North Stars make a trade

With the North Stars on a losing skid and off to a disapointing start you knew that moves would have to be made. Today the North Stars announced a trade involving a pair of former Midget AAA Stars.

The North Stars sent Alex Bechtold and Spencer Gosselin to Drumheller for the Yew twins Regan and Robin.

We didn’t get a chance to really get to know Alex as he wasn’t here in town for very long. From my interactions with him though he seems to be a very nice young man. He’s an Alberta kid and I know he was happy to be heading back to his home province.

Goose was in his second year with the Stars. A stalwart on D in his rookie season Gosselin has struggled at times this season. He’s also been snakebitten as well. Perhaps it was a good time for Goose to get a fresh start. But he will be missed a lot. Just a great kid to be around. Skilled at both ends of the ice I am sure Gosselin will be a hit in Alberta.

The Stars get the Yew twins in return. Robin is a puck moving D man who will help the Stars offense by getting the puck to the forwards quickly and allowing the Stars to use their speed through the neutral zone. Regan is a big strong center who brings a presence at both ends of the rink. When he is driving the net he can be a real handful. Potential to be a very good two way center in the SJHL.

Both guys played for several seasons with the Midget AAA program here in town so they know this community well. They also played with a couple members of the North Stars including Braden Lacoursiere and Blake Young. They are good kids who are excited to be headed back to Saskatchewan.

For more check out http://www.northstars.ca

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North Stars fall just short again

The North Stars lost 4-2 last night to the Melville Millionaires. The Mills ended up taking 3 of 4 games from the Stars this season.

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The first period last night started out pretty much the same as the Stars recent losses. They came out strong with several good shifts to start the game. The Keller, Quinn, Forbes line really set a good tone. There were 3 or 4 times in the early going where the Stars drove the net and created rebounds. But the Mills cleared the puck before the Stars could pounce.

Midway through the period the Stars took a penalty. Dillon Forbes with a slash low on Ashton Clark knocked the former AAA Star off stride. Forbes went to the box for tripping. 14 seconds later the Stars were behind. Landon Farrell beating Casey Parker to open the scoring. The goal was scored at the 13:13 mark of the period. The Stars had some bad luck the rest of the night.

The shots after the first were 17-10 in favour of the North Stars. They played well but trailed. A pretty familiar story so far. Some fans I spoke with in the intermission felt the Stars hadn’t done enough of the net drives that had been working in the opening phase of the game.

In the second period a net drive led to the Stars tying goal. With a delayed penalty Tanner Quinn was able to come of the bench as an extra attacker. He raced towards the front of the net as Alex Bechtold drove the puck wide. Eventually a shot and a rebound made it’s way to Austin Evans and he hammered the puck home for his second of the year. His delight, and relief, were obvious.

The Stars almost took a lead late in the second. A shot of the rush was stopped by Plett but the rebound fluttered up in the air and onto the back of the net. The Stars knocked it loose as Plett scrambled around trying to find the puck. Ben Mack came in and shoved the net off it’s moorings. He took a delay of game penalty but the Stars couldn’t capitalize.

The Millionaires jumped out to a lead in the third. Just 2:45 into the period an Adam Dibella point shot squeaked through Casey Parker who may have been screened on the play. Two and a half minutes later Brady Constant made it 3-1. The crowd got behind the team with a ‘Go Stars Go’ chant and they responded. A minute after the Constant goal it was Nick Fountain making it 3-2. Founts has been great of late for the Stars and a great story after struggling to get into the lineup at times this season. He found a rebound and from just outside the crease, on his knees with his back to goal, he whacked the rebound home.

The Stars had chances after that. They buzzed in the attacking zone. They won puck battles. And I thought they had tied the game. A Jack Petrino deflection went just wide when seemingly the puck was headed into a yawning cage. The Stars just can’t buy a break.

Perhaps no player exemplifies the Stars struggles more than Spencer Gosselin. I think he’s been pretty solid but seemingly every time he makes a mistake the puck ends up in his team’s net. He was good last night. And then the bad luck. With the Star pressing in the attacking zone Goose went to the wall to try and hold a clearing attempt. Then the puck hit a station and deflected past and out to neutral ice. Kelvin Walz raced onto the loose puck and went in on a 2 on 1 and made no mistake snapping the puck past Parker.

