came in, dropped his gloves and grabbed Greenaway. A fight never developed but there was pushing and shoving in front of the benches and all the while the play was down in the North Stars zone. The ref missed the whole play involving Giebel. And somehow the Stars ended up short handed.

In the second the North Stars killed another Terriers power play when Robbie Newton picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty for something he said to the ref. Greenaway was involved with some pushing and shoving at the end of the second and picked up a 10 minute misconduct to go with a roughing penalty. Nathan Murray was given the same penalty. The best chance of the middle period was probably Jake McMillen on the Stars power play. But with a lot of net to shoot at McMillen’s shot hit the leg of Josh Betinol and went just wide.

In the third period Austin Bourhis hit Newton from behind and was given 2 and a game. The North Stars scored on the ensuing power play. Brody Luhning dangled his way past the Terriers D and his pass across the crease went off a stick and into the net. Luhning’s 7th of the year and his first in a while. He’s been needing that bounce to go his way and hopefully now Luhning will get some more rewards for his strong play. Joren Johnson picked up an assist on the goal and ended up with a 2 point night.

Later in the period Tayler Thompson was given 5 and a game for charging on a hit against Austin Evans. Evan Ripley didn’t like the hit and was there looking to protect his team mate. Ripley ended up with a high stick and a rough and the game was 4 on 4 for 4 minutes. The Stars couldn’t convert on their power play opportunities in the final period and it was still 2-1 late.

The Stars should have had some more power play chances in the game. Blake Young was hit up high in the third. Earlier in the game Ben Greenaway took a hit from Bourhis where the point of contact was clearly the head. Neither one was called by the ref. Coach Hasselberg had strong words on the post game show last night for the refs and for the Terriers style of play.

With 2:11 left in the game a loose puck on a scramble in front ended up on the stick of John Neibrandt and he converted to make it 2-2. The Terriers got an overtime power play when Josh Betinol was called for hooking. I thought it may have been a trip but the North Stars weren’t sure it was even a penalty. The Terriers were able to convert with plenty of open ice. Derek Falloon got the puck in the slot with time and fired high over the glove of Creech.

So the Stars fall 3-2 in overtime against a really good Terriers team. Yorkton is now 11-1 on home ice. The Stars getting a point when they were without a couple of their top forwards is a decent result. That was a well earned point. But the Stars were also less than 3 minutes away from winning the game in regulation and they will feel like they should have closed the game out. In my opinion they deserved a better fate.

The Stars will have to move on quickly as they face Melville tonight. More on that game a little later on today.

SJHL Game 25: Battlefords North Stars at Yorkton Terriers

The North Stars are 2-0 so far this season against the Yorkton Terriers. But tonight will be the first chance for the Terriers to play host to the North Stars. Yorkton is 10-1 at home so far this season. The Estevan Bruins are the only team to leave Farrell Agencies Arena with a victory.

The Stars have two more games on the road including tonight before a stretch of 14 games where they play at home 10 times. With a 5 game win streak on the line as well it is important for the North Stars to continue playing well. Whether they win or not is less important than the effort they put forth. Consistency is starting to come and if you couple consistency with a stretch of home games the North Stars could really make a move in the standings. But like I said they still have 2 tough road games here in Yorkton and Melville to deal with first.

It starts tonight with Yorkton.

Recent Games:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • The Bombers are coming off their first home loss of the season on Friday night when they lost to Nipawin 5-2. Prior to that the Bombers had started the season with 13 straight home victories. Their road record isn’t great however as they sit at 6-5 so far away from Manitoba.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars won a big game over Flin Flon 2-1 at the Civic Center back on Tuesday.

Players to Watch:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • Jeremy Johnson and Patrick Martens. Tied for second on the Terriers with 12 goals each so far this season.
  • Tayler Thompson. With 16 points so far this season in 17 games Thompson is the closest Terrier to a point a game. They get scoring from throughout the lineup. They have 12 players with 10 or more points so far this season.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Jake McMillen. Jake played his midget hockey here in Yorkton so I am sure he wants to have a good game tonight in front of hockey fans who remember him from his days with the Harvest. Plus I am sure some family and friends will be at the game as well.
  • Austin Evans. He has 2 goals in 2 games so far this season against the Yorkton Terriers. He’s been playing well the last few games whether on a line with Hall and Johnson or with McColgan and Young.
  • Ben Greenaway. Lets see how he builds on a strong third period last time out. If Ben continues to play that way, especially physically, he will see an increased role and more ice time. He was outstanding in the final period against Flin Flon. I have a feeling he will be good again tonight.

