SJHL Game 33: Humboldt Broncos at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule tonight with the Humboldt Broncos in town. After tonight the Stars are off until the new year when they face Weyburn on January 4th.

The North Stars 9-2-0-2 in their last 11 games and have won 4 of their last 5. They also picked up a point in that lone loss. So they haven’t lost in regulation since December 5th. The Stars are up to 17-13-1-1 so far this season. With a win tonight they would move within 4 points of the Broncos with the same number of games played.

It is going to be a fantastic game at the Civic Center tonight and hopefully there will be a huge crowd at the Civic Center. Last season the Stars hosted the Broncos on the 21st of December. It was their last game before Christmas. The Broncos won 3-2 on a late third period goal by Josh Roach. It was a great game. A repeat with a different result would be perfect to finish off 2012.

Recent Games:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • The  Broncos most recent game was a 2-0 victory over the Melville Millionaires. Matt Hrynkiw picked up his 4th shutout of the season.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Beat Flin Flon 3-2. Dillon Forbes scored his second of the year. Both goals so far this season for Forbes have been game winners, in the third period, against Flin Flon.

Players to Watch:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • John Lawrence. Returned to the lineup recently and is over a point a game so far this season. Lawrence has 20 points in 18 games played. He’s a top forward who makes the Broncos a much better team.
  • Matt Hrynkiw. Coming off another shutout. Hrynkiw is arguably the best goalie in the league. His stats this year are ridiculously good. The Stars know all about Hrynkiw. Coming off a shutout he will likely start tonight and will make life tough for the North Stars forwards.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Spencer Gosselin. Goose has been playing so well of late. Seemingly every game he gets a little better. Last game a couple of fans came up to me to single out how well they feel Gosselin is playing. That doesn’t happen very often. That’s a huge compliment. He’s not the only D man to have played well of late. In fact I would keep an eye on all of them.
  • Josh Betinol. Seems to have been snake bitten of late in terms of putting points on the board. Hasn’t had a point since December 7th. Betinol and his linemates have been playing pretty well just not getting the rewards. He is due to break out at any time. Could it be tonight? Stars fans will hope so.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 1 @ Humboldt 0 (Nov 23 2012)
  • Humboldt 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 6 2012)
  • Humboldt 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 17 2012)
  • Stars Leaders:
    7 – Josh Betinol – 3 Games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    9 – Austin Evans – 3 Games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    24 – Jake McMillen – 3 Games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    Humboldt Leaders:
    11 – Joey Davies – 3 Games – 3G – 1A – 4pts
    10– Cody Pongracz – 3 Games – 1G – 3A – 4pts

Special Teams:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • PP: 34-136  (25% – 1st in SJHL)
  • PK: 109-123 (88.6% – 1st in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 31-148 (20.9% – 4th in SJHL)
  • PK: 128-160 (80% – 9th in SJHL)
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North Stars roster moves

The North Stars made a couple moves yesterday.

First of all the Stars added Kendall Fransoo to the roster. The 16 year old D man almost made the team out of camp. He’s too good to not be playing with the Stars. And with the injury to Matt Sheeran the Stars could use the depth on D.

The Stars also made a trade yesterday. The Stars sent the list rights to D man Connor Sutton and cash to Salmon Arm for 19 year old forward Troy Petrick. Petrick is a player the Stars tried to recruit over the summer but he ended up staying in BC to play for the ‘Backs. Stars GM and head coach Kevin Hasselberg says Petrick will fit right in with this team. He played with Evan Ripley last season in Dawson Creek of the NAHL and has a couple friends on the North Stars. He’s physical and hard working with a good hard shot.

Sutton is a player the Stars got when they dealt Tim Rollins to Dauphin in the off season. Sutton is with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and looks likely to stay their for the rest of the season. Sutton recently scored his first WHL goal in a 3-1 loss to Kelowna.

Petrick is likely going to join the Stars after Christmas. They will get Tanner Quinn and Connor Creech back from injury after Christmas. Joren Johnson will be back as well. The Stars should be a lot more healthy and have a lot more depth.

North Stars come back to win 3-2

The Battlefords North Stars came from behind last night at the Civic Center to beat Flin Flon 3-2.

