Playoffs set, tickets on sale tonight

The North Stars wrapped up the regular season with a 4-2 loss Sunday night in Yorkton. Kyle Hall and Braeden Johnson each had a goal and an assist in their final regular season game. The win meant the Terriers were able to clinch the South division title and home ice throughout the south playoffs.

We also learned on Sunday that the North Stars will open their survivor series with Melfort on Friday night.

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Survivor Series Schedule:

Game 1 – Friday March 1st
Melfort Mustangs at Battlefords North Stars, 7:30

Game 2 – Saturday March 2nd
Battlefords North Stars at Melfort Mustangs, 7:30

Game 3 – Monday March 4th
Melfort Mustangs at Battlefords North Stars, 7:30

Game 4 – Tuesday March 5th *if necessary
Battlefords North Stars at Melfort Mustangs, 7:30

Game 5 – Wednesday March 6th *if necessary
Melfort Mustangs at Battlefords North Stars, 7:30

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Playoffs tickets go on sale tonight at 6. The Stars are encouraging fans to purchase online at northstars.ca Tickets purchased online and printed at home will help people avoid long box office lines. There’s no extra cost as service fees have been waived for the playoffs.

Season ticket holders have been asked to call the North Stars office so they can set up an account so season ticket holders can purchase tickets online as well. The number is (306) 445-7827.

For those of you who can’t purchase online tickets you can head to the Civic Center tonight (Tuesday) from 7-9 and again on Thursday from 7-9 to purchase tickets.

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At their final home game on Friday night the North Stars announced their player awards for the season.

MVP – Kyle Hall

Top Defenseman – Brody Luhning

Rookie of the Year – Josh Betinol

Most Improved – Tanner Quinn

Most Dedicated – Evan Ripley & Dillon Forbes

Humanitarian – Braeden Johnson

Fans Choice – Blake Young

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SJHL Game 54: Battlefords North Stars at Yorkton Terriers

The Stars are 2-0 on home ice against the Yorkton Terriers this season. They lost the lone game in Yorkton early this season in overtime. The Stars led that game late but couldn’t hold on for the win. The Stars were playing short a skater that night and were pretty banged up. They battled and came within 2:11 of winning in Yorkton. Only Estevan has won in regulation in Yorkton this season.

It’s the final regular season game for the North Stars tonight. They know they will finish 4th in the North and face Melfort in the survivor series. The Terriers now find themselves in second in the south and must win or pick up a point with an OT or shootout loss in order to finish first and have home ice in the south playoffs.

Recent Games:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • The Terriers most recent game was a 5-1 loss to Melfort. The Terriers have lost 3 in a row. All of them on the road. Yorkton’s home record is still amazing. 24-1-0-1 at home so far this season. Their lost home game was a 6-1 win over Notre Dame.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars lost 3-1 in Melville last night. After a decent first period the Stars trailed 1-0 thanks to an unlucky bounce. A point shot from Tyler Bird was going about 5 feet wide when it hit the leg of Kyle Schmidt and deflected past Connor Creech. The Stars were 0-1 on the power play in the first period and the Millionaires went 0-2. The Mills got 2 more early in the second and they came less than 2 minutes apart. Sean Aschim’s shot off the rush changed directions and got past Creech. Then on a power play Ian McNulty set up Russell Trudeau for his 31st goal of the season. At that point the Stars weren’t playing great and they made the move to backup goalie Casey Parker. Parker came in and shut the door making 17 saves on 17 shots. That seemed to spark the Stars back into life and they played well the rest of the period. I really thought they came out an controlled the final frame and got a goal from Spencer Gosselin with 1:17 remaining on the clock. That came a little too late as the Stars were able to get the extra attacker out with the score 3-1. But they couldn’t score and the game ended 3-1. The Stars were a little unlucky but give the Millionaires credit for capitalizing on a couple of chances. They got some luck on their goals but Alex Wakaluk was good in goal and the Mills are now in first in the South.

