Game #39 – North Stars at La Ronge – Mel Heglund Arena

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 20-16-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars won both ends of a home and home against the Humboldt Broncos. Michael Gudmandson won both games and Jack Petrino led the offense with 2 goals and an assist in the two games.

For more check out my recap here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/stars-sweep-home-and-home

Storylines:

  • Previous Meetings: The North Stars are 2-2 so far this season against the Ice Wolves. The Stars won 3-2 on November 27th with blake Young chipping in 3 assists and Darren Martin claiming the win in net. On December 13th the Stars beat the Ice Wolves 4-0 with Michael Gudmandson making 28 saves for the shutout. Ryne Keller had a goal and an assist in that game. The Stars have also dropped 5-4 and 2-1 decisions against La Ronge.
  • Goalie of the Week: Michael Gudmandson has claimed the award as the SJHL’s top tender for the second time this season. Goody went 2-0 last week against the Humboldt Broncos allowing just 3 goals on 74 shots. The 20 year old is now 9-2 with 3 shutouts this season for the North Stars. He also picked up the award back in late November. Darren Martin won the award in December. 3 of the last 6 goalie of the week awards have gone to the North Stars. 
  • Dillon Forbes: The SJHL’s D man of the month for December is still leading the league in penalty minutes. Which is almost mind boggling because in his last 9 games Forbes has taken just 1 minor penalty. 2 penalty minutes in 9 games. And still leading the league at 110. How is that even possible? A big part of the North Stars turn around this season has been Forbes spending a lot more time on the ice and a lot less chatting with the time keepers.
  • Coach is Back: After spending part of the Christmas break away with Team West at the World Under 17 Championships, Coach Hasselberg is back. I’m sure he will be pleased that his team went 2-0 in his absence winning two big games against the Broncos. But there are areas to improve following those two games. With a couple games under their belts though the Stars should be back to tiptop game shape and ready for a busy week.
  • Final Two Meetings: These two teams have now met 4 times this season. The North Stars are 1-0 in La Ronge. And 1-2 at home versus the Ice Wolves. The North Stars and Ice Wolves won’t see each other again after this week’s games. Of course, with just 18 games left on the schedule the Stars will start running out of games against everyone here soon. Each team has 2 wins so far meaning the season series is on the line this week.
  • Bad Blood: I am not sure if it will carry over because the game took place before Christmas but in the most recent meeting of these two teams there were a couple fights. Brenden Heinrich and Luke McColgan both dropped the gloves. That was partly because the Ice Wolves were frustrated and wanted to fight. But now that these teams are meeting for the final two times this season. And with back to back games. And with both games in La Ronge. I do wonder if we will be treated to some physical hockey between a couple teams who don’t like each other.
  • Trade Deadline: The trade deadline is looming. January 10th. A few days away. To re-iterate what I wrote the other day. I have no idea at this point what will happen. Could the North Stars make a move or two? Maybe. But a team that has gone 16-4-0-2 in it’s last 22 games and is getting healthy doesn’t seem like a team that needs to make a move.
  • Health: Tanner Quinn has been cleared medically and is going to be chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup. He’s been raring to go for a few weeks. But was just waiting to be healthy enough to play. A couple guys were sick last week and hopefully time has allowed them to get healthy. Igor Leonenko is back from his Christmas break. After spending a lot of time on airplanes and in different time zones it might take a game or two for Igor to get back to game sharpness. But it seems like the North Stars are close to being back to 100% health.
  • Goals: The Ice Wolves are one of the highest scoring teams in the SJHL. They also allow the most goals in the SJHL. Just prior to Christmas La Ronge lost game 9-1 to Weyburn and 7-2 to Notre Dame. So that obviously didn’t help the goals against.
  • Better in 2014: That pre-Christmas period can be tough on teams and La Ronge has been going through some off ice issues. They looked a lot better in their first game back after the break. Losing 3-2 in overtime versus the Hounds. They did allow 48 shots and didn’t ice a full lineup with just 16 skaters including a couple of affiliates. But getting a point was big for a team in need of some confidence.
  • Turn Around: The Ice Wolves are just 4 points out of first place in their division. Despite all their struggles before Christmas this is a team that still has a shot at a division title. That alone should help them revitalize their season. If they can put things together they still have the talent to be a dangerous team.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Focus 5 on 5 – The Ice Wolves have scored 103 goals this season. Just 15 of those have come on the power play with another 6 coming while short handed. That leaves a lot of 5 on 5 goals. The Ice Wolves struggled to close out 2013 but they are dangerous. They can score. And they can score 5 on 5. Plus it’s La Ronge. Things happen quickly in that rink and on the small ice. The North Stars will have to be focused at all times.

2) GoalsThe Stars got some “ugly” goals against Humboldt. Taylor Reich poking home a loose puck. Jack Petrino scoring off a great forecheck and big open ice hit. Sharp angle shots finding a way through. Blake Young on a rebound shorthanded.  They also scored some beauties. Petrino’s from Fountain was sick. Regan Yew’s two goals. This is a team that needs to find different ways to score and they are doing that so far in 2014. And they scored greasy goals. When you are scoring some greasy ones it frees up the team, builds confidence and leads to prettier goals.

3)  Petrino – This may be the first time this season that a player has made it onto this section of the pre-game report. But Petrino is a guy we thought would be an offensive contributor this season. He had a slow start in part through injuries. But his contributions can’t be doubted. Faceoff wins, defensive awareness, penalty killing and now of late offense. with Petrino, Fountain, Heinrich and Greenaway (depending on who is in the lineup) the Stars have a line that brings a lot of different ways to beat an opponent. Petrino is a hot and cold player. He is on a 3 game point streak and if he can find a way to maintain this hot streak then the North Stars team sis a lot more balanced and tough to defend.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Erickson – Schmidt
Charleson – Lacoursiere

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

Scratches: Robin Yew, Heinrich, Leonenko

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