Game #29 – North Stars host Estevan Bruins – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 13-13-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars finished off a perfect Northern road trip with a 3-2 win over La Ronge on Wednesday night. The Stars started with a pair of goals in the first period. Ryne Keller opening the scoring and Brenden Heinrich making it 2-0.

Darren Martin started in net and was solid in the first period making just 7 saves to keep the Ice Wolves at bay. La Ronge went 0-2 on the power play while the Stars were 0-3.

La Ronge got better as the game went along and managed to outshoot the Stars in the second period and get the periods only goal. Agner-Bouchard, a new comer to the Ice Wolves lineup, got them on the bored. It was 2-1 heading to the third. I thought Tyler Fuhr struggled a little in the first period but he was solid the rest of the way.

In the third the Ice Wolves tied the game at 2 thanks to a goal from Cole Golka. Golka ended up with 2 points on the game. The Stars sent out a group they thought would respond and it worked. Dillon Forbes was vocal as he went on the ice to start the shift after the tying goal. And he backed up those words with the game winning goal. A point shot that may have changed directions on the way but beat Fuhr to make it 3-2 Stars.

Forbes ended up the game first star. A 2 point night and solid in his own end as well. Plus the physical play that is his trademark. Leave to a player with experience to have a great game in a rink that can sometimes be tough to play in. Blake Young also had 2 points although he felt he deserved an assist on the opening goal. None the less his roll of late continues.

All in all it was a great effort on the road trip to Flin Flon and La Ronge. The team is a little banged up and only played with 17 skaters in La Ronge. They also are a little unhealthy as well. Lots of bus travel. But in the end they made no excuses, got down to work, and picked up a pair of good road victories.

Storylines:

  • Parents and Billets: It should be a great night at the Civic Center with Parents and Billets weekend. There are a lot of important people that make the North Stars franchise possible. Parents and Billets are two very important groups. So the players get to play in front of family and there is a party after the game as well. It’s also the only game of the weekend for the North Stars so they’ll have plenty of energy to expend in tonight’s game.
  • 500: The North Stars got to .500 on the season with the win in La Ronge. So a win tonight would put them above that mark. Who would have tought that a team that was 4-12 would get to 13-13-0-2 on the season? To turn it around that fast is impressive and shows that this team is as good as we thought they were.
  • November: No team has been hotter in November than the Stars and it is important to finish the month off strong. 6-0-0-1 is the current streak and in their last 10 the North Stars are 8-1-0-1. That’s some consistently good hockey right there.
  • Kramer: The teams in this division continue to win and to go to overtime. The Broncos and Klippers both picked up 3 points in their recent head to head games and have gone to OT in all 3 games they’ve played against each other this season. Notre Dame won the over night as well. In the last 10 games Sherwood teams have 17 wins. Viterra teams have 21. Kramer division teams have 24 wins in that stretch and that’s with Kindersley winning just 3 in that span. It’s a tough division.
  • Streaks: Speaking of streaks the North Stars have some players on steaks. Blake Young and Brenden Heinrich are on 5 game point streaks. In that time Young has 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points. Heinrich has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points. Dillon Forbes is on a 3 game assist streak and in that time has 1 goal and 3 helpers for 4 points. The stats may change, coach Hasselberg sends in film to get scoring players right and stat corrections made, as well as Heinrich may have missed out on a point that would make the streak even longer.
  • Atch: The North Stars will get their assistant coach back behind the bench tonight. Coach Atcheynum wasn’t on the road trip as he had some personal matter to attend to at home. It will be good to see Atch back behind the bench.
  • Revenge: The North Stars were seconds away from a much needed win in Estevan and didn’t get it. That made have been the moment that turned the season around. But that doesn’t mean the Stars won’t be out for revenge here tonight.
  • Special Teams: Of course. Always something to watch but especially tonight. The Bruins have the league’s top power play. They are 4th in the league on the PK. May as well keep it at 5 on 5 as much as possible. That’s the first thing. But the North Stars are capable of winning the special teams battle against anyone. They may need to tonight.
  • Lineup: The North Stars have been a little banged up of late so the last couple days off may have helped guys to heal. They also were fighting off a flu or cold that was going through the team. They tried to minimize the damage and keep guys healthy but it may still affect the lineup for tonight’s game.

Keys to the Game?

1)   Limit the Bruins Top Line – Austin Daae had a hat trick in the third period last night in La Ronge. So he will be confident coming into tonight’s encounter. Daae and Froese do a lot of the damage for the Bruins. As the Stars showed in La Ronge they can put up a team effort to stop a talented top line. But goaltending and luck sometimes factor in as well. All in all, if they stop that top line they have a great chance to win.

2)   Keep Streaking – The North Stars have won 5 in a row overall. They have also won 5 in a row at home. They also have some players streaking as well. So may as well keep that roll going.

Out of the Box – Earlier this year the North Stars couldn’t stay out of the box. They’ve done better of late. That return to discipline has coincided with their win streak. The Stars are averaging 5 minors per game at this point in the season. The least penalized teams in the league, like Estevan and Yorkton, are averaging 4 minor penalties per game. So that gap is closing and that is a key tonight. Keep it 5 on 5 and don’t give the Bruins PP a lot of chances.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Fransoo – Lacoursiere
Yew – Charleson
Erickson – Schmidt

McMillen – Reich – Evans
Yew – Keller – Greenaway
Young – Delainey – Leonenko
Fountain – Petrino – Forbes

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Game #28 – North Stars visit La Ronge – Mel Hegland Arena

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 12-13-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars beat the Bombers 4-3. The North Stars were up 1-0 after 1. They scored during a 5 minute major power play. Braden Lacoursiere was hit from behind by Brett Boehm. Boehm was right behind Lacoursiere from about the top of the faceoff circle all the way into the corner and he chose not to hold up. He could see the numbers of the Stars young D-man the whole time. So when he hit Lacoursiere it was an obvious penalty. Boehm rightly got 5 and a game for checking from behind.