Players to Watch:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • Austin Bourhis. Has an assist in 3 games against the Stars this season. He also has 21 pims. Bourhis is a physical player who sometimes crosses the line. The Terriers are a team that plays on the edge. They are second in the league in penalty minutes. Bourhis is a guy to keep an eye on.
  • The Terriers score by committee. They have 8 guys with double digits in goals and they have 9 guys who score more than a half a point per game. So it’s tough to pick out just a couple guys to watch. You gotta keep an eye on all of them.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Braeden Johnson. Had the night off last night and should return tonight. He had a chance to watch the game and help out the coaches a little. Let’s see how he responds tonight.
  • All the 20 year old players. It’s the final regular season game of their careers. Creech, Luhning, Ripley, Johnson, and Hall. Lets hope they have some fun and enjoy a win in their final game prior to the last playoff run of their junior careers.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 2 @ Yorkton 3 (Nov 29 2012) (OT)
  • Yorkton 4 @ Battlefords 6 (Nov 4 2012)
  • Yorkton 3 @ Battlefords 4 (Oct 24 2012)
  • Austin Evans leads the Stars with 2 goals and 4 points in 3 games this season against the Terriers. Kyle Hall has 4 assists in those 3 games. And in 2 games against Yorkton this season Luke McColgan, who is currently on a 3 game point streak, has 4 helpers. Tyler Giebel has 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points in 3 games against the Stars.

Special Teams:

Yorkton Terriers:

  • PP: 48-231 (20.8% – 4th in SJHL)
  • PK: 188-222 (84.7% – 3rd in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 46-253 (18.2% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 199-247 (80.6% – 9th in SJHL)

SJHL Game 53: Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires

The Battlefords North Stars wrap up the regular season on the road tonight and tomorrow. It’s a stop in Melville tonight to face the Millionaires. So far this season the Stars have struggled against Melville losing all 3 meetings and allowing 17 goals. The most recent meeting was a 2-1 win for Melville though and that was more of a North Stars style game.

The Millionaires still have plenty to play for this evening. They have a shot at first place in the South. They need to win tonight and have the Stars beat Yorkton tomorrow. That’s actually great news for the Stars. They get to play spoiler and it gives them something to help motivate themselves. They want to go into the playoffs firing on all cylinders. And the challenge they will get this weekend will help them get tuned up.

Recent Games:

Melville Millionaires:

  • The Mills lost 5-4 in a shootout last night in Humbodt. Melville had won their previous 9 in a row and are now 15-2-0-1 in their last 18 games played. Just like Humboldt and Nipawin the Stars go up against a hot team tonight.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars beat the Nipawin Hawks 5-4 in a shootout last night at the Civic Center. Coach Doug Johnson used 3 defensemen in the shootout as both teams know where they will finish in the standings and there are no shootouts in the playoffs. So it was a chance to get some different guys out there and see what they could do. The Stars had a 3-1 lead after 1 and a 4-3 lead after 2 period of play last night. Jake McMillen, Luke McColgan and Spencer Gosselin scored the goals. McMillen and McColgan both scrappy goals in front banging away at pucks. Gosselin scored a beauty on a break away sliding the puck 5 hole on Davis Jones. Goose also scored on a point shot.

Players to Watch:

Melville Millionaires:

  • Ian McNulty. Was just given the league’s top player award. Has a chance to lead his team and the league in scoring.
  • Alex Wakaluk. The league’s MVP. It’s perhaps a little strange to see the goalie on the team that’s scored the most goals this season picking up the most valuable player award. But his numbers are outstanding.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Luke McColgan. Snapped a long drought without a goal last night and now has back to back games with a point. His physical play and defensive awareness are always top notch. He’s got the ability to score as well and hopefully now will go on a nice little run.
  • Spencer Gosselin and Kyle Schmidt. Both got on the board last night with Gosselin scoring a couple goals and Schmidt picking up an assist. Early in the season Gosselin was one of the top scoring rookie D men in the league. He hasn’t been putting up the points of late in part because he’s been in and out of the lineup. Healthy and back on the blueline now though and it will be fun to see how he and Schmidt do this weekend. The Stars get a little more scoring from their D and they are an even tougher team to play against.

Head to Head:

  • Melville 2 @ Battlefords 1 (Feb 1 2013)
  • Battlefords 3 @ Melville 5 (Nov 30 2012)
  • Melville 10 @ Battlefords 4 (Sep 28 2012)
  • Nathan Boyer was traded from La Ronge to Melville this season. He’s played against the Stars 6 times and has 7 goals and 9 points. Ian McNulty has 2 goals and 8 points in 3 games against the Stars. Kyle Hall leads the Stars with a goal and 3 helpers in 3 games versus Melville.

