40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
North Stars Record: 27-16-0-2
Last game recap – The North Stars have now won 10 in a row after last night’s 3-0 win. Jake Erickson opened the scoring on a power play in the first period. Luke McColgan’s pass to the slot didn’t work out. But the puck got through to the left point and Erickson was able to fire home with McColgan in front screening.
The Stars got another first period power play and I thought they scored. McColgan went wide and took a shot from a sharp angle blocker side on Simon Hofley. It hit iron and then from my angle looked to clearly be across the line by an inch or two. All 3 of the North Stars scratches, who had a similar view to mine, also thought it was in. But the ref wasn’t able to see it, his view was blocked and he wasn’t in great position because the puck had turned over and moved up ice so quickly, and the goal judge didn’t turn the light on. So either it wasn’t in, the North Stars video is inconclusive, or it was just missed.
The Stars didn’t complain, most of them didn’t realize it was in, and about 30 seconds later Jake McMillen scored to make it 2-0. McMillen found a rebound in front and fired a back hand shot past Hofley.
Parker Evans-Campbell had a late chance but his spinning back hander from the side of the net hit the crossbar.
Early in the second the North Stars made it 3-0. Luke McColgan stole a puck near the blue line and spun and fired a quick shot. Hofley stopped it but couldn’t control the rebound and Igor Leonenko was on hand to fight off a check and pop the rebound to the back of the net. At that point the North Stars took over.
Cam Blair was robbed in front as he went back hand but couldn’t get it up over Hofley. Jake Erickson and Latrell Charleson each had a good chance in the slot that was turned away. Nick Fountain had a chance stopped and the Hofley also turned away Regan Yew twice on the rebound. Late in the second Leonenko made a nice pass to Blair and the newest forward spun and found Young in the slot. Again though Hofley stood tall. Blair could have had a goal and 3 assists in that middle frame. Offensively that line is starting to generate some real nice chemistry.
The rest of the game was goaltending. Gudmandson and Hofley couldn’t be beat as the North Stars tender repelled several good chances including once glove save that was reminiscent of Patrick Roy. The shot was likely going wide but it was a nice looking save anyway. Gudmandson’s rebound control was excellent all night. That’s what stood out for me and the number of shots that stuck to him was impressive.
The North Stars best chance of the third period came when Luke McColgan got a partial break short handed. During a 4 on 3 power play for the Bombers the Stars center had a good rush up the wing and his shot hit Hofley in the mask. McColgan came very close to a 4 point game.
In the end the North Stars got a power play goal, didn’t allow a power play goal against, generated a lot of scoring chances and Gudmandson made 28 saves for the shutout. Plenty of positives for the North Stars.
- Previous Meetings: The North Stars and Bombers have met 4 times this season with the North Stars taking all 3. The Stars have wins of 2-0, 4-3 and 3-2 in a shootout. Plus last night’s 3-0 victory. Michael Gudmandson is 4-0 against the Bombers with 2 shut outs. Igor Leonenko has a couple of goals against the Bombers this season and has looked good since returning from Christmas break.
- Big Games: Once again tonight we will have to keep a close eye on the out of town scoreboard. Estevan hosts La Ronge. Humboldt is in Melfort. Yorkton welcomes Kindersley. Again, a huge night in the SJHL playoff races. The North Stars need to focus on their game and taking care of their business and we as fans will keep an eye on the out of town scoreboard.
- 10 in a row: The North Stars now have the longest win streak in the SJHL this season at 10 games. They also have the league’s longest losing streak. The North Stars have the league’s longest road winning streak. They are tied for the longest home winning streak. They also have the longest home losing streak. The only streak category they aren’t in is the longest road losing streak. It would be kind of cool to lead all of those categories but mostly it’s just cool that the Stars lead the win streaks.
- Gudmandson: The North Stars goalie is now 5th in the league in wins! With 14 on the season only 4 goalies have more wins. Gudmandson has only made 16 starts with the North Stars. His goals against and save percentage numbers are now almost identical to Ryland Pashovitz for the league lead. Gudmandson is now second in the league with 4 shutouts. Only Kale Thomson has more with 6. A pretty solid bet for goalie of the week as well. Depending on what happens tonight of course.
- Score First: The North Stars are tied for the league lead with 26 games where they have scored first. In those games the North Stars are 21-4-0-1. Flin Flon has scored first 21 times and are 15-5-0-1 in those games. So the first goal, as always, is key.
- Balance: The North Stars are 4th in the league in goals for per game and 4th in the league in goals against per game. The North Stars allowed 57 goals against in their first 16 games. They’ve allowed 59 in the 29 games since then. That sound you heard was my mind blowing up. 3.56 goals against per game up til November 1st. 2.03 goals against per game since. 1.89 goals against per game if you take away that strange 6-5 loss to Melfort back in December. Think the North Stars are tough to score on? Wow.
- Slow Down: After tonight’s game, the North Stars have just 1 game in 13 days. They are off til Thursday, play Nipawin, and then are off again until Friday the 7th of February. That’s a stretch that will allow teams to make up the games in hand they have on the North Stars and even though the Stars don’t play a lot in that time frame there will be games to keep an eye on and it will be a key phase of the season. After tonight’s game the North Stars only have 10 games left in the regular season!
- Team Building: With the schedule coming up the North Stars will have some chances to do some team building. They have a team trip coming up. And of the course the ice fishing derby. This is a tight nit group, they didn’t collapse after a slow start in part because they are so close, but chances late in the season to team build before the playoffs are rare. I think it’s a good thing for the North Stars.
- Fans: I mentioned the fans that came out this weekend to support the North Stars here in Flin Flon. Well some time last week a North Stars fan bought 6 of the guys their lunch when they were out at a local restaurant in the Battlefords. I’ll mention it tonight on the broadcast but they wanted me to thank Perry for the generosity. Right now the North Stars are right at the league average for attendance. Hopefully that increases down the stretch. But the Stars must be close to the league lead in best fans.
Some Keys for the Stars:
1) Tighten Up – The Stars felt like they gave up a few too many scoring chances last night. They will want to tighten things up tonight. Just 4 gals against in their last 5 games and they want to tighten up. That’s the level this team is striving for.
2) Dead and Gone – The North Stars had a lot of chances last night themselves. Hofley was excellent, especially in that second period, but the Stars will feel like they can bear down and finish off some more of those chances. Kill of the Bombers if they get a lead. They did kind of let the Bombers hang around last night even though in the end it didn’t matter.
3) I Got Mine – North Stars head coach Kevin Hasselberg said on the post game show last night that he likes the way the communication is developing between Leonenko, Young and Blair. Communication is such a big key. And in Flin Flon with strange bounces off the boards it’s a key to be talking at all times.
North Stars Lineup:
Forbes – Fransoo
Erickson – Schmidt
Lacoursiere – Robin Yew
McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Leonenko
Quinn – Petrino – Greenaway
Fountain – Reich – Delainey
Scratches: Heinrich, Charleson, Regan Yew