The opening period started out well for the Bombers. Flin Flon controlled the play for the majority of the first ten minutes and they got the goal their play deserved. Riley Storzuk was originally a scratch but he took warmup and the Bombers determined he was good to go. That move paid off as Storzuk scored his 12th of the year to open the scoring 4:23 into the game. Three Bombers at the side of the net forced the puck out front. It bounced around and eventually went under the pad of Parker and in. Storzuk was given credit for the goal.

The Stars regrouped and got better as the period progressed. Former North Stars Blake Tatchell, Brett Miller and Boyd Wakelin were all at the game last night. I spoke with Tatchell in the first intermission. He said he felt the Stars were “all over” the Bombers for the last 10 minutes of the period. Breaden Johnson got the first of his three assists as the Stars tied the game. On a power play Johnson slid a pass into the stride of Kyle Hall who skated into the high slot with speed and snapped a wrist shot past Brandon Wildung in the Flin Flon net. The shot was perfectly placed above the pad and below the blocker and then off the post and in. Nothing much a goalie can do about a shot that good. It was 1-1 after 1.

The second period was very much controlled by the Bombers. They dominated the puck and controlled the play in the North Stars zone. that led to the Bombers outshooting the Stars 12-3 in the frame. But most of the shots were from the outside. The Stars did a good job in their own zone making sure Casey Parker could see the puck. And the Stars cleared rebounds well. They just couldn’t settle things down and get the puck to the other end of the ice. It looked like they would survive the second period up until a late short handed break away for Dillon McCombie. A weak slash by Spencer Gosselin was deemed a penalty shot just as time expired in the period. McCombie skated in and snapped the puck past Parker to make it 2-1 after 2.

The Stars have struggled at times this season in the second period. But it says a lot about the team and their leadership that they continue to have very good third periods. For the most part the Stars have found a way to regroup after a bad period and get back to playing well. They did that last night. The Stars killed two early penalties the second of which was against Robbie Newton. The Stars were on a 2 on 1 rush when Newton stepped out of the box to make it a 3 on 1. Breaden Johnson found the trailer and Newton got a shot away. Wildung made the save. But Newton was on hand to pop the rebound into the roof of the net and tie the game 4:33 into the period.

At that point the Stars had all the momentum and they were really starting to play well. In the last few games the Stars defense has been really banged up. And every time they have needed to call up an affiliate player to help out on the back end that player has filled in well. Connor Sych and Kendall Fransoo have chipped in. The last two games Braden Lacoursiere has been excellent. And last night along with Lacoursiere young D man Alex Pernitsky was also outstanding. The Stars future on the backend looks very bright.

But it was one of the vets who stepped up late to win the game. Again Braeden Johnson made a great pass to find an on rushing Dillon Forbes. It’s been great getting Forbes back in the lineup. He is such a solid presence in his own zone and does such a great job clearing the front of the net. He showed great ability in front of the net at the other end of the ice last night. Forbes was stopped in close as he burst to the net but found his own rebound and he roofed the puck to make it 3-2 Stars with 1:30 remaining.

You have to give the Bombers credit as they didn’t back down or give up. They got the puck into the Stars zone with time running out and the net empty. With the extra attacker on the ice Josh Roach fired the puck into the net on a one timer. Casey Parker was no where to be found on the play. And that’s because he was interfered with and the goal was waved off. That led to a penalty and an attacking zone face off for the Stars with 3.2 seconds left. Kyle Hall went straight forward off the draw and time expired.

So the North Stars have won 4 of their last 5 and have picked up 9 of a possible 10 points in that span. They are also 9-2-0-2 in their last 13 games played. That’s allowed the Stars to move to within 6 points of first place in the Bauer division. 6 points currently separates the Humboldt Broncos from the North Stars. Flin Flon has lost 4 in a row and won just 2 of their last 10 games. They are now in second in the now very tight Bauer division.

The Stars should take a lot of encouragement from their special teams play last night. The PK was 5 for 5 and looked great. The power play went 1 for 5 although they did allow a short handed penalty shot goal. But when you combined the PK and PP the Stars were very good last night.