Special Teams:

Melville Millionaires:

  • PP: 46-203 (22.7% – 1st in SJHL)
  • PK: 176-215 (81.9% – 8th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 46-247 (18.6% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 194-241 (80.5% – 9th in SJHL)

SJHL Game 52: Nipawin Hawks at Battlefords North Stars

The Battlefords North Stars host the Nipawin Hawks tonight for their final regular season home game at the Civic Center. After tonight the Stars wrap up the season on the road this weekend in Yorkton and Melville.

The Stars and Hawks have battled each other incredibly close this season. Two games have gone to a shootout and another was decided by a goal in regulation. Each team has scored 13 goals in the head to head games this season if you count the shootout winners as goals. The Stars are 3-1-0-1 against Nipawin this season. The Hawks record is 2-2-01 against the Stars.

It is Ticket Redemption Night at the Civic Center. Bring any unused tickets from previous games this season and you will get in to tonight’s game. Let’s get a huge Friday night crowd into the Civic Center tonight. The Stars and Hawks are rivals and played a great playoff series last year. They play great games head to head. Exciting, fast paced and close hockey games.

The North Stars will also be giving their players their awards for this season prior to the game. That’s a change from last season’s post season banquet. It means you will all get a chance to see they players pick up their awards before puck drop. So get down to the Civic Center early for tonight’s game.

The SaskTel pregame show starts at 7:15 for those that can’t make it to the rink. If you can you may as well bring a radio and listen in. NorSask North Stars hockey tonight on CJNB/CJNS and online at http://www.cjnb.com

Recent Games:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • The beat Melfort 5-4 in their most recent game. Nipawin was up 4-1 in the third and conceded three straight goals to allow the Mustangs to tie it up. But Jesse Bernard scored the game winner. The Hawks are 9-1 in February and 15-3-0-1 in 2013. The only teams that have beaten the Hawks in regulation in 2013 are the North Stars and Humboldt twice. They’ve been outstanding and are heading into playoffs flying.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars beat the Humboldt Broncos 1-0 on the road on Sunday night. That helped the Stars out of a stretch where they had won just once out of their previous 7 games. They are tuning up for a survivor series to open up playoffs and continue to do well against the league’s top teams.

Players to Watch:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • Tad Kozun. Is currently on an 8 game point streak and in that stretch has picked up 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points. Kozun’s streak has helped him move into a tie for the team lead in scoring with 52 points in 48 games.
  • Eli Litchenwald. Has scored 9 goals and put up 22 points in 17 games since re-joining the Hawks and returning to the SJHL. The are question marks surrounding his health and his ice time appeared to be limited against Melfort.
  • Jeff Datoff. The Hawks top D man is great in his own zone and put up 20 helpers this season. He is far and away the Hawks top point producer on the back end.
  • The goalies. Jordan Liem has started 6 of the Hawks last 9 games ahead of arguably the league’s top tender in Davis Jones. Is Jones struggling? Is he hurt? Are the Hawks just resting him and getting him 100% for playoffs? Time will tell.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Blake Young. The Stars rookie forward has scored the winner in the Stars last 2 victories. Young scored the only goal against Humboldt on Sunday on the power play. He also scored the winner in a 5-2 victory over La Ronge back on February 5th.
  • Connor Creech. Was the first star of the game in Humboldt picking up his second shutout of the season. Creech, like the rest of the team, is looking to get into a groove heading into the playoffs. He looked dialed in against the Broncos and I liked the way he battled as well. Combining that battle with his technical ability makes Creech a very tough goalie to beat.
  • Braeden Johnson. Has put together back to back games with an assist. He was dynamite against Humboldt and not just offensively. Played a complete game. Johnson holds himself to a very high standard and when he doesn’t play to that level he can get frustrated. When he just cuts himself a break, relaxes and just plays? One of the best and most fun players to watch in the entire SJHL.

Head to Head:

  • Nipawin 4 @ Battlefords 1 (Jan 8 2013)
  • Battlefords 2 @ Nipawin 1 (Jan 5 2013)
  • Battlefords 3 @ Nipawin 4 (SO) (Dec 18 2012)
  • Nipawin 1 @ Battlefords 3 (Dec 13 2012)
  • Battlefords 4 @ Nipawin 3 (SO) (Nov 24 2012)
  • Kyle Hall and Brody Luhning each have 5 points in 5 games against Nipawin this season to lead the North Stars. Tad Kozun leads the Hawks with 3 goals and 5 points.

