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

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 21-16-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars have won 4 in a row and are unbeaten in 2014 after a 5-3 win last night here in La Ronge.

The North Stars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Jake McMillen. McMillen’s first was set up by Austin Evans and McMillen beat Tyler Fuhr up over the blocker. The second was started by Luke McColgan from the corner. He threw it out front to Evans who dropped the puck back to the trailer. McMillen with a quick one-timer to beat Fuhr. The second goal was on the power play. The Stars on the man advantage after Kyle Campbell interfered with Michael Gudmandson.

The North Stars were 2-2 on the power play last night. Campbell was given 2 and a game for another interference penalty after again bumping into Gudmandson. Nick Fountain scored with help from Austin Evans and Kyle Schmidt. The Ice Wolves got a power play goal of their own in the second period. An Eric Macoretta point shot hit Kent Walchuk in front and deflected past Gudmandson. Walchuk played Midget AAA with the Stars in the Battlefords last season.

Each team scored twice in the third. Austin Evans got on the board early in the final frame to make it 4-2. Evans, McColgan and McMillen should all end up with 3 points for the game.

After Edam’s Owen LaClare scored a nice solo goal the Stars responded with Taylor Reich firing home after good work from Ryne Keller and Blake Young.

The Ice Wolves got one late to make it a 5-3 final. But the North Stars were in control throughout and never in danger of losing their lead after getting off to such a strong start.

Storylines:

  • Previous Meetings: The North Stars are 3-2 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 at the Civic Center.
  • Kramer: Kindersley won last night. Humboldt and Notre Dame both lost. The North Stars are now just 4 points back of the Broncos. Humboldt doesn’t play tonight so the Stars can get with a couple points of second in the Kramer. The Broncos will have games in hand. But the overall standings are potentially of more importance and the Estevan Bruins kept pace with the Stars with a win last night. In the end, the North Stars just have to keep winning and taking care of their own business.
  • Back to Back: Tonight’s game is the second half of the back to back here in La Ronge and the final game between these two teams this season. The second half of back to back games always presents an interesting challenge. Will either team have any surprises for the other? Probably not. These two teams will go nose to nose once again and it should be fun.
  • 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 17-4-0-2 in it’s last 23 games and is getting healthy doesn’t seem like a team that needs to make a move.
  • Lineup: The North Stars have Brenden Heinrich and Robin Yew both healthy and ready to go.  A couple guys were a little sore after the game. And there may be one or two feeling less than 100%. For the most part the Stars are 100% healthy. So it will be interesting to see what happens with the lineup.
  • Last Trip to the Mel?: For 20 year old players Dillon Forbes, Tanner Quinn, Taylor Reich, Kyle Schmidt, Michael Gudmandson and Ben Greenaway this could be the last time they play in the Mel. Barring a playoff meeting they get one last crack at the league’s most unique arena.
  • Streaking: The North Stars have an 8 game win streak on the season and a couple of 3 game streaks as well. Their current 4 game win streak is the second longest of the season. The Stars are 13-3 in their last 16 games. That’s an .813 winning percentage for that span. For the season Yorkton leads the league at .708 win percentage. So Since the middle of November the North Stars have been playing at a very high level.
  • Road Warriors: We’ve mentioned this a few times this season but it’s worth repeating again. The North Stars have the league’s second best road record and with a win tonight would tie Melville for most points picked up away from home. La Ronge is always very tough to beat at the Mel and their home record is much better than their road record. But the Stars are 2-0 so far this season at the Mel and could win all 3 road games versus the Ice Wolves with a win tonight!

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Communication – As coach Atcheynum said last night, things happen quickly in La Ronge. It’s a slightly smaller ice surface and any turnover can be up the other end of the ice like lightening. At times guys will have to fill in for each other, swap positions and assignments, hussle back to their own zone, and of course talk to each other.

2) Special Teams:  La Ronge currently has the league’s lowest ranking power play and second lowest 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.

3)  Watch the Bounces – The Stars almost got caught a couple times last night with strange bounces at the Mel. The glass and boards can throw out some strange bounces and the end boards are lively. Having played last night it may not be as much of an issue. And it affects both teams. But the Stars will still have to make sure they are being safe with the puck and their decision making. And if possible use a bounce or two to their advantage.

North Stars Lineup:

Martin
Gudmandson

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
CHarleson – Robin Yew

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

Scratches: Leonenko, Lacoursiere, Heinrich

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1 Comment

  1. Hockeyfan

     /  January 10, 2014

    Have the stars made a trade yet?

    Reply

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