SJHL Game 19: Battlefords North Stars at Melfort Mustangs

The North Stars are back on the road tonight as they travel to Melfort. After tonight they will return home for a pair of games this weekend. But first they must get by a tricky opponent. The Mustangs are a very hard working team that will be looking to bounce back after a tough outing last night. They have the added incentive of being just a point behind the North Stars in the standings. Whoever wins tonight will be in third in the North when they wake up tomorrow morning.

Recent Games:

Melfort Mustangs:

  • The Mustangs lost 5-0 last night in Humboldt. Matt Hrynkiw made 27 saves for the shutout for Humboldt. Joey Davies did the damage offensively scoring twice and adding a pair of assists. The Mustangs were forced to use both their goalies last night. That’s unusual as both Patrick Johnson and Jesse Wilkins are good goaltenders who are having pretty good seasons. The Mustangs are a hard working defensive team that is not usually blown out by anyone.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars won in La Ronge 4-3 back on Saturday. The Ice Wolves scored twice early on the power play to take a 2-0 lead. To be honest I remember thinking “here we go again” as it seemed the North Stars were destined to have bounces go against them. With Ben Greenaway and Justin Waskewitch unable to make the trip and Ryne Keller and Tanner Quinn to banged up to play the Stars had just 9 forwards.
  • Late in the first Josh Betinol scored to make the score 2-1 after 1. That was one of a couple of huge goals for the North Stars. When that goal went in you could almost see the Stars start to believe that they would start to get some rewards for their hard work. Betinol helped set up Jake McMillen in the second to make it 2-2. But again a bounce went against the Stars. A loose puck found it’s way onto the stick of Owen LaClare and he scored to give La Ronge the lead.
  • The Stars next goal was a beauty. It started in their own zone and ended up with Matt Sheeran scoring a beautiful wrist shot over the glove of Dasan Sydora. Brody Luhning was playing as a forward at times in the second half of the game and he helped set up the goal along with a nice feed from Braeden Johnson to find Sheeran. That goal came with 7.4 seconds remaining in the second period. It made the score 3-3 heading to the third. It was a big moment in the game.
  • By the way, in the second period Brett Norman and Austin Evans got into a scrap. Norman won the fight but it was great to see Evans stand in there and not back down.
  • Jake McMillen scored from the low slot early in the third period to give the Stars the lead. That made it 4-3 North Stars and at that point I never felt like the North Stars would let the lead slip. Connor Creech was excellent after allowing a couple of early goals he really settled in and gave his team a chance to win. The North Stars penalty kill made some adjustments and was very good.
  • I don’t really want to talk too much about the Ref but he had a strange game and made some strange calls including an instigator penalty against Robbie Newton in the third which meant the Stars played most of the final frame without their captain. He was in the box when the final horn sounded.
  • There was some pushing and shoving and several gloved punches thrown by the Ice Wolves after the final horn as well. But all in all that’s maybe what the Stars needed. An ugly, greasy win and a chance to further come together as a unit.
  • After the game Coach Hasselberg didn’t want to single out any individual players for having strong efforts. He said all 15 skaters brought their game and worked hard. He’s right of course but I did think Blake Young in particular was very, very strong as the game wore on. And of course it’s great to see rookies like Betinol and McMillen scoring so many important goals and combining for 6 points.

Players to Watch:

Melfort Mustangs:

  • Brandon Formosa. Formosa leads the Mustangs offense with 8 goals and 17 assists so far this season. The Mission BC native was playing Junior B last season in the same league as Greenaway and Evans. He is making the adjustment to the SJHL very nicely.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Blake Young. He was great against La Ronge and I would love to see him build on that effort. Young has just 4 assists in 16 games so far this season. He is a guy capable of providing some offense for this team. Hopefully he finds a way to get his first goal of the season tonight.
  • Keenan Martens. Picked up his first point as a North Stars in the game against La Ronge. He is an offensive type D man who will be looking to build on that point with a few more tonight.

Head to Head:

  • The North Stars are 2-0 so far this season against the Mustangs after wins of 3-1 and 5-4 earlier in the season. Casey Parker picked up his first and so far only win of the year against the Mustangs. Not surprisingly Kyle Hall with 4 points and Braeden Johnson with 3 lead the way for the Stars in the head to head matchups so far this season.

Special Teams:

Melfort Mustangs:

  • PP: 6-75  (8% – 12th in SJHL)
  • PK: 69-80 (86.3% – 3rd in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 19-92 (20.7% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 62-85 (72.9% – 12th in SJHL)

The Mustangs lead the league with 6 short handed goals so that’s something to keep an eye on tonight. The Stars scored twice on the power play against La Ronge to move back up to 5th in the league. The Pk is still struggling at the bottom of the league. The North Stars come into tonight’s game 8-8 this season when they outshoot their opponent. They are 0-1 in games where they are outshot and 0-1 in games when the shots are even.

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