Game #21 – Nipawin Hawks – Centennial Arena aka ‘The Cage’

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 7-12-0-1

Here’s Kyle Schmidt’s hit from last night’s game.

Last game recap – The North Stars won 2-1 last night…AT THE CIVIC CENTER!!! The Stars first win at home and it was attempt number 8. Tanner Quinn was outstanding last night and he opened the scoring in the first period. Weyburn tied it up late in the opening period on a power play. It took just 14 seconds for their power play to click and it was 1-1 after 1.

There was no scoring in the second period but there was plenty to talk about. Mason Anderson is the newest Wings. Weyburn got him in a trade with Drumheller and Anderson made an impact on the game. He got Blake Young with an open ice hit. A good clean shoulder-to-chest hit that knocked Young down. But he popped right back up and kept playing. About 30 seconds later a similar play as Kyle Schmidt caught Nick Pouliot in the railroad tracks and blew up the Red Wing forward. A perfectly executed open ice hit. And some fans told me that it was the hardest hit they’d ever seen in person. Pouliot left the game but thankfully did return. He’s just back from a concussion injury so it was great to see he was okay. And it goes to show you can still throw big hits in the game of hockey as long as they are clean.

The hit fired up both benches and there was some yelling back and forth between the coaching staff of the Wings and the North Stars. It was some emotion that the game needed at that point.

In the third the North Stars won the special teams battle and won the game. I actually said on the broadcast that special teams might decide the game. I said that as Dillon Forbes went off for tripping late in the third. The Stars killed that penalty and just before Forbes returned to the ice the Wings took an interference penalty.

Once Forbes was back from the penalty box the North Stars power play went to work. It’s been a while since they scored on the man advantage with regularity. The power play has run a little dry since the start of the season. But it came through last night when it mattered. Luke McColgan snapping home from the bottom of the right face off circle. He beat Rylan Parenteau through the 5 hole.

That’s when things started to get really interesting. Jon Brumwell got Tanner Quinn with a hit from behind and Dillon Forbes jumped in to protect his team mate. Forbes ended up being the only one to drop his gloves and as he went off the ice to head to the locker room it was Quinn who was right there to thank Dillon for standing up for him.

When the dust settled the Stars had to kill a 5 minute major penalty for the final 3:45 of the third. And they did just that. It helped that Darren Martin has been in sparkling form of late. He was good last night and stood tall in the final minutes. And fittingly it was Tanner Quinn who saved the game. A rebound off Martin was sitting loose just outside the crease and the net was gaping. It looked like the Wings were about to tie the game. Instead it was Quinn knocking the puck into the corner to protect the one goal lead. What a read and react type play from Quinn that started with being in great position.

The Wings got their net empty and it was 6 on 4 for the final 1:30ish….but the Stars PK was outstanding to wrap up the win. So now the Stars are 6-5-0-1 on the road and 1-7-0-0 at home. It’s hard to believe a team could have a record like that. But it doesn’t matter anymore. They are on the board at home. They have a chance tonight to win their 4th straight. They have at least a point in 4 straight games so that streak could get to 5 this evening.

And hey…the Stars are only 6 points back of Humboldt, although they have played a couple more game than the Broncos, with plenty of games, and head to head games, left on the schedule.

Storylines:  

  • PIMs: These are the two most penalized teams in the SJHL. Both have well over 400 minutes in PIMs this season. No other team is above 316. The Hawks are approaching 500 penalty minutes this season. There are usually a lot of penalties in Nipawin because the Cage is a slightly smaller ice surface with more collisions. Both these teams play a style that suits that ice surface as well. So specials teams could be vital again.
  • Scoring:  Tad Kozun has 17 goals. Taylor Balog has 8. That’s 25 combined. The rest of the Hawks have 31. Almost 50% of the Hawks offense comes from those two guys. So the Stars know who they have to stop. Force someone else to beat you.
  • Playing Well: The Hawks have 12 points from their last 10 games and are coming off a win over Melfort. Nipawin has won 3 of their last 4. The North Stars are on a 3 game winning streak. So tonight’s game should be a good one to watch or listen to on the radio! Two teams playing good hockey will go head to head tonight.
  • Glass: This is a real feel good story in the SJHL this year. Steven Glass missed almost a year with an injury. He only played 2 games last season for the Estevan Bruins. And he was off to a slow start in the AJHL this year.  The Hawks needed a goalie when Jordan Liem left the team and they went out and got the 20 year old Glass. Glass has started the last 5 games for Nipawin picking up 4 wins and allowing just 10 goals in that span.
  • Shot Blocking: It’s not something I’ve talked about a lot this season but once again the North Stars have done a great job blocking shots this season. It’s been a real feature of the Stars since I’ve been with the team. Coach Hasselberg’s teams are good at preventing shots from getting to their goalie. They were good again last night especially on a late Red Wing PP. In Nipawin the game is a little compressed and there are lots of chances to put your body on the line to prevent a goal. We know the North Stars will do just that.

Keys to the Game?

1)   Limit the Hawks Top Line – Tad Kozun is tough to stop which is why he lead the league in scoring. So the Stars will have their hands full with the Hawks top line. If they can limit the impact of the Nipawin top line they have a great chance to win.

2)   Goaltending – Both teams have goalies who are playing really well of late and helping their teams win games. Last night was a goaltending duel at the Civic Center. There’s a decent chance we will see that again tonight.

3) Shots – The Hawks have just 2 wins this season when they are outshot by their opponents. The North Stars this season have outhsot their opponent in 14 of their 19 contests. Nothing’s certain in the game of hockey. But if the North Stars can pump lots of shots on the Hawks net they will give themselves a great chance to win.

North Stars Lineup:

Martin*
Parker

Schmidt – Erickson*
Fransoo – Charleson
Forbes – Lacoursiere

Quinn – Keller – Greenaway*
McMillen – McColgan – Leonenko
Yew – Reich – Fountain
Young – Petrino – Evans

Scratches: Heinrich, Delainey, Robin Yew, Carlson

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