Head to Head:

  • Yorkton 4 @ Battlefords 6 (Nov 4 2012)
  • Yorkton 3 @ Battlefords 4 (Oct 24 2012)
    Player Stars
  • Battlefords North Stars
    22 – Kyle Hall – 2 games – 0G – 4A – 4pts
    12 – Luke McColgan – 2 games – 0G – 4A – 4pts
    2 – Spencer Gosselin – 2 games – 0G – 3A – 3pts
  • Yorkton Terriers
    27 – Tyler Giebel – 2 games – 3G – 1A – 4pts
    215 – Derek Falloon – 2 game – 2G – 1A – 3pts

Special Teams:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • PP: 29-131 (22.1% – 3rd in SJHL)
  • PK: 95-116 (81.9% – 7th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 22-117 (18.8% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 89-115 (77.4% – 11th in SJHL)

The Stars have killed 22 of 23 penalties in their last 5 games.

North Stars roll continues after a 2-1 win over Flin Flon

For the Battlefords North Stars the victories continue to pile up after a strong effort in a 2-1 win over the Flin Flon Bombers.

The North Stars came out with a very strong first period and Jake McMillen scored to give them an early lead. A 2 on 1 with McMillen and Josh Betinol developed after a poor change by the Bombers. Evan Ripley got the puck ahead to Betinol and he drew the defender before a saucer pass found it’s way to McMillen. McMillen was 1 on 1 with Devin Buffalo and made no mistake snapping the puck past the blocker of one of the league’s top tenders.

At the other end Connor Creech had a very strong game but he was beaten once in the game. And it was a goal that the North Stars felt should have been waved off. Creech appeared to be bumped by Landon Heibert on the play as a point shot from Josh Roach hit something in front and went into the net. Hiebert was given credit for the goal but the play should have been waved off. It wasn’t and the score was 1-1 after the first period.

In the middle frame the North Stars were out shot 13-10 but Creech kept the door shut. He was especially strong during two North Stars penalty kills in the second period. Early in the second period Matt Sheeran went off for hooking when he clearly made a perfect stick lift to deny a potential break away. It was frankly a bad call. But the North Stars killed the penalty and after going 3 for 3 last night on the PK the Stars have now killed 21 of their last 22 penalties. It’s no surprise that the improved play of the PK coincides with the Stars winning streak and also the strong play of the Stars goaltender.

In the third the North Stars re-grouped and their play improved to a similar level as that of the first period. I thought the line of Luke McColgan, Austin Evans and Blake Young was strong throughout the game and they had several more good shifts in the 3rd. They controlled the puck in the offensive zone most of the game and were strong along the walls. Austin Evans does great work controlling play down low, Blake Young was using his speed and strength and McColgan continues to impress. I love the way he hits people. He hits like he means it. In fact, Young should have scored in the third but he whistled a shot just wide. He then put the loose puck towards the net from behind the goal line and somehow Devin Buffalo scrambled the puck away.

The Stars took a too many men penalty shortly after that play but they managed to kill that penalty as well.

Another line that was strong for the North Stars was the unit of Ryne Keller, Robbie Newton and Ben Greenaway. Greenaway had a fantastic final period that included a few good hits and a couple of really good shot blocks. Greenaway also helped out on the game winner as he picked up an assist and he deserved it. Not only did Greenaway help get the puck to Dillon Forbes but he also went right to the front of the net and provided a great screen on the goal. That all followed a great back check when Greenaway, along with Joren Johnson, helped prevent a scoring chance for Brett Penner. Forbes did a great job on the goal. He was on the backhand and had some time. The Stars stay at home D man didn’t panic and waited for some space to open up before firing the puck between the goalies legs.
And Ryne Keller also picked up an assist on the play. He took a pass from Greenaway and took the puck with speed in behind the Bomber net and swopped out the other side before finding Forbes with a nice pass. A great goal all around and a nice reward for a line that was strong last night.