A terrible bounce costing the Stars. They got the net empty and ended up drawing a late power play but were unable to score. They lost 4-2 in another game where they played well, were unlucky at times, struggled to finish the chances they created and every little mistake they made seemed to cost a goal.

After the game Coach Hasselberg praised the way his team worked and battled. He loved the way the crowd got behind the team. And he also admits the Stars need to make less mistakes. To control the play when the puck is in their possession.

As the GM I had to ask about potential moves. He said he has faith in this group. Kevin has to do his job and listen to offers and look at players who are available. He says he doesn’t want to make a trade just to make a trade. If they can improve the team they will. But he likes this group and the work they’ve done to assemble this team. You don’t want to bring in a bad apple into a locker room full of great young men.

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Also last night, the North Stars auctioned off pumpkins that they had carved. There were some pretty creative efforts so I snapped a quick picture. It’s not great but you get an idea what the Star were able to come up with.

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Game #16 North Stars host Melville

The Battlefords North Stars host the Melville Millionaires tonight at the Civic Center. The Stars are now 0-6 on home ice and have lost 6 in a row overall. It’s hard to believe how much adversity this team is going through in the early going. But I still believe it’s a matter of time before it clicks into place and this team goes into a new gear. Having said that though…it does need to happen sooner rather than later.

This is the last game of the season between these two teams. The Mills have already won the season series with 2 wins and a shootout loss. Stars with a win though could split the victories 2-2 after a shootout win in Melville. Interesting isn’t it? The Mills are considered a surprise this season. A young team with lots of new faces playing better than people expected and they’ve won 4 in a row. At the same time the Stars a an early season disappointment. They aren’t playing to the level that was expected so far but it’s still only the quarter pole of the season.

This is the nd of 4 straight at home for the Stars a stretch we thought might allow the North Stars to kick start their season. After tonight the Battlefords will head on a Southern road trip.

I think it has to be said that it is also time for guys to start taking a step forward. Carlson, Petrino, Evans, Reich, Forbes, Gosselin, Parker….guys with experience and lots of talent. This team is much better than their record and a great group of guys. I think it’s been obvious this season during the broadcasts that I am rooting for this team. I am becoming more and more of a “homer” this year. That’s in part because it’s such a likable group of young men and I know how hard they are working. But again, it’s time to step it up at least a notch. I REALLY hope they do it tonight.

By the way, Jake McMillen scored last night for his team at the World Junior A Challenge Team West selection camp. I haven’t seen Blake Young’s name pop up on the scoresheet yet though.

Some Keys for tonight:

1) Continue to battle – The North Stars are a hard working unit. They just need to string together a full 60 minute effort as they’ve shown that 50 minutes isn’t enough. And continue to keep their heads up and keep trying. They’ll will break though eventually.

2) Step up – As I mentioned above. It’s time to take a step forward. I know these guys are good enough. Maybe they just need to prove it to themselves.

3) Break the Mills – They’ve been on a roll winning 4 in a row. They’ve got guys on point streaks. They are playing well and are confident. The Stars need to break that good feeling as early as possible.

Stars Lineup:

Parker*
Martin

Fransoo – Lacoursiere*
Erickson – Schmidt
Gosselin – Charleson

Quinn – Keller – Forbes*
Fountain – Delainey – Leonenko
Bechtold – McColgan – Evans
Reich – Petrino – Heinrich

Scratches: Sheeran, Greenaway, Carlson, Young and McMillen

Broncos win 4-1 at the Civic Center

First of all, again, I want to apologize for the lack of blog postings the last few days. Also for the post game show tonight being short. Coach Hasselberg was on his way up to the broadcast booth for the post game interview. But unfortunately I am under the weather today and had to get off the air quickly. I feel like I am swallowing nails at the moment as well so hopefully the throat heals up nicely for Tuesday’s game. I apologized to Coach Hasselberg but I should do so again. We will definitely make sure to have him on after the Melville game. .

The North Stars started the game well with the Luke McColgan line setting the tone with a very good shift. Unfortunately, the North Stars fell behind in the first when Austin Duzan knocked a rebound out of the air and past Darren Martin. It was close to being a high stick but the goal stood. That goal was scored during a delayed penalty against the Stars.

