North Stars season is over

The Battlefords North Stars 2012-13 season came to an end last night at the Civic Center. The Melfort Mustangs scored with 2:03 remaining in the 3rd period to skate off with a 4-3 victory. Josh Betinol scored twice for the Stars. Austin Evans also chipped in with a goal. But it wasn’t enough as the Mustangs swept the Survivor Series in three straight games.

It still hasn’t really sunk in yet and I am not too sure what to write at this point. I guess first and foremost congratulations to the Mustangs. They worked hard and played very well in the series and you can’t take anything away from them. They earned the wins and the series. Best of luck to Melfort against Humboldt.

For the North Stars it’s not how I expected the season to end.

I am going to miss the young men that made up that team. Most of them are eligible to return and I look forward to seeing them in the fall. For the 20 year old players it is especially tough. Kyle Hall, Braeden Johnson and Brody Luhning have been around this team for 3 years. Connor Creech for 2. And Evan Ripley joined the team this season.

Luhning played 157 games for the North Stars in his 3 years with the program. He also appeared in 20 playoff games. Luhning had 35 regular season goals as a Stars and added 78 assists.

Johnny played in 120 games for the North Stars plus 20 playoff games. He scored 33 goals and added 66 assists.

Kyle Hall played 169 regular season games for the Stars scoring 54 goals and 121 points. He also appeared in 20 playoff games.

Creech made 65 appearances for the Stars in 2 season going 35-21-4 with 10 games in the playoffs.

And Evan Ripley appeared in 52 games this season scoring once and adding 11 assists. He appeared in all 3 playoff games this season.

You won’t find 5 better people and all of them will be missed. In their own ways they helped to leave this franchise in a better place than it was in when they got here. It was great getting to watch them play and getting to know them all. And I am sure they are all destined for good things in the future.

As I said on the broadcast last night I want to thank the North Stars coaching staff and players for everything they’ve done this season. The board and all the volunteers who make it possible for the North Stars to exist and function so well. Everyone at CJNB/CJNS who was involved in getting the broadcasts on the air. And of course the North Stars great fans for making it all possible.

It’s going to be tough not going to the rink to broadcast a North Stars game for a while. But September will be here soon enough.

North Stars on the verge of elimination

The Battlefords North Stars lost last night in Melfort 7-4 and are now one loss away from their season coming to an end.

The Stars came out flying last night and had a 2-0 lead less than 5 minutes in. Braeden Johnson got them going settling a hard back door feed in an instant before going to the backhand and beating Wilkins. A couple minutes later a loose puck came to Brody Luhning in the slot and he beat Wilkins over the glove into the top corner.

It was 2 goals on their first 2 shots and a perfect start. But Wilkins started making saves and the Stars couldn’t extend the lead despite having some chances. The Mustangs got a power play goal and it was 2-1 Stars after 1.

The North Stars dominated the middle frame. The second period was awful in game 1 and has been a struggle at times this season. The Stars sure corrected that. They out shot the Mustangs 22-6 and I can’t imagine Melfort had more than 2 or 3 scoring chances. But the game was tied 3-3 heading to the third. Logan Sceviour blocked a point shot and raced onto the loose puck for a breakaway. He beat Connor Creech low along the ice and through the 5 hole. That made it 2-2.

The Stars got the lead back when Austin Evans had a shot go off a stick or a skate and go past Wilkins. The goal created by Evans great skating ability and speed. That goal was late second and it looked like the Stars would take a lead into the third period. But the Mustangs wouldn’t go away. They had a shot blocked on it’s way to Creech and ricocheted right to Sloan. He settled the puck and fired it into the roof of the net. Creech tried to make the diving save but the deflection on the shot block made it almost an impossible save as he dove across the net.

So it was 3-3 heading to the third. And that’s when the wheels fell off. The Mustangs scored 3 goals in 10:47 to take a 6-3 lead. Kyle Schmidt scored to give the Stars some life. A point shot through traffic getting past a screened Wilkins. The Stars had replaced Creech with Casey Parker after the 6th goal and he was pulled for the extra attacker with 2 minutes left. But Melfort poked and hacked at a loose puck in the slot in their own zone and it ended up sliding all the way down the ice to wrap things up.

There were a couple fights in the game. Ben Greenaway went with Bryden Serafini at center ice in the third. Both guys just stood toe to toe and threw big right hands. Greenaway may have edged the fight but both guys were hurt. I think Greenaway it going to be okay. He was bleeding as he went off the ice. But I am not sure if the same can be said of Serafini. That may be the last we see of him this season whatever happens with the rest of this series. Brody Luhning then fought Zentner late in the third in a less spectacular but still entertaining fight.

So in the end the North Stars are down 2-0 in the Survivor Series and on the verge of elimination. There are positives to take from last night’s game. And there are negatives to try and correct. The Stars won’t panic as they have guys in that locker room who have been down before and found a way to come back.

I have a lot of faith in the Stars coaching staff and I know how much work the players have put in this season. So I believe they will come out with their best effort of the season on Monday. It will be incredibility hard for Melfort to eliminate the Stars. As we’ve seen anything can happen and Melfort is a good team. They deserve to be up in the series. But the Stars won’t go down without a big time fight.

