Game #47 – Nipawin Hawks at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 28-16-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars have won 11 games straight. They beat Flin Flon 4-3 last Saturday after falling behind 2-0. Darren Martin struggled early but settled in a battled his way to victory. Luke McColgan scored the game winning goal. More on the game here.

Storylines:

  • Previous Meetings: The North Stars are 1-1 against the Hawks this season. The Stars won 6-2 in Nipawin early in the season. Young, McColgan, McMillen, Leonenko, Keller and Alex Bechtold all scored in the win. Darren Martin made 35 saves in net for the win. The Hawks won 3-1 on November 9th. Tad Kozun broke open a 1-1 game with 1:15 left on the clock and then added an empty netter. Darren Martin took the loss stopping 29 of 31 shots he faced. Former Star Austin Evans scored the Stars only goal in that game.
  • Minor Hockey: Tonight is North Stars Pride and Minor Hockey Appreciation night. Any minor hockey player, student or child wearing a jersey to the game will get in free. Adults in a hockey jersey will get in for half price. There will be door prizes as well. The Hot Stove Lounge will be serving happy hour prices from 6:30 until puck drop.
  • Awards: Michael Gudmandson took the SJHL’s goalie of the week award for the 3rd time this season. Darren Martin has one in that span as well. So 4 of the last 9, almost 50%, goalie of the week awards have gone to the North Stars. Gudmandson also is second in the SJHL with 4 shutouts and he’s done it in just 16 games.
  • Power: The Stars were in top spot on the SJHL’s power rankings, no surprise there as they have won 11 in a row, and Luke McColgan and Jake McMillen were mentioned as players who are hot. McColgan has 9 points in his last 10 games. McMillen 10 in his last 10. McColgan had 5 points up in Flin Flon while McMillen had 4. The North Stars were also an honourable mention once again in the weekly CJHL National Top 20 Rankings.
  • Access: The only game on a Thursday night in the SJHL means one thing. The Access 7 game of the week. This game will be live on CJNB/CJNS and hopefully the Civic Center will be packed. We can also PVR the game to watch at a later date should the Stars win.
  • The Macs: I mentioned them above but at times this season it’s been tough for McColgan and McMillen. Luke has hurt a couple times and McMillen struggled in the early going. But look at their stats and you see now that McColgan, in 10 fewer games than last season, has more goals and more assists than last season. McMillen, in 12 fewer games to this point, has tied his out put from last season with 14 goals and is just 4 assists from last season’s 16 assists and 30 points. By the end of the season McMillen will have more more goals and more assists than his rookie year. They have both been good of late, and particularly in Flin Flon, and will be big keys for the North Stars down the stretch and into playoffs.
  • Home Cooking: The North Stars are 13-2 in their last 15 games on home ice after starting the season 0-7 at the Civic Center. The North Stars have won 6 straight at home. The Nipawin Hawks are currently on a 7 game road winless streak. Earlier this year the Stars lost 7 in a row at home and then won 7 straight at home. So if they win tonight the North Stars would tie themselves, Humboldt and Melville, for longest home win streak of the season in the SJHL. Melville’s streak is current but Humboldt’s is not. The North Stars also have the two longest streaks in the league this season with a point. 10 games from November 15th to December 7th and their current 11 game win streak.
  • Recent SJHL Action: This week has seen Estevan lose in a shootout against Melville. Humboldt beat Nipawin 3-2 earlier in the week. Something’s going wrong in La Ronge. They lost 10-5 and 11-4 this week in back to back game in Melfort. The Mustangs now lead that division so the Hawks need a win tonight. The North Stars are still second in the Kramer and 5th in the league playoff standings. With a win tonight the Stars would move ahead of Kindersley by a point but the Klippers would have 3 games in hand to try and get the lead back.
  • Light Schedule: The North Stars have just one game this week and it is tonight. So they should be fresh off their trip to Flin Flon back last weekend. And with no game until they face Nipawin a week tomorrow the North Stars should have a lot of energy for tonight’s game.
  • Getting Stronger: The North Stars goals for and against by period this season in 46 games:
    1st Period – 38GF and 34GA
    2nd Period – 38GF and 39GA
    3rd Period – 51GF and 44GA
    They get better as the game progresses. Their style of play can wear teams down.
  • Penalties: Earlier this season when these two teams met they were far and away the most penalized teams in the SJHL. That’s changed somewhat. In terms of penalty minutes per game the North Stars are 5th in the league and the Hawks are second. Or I suppose I should flip that as taking penalties isn’t really a good thing. The Hawks are 11th and the Stars are 8th. The best team in the league at staying out of the box? Weyburn. Flin Flon is the worst.
  • Team Building: The North Stars will spend this weekend doing team building. That kind of thing goes a little under the radar at times. And the benefits aren’t always immediately apparent. But a close knit group that cares about each other and plays for each other is going to be very tough to beat. The North Stars for the last few seasons have always worked hard to foster a great team spirit. How many teams come back from a 4-12 start if they don’t have a great team ethic?

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Don’t Panic – I showed the North Stars goals per period above and it shows the Stars are a 3rd period team. So there’s no need to panic if the game is tied heading to the final period or even if the Stars are behind. The North Stars are 10-3 when the game is tied going to the third. 14-1-0-2 when they lead after 2 periods. The Stars have 4 wins when trailing going to the third which is behind Melville, Humboldt and Estevan for the league lead. They all have 5 comeback wins. In the end, the North Stars get stronger as the game gets longer so no need to get away from the game plan or panic early on.

2) Crowd –  We are really hoping for a massive crowd at the Civic Center tonight. Maybe as many as a thousand or more? Whatever the size of the crowd the North Stars should be fired up to return home after a trip to Flin Flon. They can feed off the energy of the crowd and maybe even the TV cameras to bring a great effort. Plus it’s their only game this week so they will be well rested and have no reason to leave anything in the tank.

3) Discipline – The Stars have gotten a lot better at staying out of the box. The Hawks have improved somewhat as well. Only 1 team has taken more minor penalties than the North Stars so there is still room for improvement. The Stars home PK is 10th in the SJHL at 80.3%. Their home PP is 3rd at 20%. Nipawin’s road PP is 9th in the league. Their road PK is 5th. So a pretty even match up between the two special teams. The best bet for the North Stars is to keep it 5 on 5.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Robin Yew – Charleson

McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Leonenko
Quinn – Petrino – Greenaway
Fountain – Reich – Delainey

Scratches: Heinrich, Regan Yew, Lacoursiere

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