Special Teams:

Nipawin Hawks:

  • PP: 36-257 (14% – 10th in SJHL)
  • PK: 198-233 (85% – 4th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 45-244 (18.4% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 193-240 (80.4% – 9th in SJHL)

The Battlefords North Stars picked up a hard fought and well deserved 1-0 win last night in Humboldt.

The Stars had nearly a week off after a disappointing 5-2 loss at home to the Estevan Bruins on Monday night. That loss left the Stars with just 1 win in their previous 7 games. With time to work things out in practice and with some team building opportunities surrounding the Ice Fishing Derby I had a feeling the Stars would bounce back.

They obviously worked hard in practice and coach Atcheynum said before the game that it was the leadership group that came to the coaches this past week to help work out some solutions. Whatever happened and was said in that room is between the players and the coaches. And whatever it was certainly had an effect..

The Stars came out with a good first shift that seemed to set the tone. Both Ryne Keller and Brandon Long returned to the lineup and provided some nice jump in the early going. And the Stars looked like a sharp team. They seemed quick to get to loose pucks and to get to battles. They played with urgency and for lack of a better word they seemed to play with desperation. Considering they are guaranteed to finish 4th in the North it could be argued that in the standings they have nothing left to play for. But they do in terms of getting ready for the playoffs and getting the team going in the right direction.

The Stars earned an early power play and their best player in the first period helped set up the opening goal. Braeden Johnson was as good in the first period as I’ve seen him all year. He was the best player on the ice. Overall he was outstanding but the first period was off the charts good. He had his point shot blocked on the power play but recovered the loose puck. His back door pass found Luke McColgan who settled the puck and shot. Matt Hrynkiw made the save but Blake Young was on hand to pop home the rebound. 1-0 Stars.

And that’s how the game finished. But plenty happened along the way. The Stars had a couple of very good penalty kills in the first period against the league’s top power play. And the Stars second penalty for goalie interference was a weak call. But that’s going to happen from time to time. And you still have to go out and kill the penalty. The Stars did just that.

They also had a second power play later in the period where they gained the zone efficiently a couple of times and moved the puck well. They just couldn’t beat Hrynkiw on that particular power play. Hrynkiw has started all 6 games against the North Stars this season. I think that says something about the competitive level between these two teams. The Broncos don’t take the Stars lightly and the Stars enjoy the test that the Broncos provide. These two teams match up well, for the most part, and have great battles along the way.

At the other end of the ice Connor Creech had a very good first period. He stopped all 13 shots he faced and several saves were excellent. I also really liked the way he battled in front of his net to find loose pucks and keep the puck in front of him. There were 3 or 4 big scrambles in front that saw the puck bouncing around and players all over the place whacking away at the biscuit. But Creech was always there fighting to keep the puck out.

One of the big memorable hits in the first was when Evan Ripley wiped out Neil Landry in front of the Stars net. Both players went flying and cartwheeling through the air. But the puck stayed out of the net.

In the second period the Stars got an early 4 minutes power play for a buttend call against Humboldt. That came basically straight off the opening faceoff and the ensuing power play didn’t look as good as the earlier efforts.

After the penalty kill of the Broncos got the game back to 5 on 5 the physical play really started to noticeably pick up. The second period saw big hits from both teams including a big hit on Kendall Fransoo that left the young D man a little shaken up. He still got up and went to the front of the net and helped the Stars clear the puck. Austin Evans got a good peace of Christopher Manhas on a hit where the Broncos D man lost an edge and both players crashed into the end boards.

The Stars didn’t like the hit on Fransoo by Fluter and Ryne Keller dropped the gloves with Fluter early in the third. Neither guy really got a punch off as they fell while wrestling early in the fight and the linesmen jumped right in. Coach Hasselberg was quick to praise Keller for helping to protect the team.

The Stars only managed 1 shot on net in the final period. But they gutted out a hard fought road victory thanks to limiting the Broncos to 9 shots all of which were stopped by Connor Creech. He picks up his second shutout of the season. Both in Humboldt. Both were 1-0 wins for the Stars. The Broncos not have 3 regulation losses at home all season. 2 at the hands of the Battlefords North Stars. And the Stars are now 2-2 against Humboldt in games started by their number 1 Connor Creech.