The final shots on goal ended up at 35 for each team as Connor Creech made 34 saves for his 12th win of the season. His goals against average is down to 2.66 and the save percentage is back up to .900 on the season.

I thought Joren Johnson looked very good considering it was his first game with the Stars and he hasn’t been in town for very long. He showed good strength and poise with the puck. Stars head coach Kevin Hasselberg said after the game that he was very impressed with Johnson’s first game. He also said that Ben Greenaway’s role with the team will get bigger as he continues to find his feet in the SJHL. If he plays like he did in the third he can be a real force. D men know when Greenaway is on the ice and if they hurry to make plays cause they know they are going to get hit that will lead to turnovers.

The North Stars have now won 5 in a row and 6 of their last 7 and they head to Yorkton tomorrow night.

They also made another trade yesterday as the Stars sent forward Justin Waskewitch to OCN of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Kevin Hasselberg spoke in the post game show last night about the trade and said it was never the Stars intention to move Waskewitch and that they had expected he would finish his season here in town. But OCN was aggressive in trying to get Waskewitch.

It’s a shame things didn’t work out better for Waskewitch here close to home. But OCN has a pretty darn good team and they also just picked up Roger Tagoona so Waskewitch will have a familiar face to make the transition a little smoother.

SJHL Game 24: Flin Flon Bombers at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars are back at the Civic Center tonight as they continue their difficult 5 game stretch. So far the Stars have beaten Nipawin and Humboldt on the road. After tonight’s game they head South to face Yorkton and Melville. Tonight is the only home game in a 5 game stretch that could go a long way to showing just what this team is made of. So far? So good. The Stars beat Humboldt 1-0 and followed that up with a 4-3 shootout win over Nipawin.

The Stars are a game over .500 on the season and here’s an interesting stat. The top 4 teams in the league are Yorkton, Notre Dame, Humboldt and of course Flin Flon. Against those teams the North Stars are 2-0, 3-0, 1-2, and 0-2. That’s a 6-4 record against the best the SJHL has to offer. if you exclude empty netters then 3 of those 4 losses were by just a lone goal. But against the bottom 4 teams in the league (La Ronge, Estevan, Melfort and Weyburn) the Stars are just 3-5. As a young team it would seem the Stars are struggling with playing to the level of their opponent. Which means they should bring their best game tonight. They are also playing their most consistent and stifling hockey of the season right now.

It should be a great game tonight at the Civic Center.

Recent Games:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • The Bombers are coming off their first home loss of the season on Friday night when they lost to Nipawin 5-2. Prior to that the Bombers had started the season with 13 straight home victories. Their road record isn’t great however as they sit at 6-5 so far away from Manitoba.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars picked up a 4-3 shootout win in Nipawin on Saturday night. That was their second straight road victory and they now return home where they have also won back to back games. The Stars beat La Ronge 8-2 in their most recent game at the Civic Center.

Players to Watch:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • Brett Boehm. The rookie forward will be tough to stop. He has put up great numbers for a first year player playing with the Bombers top offensive talent. If the Stars can keep a close watch on Boehm they have a good shot to win. Boehm had been playing with Riley Storzuk but he has missed the last couple Bomber games. Storzuk is second in the league in scoring despite having played 5 fewer games than those around him. if he is in the lineup the Bombers are even more dangerous.
  • Dylan Balaski. Sometimes gets overlooked because of some of the other good players on the Bombers but Balaski is always good against the North Stars. A strong play maker Balaski has 18 assists and 24 points in 24 games played this season. If he has the puck in the offensive zone then the Stars will need to make sure they are ready for some slick passing.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Braeden Johnson. I thought that Johnson played the best game I’ve ever seen him play in Nipawin on Saturday. Certainly the best game he has played this season. He was all over the ice and contributing in a number of ways. Back checking, hitting and of course offensively he was dynamic. He went to the areas he has to go to in order to be successful. If he builds on that performance the Stars have a great shot to win tonight.
  • Blake Young. Young has been playing very well lately and may have some extra motivation tonight. Young trained in the off season with Bombers assistant coach Mike George, a Battleford native, and may want to show George how much that hard work has paid off.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 1 @ Flin Flon 3 (Nov 9 2012)
  • Battlefords 4 @ Flin Flon 5 (Oct 12 2012)
    Player Stars
  • Battlefords North Stars
    5 – Brody Luhning – 2 games – 0G – 3A – 3pts
    21 – Braeden Johnson – 2 games – 0G – 2A – 2pts
  • Flin Flon Bombers
    17 – Dylan Balaski – 2 games – 2G – 1A – 3pts
    26 – Brett Boehm – 1 game – 1G – 2A – 3pts