The first 3 minutes of that power play were not good. The Stars couldn’t get much going and I believe only had 2 shots on goal to that point. But they got a goal. Just when it looked like the Bombers would get a momentum building penalty kill? Nick Fountain got the North Stars on the board.

Latrell Charleon went D-to-D and Dillon Forbes got a shot through on target. Fountain made a nice deflection to beat Devin Buffalo.

Early in the second the Bombers took a lead. First it was Pedersen setting up Empey on a 2 on 1. It was a nearly perfect execution of a 2 on 1 and Empey made no mistake to make it 1-1. The Bombers got another a little over a minute later. Brock Hounsell sneaking in off the right point to score a power play goal that gave the Bombers their only lead of the game. Earlier on that power play Michael Gudmandson stopped Austin Calladine on a penalty shot.

The Stars got a power play later in the period with Dillon McCombie off for holding. Ryne Keller was credited with the goal. I am not sure who forced the puck over the line but the Stars had tied the game. Fountain and Charleson drew assists.

The game settled in a little after that and it was 2-2 heading to the third. Blake Young is the reigning SJHL player of the week. So he isn’t a guy you want to turn the puck over to in a tie game in the third period. But that’s exactly what the Bombers did. Young firing past the glove of Buffalo. Post and in to make it 3-2 Stars.

The Bombers tied it up 18 seconds later. A shot was stopped by Gudmandson but the rebound went off a Bombers and on to Gudmandson. He was falling back into his net and the goal was given. So we were all tied up again.

But again it was the North Stars who responded. Jack Petrino snapping a good hard wrist shot from the high slot through traffic and in on the glove side. Fountain grabbed another assist and got his third point of the game.

Late in the third Brenden Heinrich fought Brody Robinson and was given an extra 2 for instigating. The North Stars penalty kill was fantastic with a notable diving clearance from Blake Young highlighting the effort of every member of the PK unit.

The Stars couldn’t score with the net empty but held on for the 4-3 win. They have now won 4 in a row and are 8-1-0-2 in November. The turning point may have been the loss in Estevan when the Stars gave up a late lead and lost. They were sick and tired of losing. Tired of all their hard work not being rewarded. And since then they have been terrific.

Storylines:

  • The Mel: La Ronge has a unique arena and they play well on home ice. They play a game that suits their rink. It’s a small ice surface and especially so in the neutral zone. So the play happens very quickly and turnovers can be even more costly because the puck is in your zone so much quicker. You also have to block out the extraneous factors like the cold and the low roof.
  • Experience: Because a lot of the current North Stars haven’t been to La Ronge yet in their SJHL careers it will be important for the experienced players to take the lead and help explain the rink in La Ronge. What to expect. How to play to be successful. And communication will be a key.
  • Power Play: The North Stars power play is starting to head in the right direction. A couple goals on the power play last night have helped bump the Stars up to
  • Struggling: Since late October it’s been a real struggle for the Ice Wolves. They’ve won just 2 of their last 10. But when a team is struggling and they have their backs against a wall it’s only a matter of time before they come back fighting. We saw it with the North Stars earlier this year. The Stars will have to be prepared for a wounded and desperate team tonight.
  • Offense: The Ice Wolves lost 7-6 in their most recent game. So they certainly have the ability to score the puck. The North Stars offense has been getting going of late as well helping them put together this recent hot streak. So it will be interesting to see which team’s defense is able to get the upper hand.
  • Different Winners: The North Stars have 4 different game winning goal scorers in their last 4 wins. On the season Igor Leonenko and Reed Delainey are tied for the team lead with 2 game winners. That’s not counting shootout winners. The Stars have been getting it from different players all season in terms of offense and in terms of who is scoring the timely goal. It’s not just one guy or one line. It has been a team effort all along.
  • Rooks: The North Stars now have 2 of the top 3 rookie point getters in Igor Leonenko and Jake Erickson. With Brenden Heinrich and Reed Delainey they have 4 in the top 20. Melville has 5 in the top 20. Yorkton has 4. So the Stars are right up near the top in terms of rookie point production. It’s been great to see these new guys settling in and starting to produce on a regular basis.
  • The Past: It hasn’t gone well for the North Stars in La Ronge the last few seasons. They have just 3 wins in 10 games on the road against La Ronge in the past couple seasons. Guys like Forbes and Keller have been around for those games. They need to learn from the past and put those lessons into action tonight. And they need, as we mentioned earlier, to help out those around them.
  • Halfway: After tonight’s game the North Stars will be at the half way mark of the season in terms of games played. 28 of a 56 game schedule. It’s amazing that it has gone so fast so far. And with a win this will be a .500 hockey team that’s on a roll heading into the second half. Thinking back to when they were 4-12 that’s a pretty impressive turn around no matter what happens tonight.

Keys to the Game?

1) Special Teams:  La Ronge currently has the league’s lowest ranking power play and penalty kill. So if they win the game it’s likely going to happen at 5 on 5. The North Stars will have to take advantage when they do get power plays because on a small ice sheet like the Mel there will be chances on the man advantage. You can get to the Ice Wolves on special teams so the Stars will need to find ways to do just that.

2) Puck Management: It’s always important but maybe even a little more key in La Ronge. With so little neutral ice to play with any turnover is back in your zone in a hurry. So putting the puck in the right spots is a big key. Also communication will be a factor as well.

3) Top Line: The North Stars don’t do a lot of line matching anyway. And on the road with first change they can’t do a lot of it tonight. Plus, it’s just coach Hasselberg on the bench and he will have a lot to juggle during the game. So it will have to be a group effort against the Ice Wolves dangerous top line. LaClare, Bearegaurd and Sagen have over half of the goals that La Ronge has scored this season. The team will have to keep them quiet to have a great chance to win.