The Broncos were without Alex Forsberg last night and it sounds like he is just a little banged up and it’s nothing too serious. Would have been interesting to see what he could have added to the mix. But the Stars did a great job on Pongracz and Davies tonight. That was one of my keys to the game and the Stars did a fantastic job on those two very good players.

There is a lot of work to do in between and I am not going to take Melfort or La Ronge lightly and I know the Stars won’t either. But this is a potential, and I stress potential, playoff match up if the Stars get through the Survivor Series. It’s nice to know they can win in Humboldt. They know they can play with the Broncos and they know what it takes to win on the road in a very tough building.

The Stars also lost Joren Johnson after the first period and played the rest of the game with 5 D men. All 5 were outstanding. Johnson seems to be okay and it sounds like it was more precautionary. He’ll be fine and no chances will be taken with playoffs just around the corner.

To a man I thought all of the North Stars competed last night and it was a very complete effort. It wasn’t pretty at times but it was gritty. And at the end of the day winning a playoff style game on the road is just what this team needed.

Next up for the Stars is a game Friday at home against Nipawin.

A couple of notes:

–       Friday’s Game vs Nipawin Hawks
* Ticket Redemption Night. Any unused ticket to be admitted to the game
* Player Awards. This year the team will present the awards on the ice prior to the game

–       Ice Fishing Derby was on Saturday
* Over 2,400 people and 444 fish were caught
* 50/50 was $14,671 for the winner
* Dallas Marale won the Vectra Pontoon Boat – fish was 6.2 Northern Pike
* Devin Smith won the Polaris Quad
* John Mahon won the Kramer Deluxe Ice Fishing Shackso get there early.

The Battlefords North Stars head to Humboldt today to face the Broncos for the final time this season. The Stars are coming off nearly a week off between games and another hugely successful Ice Fishing Derby yesterday.

It’s looking like the North Stars and Broncos will meet in the playoffs as the Stars are now guaranteed to finish in 4th in the North. Provided they get through a survivor series with the 5th seed they would then face Humboldt. The Broncos have won 4 of 5 meetings so far this season including two 1 goal games and the most recent win back on January 12th was in overtime.

The Stars have 4 games left in the regular season to get ready for playoffs and they play the top 4 teams in the league. There will be no better way to prepare and rattling off a few wins in a row could really set them up to go into the post season on a high.

Today’s game gets going at 6 o’clock and the SaskTel pre-game show starts at 5:45 live on CJNB/CJNS or online at http://www.cjnb.com

Recent Games:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • The Broncos were down South this weekend with a pair of games in Estevan and Weyburn. Humboldt won them both including a 3-2 win on Friday night over Estevan. Humboldt has lost just once in regulation, and just 3 times overall, since December 11th. That’s a stretch of 20 games in which their record is 17-1-0-2.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The Stars lost to 5-2 to Estevan in their most recent game. That was after a pair of shootout losses on the road in Flin Flon and La Ronge. The Stars have had some time to practice and work some things out and I am expecting them to have a great effort tonight.

Players to Watch:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • Alex Forsberg. In 14 games with the Broncos this season he has 7 goals and 7 assists. But he is currently on a 4 game goal streak and in that time has 4 goals and 1 assist. That’s tied for the league lead for longest current goal streak. Overall he is on a 5 game point streak.
  • Cody Pongracz. Has 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points in 5 games against the North Stars this season. One of those head to head games for the Stars was a shutout by Connor Creech in Humboldt. Which means In the 4 Humboldt wins Pongracz has 8 points. It’s obvious to say but if the Stars want to win they need to slow the Broncos forward down.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Connor Creech. If I was a betting man my money would be on Creech to get the start. The last time he started against Humboldt he picked up the shutout. Creech is 1-2 overall against the Broncos and has allowed just 6 goals in those 3 games.
  • Tanner Quinn. He is tied with Forsberg for longest current goal streak as Quinn has scored in 4 straight games and has points in 5 straight. He has a goal this season against the Broncos despite playing against them in just 2 of the 5 head to heads so far.
  • Kyle Hall and Braeden Johnson. Haven’t been able to put up many points against the Broncos this season. The Stars need their best players to play well and these are two of their best offensive weapons. Let’s see if they break out against Humboldt today.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 2 @ Humboldt 3 (OT) (Jan 12 2013)
  • Humboldt 6 @ Battlefords 0 (Dec 21 2012)
  • Battlefords 1 @ Humboldt 0 (Nov 23 2012)
  • Humboldt 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 6 2012)
  • Humboldt 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 17 2012)
  • North Stars
  • 7 – Josh Betinol – 5 games – 1G – 3A – 4pts
    9 – Austin Evans – 5 games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
    24 – Jake McMillen – 5 games – 1G – 2A – 3pts
  • Broncos
    10 – Cody Pongracz – 5 games – 3G – 5A – 8pts
    11 – Joey Davies – 5 games – 5G – 2A – 7pts
    16 – Adam Antkowiak – 5 games – 2G – 3A – 5pts