Special Teams:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • PP: 26-96 (27.1% – 2nd in SJHL)
  • PK: 91-109 (83.5% – 5th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 22-112 (19.6% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 82-108 (75.9% – 12th in SJHL)

The Stars have killed 18 of 19 penalties in their last 4 games. That’s just 1 power play goal against since the game in Melfort that I am sure the Stars would like to forget. The penalty kill is still ranked last in the SJHL. But I don’t think it is the worst PK in the league at this point in the season.

Monday Morning Alumni Update

A new feature on the blog starts today as I will be writing up an alumni update every Monday morning. This report will feature players from last year’s team as that’s the one I am familiar with.

I ran into Woody Klassen at the North Stars game in Humboldt on Friday night. Klassen is currently back in Watrous playing Senior hockey. He told me he’s enjoying just playing hockey for fun and will likely remain in Watrous this season. As for what the future holds for Klassen I am not sure but I sure hope he ends up playing pro hockey somewhere. Perhaps Europe? We shall see.

I also ran into Jared Samborski. He’s working on the railroad. He said he’s enjoying the work he’s doing and making a good living. As always he was smiling from ear to ear.

And I saw Tanner Schwab this past week as well. He’s working and planning a long 5 month trip basically going around the world.

——

Brett Miller’s York University Lions went 2-0 over the weekend with wins over the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Laurier. Miller was held pointless and now has 4 points in 14 games played. The Lions are 8-6 so far in their regular season schedule.

Boyd Wakelin’s Augustana Vikings went 1-0-1 over the weekend with a 10-2 win over Concordia College of Alberta on Friday that was followed up by a 3-3 tie between those same two teams. Wakes didn’t hit the scoresheet this weekend either although he tells me he scored a goal but it wasn’t awarded by the referee who missed the puck going in the net. Augustana is second in the ACAC at 9-2-0-3.

Blake Tatchell had a good weekend posting a goal and 2 assists in his team’s two games this in Minnesota. The UAA Seawolves tied with Bemidji State 2-2 on Friday and then lost 5-4 on Saturday. Tatchell had a goal in the 2-2 tie and a pair of helpers in the 5-4 loss. So far in 10 games played Tatchell has 3 goals and 5 assists. His 8 points is tied for the team lead. The Seawolves are 2-4-4 overall and 0-3-3 in conference play. Hopefully they turn these close games, ties and a 1 goal loss, into wins soon.

And he isn’t a former North Star but Bryce Gervais is from the Battlefords and he had a big weekend scoring his second goal of the season for Minnesota State on Saturday. MSU beat Wisconsin 4-2 and Gervais’ goal stood up as the game winner. MSU is now 5-5-2 overall and 3-5-0 in conference play.

4 in a row for the North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars are officially on a roll after a 4-3 shootout win tonight in Nipawin.

It’s the 4th win in a row for the Stars and the 5th win in the last 6 games for a team that is now above .500 on the season. So far the Stars are 2-0 in what will be the toughest 5 game stretch of their season.
The Stars played very well in the first 10 minutes of the first and were heavily out shooting the Hawks. But Nipawin got some power play time and got back into the game a little. They started to even the shot count without really getting a lot of really good scoring chances. The Stars PK has been an area of concern lately and it’s no surprise that as they start to win games the penalty kill starts to get better and better. They killed over a minute of 5 on 3 power play time for the Hawks. But Nipawin was able to open the scoring when a pass out front went in off Dexter Bricker to make it 1-0. The Stars responded well and 1:02 later they were back on even ground. Austin Evans got the puck through to Kyle Hall who poked it into Hawk territory. Then Hall burst past the defense swooped in behind the net and wrapped the puck around into the net before Davis Jones could get across the net.