North Stars Lineup:

Martin
Gudmandson

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Robin Yew

Heinrich – Petrino – Fountain
Young – Delainey – Leonenko
Evans – Reich – McMillen
Keller – Regan Yew

Scratches: Greenaway, McColgan, Quinn, Lacoursiere

To Come

Game #27 – North Stars visit Flin Flon – Whitney Forum

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 11-13-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars blanked the Bombers 2-0. Both goalies were excellent but Michael Gudmandson came out on top making 28 saves for the shutout. Devin Buffalo was only beaten twice. Igor Leonenko for the Stars in the third and then Nick Fountain just 34 seconds later. The Stars have now won 3 in a row for the third time this season. They’ve yet to win 4 in a row. They have won 5 in a row at home but lost the last time they hit the road.

Storylines:

  • POTW and GOTW: Michael Gudmandson was named the SJHL’s goalie of the week after his two wins over the weekend. He stopped 70 of the 72 shots he faced in those two wins for a 1.00GAA and .972 save%. Blake Young picked up 3 goals and 3 assists in 3 games played. His 6 point week was good enough for player of the week honours as the North Stars won all three games last week.
  • Re-match: These two teams played each other in their most recent game. The previous game was tight and closely fought. Generally when two teams play each other in back to back games the second game tends to be a good one.
  • Whitney Forum: One of the coolest old barns in the league. There will be a lot of players for the North Stars getting their first taste of the Forum. While it’s important to soak in the history of such a storied building, it’s also important to be ready to play. The crowd here is going to be into the game and they won’t give an inch. The North Stars can’t give any either.
  • Whitney Forum part 2: The North Stars are 3-5-0-2 at the Whitney Forum the last couple of years. Considering the Bombers strong home record that’s actually not that bad. The Stars have found some success here in the past. So the players who were involved in those games need to lead the way early tonight.
  • Short Staffed: The North Stars are a little short staffed this trip. Coach Atcheynum as well as a couple of players who are banged up, and one that is sick, didn’t make the trip. It’s not a big deal. Over the course of a long season you will get stretches where a little illness and injury will take it’s toll. The North Stars have depth for a reason and they will rely on that depth this trip.
  • 81: The North Stars have allowed 81 goals so far this season. That’s second in the league with only La Ronge allowing more. But the North Stars have also played more games than any other team. But in their last 7 games the Stars have allowed just 16 goals. No surprise that in that stretch they are 5-1-0-1.
  • Hot: Only the Yorkton Terriers and Humboldt Broncos are on a better roll than the North Stars in terms of winning/points streak. In their last 10 games the Stars and Nipawin Hawks lead the league with 16 points gained out of a possible 20. It’s been a good run for the Stars so they may as well keep it going.

Keys to the Game?

1) Settle – The North Stars will find success if they settle into their game quickly. Get used to the rink and the crowd and the surroundings. They have had good success on the road so far this season so as long as they get into the game quickly they will be fine.

2) Warm-up: – The North Stars have had a long trip getting here and it’s been a long day on the bus. They need to have a good warm-up to get the bus legs out of their system. Preparations for the game are always important but they take an even larger role on a trip like this.

3) Don’t let the Bombers take off – Flin Flon has scored just 8 goals in their last 5 games. It has been a bit of a struggle for this team. They have talent and they will break out eventually. The North Stars need to pay attention to the details tonight to make sure the Bombers don’t break out this evening.

Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Erickson – Schmidt
Fransoo – Lacoursiere
Robin Yew – Charleson

Fountain – Petrino – Heinrich
Young – Delainey – Leonenko
Regan Yew – Keller – Forbes
McMillen – Reich – Evans

Scratches: McColgan, Quinn, Greenaway

North Stars beat Bombers 2-0

The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers played an engrossing game at the Civic Center on Saturday.

Unlike the game in Nipawin that same night which was 7-6, it was the lack of goals at the CC that made for such a fun game. Both goalies were excellent as the two teams struggled to find offense. The Bombers actually came out of the blocks quickly and were outshooting the North Stars 9-3 at one point in the first. But Michael Gudmandson was solid. Coming off a win over Notre Dame in which he allowed just 2 goals it appeared Gudmandson was seeing the puck well. He’s a 20 year old grabbing his chance in his final year and you can see how much it means to him by the way he battles in the net.

He also got a little help from his good friend the crossbar. Twice Brett Boehm beat Gudmandson but couldn’t find the back of the net. In fact, the Bombers had several good chances to hit the target over the course of the game. But Gudmandson was out challenging shooters and the Bombers missed the net several times while trying to pick the corners.

At the other end of the ice it was Devin Buffalo showing again why he is one of the league’s top tenders. Buffalo ended up making 43 saves but took the loss. He is now 8-9 on the season despite sparkling GAA and Save% numbers. In the third it was all North Stars and they found a couple of quick goals to win the game.

First it was Igor Leonenko walking off the wall towards the slot and firing past Buffalo. Leonenko was able to find open ice in the faceoff circle on his forehand and that’s always going to be trouble for the opposing team. He doesn’t always hit the target but when he does it’s tough to stop. Igor’s 8th of the season made it 1-0 Stars. 34 seconds later Nick Fountain made it 2-0. Brenden Heinrich set up the goal with great speed up the right wing. From his own blueline to the front of the Bombers net in a flash. Heinrich’s initial effort was stopped but Fountain was on hand to score the North Stars second goal of the game. Heinrich now has 8 points on the season with 5 of those points, and both goals, coming in the month of November.

Both teams went 0-4 on the power play as both goalies anchored strong penalty killing units.

So a fun game to watch and a good win for the North Stars. They head to Flin Flon tomorrow for a rematch at the Whiteny Forum.