The Stars tied the game on the power play. Kyle Schmidt set up Igor Leonenko with speed in the neutral zone. Igor went wide on the D and down low. He then passed the puck out front to Reed Delainey who made no mistake. His second of the year. The Stars were really physical tonight and took a couple of first period boarding penalties.

In the second the only penalty the Stars took led to a goal. Kendall Fransoo was called for roughing after throwing what I thought was just a simple good clean hard hit. I was VERY surprised the arm went up and roughing was called. No excuses. You still have to try and kill penalties if you don’t agree with the call. But the North Stars couldn’t. A point shot changed directions and just slipped under Darren Martin. Gray Marr poked it home.

The North Stars out shot the Broncos in the middle frame and played well. They created chances as well. Nick Fountain was stopped by Spencer late in the frame on a partial break. Igor Leonenko had a couple of shots stopped and another hit a leg and go just wide. And Robin Carlson missed high glove on a partial break of his own.

In the third Ben Greenaway was called for a blow to the head and Tanner Quinn went off for roughing. After Greenaway’s hit on Miazga it was Pongracz who came in and plowed Greenaway from behind. The Broncos forward got 2 and a game for a hit from behind. The North Stars killed that penalty but couldn’t do the same when Dillon Forbes went off for roughing. Again, I thought it was a decent hard, clean hit. Forbes kept his arm tucked into his side. But he went to the box and the Broncos scored to make it 3-1. The Stars then ended up short handed again. Humboldt actually had a 5 on 3 but the Stars PK stood tall.

Latrell Charleson got a break away out of the penalty box but missed. His shot sailing high and just missing. Austin Evans came very close in the third as well. He whistled a shot just over the cross bar.

In the end the Broncos were able to score into the empty net to wrap up the 4-1 win.

The North Stars played well. A good, hard physical game that went unrewarded. In part because they couldn’t finish some quality scoring chances. But one of these games the flood gates are going to open.

Melville comes to town on Tuesday. I hope to see you all at the rink.

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Jake McMillen and Blake Young made their way to Calgary this morning to try out for the World Junior A Challenge Team West. We wish them all the best. Getting a chance to experience a Hockey Canada set up will be great for those two. And I would love nothing more than to see them on TV in the gold medal game in Yarmouth in a couple weeks.

Game #15 – Humboldt Broncos at Battlefords North Stars

I apologize for not posting a game review for the last couple games. I have been in the process of moving into a new house. In fact, I have been carrying furniture and boxes since 8 this morning. So I couldn’t be more excited to be at the rink!!!

The Battlefords North Stars find themselves with a 4 and 10 record so far this season and they are currently on a 5 game losing streak. They have also lost 5 in a row at home. It’s been a very difficult stretch. Several 1 goal losses and then last night. The Stars played well in the first and third but weren’t at their best in the second frame. That’s when the Yorkton Terriers scored both their goals.

The Stars recently lost a 1 goal game in Humboldt in another game in which the Stars played well and came up just short.

The Broncos won last night in Kindersley and are now on a 3 game winning streak. In 4 games this season Ryland Pashovitz has 2 shutouts and a league leading goals against average. He was solid in Humboldt when the Broncos beat the North Stars 4-3. He’s yet to be beaten with a perfect 4-0 record.

The Broncos get balanced scoring from several lines but are lead by the likes of Pongracz, Miazga and Aubertin.

The Battlefords North Stars will be without Blake Young and Jake McMillen tonight as they are now away in Calgary for the World Junior A Challenge Team West tryouts. With a couple of top forwards missing the Stars will have opportunities for guys to get some more ice time.

North Stars Lineup:

Martin*
Parker

Erickson – Schmidt
Fransoo – Lacoursiere
Gosselin – Chareson

Forbes – McColgan – Evans
Quinn – Keller – Greenaway
Carlson – Reich – Petrino
Fountain – Delainey – Leonenko

Scratches – Sheeran, Heinrich, Young, McMillen, Bechtold

Game #14 – Yorkton Terriers at Battlefords North Stars

The North Stars are still in search of their first home win of the season. At 0-4 on home ice, and 4-9 overall, the Stars have some ground to make up after a slow start. They have several 1 goal losses on the ledger and a couple of those in back to back games. They aren’t far away at all.