Next up a huge game tomorrow night at the Civic Center. The Stars host the Humboldt Broncos for the final game before the Christmas break.

 

The Battlefords North Stars host the Flin Flon Bombers tonight at the Civic Center. Both teams are coming off of a loss last night. The last time they met the Stars picked up a 2-1 victory and with just two games to go before the Christmas break the Stars will be looking for another victory over the Bombers in order to help go into the break on a high note.

The Bombers are currently on a 3 game losing streak and are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. They are in danger of dropping out of first place with Humboldt right on their tail in the Bauer standings. The Bombers will be looking to get back on track tonight.

Recent Games:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • The Bombers lost 4-1 in La Ronge last night. The Ice Wolves scored three times in the second period and were up 3-0 heading to the third. Jared Iron scored twice in the second for La Ronge and they also scored a late empty netter to wrap the game up. Cole McCaig scored the lone Flin Flon goal.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars picked up a 4-3 shootout loss in Nipawin. It was a very fast paced and very physical game. So the Stars will have to re-group quickly.

Players to Watch:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • Dillan McCombie. He’s not having the offensive season that he had last year. But he’s a very good player and always seems to play well against the Stars. He also has 19pims this season against the North Stars we will see if he continues to be involved in extra curricular activities tonight.
  • Cole McCaig. Scored his 7th of the year last night in La Ronge. He also has a goal against the Stars this season.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Ryne Keller. One of several North Stars with 2 points in 3 games against the Bombers this season. That includes a short handed goal that Keller scored up in Flin Flon earlier this season.
  • Brody Luhning. Leads the Stars in scoring head to head with the Bombers this season. And Brody is coming off a 3 assist night last night. His offensive ability makes him a real weapon and he has improved defensively this season.

Head to Head:

  • Flin Flon 1 @ Battlefords 2 (Nov 27 2012)
  • Battlefords 1 @ Flin Flon 3 (Nov 9 2012)
  • Battlefords 4 @ Flin Flon 5 (Oct 12 2012)
    Player Stars
  • Battlefords North Stars
    5 – Brody Luhning – 3 games – 0G – 3A – 3pts
    21 – Braeden Johnson – 3 games – 0G – 2A – 2pts
  • Flin Flon Bombers
    17 – Dylan Balaski – 3 games – 2G – 1A – 3pts
    26 – Brett Boehm – 2 game – 1G – 2A – 3pts

Special Teams:

Flin Flon Bombers:

  • PP: 31-129 (24% – 2nd in SJHL)
  • PK: 121-142 (85.2% – 3rd in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 30-142 (21.1% – 3rd in SJHL)
  • PK: 124-156 (79.5% – 9th in SJHL)

The North Stars power play jumped up 2 spots after going 3-4 last night in Nipawin. Their penalty killing has been steadily rising the last month or more and is now up to 9th with a shot at 8th if they have a couple more good games on the PK. The PK and PP percentages add up to 100 for the Stars. That’s generally where teams want to be at or above that mark. The Bombers special teams percentages add up to 109 and that’s a factor in why their such a good team who sit atop the Bauer standings.

Stars lose 4-3 in a shootout

The Battlefords North Stars lost on the road in Nipawin tonight 4-3 in a shootout.

The Hawks came out strong in the first period pumping 17 shots on Casey Parker in the Stars net. To be honest i am not sure how accurate the shot count was tonight. The Stars were only credited as having mustered 4 shots on Davis Jones at the other end of the ice. But the Stars did a pretty good job of keeping shots to the outside and clearing rebounds in the opening period. Parker was good and along with the D the Stars were able to come out of the first in a scoreless tie. They had a couple chances themselves but both Ben Greenaway and Blake Young tipped pucks just wide of the net.

Late in the first period Braeden Johnson got into a fight behind the play with Jesse Bernard. Johnson felled Bernard with a right and took the fight. Also in the first period Joren Johnson was hit and left the game with sore leg. He was limping but said he’d like to try and skate tomorrow. That left the Stars with 5 D men once again including ‘AP’ Braeden Lacoursiere.