Game #26: North Stars host Flin Flon – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season

North Stars Record: 10-13-0-2

2013-11-23 00.15.09

Last game recap – The North Stars beat the Notre Dame Hounds 5-2 last night at the Civic Center. But it wasn’t a typical North Stars game. They normally don’t get out shot and certainly not as heavily as they did yesterday. Their special teams was terrific. And despite not playing their most complete 60 minutes they found another way to win a game.

The Stars have now won 4 in a row at home and are now just 3 games under .500 on the season.

Michael Gudmandson got the start for the North Stars and he was good making a couple of solid early saves. That set the stage for Taylor Reich to open the scoring. The Hounds goalie Brett Soles had 3 straight shutouts coming into the game. But he couldn’t keep it going as Reich stole a puck in the slot and quickly got a backhand shot away. It beat Soles glove side to make it 1-0. I thought that was a big goal. Soles has been rolling and the Stars managed to score with their first good chance to take the momentum away from the Hounds goalie.

Tanner Quinn set up a chance when he chose not to shoot from the slot but instead set up Ryne Keller. Keller was playing D with Latrell Charleson and Jake Erickson both out sick. Keller snuck in off the left point. His one-timer was fired off the inside of the post and somehow stayed out. Blake Young stole a puck on the penalty kill and was able to get in on a breakaway. He went forehand/backhand and slid the puck past Soles. That’s Young’s team leading 9th of the year and the Stars now lead the league in shorthanded goals. Later in the period Brendan Heinrich poked the puck home at the side of the net to make it 3-0 Stars after 1. Heinrich’s second of the year was on the power play.

Also in the first Ben Greenaway put Austin Lightfoot into his own bench. Greener got 2 for roughing for making sure Lightfoot went right into the bench after the hit. The Hounds bench didn’t like it and Dillon Schwartzenberger had to be restrained by his coach as he was punching Greenaway from the bench. The Notre Dame forward got a 10 minute misconduct. So after Ben Greenaway threw a legal hit and got punched several times by the Hounds bench it was Notre Dame who got the power play. Absolutely ridiculous. It didn’t matter though because the North Stars PK was excellent all game.

In the second there were almost too many penalties to keep track of. The Stars had good penalty kills when it was 4 on 3 and 5 on 3. Thanks in part to the strong play of Gudmanson. He was in position all night and really battles. The Hounds made it 3-1 but the Stars responded later in the period when Jake McMillen scored on a rebound on the power play to make it a 4 goal lead again.

In the second period Schwartzenberger was tossed. He took a misconduct for swinging his stick at a Star after the whistle. He was really wound up so the Refs decided to get rid of him for the night. Taylor Reich had a strong game for the Stars and he hit the post in the second period. The Stars ended up with a 3 goal lead heading to the third.

In the final frame Logan Saworski got into it after a whistle as he poked at Gudmandson. The North Stars tender responded with a blocker shot towards Saworski and then a bunch of players piled on. The picture above is the aftermath of that battle.

Jake McMillen deflected a point shot off the post as the North Stars hit iron three times in the game. McMillen’s second of the game came just 2 seconds after a power play ended as he popped home another rebound. The Stars were down 2 skaters late after another orund of penalty calls. But even up 5-3 late Gudmandson battled to keep the puck out. There were some close calls but Gudmandson kept the puck out and showed great desperation despite the score. So the Stars end up killing 9 of 9 penalties. They went 2 for 7 on the power play and scored a shorty to clearly win the special teams play.

It was a pretty physical game with the Hounds doing a lot of hitting. Kendall Fransoo, who had another solid game on the backend, and Dillon Forbes were involved a lot and more than once a Hound forward bounced off a North Stars D man as they tried to get in on the forecheck.

Blake Young now has 5 points after games so far this week. Another strong game tonight and Young should be looking at the SJHL player of the week award. Nice to see Jake McMillen score a couple as well. He’s now up to 7 on the year and tied for second on the team. After a tough start to the season McMillen is getting going. Taylor Reich had two points as well and he has helped lift the power play of late. He’s a valuable forward that can fill a variety of roles.

Both Ben Greenaway and Luke McColgan left the game last night but it sounds like both were precautionary. Hopefully neither guy is out for any lengthy period of time. The Stars were without a couple of key D men who provide offense. It was great that they didn’t miss a beat but it will be nice to get those guys back as soon as possible. If McColgan and Greenaway can’t play tomorrow Charleson and Leonenko could return and Keller could move back up to forward.

How valuable is Keller by the way? Can drop back and play solid D and move up front to kill penalties and on the power play. Face-off wins and leadership as well. Keller is having a great season.

Oh and I wanted to mention Kyle Schmidt who returned to the lineup last night. He played a ton with all the special teams time and was a big part of the PK having a great night. The Stars have a lot of talent in their three 18 year old D men and the two 17 year olds as well. But having Schmidt and Forbes back there as that steadying presence is fantastic for the team. 20 year old D men are always nice to have around in the heat of battle.

Storylines:

  • Flin Flon: The North Stars ace the Bombers for the first time this season. The Bombers are 6-4 in their last 10 games and they have won 2 in a row coming in. They beat the Kindersley Klippers last night. They have fire power up front in the form of Brett Boehm, Dillon McCombie and Cameron Blair. And strong goaltending from Devin Buffalo. Flin Flon D man Danys Chartrand recently committed to North Dakota. The Bombers are 5-6 away from the Whitney Forum.
  • Movember continues: The Stars are still rolling. They have won 4 in a row at home and have grabbed 14 of a possible 18 points so far this month.
  • Offensive: The North Stars have burst to life the last few games offensively. The North Stars have scored 16 goals the last 4 games for an average of 4 per game. They average a little under 3 goals per game to this point in the season so it’s nice to see the puck getting to the back of the net a little more often. We talked a lot earlier in the season about the Stars creating chances, getting shots and needing some bounces to go their way. That’s starting to happen and the North Stars work is paying off with goals.
  • Goalies: This will be a story for the next few days at least. Gudmandson was terrific last night and now the Stars have a decision to make moving forward with Martin, Parker and Gudmandson.
  • Kramer Division: All 4 teams played last night with the Stars and Broncos winning and the Klippers losing. The Broncos are in Estevan tonight and the Klippers host the Hounds. So all 4 Kramer teams play again tonight. If results go right for Humboldt they could take first place away from Kindersley for the first time this season. With Kindersley hosting the Hounds the North Stars won’t care who wins as long as there is no overtime.
  • Lineups: With the illness going through the team and with a couple of guys who could be banged up it will be interesting to see who is in, and who isn’t in, the North Stars lineup tonight.