Special Teams:

Humboldt Broncos:

  • PP: 46-211 (21.8% – T-1st in SJHL)
  • PK: 177-199 (88.9% – 1st in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 44-241 (18.3% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 189-236 (80.1% – 9th in SJHL)
    Special teams will be huge again tonight. The last time these two teams met the Broncos won 3-2 in overtime. In that game the North Stars went 1-10 on the power play. Only the Nipawin Hawks earn themselves more power plays than the North Stars. If the man advantage starts really clicking they have a much better shot at a long playoff run.

Stars lose 5-2 at home to Estevan

The Battlefords North Stars have now won just once in their last 7 games and have lost 3 in a row. 2 of those losses were in a shootout but the Stars have just 4 points from a possible 14 down the stretch.

The Stars started out with a few good shifts including a strong shift from McColgan’s line with Young and Greenaway. The center threw a couple hits and the Stars got 4 quick shots through on net. But Joren Johnson took a hand off his stick and was called for holding. The Bruins didn’t score on the power play but they gained momentum and ended up getting 7 or 8 straight shots on goal. Midway through the period Travis Marit was dumped as he raced for a loose puck and Marit slid into the end boards heavily. Tanner Quinn jumped in to fight with Zack Douglas and Quinn was given 2, 5 and 10 for instigating while Douglas got 2 and 5 for holding and fighting. Casey Parker ended up stopping 12 of 13 shots in the first period. The Bruins goal came during 4 on 4 play. Ben Greenaway went off for roughing after hitting McLaughlin up high. The Bruins D man retaliated with a slash to even things out.

During the 4 on 4 play the Bruins got a 2 on 1 rush. Kyle Schmidt was the Stars D man who was back and he sprawled to break up a pass from Smith to Brykaliuk. The loose puck bounced in the Stars crease and Smith was able to poke it home. His 11th goal in 14 games since rejoining the Bruins. The Bruins out shot the Stars 13-8 after 1 and led 1-0.

The Stars got back into a tie with an early second period power play. Tyler Kauk was called for interference just 13 seconds into the second period. Joren Johnson got a good shot on target with Kyle Hall screening in front. That made it 1-1. Braeden Johnson and Brody Luhning picked up assists on the play.

But the Bruins responded with 3 goals in less than 8 minutes. Brykaliuk spun and shot from a sharp angle beating Casey Parker at the near post. Then a weak call for hooking on Spencer Gosselin, who was back in the lineup, led to a power play goal for the Bruins. They moved the puck confidently and quickly and Calder Nuefeld finished off with his 2nd of the year. Hudson Morrison then scored with a shot over Parker’s shoulder again at the near post. That made it 4-1 and ended Parker’s night. Connor Creech came in to replace the young Stars goalie.

The North Stars tried to get things turned around and I did notice Evan Ripley throwing a couple hits and seemingly trying to get his team mates fired up. Brody Luhning had a couple good chances as well. Eventually the Stars were able to respond. Tanner Quinn missed a loose puck at the side of the net. The Stars stuck with it and worked the puck around for another point shot. This time Quinn was able to spin, settle the puck, and fire into the roof of the net. Quinn now has 13 points since returning to the lineup. After missing 16 games this season Quinn now has 16 points in 33 games played. Travis Marit has 8 points and Robbie Newton now has 5 points in his last 8 games. Since that line was united they have been outstanding. And not just offensively. They work hard and finish their checks and are setting an example for the rest of the team.

Quinn’s goal made it 4-2 after 2. The Stars had a couple of early power plays in the third period. It started with a great shift for McColgan, Young and Evans. Saskatoon Blades forward Shane McColgan was in town to watch his younger brother and Luke had a chance in the third to score a big goal but the puck rolled off his stick. The Stars couldn’t convert on any of their early 3rd period man advantages and eventually the Bruins were able to score to make it 5-2. Cote setting up Morrison for his second of the night on a 2 on 1 rush.