Hall has been playing well of late and he was excellent again tonight. Along with Braeden Johnson, Hall and Evans were excellent. Hall and Johnson were the best two players on the ice tonight. They were flat out electric with the puck and dominated for most of the contest.

The Stars found themselves down 2-1 after 2 on a bad break for Brody Luhning. Brady Zerr was down below the red line and tried a pass out front. It went off the stick of the Stars D man and up into the roof of the net. Despite a solid period and a heavy lead on the shot counter the Stars trailed heading to the final frame.

The Stars though came out flying again in the third period and the game was quickly tied. Luke McColgan and Brandon Long freed up the puck in deep and Long got it out front to Blake Young who slid it home. The scoresheet says Luhning scored the goal but it was Young, who wears 15, not Luhning, who wears 5. Whoever scored it the fact is it was a big goal.

Kyle Hall then struck to make it 3-2 Stars. Braeden Johnson set up Hall through the neutral zone and Hall came into the zone with speed. He then fired the puck from the face-off circle past the glove of Jones. It’s not often that Jones is beaten clean on a shot he can see but that just shows how perfect the shot was from Hall.

Wheaton King was able to tie the game later in the period when he came down the wing and scored a similar goal firing the puck past the glove of Creech and into the top corner. Other than that goal it was the Stars with the majority chances in the third as they continued to play well. Josh Betinol had a couple chances but the puck just didn’t seem to want to bounce his way tonight. There was one play in the slot when the puck was right there but Betinol couldn’t find it. Then Long couldn’t get it out of his skates to get a shot away either.

That could have been the story of the game as even in over time the Stars outshot the Hawks 7-1 and I thought for sure Braeden Johnson was going to score the winner. It wasn’t to be and the game went to a shootout.

Connor Creech was beaten on the first shot when Jesse Bernard fanned on his shot but it went through the legs of Creech. He then stopped the next two shooters, King and BalogH, and the Stars were able to win the game. Kyle Hall had Jones beat but the puck rolled off his stick. Luhning snapped a wrister past Jones’ glove and then Jake McMillen scored the winner as he made a beautiful deke to send Jones the wrong way. McMillen sliding the puck into the net to seal a big road win for the Stars.

Hall now has 7 goals and an assist in his last 7 games and the Stars are playing as well as anyone in the league. They get to test themselves again on Tuesday when they host Flin Flon at the Civic Center. Hopefully there will be a big crowd on hand at the Civic Center for that one as it should be a beauty.

SJHL Game 23: Battlefords North Stars at Nipawin Hawks

The Battlefords North Stars have won 3 in a row for the first time this season after last night’s impressive defensive performance in Humboldt. Tonight they finally renew their rivalry with the Nipawin Hawks. Last season these two teams played an epic 7 game series in the playoffs. The Hawks led 3-1 before the Stars stormed back with 3 straight wins including Roger Tagoona’s overtime winner in game 7 at the Civic Center. Both teams and both sets of fans were great during that series. I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while.

Oh and these are the two hottest teams in the Bauer having won a combined 8 in a row. So that just adds another factor that makes this game

Recent Games:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • The Hawks have won 5 in a row and their most recent game was last night in Flin Flon. The Hawks beat the Bombers 5-2. That was Flin Flon’s first home loss of the season after starting with 13 straight victories on home ice. Carter Danczak had a goal and 2 assists for the Hawks.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Braeden Johnson scored the games only goal in the third period and the Stars won 1-0 over Humboldt. The Stars allowed just 12 shots on Connor Creech in the victory but Creech still had to be on his game. He made a great save going cross crease in the third to preserve the shutout, his first of the season. The Stars did a fantastic job in their own zone for the vast majority of the game and blocked a lot of shots. It was a very good road game.

Players to Watch:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • Carter Danczak. The former North Star has 10 points in 17 games so far this season with the Hawks. He had 3 points last night and it will be interesting to see how he does against his former team.
  • Wheaton King. Leads the Hawks with 10 goals and 22 points so far this season.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Keenan Martens and Justin Waskewitch. Both are also playing against their former team. Both were with the Hawks last season during that playoff series and tonight will be their first games back in the Cage since leaving Nipawin.