Keys to the Game?

1) Fast Start – The Stars have jumped out to 3-0 leads in the past two games. Let’s keep that going with another fast start tonight. The Bombers are a good team but they haven’t seen the Stars yet this season. They won’t know what to expect. I would love to see the Stars jump out to a quick start.

2) Posts: The North Stars hit the post 3 times last night to go along with their 5 goals. That’s a good sign. Teams hitting the post are shooting for corners and not just firing pucks into the goalies crest. If the North Stars keep hitting the posts and crossbar they will continue to find goals as well.

3) Discipline – Earlier in the season the Stars were taking too many penalties. It was a strange one last night at the Civic Center. Lots of whistles and plenty of penalties. So the Stars need to stay out of the box tonight and get back on track in terms of their discipline.

Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Parker

Forbes – Fransoo
Yew – Charelson
Lacoursiere – Schmidt

Quinn – Keller – Yew
Fountain – Petrino – Heinrich
McMillen – Reich – Evans
Young – Delainey – Leonenko

Scratches: Erickson, Martin, McColgan, Greenaway

Game #25: North Stars host Notre Dame – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 9-13-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars beat Kinderlsey 5-4 in OT. It was a wild encounter. Read more about it here.

I spent last night in Saskatoon with North Stars athletic therapist Michelle Beatty watching the U of S Huskies host the U of R Cougars. Former North Stars Brody Luhning starred for the Cougars in their OT win. Luhning had a goal and 2 assists in the game although none of his points were credited on the scoresheet. That will be updated at some point. His teammated grabbed the puck for him out of the net as he scored his first CIS goal. Luhning had lots of support with myself and Michelle on hand. His parents, his former billet parents from his time in the Battlefords, and coach Hasselberg were also there to see the goal. It was a great night and it was great seeing Loons parents again.

I also saw Robbie Newton’s parents as they came out to see they son’s former team mate. Both the Newton’s sent me a lovely email when Robbie was traded thanking me for being a part of his time here in the Battlefords. I was blown away by the emails and so it was great to see both of them again.

And as it turns out in a strange quirk of fate their son was traded this morning. Dauphin moved former Star D man Joren Johnson to La Ronge and traded Newton to the first place Virden Oil Capitals. Newton no longer has an automatic place in the Western Canada Cup but he is going to a very good team.

Storylines:

  • Movember: The Mo could stand for momentum. The Stars have picked up 12 of a possible 16 points so far this month. They have scored 11 goals in their last 3 games as well. It’s a nice little stretch that has helped the Stars stay ahead of Notre Dame in the standings.
  • Standings: Speaking of the team rankings the North Stars are 2 points ahead of ND right now. The Hounds have played FIVE fewer games. So they only have to win a couple of those games to pass the North Stars for 3rd in the Kramer Division. That means a regulation win for the North Stars would go a long way to keeping the North Stars in third.
  • OT: It’s almost starting to get ridiculous. The North Stars have played 6 OT games this month with 4 of them going to a SO. They played OT at the start of November in the only meeting with Notre Dame so far this season. You just know going into a game right now that the Stars will be within a goal either way. There’s likely going to be a late goal and lots of drama. And some free extra hockey. It makes for great entertainment for the fans. Just another reason to pack the Civic Center.
  • Shutout: Obviously a storyline to keep an eye on tonight is the shutout streak for Hounds goalie Brett Soles. 3 straight shutouts for Soles and he hasn’t been beaten since November 9th. Estevan got 4 pucks past Soles and since then he has gone 189:38 seconds with allowing a goal. Goaltending will be a story throughout the night. More on that later.
  • Reed-ing between the line: Reed Delainey scored the OT winner on Tuesday against the Klippers. He also scored the OT winner against Notre Dame earlier this month. The Stars have won 2 games in OT and 3 in the shootout. Delainey has both OT winner. The rookie has 5 goals and 2 of them are OT winners. His line scored 4 of the Stars 5 goals last time out. Young, Delainey, Leonenko. Starting to heat up.
  • O from the D: Two of the North Stars top four scorers are D men. Rookie Jake Erickson and Latrell Charleson, who is in his first year with the North Stars, have provided plenty of scoring. Erickson with 14 assists. Chaleson with 2 goals and 11 assists. Kyle Schmidt would be up there as well if he hadn’t missed some time being banged up. And Robin Yew has 2 points in 3 games with the North Stars. Now we just need to get Kendall Fransoo on the board. He does so much for his team from hitting to blocking shots and he will fight as well when a spark is needed. But in close to 50 career SJHL games, regular season and playoffs, Fransoo is still looking for his first point. It’ll happen and maybe tonight’s the night.
  • Petrino: With the monkey of his first goal of the season off his back lets see if Petrino’s game takes off. He’s healthy and if he gets a run of games now he could really blossom into a very good player for the North Stars.
  • Make it so: Captain Kyle Schmidt could return to the lineup today. It sounds like he’s had a couple days of practice and is ready to go. The North Stars did just fine without Schmidt in the lineup but that pairing with him and Jake Erickson has been so good for the Stars this season. And maybe having the captain in the lineup might have prevented that 3 goal outburst from Kindersley. The captain with all his leadership and experience could be back tonight.