The Stars ended up only allowing 13 shots in the final two period but 4 goals were scored on those 13 shots. The Stars ended up with 40 shots on goal and affiliate goalie Brett Lewchuk stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced. The call up from midget AAA had a strong game.

It’s been a rough stretch of late for the North Stars who now have a little time to regroup. With their next game not until Sunday, and with the North Stars ice fishing derby coming up on Saturday, the Stars have some time to get back on track. They close out the season with games against the top 4 teams in the league. It’s a tough but perhaps a great way to finish the season and prepare for the playoffs.

After the game last night Coach Hasselberg came up to the press box for the Ultra Print Coaches Show but for a couple of reasons including technical issues, I was not able to get him on the air. Thanks to Coach for coming up as always and I apologize for not getting his thoughts on the air. I did catch up with Coach Hasselberg a little later and I will have his thoughts on the sports tomorrow morning on CJNB/CJNS.

Next up the North Stars head to Humboldt on Sunday night looking to get back in the win column.

SJHL Game 50: Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

It’s a rare Monday nighter for the North Stars tonight at the Civic Center. The Estevan Bruins are in town for the final matchup this season between these two teams. The Bruins have taken 2 of 3 so far with one game going to overtime.

Last time these two teams met the Stars won 4-1 on the road in Estevan. Kyle Hall collecting a point on all 4 goals. 2 goals and 2 assists for the Stars center. Braeden Johnson had a goal and 2 helpers. Dylan Smith had an assists in that one for the Bruins. He’s red hot scoring since returning to the SJHL.

Recent Games:

Estevan Bruins:

  • Lost 4-2 in Kindersley last night. Dylan Smith picking up a goal and an assist in a losing effort.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Lost 4-3 in a shootout in La Ronge on Saturday night. Tanner Quinn scored again for the Stars. It was a big 3rd period goal to tie the game. Jake McMillen and Kyle Hall also scored.

Players to Watch:

Estevan Bruin:

  • Dylan Smith. Smith has been the SJHL player of the week twice so far in 2013. Has 10 goals and 18 points in 13 games since coming back to the SJ.
  • Curtis Martinu. Carrying the load in goal for the Bs. The last time someone else started in net for Estevan was December 15th.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Kyle Hall. He scored 4 points last time these two teams met.
  • Brody Luhning. Has just 1 point in his last 6 games. Luhning is too good for that to continue much longer.

Head to Head:

  • Battlefords 4 @ Estevan 1 (Jan 26 2013)
  • Estevan 4 @ Battlefords 3 (SO) (Jan 13 2013)
  • Battlefords 1 @ Estevan 4 (Oct 26 2012)
  • Josh Betinol and Kyle Hall each have 5 points against the Bruins this season. Hall has done it in 3 games played while Betinol has scored 5 points in just 2 games played. He missed the first encounter this season when he was trying out for the WJAC in Calgary.

Special Teams:

Estevan Bruins:

  • PP: 22-193 (11.4% – 12th in SJHL)
  • PK: 148-178 (83.1% – 6th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 43-233 (18.5% – 7th in SJHL)
  • PK: 183-229 (79.9% – 9th in SJHL)

SJHL Game 49: Battlefords North Stars at La Ronge Ice Wolves

The Battlefords North Stars play in La Ronge tonight. It’s the final game this season between these two teams. The Stars are 3-2 against the Ice Wolves this season. La Ronge won the first two games this season between these two teams and the Stars have now won 3 in a row. The Stars are also 1-1 in La Ronge this season. The Mel isn’t an easy place to win (La Ronge is 12 under .500 on the road and are right at .500 at home this season) but the Stars will be looking to win the season series in that building.

Recent Games:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • Suffered a 5-2 in Kindersley on Wednesday night. That’s the Ice Wolves 8th straight loss. But they are still very much in the playoff race in the North. They are 1 point back of the Melfort Mustangs. The Mustangs have 2 games in hand so these last 5 games are all massive for La Ronge. We know they are well coached and work hard and will be very tough to beat tonight on their home ice. The North Stars will have to play well.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • The North Stars lost 4-3 in a shootout last night in Flin Flon. Tanner Quinn, Ben Greenaway and Brandon Long scored the goals for the North Stars.