Game 3 is Monday at the Civic Center at 7:30 and the Stars could use a big crowd to help them keep their season alive.

I will have the game live on CJNB/CJNS as well as online at http://www.cjnb.com

Stars lose game 1 at home

The Battlefords North Stars lost game 1 of the Survivor Series last night at the Civic Center. The Melfort Mustangs skated away with a 4-1 win and home ice advantage going into tonight’s game 2.

The Stars looked a little tight in the first 3 or 4 shifts last night and then Ryne Keller’s line had a good shift in the offensive zone. That seemed to get the team going a little and they ended up getting an early goal. Ben Greenaway just threw the puck towards the net on the backhand and it got through Jesse Wilkins.

The Stars ended up being the better team in the opening period and the shots would have been even more lopsided if the Mustangs hadn’t had a couple of chances on the power play. They didn’t score on those opportunities in part because of a strong North Stars shot block effort and the play of Connor Creech.

In the second period the Stars came out sluggish and the Mustangs made them pay with 3 goals. The first two were soft goals that Connor Creech stops 99 times out of 100. The third was a nicely worked goal on the power play directed home by Logan Sceviour. I thought he had a strong game for the Mustangs.

The Stars have struggled with the second period at times this season and last night was a struggle. They also didn’t get much going in the final period as they managed 10 shots and a few scoring chances. But they didn’t do enough to cut the lead and eventually the Mustangs added another power play goal late to seal the game.

With the win the Mustangs now have taken home ice away from the Stars and they will look to cement that with a win at home tonight. The North Stars will be looking to get home ice back with a road win. It’s a short 5 game series and so everything seems to be magnified. But the one noticeable aspect of a short series is how quickly things can change.

A lot of the North Stars players got their first Junior ‘A’ playoff game under their belts and now have a better idea what to expect moving forward. They did seem a little tight at times last night and maybe a little nervous. It’s a short series as mentioned so they will have to get past that quickly.

We’ve seen the Stars bounce back before and they will look to do it again tonight in Melfort. I will have the call live on CJNB/CJNS starting with the SaskTel pregame show at 7:15. Puck drops at 7:30. You can also listen online at http://www.cjnb.com

Playoffs begin tonight when the North Stars host Melfort

The Battlefords North Stars begin the post season tonight at the Civic Center. The Survivor Series is a best of 5 with the winner moving on to face Humboldt in the next round.

The excitement is building already this morning. There is nothing better than playoff hockey. The intensity goes up. The stakes are higher. The hair is awful. And the crowds at the Civic Center should be massive once again this season.

In the regular season the North Stars took 4 of 6 games from the Melfort Mustangs. They won the first two meetings of the season and the two most recent matchups. In total the Stars scored 23 goals and allowed 17 against Melfort.

Spetember 29th 2012 – Stars 3 – Mustangs 1
Connor Creech picked up the win and Patrick Johnson took the loss. Kyle Hall had 2 goals including the game winner.
Stars PP: 0-4 Mustangs PP: 0-4

October 19th 2012 – Stars 5 – Mustangs 4
Casey Parker took the iwn with Jesse Wilkins taking the loss. Sloan had 2 goals for Melfort. Spencer Gosselin scored twice for the Stars. Hall and Long each had 2 assists. Braeden Johnson had a goal and a helper.
Stars PP: 0-4 Mustangs PP: 0-6

November 14th 2012 – Mustangs 5 – Stars 2
Ryan Rewerts took the loss. It was the AP goalies only appearance for the North Stars. Patrick Johnson picked up the win.
Kyle Hall and Blake Young scored for the Stars. Tham had 2 for Melfort. Logan Sceviour had 3 assists.Stars PP: 0-4 Mustangs PP: 2-7

December 5th 2012 – Mustangs 3 – Stars 1
Connor Creech took the loss for the Stars. Patrick Johnson the win for the Stangs. Jake McMillen scored the Stars lone goal. Sloan had a goal and an assist for the Mustangs.
Stars PP: 1-4 Mustangs PP: 0-4

December 7th 2012 – Stars 5 – Mustangs 2
Creech with the win. Johnson the loss. Luke McColgan had 2 goals and an assist. Brody Luhning and Braeden Johnson each had a goal and an assist. Blake Young 2 helpers.
Stars PP: 2-3 Mustangs PP: 2-6

Jan 15th 2013 – Stars 5 – Mustangs 2
Casey Parker with the win in net beating Jesse Wilkins. Tanner Quinn was the only Stars with more than a point. He hada goal and an assist. Casey Parker had a helper as well as the win.
Stars PP: 1-5 Mustangs PP: 1-5

Some totals. Casey Parker was 2-0 against the Mustangs. Connor Creech 2-1. Ryan Rewerts 0-1. Patrick Johnson was 2-2 against the Stars in net for Melfort. Jesse Wilkins 0-2.

The Stars went 4-24 (16.6%) on the power play. The Stangs were 5-32 (15.6%) on the man advantage. For the Stars that’s under their regualr season average of 18.4% and the Mustangs were up a little on their season average of 15.2%.

And as we all know the regular season is over. It’s pretty much meaningless in a lot of ways. What matters is who wins tonight’s game at the Civic Center.

Puck drops at 7:30. I will have the SakTel pregame show on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.