Keys to the Game?

1) Learn – The Stars had a rough 3-4 minute stretch against the Klippers and it almost cost them the game. But they also played a couple of their best periods of the season. They found another way to win a game and score a late goal. They need to learn from both the positives and negatives of that game. Put that into practice tonight and continue to win games at the Civic Center.

2) Hit – The Stars found a way to win in OT when they faced the Hounds earlier this season. That was on the Notre Dame Olympic sized ice surface and the North Stars adjusted their lineup accordingly. But on the smaller ice at the Civic Center the game will be a little more physical and more suited to guys like Fountain and Greenaway. The Hounds haven’t experienced the North Stars at their hard hitting best yet.

3) Crowd – First things first: I love the Civic Center and it’s crowds. I love North Stars fans. You are a great group of people and you’ve always treated me great. And I don’t want to criticize the North Stars fans. But I did think that the crowd was VERY quiet when Kindersley scored to make it 3-1 on Tuesday. The Stars were still up by 2 goals but the energy and the electricity in the building just seemed to vanish. Eventually the crowd got fired up again. The Stars are now 3-7 at home after a rough start and they need the fans behind them and the crowd has been behind them which has helped turn things around at the Civic Center. Other than that small complaint about the energy after the first goal Tuesday I think the fans have been fantastic of late so keep that up and lets make the Civic Center a fortress!

Stars Lineup:

Michael Gudmandson*
Darren Martin

Schmidt – Keller
Forbes – Fransoo
Lacoursiere – Robin Yew

Quinn – Reich – Greenaway
Young – Delainey – McMillen
Fountain – Petrino – Heinrich
Regan Yew – McColgan – Evans

Scratches: Leonenko, Parker, Charleson, Erickson

*Gudmandson is back with the Stars after starting the season with the team last year. He bounced around a bit spending time with Humboldt last year and starting this season in the MJHL. He was in a three goalie situation in Manitoba and was available so the Stars picked him up. He gets a chance this weekend to show what he can do as the North Stars look for a little more experience and maybe a little more consistency between the pipes.

North Stars down Kinderlsey 5-4 in OT

It started with the North Stars best period of the season and ended up being one of the more wild games the Civic Center has seen in a while.

At one point I wonder aloud in the first period if it would be another case of the Stars dominating a period without a lead to show for it. And when Kindersley got a late first period power play it looked like the Stars could even fall behind despite spending the vast majority of the first period in the Klippers zone. But Jack Petrino got in alone on Evan Weninger thanks to a nice play by Brenden Heinrich. Petrino’s struggles to score have been well documented. He made no mistake this time going with a triple deke before sliding the puck home on the backhand. What a relief for Petrino and a beautiful way to get his first SJHL goal.

A Jake Erickson point shot later in the period got through and on target and Igor Leonenko was on hand to put home the rebound and make it 2-0 Stars. Leonenko had scored earlier in the period but it was rightly waved off as he had knocked the puck in with a hit stick. In the end the North Stars out shot Kindersley 18-9 in that first period. It was their most complete and dominant period of the season. At least that I can remember off the top of my head.

Blake Young scored on an early second period power play as his shot from a bad angle went under the pad of Weninger. For Young it was the start of an eventful night. For Weninger it was the end. Tyrell King came into the game and that sparked the Klippers. Until that point Casey Parker had made a couple of really good saves and otherwise hadn’t really been tested. But the Klippers came to life and scored three goals in a span of 3:27. The third goal was a power play slap shot that went post and in.

At that point Parker was replaced by Darren Martin as we saw all 4 goalies in the game. I asked coach Hasselberg after the game about why he didn’t use his timeout as the Klippers were gaining the momentum. He said he liked the way the bench was dealing with the swing. He liked what was being said and the way the leaders were stepping up. When the game was tied he used his goalie change to try and break up the flow the Klippers had built up.

It was midway through the second and the game settled down at that point. 6 goals in the first 29 minutes of the game but it took almost another 20 to get the next one. Brandon Lauder scored on a mid third period power play. And after leading 3-0 the Stars were now down 4-3.

In total the Stars had a 20-6 edge in shot in the final period with plenty of those coming in the final couple minutes. The North Stars earned a power play with 2:14 left and moments later had Martin on the bench for the extra attacker. But save after save from Tyrell King kept the Stars at bay. Ryne Keller had a great chance at the side of the net and looked to the rafters when he was stopped.

The key for the Stars? They won probably 5 or 6 faceoffs in the final minutes. Luke McColgan, and his wingers, were on fire and the Klippers couldn’t clear the puck. They couldn’t relieve the pressure and they never had a chance to shoot for the empty net. The one time they did clear the zone it was Jack Petrino winning a nuetral zone face off and the Stars were right back on the attack.

They couldn’t score on the power play however and it was 6 on 5 with 6 seconds left when the Stars had one last faceoff. They won that one too and Latrell Charleson teamed up with Jake Erickson. A point shot hit Blake Young in front and trickled across the line with 1 second remaining to tie the game. The crowd went crazy.

Less than a minute into OT and it was Blake Young again. He used his speed and strength to power around the Klippers D and drive to the net. As he was hauled down he managed to flip the puck towards the goal. I thought at first it had gone in but it hit the post and landed in the blue paint of the crease. There was a delayed penalty on the play but with Young and a Klipper D man all crashing into Tyrell King it was a simple finish for Reed Delainey to follow up and poke the puck into the net for the game winner. It’s Delainey’s second OT winner of the season after he won the game in Notre Dame at the start of the month.

So for the Stars it was their first win of the season against Kindersley and their third win in a row at home. With the point the Klippers win the Guy’s Furniture Rivalry Cup for this season.

The Stars will now host Notre Dame tomorrow night at the Civic Center.

