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)
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