Game#48: North Stars host Nipawin Hawks – Civic Center

40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

North Stars Record: 29-16-0-2

Last game recap – The North Stars have won 12 games straight. They beat Nipawin 4-2 eight days ago at the Civic Center. Check out the recap here: North Stars 4 – Nipawin Hawks 2

Storylines:

  • Previous Meetings: The North Stars are 2-1 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. The most recent meeting saw the Stars jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Hawks scored a couple in the second period to get within a goal but Luke McColgan added an insurance marker and there was no scoring in the 3rd period. The Stars also got goals from Forbes, Young and Petrino. Michael Gudmandson faced the Hawks for the first time this season and picked up the win.
  • Streaking: The North Stars have won 7 straight at home which is tied for the league’s longest home winning streak this season with Humboldt. The Stars won 7 straight at home earlier in the season as well. The Nipawin Hawks have the league’s longest road losing streak which is 9. And that is a current streak that they are hoping to break tonight. If the North Stars get a point tonight they will tie Yorkton, 13 games, for longest home streak with at least a point.
  • Power: The Stars were in top spot on the SJHL’s power rankings, no surprise there as they have won 12 in a row. Michael Gudmandson was on the “Who’s Hot” list and was described as a “fortress”. The North Stars were also moved up from an honourable mention in the weekly CJHL National Top 20 Rankings to the number 14 spot. The Stars are ahead of Kindersley on the list and just one spot behind Yorkton. With a win tonight the Stars would join Melville as the only teams in the SJHL with 30 wins. Yorkton can also reach that mark if they beat Melville tonight.
  • Home Cooking: The North Stars are 14-2 in their last 16 games on home ice after starting the season 0-7 at the Civic Center. The North Stars have won 7 straight at home. The stars currently have the 6th best home record in the league which is pretty good considering they did get off to such a slow start. The North Stars have the league’s best road winning percentage but the don’t head out on the road again until February 21st.
  • Recent SJHL Action: This week has seen the Humboldt Broncos blanked 3-0 by Melfort. The Mustangs are rolling and they have a great shot to win their division. The Nipawin Hawks need wins to keep pace. The Stars now have a 4 point lead on the Broncos and have a game in hand. Staying ahead of Humboldt basically guarantees the North Stars would avoid a survivor series. Weyburn beat Estevan in OT earlier in the week. The Red Wings have won 7 in a row a streak they put on the line tonight.
  • Light Schedule: The North Stars have had 8 days between games and after this weekend’s pair of games they have just one game next week. The North Stars host Flin Flon on February 11th and then have another 8 day break. Next weekend is the ice fishing derby and the North Stars have the whole weekend “off”. They are off in terms of SJHL action but they will be busy with preparing for, and pulling off, one of the team’s largest fundraisers.
  • Team Building: The North Stars spent this past weekend doing team building. They were in Calgary for a Flames game. You may have seen them on HNIC with their cowboy hats on. Cam Blair and Luke McColgan got to ride on the Zamboni during the intermission and the guys took in the game day skates as well. It was a great chance to get away and do some bonding. And it will pay dividends in the long run. They’ve had a good week of practice to prepare for tonight’s game and they should be fired up tonight.
  • Sherwood: The North Stars are facing the Sherwood Division’s Nipawin Hawks tonight. The Stars are 14-4 against Sherwood teams this season. Melfort, Flin Flon, Nipawin and La Ronge are the 4 teams in that division and only the Mustangs are over 500. The North Stars have the SJHL’s best record against the Sherwood. Yorkton is 10-3 against that division. Kindersley is 11-4. The North Stars are 14-4. They are beating the teams that they are supposed to beat which is not easy in this league this season where it seems anyone can beat anyone on any given night.
  • Shootout Specialists: Latrell Charleson leads SJHL D men with 3 shootout winning goals. That’s also the league’s overall best output in that stat. Several other players have 2. No one else has 3. In terms of SJHL D-men with more than 1 attempt, Dillon Forbes is 1-for-1, Charleson has the best shootout percentage as he has gone 4 of 6. The North Stars are 6-2 in shootouts but they are just 8th in the league in SO% scoring 12 of 50 attempts. That’s been enough to win most shootouts because Stars goalies have stopped 42 of the 50 attempts they’ve faced.
  • Helpers: Kyle Schmidt is on a 4 game home assist streak and in that time has 4 assists. The Stars captain is 7th in the league in defense scoring and would be higher but he has the fewest games played of anyone on that list due to some injuries earlier in the season.
  • Double Digits: McColgan’s goal last game was his 10th this season. Leonenko, Blair, Young, McMillen, Keller and now McColgan all have at least 10 goals for the North Stars. Others who could join that club? Taylor Reich and Nick Fountain both have 9. Reed Delainey has 7 and Jack Petrino has 6. Both could crack double digits with a strong finish.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Be Different – The North Stars have found so many different ways to win games this season that is has become kind of a trend. Last game they jumped out to a big lead, almost lost that lead, took too many penalties (not always their own fault though) and then shut up shop in the third and didn’t give the Hawks a sniff. As the French might say, “Vive la difference!”. The North Stars have embraced that roller coaster nature and learned to harness it. They had games earlier in the season when they collapsed after giving up a few goals. They don’t do that anymore. Whatever happens tonight the North Stars know they have what it takes to find a way to win.

2) Shots, Shots, Shots –  The North Stars have out-shot their opponents this season by over 300. That’s an average of slightly over 6 shots more per game for the Stars. They are also pretty consistent with 581 shots in the 1st, 580 in the second and 566 in the third period. Against? 463 in the 1st, 541 in the second and 452 in the third. The North Stars come out of the gates strong and close strong. And when they have the lead? Their opponents struggle to come from behind because they struggle to get shots. As Luke McColgan showed us last week any shots can lead to a goal and the Stars are good at getting shots for and limiting shots against. If they out-shoot the Hawks tonight they will likely win. They are 22-13 when they get the most shots.

3) PP vs PK – This may have been in the keys last week. But the Hawks PK is second best in the SJHL on the road. The North Stars have the 3rd best home ice power play in the SJHL. So the battle between those units could be a key. The North Stars also took too many penalties in the game 8 days ago. They need a little more discipline. The North Stars also have 5 home ice short handed goals which is tied for the league lead.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Rewerts (AP)

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

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

Scratches: Robin Yew, Regan Yew, Brenden Heinrich, Darren Martin

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