Game #24 – North Stars host Kindersley Klippers – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 8-13-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars lost in a shootout 3-2 in Humboldt. Jake McMillen and Ryne Keller scored the Stars goals. It was a good point on the road against a good team. But after playing as well as they did in the second and third periods the North Stars might have been a little disappointed to have not won the game.

Storylines:

  • 0-4: So far this season the North Stars are winless against the Kindersley Klippers. The Klippers are currently 10 points ahead of the North Stars in the standings with 8 of that 10 point gap coming from head to head games. The Guy’s Furniture Rivalry Cup is on the line tonight. The North Stars need to win the remaining 4 games against the Klippers to prevent the trophy from heading to Kindersley.
  • 2 in a row: The Stars have won 2 in a row at the Civic Center. The have at least a point in 5 of their last 7 games. This is a team that has turned it’s season around and is starting to dig their way out of the hole their early struggles put them in. The North Stars will be looking to show the Klippers what they are really made of in tonight’s contest.
  • Overtime: The North Stars play a lot of close games. A lot. And recently those close games have been going to OT and usually to a shootout as well. 5 of the Stars last 7 games have gone to extra time. That’s almost a half a game when you add it all up. Talk about making a team battle hardened and battle tested. It would be nice to see the Stars win some games going away but for the time I wouldn’t make any plans for right after regulation.
  • New Look: These two teams haven’t met since October 19th. So exactly a month ago. That means the last time these two teams met the North Stars didn’t have the Yew twins.
  • Shots: The North Stars have outshot the Klippers in 3 of the 4 games this season. Yet they are 0-4. The North Stars struggles to score this season have been highlighted against the Klippers. 4 goals in 4 games for the Stars against Kindersley is obviously not good enough. The Klippers get good goaltending so the Stars will have to find a way to finish their chances like they did in the third period on Friday against Melfort back on Friday.
  • Kramer Division: All 4 teams in the Kramer Division are on the ice tonight. The Humboldt Broncos and Notre Dame Hounds both have home games. I’ll be keeping my eye on the out of town scoreboard tonight to see how the other Kramer teams are doing.
  • Theil-less: Cody Theil is out of the Klippers lineup with a broken jaw. I thought he was their MVP in the early going providing the Klippers with offense and some backbone. Other guys will have to step up for Kindersley in his absence and it will be interesting to see who does step up and how the Klippers get along without Theil.

Keys to the Game?

1) Be Yourself – That old advice your mom used to give you holds true for the North Stars. They need to just play the way they’ve been playing for the last couple weeks. That’s the North Stars team that can be one of the best in the league. So the Stars can head out on home ice tonight knowing that they can be themselves and they will be successful.

2) Manage – The North Stars need to manage the puck to be successful. It’s something they’ve done very well of late. The Klippers can hurt you on the counterattack with speed and skill. To prevent them from doing that the Stars need to control where they put the puck. They also need to manage their emotions. Play with edge but don’t get too wound up. 

3) Power – The North Stars have a big physical team that should be able to overpower teams at times Especially on home ice with the crowd behind them. The Stars need to bring that power game to the rink tonight.

Stars Lineup:

Parker*
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Lacoursiere – Erickson
Charleson – Yew*

Quinn – Keller – Greenaway
Heinrich – Petrino – Fountain
Reich – McColgan – Evans*
Young – Delainey – Leonenko

Scratches: Schmidt, Regan Yew, McMillen

North Stars fall 3-2 in a shootout in Humboldt

The Stars came out of the gates a little flat in the first period. And they trailed 1-0 on a late goal by the Broncos. Casey Parker was good last night but the first goal is one he may have wanted back. It was a point shot through traffic from Stumbourg that slid just under Parker’s pad

I thought the Stars had actually scored in the first when a puck was poked off of Tanner Quinn and hit a bar. I thought it was the back bar but the ref ruled it was crossbar.

Kendall Fransoo fought late in the opening period as well. That may have sparked the Stars as Fransoo took on Justin Lund. Each guy landed a big shot and the Stars killed off the extra 2 to Dillon Forbes

Early in the second the Stars took a lead. First Jake McMillen got loose in front and went forehand/backhand to beat Pashovitz. It was a beautiful goal that shows just what McMillen is all about. 33 seconds later it was 2-1 Stars. Tanner Quinn with a nice backhand saucer pass out front and Ryne Keller made no mistake.

The Stars had chances in the second to extend their lead. Reed Delainey had a shot stopped on a 2 on 1. The D took away the pass so Delainey had to take it himself but Pasholvitz made the save. Late in the second Igor Leonenko was stopped on a breakaway as he came out of the penalty box and skated onto a loose puck. Pashovitz again making a nice save.

The North Stars also had a couple of power plays but the Broncos have the league’s best penalty kill and despite 5 or 6 shots on a couple of power plays the North Stars couldn’t score.

The Broncos tied the game in the third with 10 minutes left. After that it was almost all North Stars. They dominated the final frame and again had chances. Jack Petrino just missed on a one timer with the puck going off the heel of his stick.

In overtime Brendan Heinrich had a shot flutter up and into the crossbar but some how it stayed out. Heinrich fought in the second period. He threw about 6 or 7 punches and Broncos D man Swystun didn’t manage to get a punch off.

With a little luck the Stars could have won the game. But in the end two good teams went head to head and the game had to be decided in a shootout. Cody Pongracz scored with a beauty goal and the Stars couldn’t beat Pashovitz.

So the Stars get 3 of a possible 4 points this weekend and now look ahead to a Tuesday night game at the Civic Center when they host Kindersley.

I thought Jack Petrino’s line had a solid game and Petrino and Heinrich both had chances to score. If they keep playing like that they will start scoring some goals. It’s nice to see Keller continue to put up points this season. Kells now has 4 goals 13 points this season. He’s one point away from tying his career high. He’s already setting a new career high with every assist he gets this season.