The second period is when the game really burst into life. The hitting really picked up with Evan Ripley throwing a couple big hits. Dillon Forbes returned to the Stars lineup and was right back where he left off and of course the usual suspects like Greenaway, Newton and Keller were in on the action as well. The Hawks were also hitting and it was a really fun period of hockey to watch.

The Hawks opened the scoring on the power play with Evan Ripley in the box for tripping. Braeden Johnson was then called for hooking and the Hawks scored 5 on 3. Tad Kozun tipped in a Jensen point shot and the Hawls were in front. It also snapped Casey Parker’s lengthy shutout streak at well over 152 minutes. The Stars responded quickly when they got their first power play of the game. Breaden Johnson snapped home his 8th of the year on a perfectly placed shot into the top corner.

Davis Jones picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing after the goal. He felt he was interfered with. The Stars scored on that power play as well. Brody Luhning absolutely dangled his way through the Hawks defence. He then fed Jake McMillen back door and McMillen made no mistake. Right place at the right time is how he described his goal to me after the game. It was Luhning’s second assist of the game on McMillen’s 10th of the year.

The Hawks tied it up at 2 late in the second when Kozun was on the doorstep all alone to pop home a rebound. So 2-2 after a wildly entertaining and fun second frame.

In the third the Hawks took the lead midway through the period. Taylor Balog and Dexter Bricker teamed up for the goal. Balog snapping it off the post and in. During the broadcast I spoke about last season when Boyd Wakelin made a habit of scoring late goals. He has practiced with the Stars for the last two days and I wondered if his magic would rub off on the Stars. I don’t know if it did but the Stars much like last season kept battling right to the end.

A late penalty kill with Ben Greenaway in the box was complete when Ben Johnstone took a penalty. Both were weak calls. The Stars pulled Parker and had a 5 on 4 advantage and once the Greenaway penalty was over it was 6 on 4. Eric Bollefer fired the puck the length of the ice at the empty net. His shot clearly hit the post even from my vantage point at the other end of the ice. The red light came on for a second and then went off. Kozun then fired the puck wide on the rebound. It kind of looked like the Stars stopped when the light came on so they were a little fortunate that Kozun missed.

The Stars came up the ice the other way and Brody Luhning and Kyle Hall made a couple nice plays to set up Austin Evans back door and it was 3-3 with 16 seconds left. Evans wears Wakelin’s old number 9. Great passing set up the goal and the Stars were 3-3 on the power play.

In overtime the Stars had a power play when Jeff Datoff was called for hitting Braeden Johnson from behind. The Stars were unable to score on the power play though. In the shootout both Brody Luhning and Jake McMillen were stopped and Wheaton King and Jess Bernard scored. That gave the extra point to the Hawks.

All in all a great game between two good and evenly matched teams. It was extremely physical, fast paced and intense. I can’t wait until these two teams play each other again.

Next up for the Stars a game tomorrow night at the Civic Center. They will host Flin Flon. The Bombers lost tonight in La Ronge and will come in tomorrow angry. Should be a good game. Hope to see you there at 7:30.

SJHL Game 31: Battlefords North Stars at Nipawin Hawks

The Battlefords North Stars are on the road tonight as they look to win their 4th in a row. The Stars head to Nipawin to face the Hawks this evening and it’s a big game in terms of the standings. With a win the Stars would move back into 3rd in the SJHL’s Bauer division.

So far this season the Stars are 2-0 against the Hawks, picking up a 4-3 shootout victory the last time they were in Nipawin. They also beat the Hawks 3-1 at the Civic Center just 5 days ago. The Stars are still dealing with injuries and should have a couple affiliate players in the lineup.

Recent Games:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • The Hawks beat Notre Dame 5-2 in their most recent game. Wheaton King, Jesse Bernard, Dustin Skilliter, Tad Kozun and Carter Danczak scored the goals.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Luke McColgan scored the shootout winner and Casey Parker picked up his first career SJHL shutout as the North Stars beat the Weyburn Red Wings 1-0 back on Saturday.

