40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
North Stars Record: 22-16-0-2
Trade Deadline: The Battlefords North Stars made one move at the deadline adding Cam Blair from Flin Flon for Austin Evans. Futures were also exchanged as part of the deal. I don’t know what those futures entail at this time.
Let’s start with Evans. He will be missed. Austin is a great kid and not just because he’s from BC. Always smiling and enjoying the game when at the rink, Evans is also a smart young man. You won’t find many people who would say a bad word about Evans. He is lightning fast on the ice with great hands and vision. He is stronger on the puck than you’d expect and he controls the wall very well. The Bombers are getting a good player who could be a really offensive force as a 20 year old next season.
In Blair the North Stars addressed a couple areas of need. A gritty, forward with size and offensive talent. Blair is over a point a game this season so far with 27 points in 23 games. He is listed at 6′ tall and 190 pounds. He’s think and strong but also has good hands and can skate. I’ve seen a lot of Blair the last few years and he’s always given the Stars trouble. I also had a chance to chat with him earlier this season when he was injured and doing colour for the Flin Flon radio broadcast. up here in the booth in the Civic Center we had a nice chat and he seemed like a nice, bright young man. He should be a good pick up for the Stars.
When I spoke with coach and GM Kevin Hasselberg last night he said he was going to keep working on adding to the team but that nothing was imminent or likely. So that turned out to be accurate as the Stars only made the one move.
Kindersley made one move trading a D man out of province and adding one from the WHL. Shaun Macpherson will improve the Klippers D and make them a more difficult opponent down the stretch. Humboldt was strangley quiet. As was Notre Dame. Flin Flon and La Ronge were the two most active teams at the deadline. Yorkton had already made their move in December getting Boehm. Melville and Estevan have made moves as well with the Bruins adding Michael Sagen a few days before the deadline.
Last game recap – The North Stars have won straight after a sweep of two games in La Ronge. The Stars won 3-2 on Thursday night. Darren Martin picked up the win in net as the Stars went 2-8 on the power play. The Ice Wolves were 0-6.
The North Stars goals were scored by Jake McMillen, his third in the two games in La Ronge, Taylor Reich and Nick Fountain. Fountain and Reich also had 1 each in the previous game the night before. So a couple guys are rolling offensively for the Norht Stars.
- Previous Meetings: The North Stars and Terriers have met 3 times this season. But they all came in the early going. The Terriers haven’t seen the Stars since the Battlefords team started this roll they’ve been on. And of course since they added Cam Blair, the Yew twins, and Michael Gudmandson. The Stars haven’t seen Yorkton since they picked up Brett Boehm. They’ve also added Riley Hunt from BC. So this game is almost like a fresh match up between these two very good teams. The Terriers have won 2 of the 3 meetings so far. The North Stars win came on September 25th. It was their first win of the season and it was in Yorkton. It’s one of just 2 regulation losses Yorkton has suffered at home. Casey Parker, former North Star goalie, picked up the win and the shutout in that one. Blake Young scored the game winner. The most recent meeting was October 25th. A 2-0 win for the Terriers.
- Alumni: I am currently watching the Alumni game here at the Civic Center and all day long the alumni will be here at the Civic Center. There will be cocktails and dinner for the alumni prior to the game tonight as the Stars host Yorkton. Should be a great night. And it’s great seeing some former North Stars that I’ve never seen play before as well as one of my favourites from the previous two seasons, Braeden Johnson.
- 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 games in La Ronge. But there’s been a day off in between. Igor Leonenko is back with the team. Plus there’s Cam Blair the newest North Star. I don’t know if he’ll make it in time for the game. Or if they would want to throw him straight into the action. So it will be interesting to see what happens with the lineup.*UPDATE* Blair is here and in the lineup for the Stars.
- Streaking: The North Stars have an 8 game win streak on the season and a couple of 3 game streaks as well. Their current 5 game win streak is the second longest of the season. The Stars are 14-3 in their last 17 games. In that stretch they’ve won tough road games and beaten Humboldt twice. But tonight could be the toughest test they’ll face the rest of the year. The defending league champs are very good.
- Power Play: The North Stars went 4-10 in La Ronge on the man advantage. That unit is up to 4th in the league and has been great of late. The addition of Blair won’t hurt the special teams one bit.
- Offense: In part because of the PP the North Stars have been scoring at a 4 goals per game clip so far in 2014. For the season they are right around 3 goals per game. And that extra goal is huge. With the Stars defensive structure and goaltending 3 goals is usually enough to win a game. 4 makes them even more difficult. Reich, Keller, McMillen, Fountain, McColgan, Young. The offense has been spread around up front. And we know what the D can do. And with Blair now in the lineup. Petrino going and Heinrich and Leonenko back. The Stars offense looks to be at it’s best heading into the stretch drive.
- Defense: Latrell Charleson leads the Stars in scoring in games head to head against Yorkton this season. Devon McMullen and Chase Norrish lead the Terriers in games against the Stars. So the two teams, who are similar in many ways, get scoring from their D. And they’ve gotten that against each other this season.
Some Keys for the Stars:
1) Alert Forwards – I mentioned the active D above. So the forwards have to be alert and ready to pick up pinching D men and D men jumping in the rush. They have to try and limit the effectiveness of the Norrish twins and McMullen.
2) Special Teams – Maybe this is too obvious. But I’m not trying to be tricky. The Terriers are 3rd in the league on the power play and second on the PK. The Stars aren’t far behind in terms of percentage on the PP or the PK. That match up could go a long way to deciding things tonight.
3) Goaltending – Another great matchup tonight. It’ll likely be Gudmandson versus Kale Thomson. 2 and 3 in the league in GAA this season. Whether it’s Martin or Gudmandson tonight the Stars will have a chance to win the goaltending battle. The Terriers usually win that match up so if the Stars tender puts in a good performance they’ll have a great chance to skate off with 2 points. *UPDATE* Kale Thomson is sick and didn’t make the trip. Gudmandson goes up against Riley Medves tonight.
North Stars Lineup:
Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere
McMillen – McColgan – Delainey
Young – Blair – Keller
Fountain – Petrino – Greenaway
Quinn – Reich – Heinrich
Scratches: Leonenko, Regan Yew, Robin Yew