Players to Watch:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • Braden Oleksyn. Has 28 points this season which is third on La Ronge’s roster and second if you remove Nathan Boyer from the mix. Oleksyn is a 16 year old with great offensive upside. At one point this season he scored 7 goals in 4 games. He also fought Kendall Fransoo last time these teams met.

Battlefords North Stars:

  • Joren Johnson and Kyle Schmidt. The Stars D men had a solid game last night and Schmidt is looking better and better as he gets back up to full game shape. Both these guys will be playing in La Ronge for the very first time in their careers. So lets see how they adjust to the unique La Ronge arena.

Head to Head:

  • La Ronge 2 @ Battlefords 5 (Feb 5 2013)
  • La Ronge 2 @ Battlefords 8 (Nov 17 2012)
  • Battlefords 4 @ LaRonge 3 (Nov 10 2012)
  • LaRonge 3 @ Battlefords 2 (Nov 2 2012)
  • Battlefords 3 @ LaRonge 6 (Oct 13 2012)
  • Josh Betinol has been the Stars leading point getter so far in games against La Ronge. Betinol has 4 goals and 7 points in 5 games against the Ice Wolves this season. Kyle Hall has 6 points (3+3) in those 5 games. Nathan Boyer was the Ice Wolves top guy but he was traded to Melville. So Graham Smerek is the La Ronge forward to look out for as he has 6 points (1+5) in 5 games versus the Stars this season.

Special Teams:

La Ronge Ice Wolves:

  • PP: 27-148 (18.2% – 7th in SJHL)
  • PK: 42PPGA-166 (74.7% – 12th in SJHL)

Battlefords North Stars:

  • PP: 43-232 (18.5% – 6th in SJHL)
  • PK: 45PPGA-229 (80.3% – 9th in SJHL)

Stars fall 4-3 in a shootout

The Battlefords North Stars lost last night in Flin Flon 4-3 in a shootout.

The Stars came out early and grabbed a quick power play against the Bombers thanks to a tripping call against Brett Penner. But the Stars power play struggled all night and they gave up a short handed goal to Landon Hiebert. The Bombers forward got in on Connor Creech and shot post and in to open the scoring. The Bombers made it 2-0 later in the period when Cam Blair also scored post and in past the glove of Creech.

The Stars sent out the Marit line for a response shift after the goal. And they got the response they were looking for. That line was outstanding all night and not just offensively. They got a goal when Tanner Quinn fired on net and the puck went off the post and ended up behind Devin Buffalo. That made it 2-1 which is how things stood after the first period of play. The shots were 15-12 for the Bombers in the opening period. I thought the Stars got better as the period went on. But much like the game on Saturday it seemed like the Stars were playing the Bombers style more than their own.

That changed in the second period. The Stars were outstanding. They controlled the play. Every line was working hard and they forced their game on the Bombers. They out shot Flin Flon 20-7 and scored twice. Ben Greenaway got in behind the Bombers defense and went backhand to beat Buffalo. Then shortly after Brandon Long fired past Buffalo to make it 3-2 Stars after 2. It was a fantastic period for the Stars. At the end of the period there was pushing and shoving in front which led to a fight between Joren Johnson and Jason Wark. Give the decision to Johnson who landed at least one big right hand.

The Bombers responded in the third period. They out shot the Stars 15-8 thanks in part to a couple early power plays at the beginning of the third. But for the most part the Bombers were kept to the outside and when they weren’t Creech was there. He made a great pad save going post to post in the final frame.

The Stars had some chances in the third as well. Josh Betinol got in behind the defense a couple times with great moves. But he couldn’t beat Buffalo. Buffalo ended up with 38 saves on 41 shots. Connor Creech made 35 saves on 38 shots as both goaltenders were good. The Bombers ended up tying the game with 5:32 left in regulation when Creech came out to clear a puck that was rolling towards the net. Cam Blair was racing after the puck with the Stars D and the clearance bounced off Blair and into the net.

There was no scoring in overtime and the Bombers eventually won in a shootout. Brandon Long and Jake McMillen missed and Brody Luhning scored. Both Balaski and Storzuk scored for the Bombers.

The Stars end up going 0-4 on the power play but did give up a shorthanded goal. The Bombers were 0-3 on the man advantage. The Stars leave with a point on the road in Flin Flon and play in La Ronge tomorrow night.