Players to Watch:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • Jesse Bernard. Currently on a 6 game point streak. Bernard has set up 2 goals for the Hawks this season against the North Stars.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Casey Parker. Is working on a shutout streak of over 100 minutes including a little over 40 minutes against Nipawin.
  • The ‘AP’s. Due to injuries I believe the North Stars will have another ‘AP’ defenseman in the lineup tonight. So far this season whenever the Stars have been forced to call someone up the ‘AP’ player has filled in admirably. There may be an ‘AP’ back up goalie as well. And of course Travis Marit is still with the team. So plenty of affiliate players to watch out for tonight.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 4 @ Nipawin 3 (SO) (Nov 24 2012)
  • Nipawin 1 @ Battlefords 3 (Dec 13 2012)
  • Kyle Hall with 2 goals plus Luke McColgan and Austin Evans with a goal and an assist are the 3 North Stars players with 2 points in 2 games so far this season against Nipawin. Wheaton King and Michael Lambert also each have a goal and an assist while Jesse Bernard has 2 assists in 2 games for the Hawks against the Stars.

Special Teams:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • PP: 23-169  (13.7% – 9th in SJHL)
  • PK: 118-139 (84.9% – 3rd in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 27-139 (19.4% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 117-148 (79.1% – 10th in SJHL)

Stars shutout Red Wings in a shootout

The Battlefords North Stars skated to a 1-0 shootout win last night at the Civic Center.

Casey Parker got the start in place of the injured Connor Creech, although it sounds like the plan was to start Parker in the Weyburn game anyway, and made 25 saves through regulation and overtime for the shutout. He also stopped 2 Weyburn attempts in the shootout with a third fired high and wide. So Parker was not beaten in the game and now has his first career SJHL shutout. A great moment for Parker and it was great to see he had his dad there to see it. Parker also came in against Nipawin and wasn’t beaten in a hair over 40 minutes on the ice. So his personal shutout streak is over 100 minutes going back to the Melville game. By my count his streak is at 126 minutes. That’s the final period of the Melville game, 41 minutes again Nipawin and 65 last night. Congrats to Casey for that.

Also a lot of credit goes to the team in front of him. I thought the Stars did a great job blocking shots last night and keeping shots to the outside. Parker made all the saves he was asked to make but the D also did a good job making sure a lot of the saves were routine. They did it without Dillon Forbes, Matt Sheeran and Keenan Martens. It sounds like Forbes could be back next week. Sheeran is a long term injury absentee. And Martens has decided to leave the team and return home to Calgary to go to school. It sounds like he just wasn’t up for the grind of junior ‘A’ hockey anymore which is understandable. So ‘AP’ D-man Connor Sych was in the lineup last night for the Stars and he was solid when called upon.

Joren Johnson, Evan Ripley and Spencer Gosselin were all outstanding last night as they had to play big minutes. With just 4 veteran players back on D you knew those guys would be relied upon heavily. The job was even tougher when Brody Luhning ran into some trouble with penalties. He picked up two 10 minute misconducts last night and both were pretty weak.

Travis Marit dropped back to play D a times last night. As did Ryne Keller in overtime. It was good to have Ryne back in the lineup after he missed the Nipawin game. All in all it was a very solid defensive effort from all 17 skaters and of course Parker.

Luke McColgan scored the game winner in the shootout. He was the only shooters to find the back of the net. Jean-Phillipe Boucher was outstanding in net for Weyburn at the over end of the ice and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing end. McColgan probably deserved the winner as he thought he’d scored in the second period. McColgan had perhaps the Stars best chance but he blasted a shot off the post.

It was a pretty entertaining a game despite the lack of goals. There was good flow and it seemed to be a pretty quick game. End to end action at times. Weyburn reminds me a little of Melfort last year. They worked hard for the majority of the game. But just couldn’t find a way to create enough offense. After Miguel Pereira, and with Sam Williams injured, the Wings skill and offensive flair drops off a little. But with their D, goaltending and work ethic they will play a lot of close games.

For the North Stars another gutsy effort and a well earned 2 points. They move up into 3rd in the Bauer with 33 points. They are ahead of Nipawin by a tie breaker. That could change today with Nipawin in action against Notre Dame. Whatever happens tonight though we know the Stars have a huge game coming up on Tuesday on the road in Nipawin.