The Yorkton Terriers are 8-4 so far this season their SHL title defense is of to a strong start. The Terriers are coming off a 1-0 loss in Humboldt in their most recent game.

These two teams have met twice so far this season with each team winning one. The Stars skated to a 4-0 win back on September 25th. That was the Battlefords North Stars first win of the season. The Terriers won the next meeting by a 7-3 score. So each team has a win and each team has scored 7 goals. Casey Parker has started both games and they couldn’t have gone differently. A strong defensive performance and strong goaltending led to a 4-0 win in the first meeting. Parker then let in 7 on October 4th as the Stars struggled.

Yorkton is 6-2 at home and 2-2 on the road. Last season they lost just once in regulation on home ice. The Stars beat them at Farrell Agencies Arena this season but since then the Terriers have won 5 of 6 on home ice. But Yorkton is about to play game 2 of a 7 game stretch of road games.

Some Keys for the North Stars:

1) Be ready right away – The Stars need to sort out their starts to games and periods. They just have had too many slow starts whether through bad luck or bad play, and haven’t consistently started as strong as they have finished. If they play as well early in periods as they do late they will be in good shape.

2) Get a lead – The Stars are 0-1 when tied after 40 minutes. They are 0-7 when trailing after 40. They are 4-1 win leading after 40. The numbers here don’t lie. Any hockey team will struggle to come from behind consistently. Even the great teams need to play with leads. The Stars need to get in front.

3) Be ware of the defense – The Terriers D will jump into the play at any time. Both Norrish twins are very active. And it was the D that really sparked that 7 goal game for the Terriers against the Stars. So the wingers must be sharp and as team they need to concentrate to keep the Terriers defense quiet. For the Stars puck management and an aggressive forecheck will help as well. Keep the puck in the Terriers end and make their D expend energy defending.

North Stars Lineup:

Martin*
Parker

Erickson – Schmidt*
Fransoo – Forbes
Gosselin – Charleson

Young – McColgan – Keller*
McMillen – Delainey – Leonenko
Fountain – Reich – Petrino
Quinn – Bechtold – Greenaway

Schratches: Lacoursiere, Sheeran, Henrich, Evans, Carlson

Game #13 – North Stars host La Ronge Ice Wolves

As we reach the quarter point of the season things have not gone the way the North Stars wanted. A pair of 3 game losing streaks. No wins on home ice. No wins against Kramer Division opponents. A 4 win and 8 loss record.

But the talent, work, dedication, and enthusiasm is there to turn things around at any time. With the next 4 games on home ice the North Stars have a chance to really launch their season.

La Ronge comes into the game in first place in the Sherwood Division with a record of 7-4. They have 2 of the league’s top 3 goal scorers in Sebastien Beauregard and Edam native Owen LaClare. And they have fine goaltending from Dasan Sydora and former Vancouver Giant Tyler Fuhr.

They have also lost 3 in a row on the road and have won 6 of their 7 games at the Mel Heglund Uniplex in La Ronge. Which is always a tough building to play in. The Ice Wolves haven’t been as good on the road as they have been at home. They will be looking to fix that here tonight at the Civic Center.

It’s streak snapping night. One of these teams will end a 3 game losing skid. If the Stars win it will end a 3 game home losing skid as well.

A few keys for the North Stars:

1) Have a good time – This team needs to just relax into their game and enjoy playing here at home. The ability is there and the Stars we know will work hard. Inject that enthusiasm and they will be just fine.

2) Even keel – When you are winning games and riding high they say you shouldn’t get too high. When losing? Don’t get too low. The North Stars need to keep that even keel throughout the game tonight as well. I was at practice yesterday an here at the rink now. This team remains together and in good spirits which will suit them very well.

3) Just win, baby – The famous old quote couldn’t be more true here. It doesn’t have to be pretty but just find a way to get it done. They did that in Melfort and it sparked a 3 game winning streak. Just find a way to win and get a good feeling back into the team.