So all in all a lot more positives from this weekend’s games as the Stars continue to take steps forward every time out on the ice. They are 0-4 against the Klippers this season. That’s the barrier they will look to overcome next.

Game #23 –Humboldt Broncos – Elgar Peterson Arena

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 8-13-0-1

Last game recap – North Stars with a come from behind win last night at the Civic Center. 5-4 in a shootout over Melfort.

The Stars came out with a very good first period against the Mustangs. But once again it was a similar story. Despite plenty of offensive pressure, lots of shots, and plenty of chances the Stars only scored once and they didn’t have a lead after the opening period.

Luke McColgan appears to be heating up and he opened the scoring. The Stars power play has been struggling lately but it looked very good at times last night. Moving the puck well and getting shots. They didn’t score on 2 opportunities though and once again the lack of finish came back to haunt them. A point shot through traffic late in the first made it 1-1 after 1. Late in the first Jack Romanuik robbed Igor Leonenko on shot that looked to be labeled for the top corner

Robin Yew made his North Stars debut and showed exactly why the Stars picked him up in that trade a few weeks ago. He makes a terrific first pass and most of the time reads the play very well. He gets back to the puck and moves it quickly, usually before he has to take a hit. There were a couple of times where he looked a little flat footed but after not playing for a few weeks and making his debut for a new team it was a very good performance.

The second period was more even than the first and the Mustangs were able to open up a two-goal lead. The third goal that got past Darren Martin was one he would definitely like to have back. It came late in the second period and could have been a back breaker.

Casey Parker came out for the Stars to start the third period. That was a move that was dictated by North Stars goalie coach Travis Harrington. He has worked with Martin a lot and knows him well. The move paid off. Parker was scrambling a bit in the early going but made a terrific pad save to keep his team within a goal.

Blake Young got the Stars with a goal when he took a beautiful headman pass from Reed Delainey and deked to the forehand to beat Romanuik. Less than a minute later the Mustangs had their two-goal lead back. Bryden Serafini scored against his former team.

The North Stars had to kill a penalty to keep it close and with Parker making key saves they were able to do just that. With two and a half minutes left in the final frame Austin Evans set up McColgan nicely from behind the net. McColgan’s quick one-timer beat the Stangs goalie. That goal came with Parker on his way to the bench for the extra attacker. He hadn’t got their yet though. He was on the bench moments later when the Stars sent out 6 skaters in search of the tying goal. With pressure building a Robin Yew point shot hit something and got past Romanuik. It sure was nice to see Yew’s strong game rewarded with a goal and it was nice to see a bounce go the Stars way.

Parker stood tall in OT as both teams had chances but Melfort may have had the better of the 4-on-4 period. The Mustangs scored first in the shootout but after that Parker was unbeatable. Igor Leonenko faced a must score situation as the Stars third shooter and he snapped a wrister to the back of the net.

Parker made the saves to force sudden death in the shootout and after 2 misses for each team it was Latrell Charleson scoring for the North Stars. Another save from Parker, this time from Fauchoux, and the Stars had the extra point and their second straight win on home ice.

Storylines:

  • Stopper: The North Stars did something last night they haven’t done previously this season. They won the next game after a loss. They had losing streaks of 2, 3 and 8. But last night they managed to avoid back to back losses. That’s a great sign for this team moving forward.
  • Divisional: Tonight is the first of three straight divisional games for the North Stars with the next two, against Kindersley and Notre Dame, at the Civic Center. The Stars are just 5 points back of the Broncos, albeit with a few more games played, so a regulation win would be huge for the North Stars.
  • EPA: The EPA is not an easy place to win a hockey game. I’ve seen it over the last 2 plus seasons now. But the Stars in the last couple of seasons have actually faired better against the Broncos on the road than they have at the Civic Center. The North Stars road game sometimes causes trouble for the Broncos.
  • Similarity: Looking at the stats of the two teams there is a lot of similarity. Similar power play numbers. Both teams with strong penalty killing. No one on either team is running away with the goal scoring. The offense is spread around for both teams. Rookie goalies giving strong contributions. Deep defensive units that provide offense. There are a lot of similarities to look at tonight.
  • Parker: Seems to always play a strong game in Humboldt. Reports are he’s been really sharp in practice lately. Was very good in relief last night. Casey Parker will get the start tonight and with Darren Martin playing so well lately it’s been a while since Parker played in back to back games. After his 25, plus shootout, minutes last night it will be interesting to see if Parker can have another solid outing. His last start he was very good in Weyburn.
  • Twins: Both Yew boys will be in the lineup tonight. The Stars have a history of twins including Ryne Keller’s older brothers Jared and Derrek plus a set of twins back when Coach Atcheynum was playing named Rich and Rod May. There may have been others as well. As a Canuck fan I always like watching twins play hockey. So it will be cool to see the Yew twins in action tonight in the same game.

Keys to the Game?

1) Continue – The North Stars scored 3 in the third last night and two of them were beauties. Poise with the puck in attacking areas. They came close a few others times but the passing just didn’t click. Continue that on into tonight’s game.

2) Intensity – The Stars have always found success against the Broncos when they’ve been at their most physical and intense. They have to mange the puck well at the EPA and use their speed and physicality to their advantage. Try and grind down the Broncos D over the course of the game.

3) Special Teams – The Broncos PK is the best in the league. The Stars PP has been struggling and has dropped down to 10th in the league. The Stars got PP chances in Humboldt last time and if they play their game they will get more tonight. They have to find a way to score. The PP looked a lot better last night. It needs to take another step forward this evening.

Stars Lineup:

Parker*
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo*
Erickson – Lacoursiere
Yew – Charleson

Quinn – Keller – Greenaway*
McMillen – McColgan – Evans
Young – Delainey – Leonenko
Yew – Petrino – Heinrich

Scratches: Schmidt, Reich, Fountain