North Stars host Weyburn

So I had a pre-game post all ready to go and for some reason it didn’t post properly. I apologize for that.

Quickly I will note that the North Stars are without Matt Sheeran, Dillon Forbes, Tanner Quinn and Connor Creech with injuries tonight. They are also without Keenan Martens who has decided to return home and go to school. He had a change of heart and decided to give up hockey because his heart wasn’t in it. The North Stars told me they wish him all the best. It leaves the Stars short at the back so Connor Sych is up as an ‘AP’ tonight along with Travis Marit who is still with the team. ‘AP’ goalie Taryn Kotchorek will back up Parker.

The Stars are definitely in tough tonight and will need everyone to contribute again as they did last time out when they beat Nipawin. They also owe the Red Wings some revenge after Weyburn beat the Stars earlier this season. The Red Wings are banged up as well missing big D men Tyler Borstmayer and Carter Struthers. Ryan Ostertag and Sam Williams are also out.

The pre-game show starts up in about 45 minutes. Lots more on the North Stars lineup when we hit the airwaves on CJNB/CJNS and at http://www.cjnb.com starting at 7:15.

North Stars win big Bauer matchup

The Battlefords North Stars were outstanding last night icking up a 3-1 win over the Nipawin Hawks at the Civic Center.

The Hawks came into last nights game as the hottest team in the SJHL’s Bauer division. and from what I have seen this year they are right up there with Flin Flon and Humboldt. The Hawks got off to a slow start this season but as of late they have been playing like the team we thought they would be coming into the season. So for the Stars to be short a D man and a forward for last night’s game they were going to be in tough.

The Stars also lost starting goalie Connor Creech late in the first period. With Matt Sheeran and Tanner Quinn out long term and Dillon Forbes and Ryne Keller day to day the Stars are missing 4 veterans players from their lineup. Casey Parker came in late in the opening frame and was excellent. By the time Parker entered the contest it was already 1-0 Hawks. An early power play for Nipawin came when Joren Johnson was called for interference. 17 seconds later the Hawks scored. The North Stars actually cleared the puck off the face off but the Hawks broke out quickly and rushed up ice. Jesse Bernard fed Wheaton King who went cross crease to Michael Lambert. He fired home and it was 1-0 early.

The Hawks didn’t have too many more quality scoring chances as the North Stars tightened up in their own zone. When shots did get through Connor Creech stopped them. But in stopping one of those shots Creech injured his leg and was forced to leave the game. He left with 58 seconds left in the first period. The Stars were short handed at the time so Casey Parker had to come in cold with the Hawks on the power play. Thanks in part to a big shot block by Brody Luhning the Stars got to the intermission with the score still 1-1.

The second period was a cagey tight affair at times with both teams creating and causing turnovers in the neutral zone. The Hawks outshot the Stars 11-6 in the period but Parker was solid. The Stars also played very solid D in front of their rookie goaltender and continued to block a lot of shots. The Stars PK ended up going 7 for 8 after that early goal including killing off some 4 on 3 power play time for the Hawks. Late in the second period the Stars were short handed again and we talked on the broadcast about it being a big moment in the game. If the Stars could kill the penalty and be down just 1 heading to the third they’d be in good shape. They did even better than that. Austin Evans with a great solo rush powering to the front of the net and sliding the puck under Davis Jones for his 7th of the year. That made it 1-1 heading to the third and the Stars had the momentum.

In the third period the North Stars got a rare power play, they had just 3 to the Hawks 8, with Garrett Lockeridge in the box Braeden Johnson sniped a beauty to give the Stars the lead. That was Johnny’s 7th of the year. From the slot he snapped a perfectly placed wrist shot off the bar and in. That goal stood up as the game winner.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about Luke McColgan as he gets better and better. The Stars have won 7 in a row with McColgan in the lineup and he was good again last night. He scored with 8 minutes left to give the Stars an insurance goal. It was similar to Evans’ goal as McColgan went wide and powered to the net. His shot getting by Davis Jones. That goal came not long after Robbie Newton fired his team up with a great fight. Newton threw a hit that looked like it could have been a penalty. It was tough to tell from my angle but the Hawks bench certainly thought it was knee on knee. The ref was right on top of the play and didn’t make a call. Dustin Skilliter challenged Newton to a fight. It was pretty even until Skilliter lost his helmet. Newton threw a few jabs with his left hand while clutching the jersey of his opponent. Newton then switched to his right hand and tagged Skilliter pretty good. The Hawks player went down to his knees. Give him credit though as he did stand back up looking to continue in the fight. That’s when Newton caught him again with another right hand knocking Skilliter down to the ice and ending the fight. The North Stars bench was extremely fired up after the tilt. In fact about an hour later they were still talking about it on Twitter.