North Stars Lineup:

Parker*
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Erickson – Schmidt
Lacoursiere – Charleson

Young – McColgan – Evans
McMillen – Keller – Greenaway
Carlson – Reich – Leonenko
Quinn – Bechtold – Fountain

Scratches: Gosselin, Sheeran, Heinrich, Delainey, Petrino

Stars lose 4-3 in Humboldt

The North Stars got their first look at the Humboldt Broncos this season falling 4-3 in a hard fought game at the Elgar Petersen Arena last night.

Playing their third game in three nights we wondered if the Stars might need a few shifts to get into the game. That wasn’t the case. The Stars played a very strong road period. They outshot the Broncos 10-4 but couldn’t convert on several power play chances. The Stars had a couple of 5 on 3 chances as part of 4 power play opportunities in the opening frame. They didn’t capitalize and ended up trailing after 1. Ryan Aubertin stealing a puck and snapping past Casey Parker from the face off circle. That was a short handed goal and it was 1-0 Broncos after the first.

The Broncos and Stars played a pretty even middle frame with Humboldt getting a couple of power play chances of their own. But it was the Stars who would score twice. First it was Ben Greenaway driving to the net to force home a rebound after a Ryne Keller shot. Greenaway had hit the post in the first period with a short handed chance. That was Ben’s first of the year and it was extra special because his parents were in the arena.

Taylor Reich was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the night before. Reich scored his first as a North Stars, and first of the season, on another rebound. A point shot from Jake Erickson looked like it was deflected. Reich found the lose puck at in front and popped it home.

The Stars ended up taking 4 second period penalties, the same number as Humboldt took in the first interestingly, and the Broncos league worst power play eventually struck. David Stumborg coming in off the right point to pop home a rebound. That made it 2-2. Casey Parker stopped a breakaway later in the second. That huge stop ensured a tie game heading to the third period.

The Broncos were repelled several times by Parker’s right pad in the third period as he made several key saves. Ryland Pashovitz at the other end was just as good. Eventually the Broncos scored to take the lead. After two good saves by Parker the Broncos were able to score on a rebound. You can’t ask much more than your goalie making the first two saves. After the goal the Stars took a penalty and on the ensuing power play the Broncos scored.

Those two goals were 35 seconds apart and gave Humboldt a two goal lead. The Stars got one back with Jake McMillen’s 4th of the year. His 4th goal in his last 5 games and his second wrap around goal of the year. The Stars got the net empty and were buzzing but were unable to score.

Once again I thought the North Stars did a great job blocking shots led by Kendall Fransoo. They played a pretty strong road game and I thought at times they were clearly the better team last night. But they didn’t capitalize, those first period PP chances looming large, and slumped to a third straight defeat. It’s tough to see these guys go through this early season adversity but hese young men, and their coaches, will continue to put in the work and look for the solutions. I am confident they will find them.

The Stars will look to bounce back on Wednesday at the Civic Center when they face La Ronge for the first time this season.

Game #12 North Stars at Humboldt

This is the North Stars first chance this season to face the Humboldt Broncos. The Broncos come into the game with a 4-6 record on the season while the North Stars are 4-7. So whoever wins tonight will move into sole possession of second place in the Kramer Division.

Humboldt haven’t faced the Kindersley Klippers yet this year. They’ve played just two divisional games so far, both against Notre Dame on the opening weekend of the season. Since then they have faced Nipawin 3 times and La Ronge twice as well as Melfort, Yorkton and Estevan.

The Broncos appear to have just 12 returning players. David Miazga, Dylan Fluter, Ryan Aubertin, Matthew Audette, David Stumborg, Cody Pongracz, Logan Sproule, and Cody Pettapiece are all back and account for 8 of the Broncos top 10 scorers. The only rookie is former AAA Star Austin Duzan who is 10th in team scoring.

Jarrett Fontaine is new to the Broncos but the Humboldt native has a couple seasons in the WHL under his belt. So while this is a new look Bronco team, the payers to watch remain largely a group of players who are familiar to the Stars.

The Broncos are led by coach Dean Brockman and he will find a way to bring in some quality players over the course of the season to add to the mix. And you know he will have his team playing their system well. It’s always a challenge bringing 2 points home from the Elgar.

