Game #34 – North Stars host La Ronge Ice Wolves – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 16-15-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars lost to Melfort 6-5 at the Civic Center. It was a wild finish to the game with the North Stars scoring 3 times in the space of 60 seconds to get within a goal. But they couldn’t complete the comeback.

The North Stars came out with a very strong opening 5 minutes. But as was the story with the whole game they couldn’t get consistency. They’d have a couple good shifts in a row. Then follow that up with a couple bad shifts in a row. Give the Mustangs credit. They are playing well of late with a new head coach. And they took advantage of their opportunities.

A bad pinch led to a 2 on 1 and Melfort opened the scoring. There was also a back door play on the second goal. It was 3-0 Mustangs in the second period when Reed Delainey got the North Stars on the board. He got a partial break out of the penalty box and went in alone on Austin Rediron. Delainey cut across the net to the backhand and scored.

But it was 5-1 in the third when the Stars go their next goal. Ryne Keller’s great season continues. He’s really added consistent offense to his other skills. His 7th goal goal from Young and Forbes made it 5-2 midway through the third. Moments later affiliate player Josh Laframboise hit the post. He did everything right to create the scoring chance and his shot from the slot was an inch away from being perfect. He’s a talented young player with a bright future. If he had scored the game may have turned out differently.

Travis Mayan completed his hat trick and with 2:30 left the North Stars were down 6-2. So they pulled Darren Martin for the extra attacker and scored 3 power play goals in 60 seconds. The Mustangs lost their cool a little and took a couple bad penalties. Kyle Schmidt scored with a low shot through the 5-hole. Nick Fountain deflected a Dillon Forbes point shot and Jake McMillen popped in a rebound at the side of the net. But with 55 seconds left the Stars couldn’t get the final goal to tie the game.

Forbes ended up with 3 assists in the game. Blake Young and Austin Evans each had 2 helpers. McMillen and Schmidt each had a goal and an assist. It was nice to see the North Stars offense come alive. They just need to match their strong defensive play of the past couple weeks, prior to Wednesdays game, with their offense from the third period against Melfort.

Storylines:

  • Previous Meetings: The Ice Wolves are 2-1 against the North Stars this season and the road team has won every game. All 3 games have been won by a single goal. La Ronge has 5-4 and 2-1 wins at the Civic Center. The North Stars won 3-2 at the Mel. Dillon Forbes leads the Stars with 3 points in 3 games versus the Ice Wolves. Sagen, Bouchard, Bearegard and Golka all have a point per game versus the Stars.
  • Discipline: Last time these two teams met the North Stars took just 2 penalties that led to La Ronge power plays. And the Ice Wolves went 0-2 on the PP. Their power play is the bottom ranked PP in the league. Which is surprising considering players like Sagen, Beauregard and Edam’s Owen LaClare are on the man advantage. Plus they have added Tanner Clark as a PP QB. Despite the Ice Wolves low percentage it’s still advisable to stay out of the box.
  • Fast Start: The North Stars are 7-2-0-1 when leading after the first period. 8-5 when tied after the first period. And they are 1-8-0-1 when trailing after the first period. The Ice Wolves are 4-10 when trailing after 1. It’s pretty standard in hockey that it’s better to play with a lead. But the numbers for the North Stars really illustrate that point. Imagine if they had scored early again Melfort when they had several great shifts to start the game? Getting that early lead is so very important.
  • Forbes, Schmidt, Young: Forbes has 10 points (2+8) in his last 8 games. Schmidt has 5 (3+2) in his last 5. young checks in with 14 points (5+9) in his last 10 games. That’s some nice offense from key guys. The Stars get scoring buy committee so it was nice to see guys like Evans, Keller, Delainey and McMillen get some offense last time out. To be really successful this season the Stars will need to have all their lines rolling and contributing. Consistency shift in, shift out over 60 minutes from this team with it’s balance and array of talents? That’s scary. That’s how you win 8 in a row.
  • Christmas Break: At this time of year there are a lot of distractions for a hockey player. Especially one who is away from home and has been away for several months. I know how it feels as I can’t wait to see my nephew and the rest of my family when I get back to BC in a week. But the North Stars have 3 games left before the Christmas Break and they are important games. They all are from this point on. So the guys will have to block out the looming break and really buckle down and focus on tonight’s game.
  • Kramer Strength: The Kramer Division teams in their last 10 games played each? All above .500 and they have combined for 27 wins in those 40 games. For comparison, in the rest of the league only Nipawin and Yorkton are over .500 in their last 10. The Viterra Division has 18 wins in their 40 games combined. The Sherwood 17. So the Kramer is 10 wins better over the last 40 combined games played than the Sherwood. And that’s with the Stars having lost 2 straight. That’s a lot of numbers but it illustrates that right now there’s no better overall division than the Kramer. The teams in this division are going to be battle tested come playoff time.
  • Busy Night: Every SJHL teams are on the ice tonight. The Kindersley Klippers are in Flin Flon tonight. Humboldt is on the road against Notre Dame. Brett Boehm will debut for Yorkton against the Estevan Bruins. Melfort will be without Austin Rediron as they take on Melville. Nipawin is hosting Weyburn.
  • Rediron: For fans that are wondering it is worth pointing out that Austin Rediron did receive a 2 game suspension for his actions at the Civic Center after Wednesday’s game. Rediron made inappropriate gestures to some fans behind his goal after the final horn. Nice to see the SJHL act swiftly to deal with it.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) O and D Balance One goal against and one for? Or six against and five for? Neither. The Stars need to get back to the balance they had prior to this little run of games where they’ve struggled. They have the ability to suppress goals by being very good in their own zone and to create offense at the other end. And they definitely have the ability to do it in the same game!

2) Continue to Slow Down Top Guys  The North Stars have limited LaClare and Beauregard to 1 goal in the 3 head to head games so far. Those guys combine to average 0.69 goals per game. Against the North Stars they are at 0.11 so far. Beauregard does have 3 assists in 3 games and Michael Sagen has scored 3 times. But in terms of goals the Stars have done good work against 2 of the league’s elite goal scorers. The Ice Wolves are dangerous because several different lines can score. But you don’t want those two to forwards to decide the game.

3) Score Early – The stats I mentioned earlier, in regards to the Stars record when leading after 1, combined with the Stars unrewarded good starts the last couple games means they could use an early goal tonight. Getting that goal when you are playing well at the start of the game can have a massive impact on the game.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

McMillen – McColgan – Evans
Yong – Reich – Keller
Yew – Delainey – Leonenko
Fountain – Petrino – Heinrich

Scratches: Quinn (sick), Greenaway (sick), Robin Yew

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