Head to Head:

  • First matchup of the season.

Special Teams:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • PP: 16-126  (12.7% – 10th in SJHL)
  • PK: 90-103 (87.4% – 3rd in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 22-110 (20% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 79-105 (75.2% – 12th in SJHL)

SJHL Game 22: Battlefords North Stars at Humboldt Broncos

The Battlefords North Stars face the Humboldt Broncos tonight to kick off a very difficult portion of their schedule. The Stars face the top 3 teams in the North followed by the top two teams in the South. That’s a 5 game stretch, with 4 on the road, that really couldn’t be more demanding. But it’s also a chance for the North Stars season to really take off. They’ve won 2 in a row and are playing better of late.

I don’t like to play the “if” game so let’s just say that the North Stars have an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the league about just how good they are and to get themselves back into the race for a top spot in the North.

It’s not going to define their season, but I have a feeling we could look back on this 5 game stretch as a key point in the story of the season.

Recent Games:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • The  Broncos most recent game was a 2-1 loss to the Nipawin Hawks last Saturday. Cody Pongracz scored the Broncos only goal as Davis Jones made 25 saves for the win for Nipawin. Before that loss the Broncos had won 6 in a row.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Beat La Ronge 8-2 at the Civic Center on Saturday. Kyle Hall had a hat trick while Justin Waskewitch chipped in with a goal and 2 assists. 6 North Stars had multi-point efforts.

Players to Watch:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • Matt Hrynkiw. Has a league leading goals against average allowing just 1.91 goals per 60 minutes. Hrynkiw is tied for the league lead with 3 shutouts. The North Stars know all about Hrynkiw after last year’s playoffs. They need to find a way to get to the Broncos tender.
  • Joey Davies. Davies is leading the league in scoring but interestingly he also has 6 game winning goals out of 18 overall. Davies has scored the winner in the last 4 Broncos victories including a 3-1 win over the North Stars back on November 6th.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Spencer Gosselin. Just looking over the stats I realized that “Goose” as far as I can tell, is leading the league in scoring by rookie D men. With 10 points so far in 19 games Gosselin is 8th in the league for D man scoring overall.
  • Connor Creech. 9-8 on the season so far and his goals against is a solid 2.91. The save percentage is a little low at .892 but that has been improving. With a tough schedule in the next 5 games the Stars are going to need strong goaltending. Especially tonight as Humboldt has the league’s top goaltender.
  • Brody Luhning. I know he feels like he’s been in a slump offensively and has been doing some work in practice to break out offensively. Could tonight be the night?

Head to Head:

  • Humboldt 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 6 2012)
  • Humboldt 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 17 2012)
  • Stars Leaders:
    7 – Josh Betinol – 2 Games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    24 – Jake McMillen – 2 Games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    Humboldt Leaders:
    11 – Joey Davies – 2 Games – 3G – 1A – 4pts
    10– Cody Pongracz – 2 Games – 1G – 3A – 4pts

Special Teams:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • PP: 25-93  (26.9% – 2nd in SJHL)
  • PK: 78-87 (89.7% – 1st in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 22-107 (20.6% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 76-102 (74.5% – 12th in SJHL)

North Stars add depth D man

The Battlefords North Stars made a trade yesterday with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL. The Stars acquired 18 year old defenseman Joren Johnson in exchange for future considerations.

Johnson is a 6’3 195lbs D man who has 48 games of Junior A experience in the BCHL. I had a chance to speak with Smokies broadcaster Chris Wahl and he said Johnson is a solid D man who is at his best when he keeps things simple. Johnson was also described as a very good kid who is well liked by team mates and fans.

I am not sure what the future considerations are at this point but I would guess they involve cash. I am headed to the rink this morning to make a few more player profiles and I will try and find out what the Stars gave up to get Johnson. But with Kyle Schmidt playing well for the Blades and after Cody Bird decided to head back to Wainwright the North Stars have been in need of an addition on the back end.

Johnson will give the North Stars 7 defenseman on the roster and will provide cover in case of injury as well as competition to see who gets in the lineup. Joren is scheduled to arrive in the Battlefords early next week.