The Stars are coming off a long stretch and may have to ride an early storm if it takes them 5 minutes or so to get their legs going. But they know what to expect and they know what’s at stake. The Stars can finish this tough week with a 2-2 record and momentum to take in to a string of home games.

Some Keys for the North Stars:

1) Discipline – Yeah again. I know I am a big of a broken record but 8 times in the box against Kindersley was again too many. The Stars PK is still amazing.

2) Weather the storm – It may take a few shifts for the Stars to get their game on track after so many games this week. No excuses but the Broncos will be coming out of the gates quickly. The Stars don’t want to fall behind early again.

3) Score – Sounds simple. But the Stars have just 1 goal in the last 2 games. And they’ve had chances. They score by committee and they need the committee to get back on a roll.

Stars Lineup:

Parker*
Martin

Forbes – FransooErickson – Schmidt
Gosselin – Charleson

Young – McColgan – Fountain
McMillen – Bechtol – Evans
Reich – Keller – Greenaway
Quinn – Delainey – Leonenko

Scratches: Petrino, Heinrich, Lacoursiere, Carlson, Sheeran

Klippers 4 – North Stars 1

The Battlefords North Stars are now 0-4 against the Kindersley Klippers this season. They are 4-3 against the rest of the league.

The North Stars made 4 changes to the lineup that lost 3-0 in Kindersley on Friday night. Dillon Forbes, Ben Greenaway, Nick Fountain and Robin Carlson all returned to the lineup. The Stars wanted a better effort than they had in Kindersley. They got it but they didn’t get the results for that hard work.

The Stars couldn’t have had a worse start last night. Their first game at the Civic Center in about 3 weeks and the crowd was taken out of the game immediately. A bouncing puck made it’s way right to a wide open Colby Daniels in the slot and he made it 1-0 just 10 seconds into the game. That line struck again just 1:25 into the first when Gio Bombini made it 2-0. The Stars hadn’t even had a shot on net yet. In fact, Robin Carlson’s line hadn’t even had a shift yet and the Stars were down 2.

The rest of the period the North Stars spent trying to get some momentum. That’s hard to do though when you are constantly killing penalties. The Stars gave up 4 power play chances to the Klippers but once again the Battlefords penalty kill was immaculate. Shot blocking was top notch and the shots that did get through were repelled by Darren Martin. He responded nicely after that very difficult start to the game.

Jake McMillen tried to fight Eric Pouliot in the first period but couldn’t find a dance partner. McMillen was trying to spark his team.

It seemed to work because from the second period on I thought the Stars got better and better. In the final 40 minutes they outshot the Klippers 32-16.

The difference was Tyrell King in the Klipper goal. He’s off to a fantastic start this season and is going to be tough to beat when his team stakes him to an early lead. The Klippers got the only goal of the second period. Austin Yano jumped up into the rush and snapped a shot off the wing that beat Martin on the blocker side just inside the post.

Ryne Keller was ejected in the middle frame for a check from behind. I didn’t like the call. Nick Fountain thought he had scored but the goal was waved off. Robin Carlson, in his return to the lineup, had a couple of second period chances turned away by King. Carlson was good for the North Stars and seemed to get better as the game went along.

But the bounces weren’t going the Stars way.

In the third Nick Fountain finally broke the shutout. McColgan and Young teamed up on a face off to poke the puck loose to Fountain in the slot and he chipped the puck past King. Not long after that Fountain beat King clean with a shot from the face off circle. It went off the cross bar and out of play. The Stars were inches away from getting within a goal.

Later in the period the Stars Alex Bechtold, who I thought had a strong game, missed a good chance in the slot firing just wide on the blocker side. A late third period power play for the Stars was unable to muster much offense and then Naish wrapped things up when he fired into the empty net with a little over a minute to go.

So the Stars had a goal waved off, a player kicked out, a shot off the cross bar and had to kill off 8 Kindersley power plays. The North Stars went to the man advantage just 3 times. A couple of bounces in the North Stars favour and it could have been a much different story.

It wasn’t though and the North Stars now drop to 4-7 on the season and they’ve lost 2 in a row. They won’t be making any excuses for the loss and they weren’t after the game I can assure you. This team will be looking for a big bounce back performance tonight as the Stars look to get back in the win column in Humboldt.