40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
North Stars Record: 16-14-0-2
Last game recap – The North Stars lost to La Ronge 2-1 at the Civic Center on Sunday. For the second straight games the North Stars went into the third period in a scoreless tie. And for the second straight game the Stars took a lead that they couldn’t increase. Latrell Charleson scored on a power play early in the third to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
But a couple minutes later Michael Sagen and Eric Macoretta had scored and the North Stars were down 2-1. They were unable to mount any offense after that as Tyler Fuhr made 35 saves for the win. Michael Gudmandson made 30 saves and took the loss, his first as a North Star.
The loss ended the North Stars 8 game winning streak and snapped a 7 game home winning streak as well.
- Previous Meetings: The North Stars are 3-0 against the Mustangs this season. They have won 5-4 in a shootout, 4-2 and 3-2. The most recent game was the 3-2 victory. The Stars trailed 2-0 heading to the third and weren’t playing very well. But they scored 3 straight to come back in the third period. Kyle Schmidt had a goal and an assist and scored the game winner. Michael Gudmandson made 29 saves for the win in that game.
- Goalie of the Week: In the days since the North Stars last game was played they picked up an award. Darren Martin was named the SJHL’s goalie of the week for his performance against Weyburn. In that game Martin made 36 saves including 6 in overtime and he stopped all 3 Wings in the shootout. That is the first weekly award of Martin’s junior career. It’s the second award in the last 3 weeks for the North Stars as Michael Gudmandson picked up the same award two weeks ago.
- Awards: The North Stars have now claimed 4 awards this season. Blake Young (player of the week), Kyle Schmidt (defenseman of the week), and the two goalie awards. Somewhat surprisingly they haven’t had a rookie of the week yet. With the strong play of Jake Erickson, Reed Delainey, Brenden Heinrich, Igor Leonenko, the Yew twins, Braden Lacoursiere and Darren Martin it seems like just a matter of time.
- Offense: The North Stars offense had been rolling along after early season struggles. But the last couple games have been tight checking and closely contested. Two straight games with just the one goal in regulation isn’t a concern as of yet. But it would be nice to see the offense break out tonight.
- Goalie Goal: Meadow Lake’s Austin Rediron had a goal an assist and made 19 saves for the win as the Mustangs beat the Kindersley Klippers 5-2 last night. Rediron is the first goalie in Melfort history to score as he fired the puck 200 feet into an empty net.
- Coaching Change: The Mustangs fired coach and GM Gavin Holcomb after that loss to the North Stars. They have replaced Holcomb with Trevor Blevins on an interim basis. Since making the change the Mustangs are 2-1 with wins over Estevan and Kinderlsey and a loss to Nipawin.
- Season Series Sweep: This is the final meeting of the season between these two teams and the North Stars can sweep the season series with a victory. After last year’s playoff defeat against Melfort it would be nice to take a little revenge.
- Streaks: The North Stars two lengthy win streaks ended the other night against La Ronge. Those streaks allowed the North Stars to climb back into the race in the Kramer Division. They don’t need to win 8 in a row again, although I won’t complain if they do, but from here on out it’s important that the North Stars come back from a loss with a win right away. Avoiding a couple game losing skid is important.
- Igor: Big Igor Leonenko left the game in the second period Sunday and didn’t return. He is day to day. Tanner Quinn and Luke McColgan are likely out until after the Christmas break although McColgan is day to day. Brenden Heinrich has been sick. The North Stars have been hit with injuries and illness especially in their forward ranks of late. Hopefully they get a couple guys back tonight. *UPDATE* Heinrich will return to the lineup tonight for the North Stars. More on their lineup to come but it is great to see Heinrich back at the rink and ready to play.
- Christmas: I just mentioned the Christmas break and it is coming up soon. The North Stars have 4 games left before the break. Tonight’s game will be followed by a home game versus La Ronge, a road trip to Kidnersley and a home game versus Flin Flon to wrap things up until 2014.
- AP: The North Stars will have an AP in the lineup tonight with Ben Greenaway out sick again and Igor Leoneko still day to day after leaving the game on Sunday. So call up for tonight Josh Laframboise. Josh is playing with the midget AAA Battlefords Stars and has been a real find for the Stars program. A highly skilled forward he has 12 goals and 24 points in 22 games played this season. He is a Regina native and a nice looking prospect for the North Stars. He could be a real offensive key for the North Stars for a couple years to come. It will be fun getting a glimpse of that future tonight at the Civic Center.
Some Keys for the Stars:
1) Finish – The North Stars struggled to score earlier in the year when they were struggling to win. Of late the offense has been very good. But in the last couple of games the North Stars have had chances and haven’t finished. As long as they continue to create scoring chances they will likely break out soon. I doubt the offense is going to go into a prolonged slump like they did earlier in the year.
2) Full 60 – The Stars didn’t come close to playing a full 60 against Melfort last time these two teams met. They won’t get away with that again. And I don’t expect a similar effort. This team knows what it takes to get back to winning ways.
3) Focus on being North Stars – The North Stars will be facing the Mustangs for the 4th time this season. They went head to head 9 times last season including playoffs. And 7 times the season before. That means this is the 20th meeting of these teams since Kevin Hasselberg took over. But it is the first without Gavin Holcomb behind the bench. The North Stars always focus on their own game, playing North Stars hockey and making the opponent play the style the Stars want to play. That will be important tonight as the North Stars won’t know much about how Melfort will play under their new head coach.
North Stars Lineup:
Forbes – Fransoo
Erickson – Schmidt
Robin Yew – Charleson
McMillen – McColgan – Evans
Young – Reich – Keller
Fountain – Petrino – Heinrich
Regan Yew – Laframboise ‘AP’ – Delainey
Scratches: Quinn (sick), Greenaway (sick), Leonenko, Lacoursiere
*UPDATE* Veru nice to have McColgan and Heinrich back. Those are two big pieces to have back in the lineup.