The Hawks got a late power play and spent some time with the net empty but couldn’t beat Casey Parker who made 17 saves in relief for the win. So the Stars have won 2 in a row and they will face Weyburn on Saturday. Hopefully they can ride the momentum of a big character win last night.

I thought every single guy in the lineup contributed last night. I was especially impressed with Brody Luhning on the back end defensively. He was just one of 5 D men who were very good. But Luhning stood out for his performance. I was also pleased to see Casey Parker play well in relief. He will get the start against Weyburn tomorrow night looking for some revenge and if he continues to play with confidence he’ll have a good chance at another win.

SJHL Game 29: Nipawin Hawks at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars are back at the Civic Center tonight for a game that is big in terms of the Bauer standings. We are just past the half way mark of the season and I would say now is a good time for fans to start looking at those standings as playoff seeding is so important. Finishing 3rd or higher is the goal at this point. And the Hawks are currently 4 points ahead of the Stars for that 3rd place berth. But the North is starting to really tighten up. In the last 10 games played the Hawks and North Stars have the most points earned. Flin Flon and Humboldt the least. The Bombers still have a healthy lead at the top but it is starting to get very interesting.

Recent Games:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • The Hawks beat Humboldt 3-2 in their most recent game. Whaeton King, Carter Danczak and Michael Lambert scored the goals. Davis Jones made 38 saves for the victory. No surprises there as Jones is an excellent goalie.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Luke McColgan returned to the lineup and had 2 goals and an assist as the North Stars beat Melfort 5-2. That was almost a week ago now. The Stars were banged up so hopefully they come into tonight’s game a little more healthy. They do have long term injuries to Matt Sheeran and Tanner Quinn. Dillon Forbes is also dealing with an injury. So they won’t be 100% No team is at this time of year.

Players to Watch:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • Carter Danczak. I said this last time and then Carter didn’t play. He was a healthy scratch. Again I assume he goes tonight. The former North Star has 10 points in 20 games so far this season with the Hawks.
  • Jesse Bernard. 9 goals and 20 assists for the Hawks. He was struggling in Estevan early in his junior career but has been outstanding ever since heading to Nipawin via trade. Bernard is a set up guy and clearly like playing with Wheaton King. That’s a line to look out for tonight. But Stars fans know what to look out for with this Hawks team. After last year’s epic 7 game playoff series.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Brody Luhning. Scored against Melfort and added an assist. It’s been a struggle at time lately for Brody offensively. Lets see if that goal sparks him into a little run of points.
  • Josh Betinol. Quietly has 5 points in his last 3 games. All assists though. Betinol hasn’t scored since 2 goals against Notre Dame back on November 16th.
  • Braeden Johnson. After being held off the score sheet in his previous 4 games Johnny was back with 2 points in Melfort. I know he’d like to score more consistently for the Stars. If he does they become an even more difficult team to beat.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 4 @ Nipawin 3 (SO) (Nov 24 2012)
  • Kyle Hall was outstanding in Nipawin scoring twice as the Stars won in a shootout. The Stars and Hawks actually have the same number of wins this season. But Nipawin has 4 shootout losses and an OT loss. That’s 5 points for getting games to overtime. The Stars have played 3 OT games. They have 2 shootout wins and an OT loss.

Special Teams:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • PP: 19-149  (12.8% – 9th in SJHL)
  • PK: 108-127 (85% – 4th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 26-132 (19.7% – 5th in SJHL)
  • PK: 106-136 (77.9% – 11th in SJHL)