40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
North Stars Record: 31-17-0-3
- 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
- 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
- Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
- Battlefords Coop Pregame Show – 7:15
- Puck drop – 7:30
Last game recap – The North Stars skated to a 5-1 win over Notre Dame two nights ago at the Civic Center. But it was a lot closer than it looks on the surface.
The Stars took a lead in the first period when Igor Leonenko and Blake Young worked a puck to the net and it squirted free to the side of the goal and onto the stick of Cam Blair. He made no mistake, his 4th as a North Star, and it was 1-0 after a very strong opening period for the North Stars.
In the second period the game was a lot more even. The Hounds had several good chances and Darren Martin was excellent in the game but especially in the middle period. Martin made several good saves including the best of the period when he kicked a rebound right to Ram Brar. Martin then made a good hard push and got across to stop Brar, again with the pad, and this time no rebound. Late in the second Martin was able to challenge a shot from Aulie and force the Hound forward to hit the crossbar.
The North Stars pulled away with with a goal explosion midway through the final period. Blake Young faked like he was going in behind the net but instead cut out front and used his long reach to slide the puck around Alexi Thibedeau. A little over 2 minutes later Dillon Forbes blasted a one timer on the power play to make it 3-zip. And just 28 seconds after that Tanner Quinn was set up in the slot and beat Thibedeau with a perfect shot just inside the post on the blocker side.
Later in the period Latrell Charleson scored on the power play as the Stars went 2-6 with the man advantage en route to a 5-0 lead.
The only real down side to the game was that Darren Martin was unable to complete the shutout. A late shot from the point took a bad bounce right in front of Martin and it somehow got through him and to the back of the net. Martin improved his already impressive rookie season stats and showed once again that he is a very viable option whenever Michael Gudmandson needs a break.
The line of Jack Petrino, Brenden Heinrich, and Tanner Quinn had a particularly strong game. Heinrich looked good despite being out of the line up a lot since December. Petrino ended up with 2 points. The whole line of Blair, Young and Leonenko had 2 points and they continue to develop some nice chemistry.
The defense was really solid against Notre Dame as they were able to limit the Hounds offensively and chip in offensively as well. Schmidt (28), Forbes (25), Charleson and Erickson (24) all have over 20 points this season for the North Stars. Any team in Canada would envy that production from the back end.
- Previous Meetings: I would say the North Stars two most disappointing losses this season have come at the hands of the Estevan Bruins. Back on November 1st the Stars lost a game that they were leading with less than 10 seconds left. The other night at the Civic Center the Stars had a 5-1 lead after the first period and lost in a shootout to the Bruins. On November 30th the North Stars doubled up the Bruins 4-2. So the Stars are 1-0-0-2 against the Bruins this season. Dillon Forbes and Latrell Charleson each have a goal and 4 assists for 5 points in 3 head to head games against the Bruins this season. Austin Daae leads the Bs against the Stars with 8 points in 3 games.
- Schedule: The North Stars have a busy weekend with 3 games on tap. They play in Weyburn tomorrow and in Wilcox against Notre Dame on Sunday. The Kindersley Klippers were able to beat the Notre Dame Hounds last night 2-0. The Stars can’t really afford a loss at this point in the season if they want to challenge for the division title on the final weekend of the season. The Klippers are 6 points up and have 4 games left. The North Stars would have to win out and hope that Kindersley drops a point against either La Ronge or Humboldt.
- Final Trip: For the North Stars 20 year old players the regular season is winding down. And because you never know how long the playoffs will last you never know how much hockey is left in your junior career. Add Blake Young to that list as well as he is off to play at Minnesota-Duluth next season. All of a sudden this is the last long road trip of these guys junior career.
- Family: Jake Erickson has some family in Canada this weekend as they drove up from Minnesota to see the games down at the south eastern part of the province. I believe Dillon Forbes’ parents are making the trip. Taylor Reich is from Estevan and will have family and friends on hand. We may see former North Star Brody Luhning at some games this weekend. And I believe a few billet parents are making the trip as well. The North Stars should have some fan, and family, support this weekend.
- Team Canada: We were able to watch the game on the bus this morning as we drove south. With Jack Petrino, Luke McColgan, Jake Erickson and Igor Leonenko all on the bus there was a nice rivalry between Canada and the US. Luckily the right team won. It was a great experience and hopefully one that will help the team focus and get energized for tonight’s game.
- Lineups: Will any or all of last game’s scratches get back in tonight? Ben Greenaway, Braden Lacoursiere and Regan Yew will all be ready to go if called upon. And with 3 games in 3 days it will be interesting to see how the North Stars workout the goaltending duties. Gudmandson tonight and tomorrow and then Martin against Notre Dame, a team he has had success against this season? Or will they alternate? Time will tell.
- Special Teams: Coaches often talk about that magical number of 100 if you combine the PP and PK percentage. The Stars at 18.3 and 83.6 are at 101.9 when the 2 numbers are combined. The Bruins lead the league in that stat with a combined rate of 105.5. So two of the league’s best special teams units will go head to head tonight.
- Affinity Place: The league’s shiniest and newest and one of it’s nicest arenas. The city of Estevan can be proud of what they’ve built for their hockey team and the community at large. It’s a great place to broadcast a game with a fantastic view from up high between the luxury boxes. It sets up to be a great game tonight and I will hopefully have a great call for you as I will be sitting in the best seats in the house. The North Stars are 3-3-0-1 in the last 3 years versus the Bruins at Spectra/Affinity Place.
Some Keys for the Stars:
1) Impose – The North Stars have struggled at times this season against Estevan and teams that play a similar style. They work hard, fly around and hit, and play with a little less structure than some other SJHL teams. And it works for them. The North Stars like to play hard within their system. They need to impose that system tonight and figure out how to combat the Bruins style by sticking to North Stars hockey.
2) Stop Daae – Hockey is a team game and it will be up to the North Stars to beat the Bruins. But a big key to that happening is if the Stars can limit the damage from Austin Daae. He has 3 goals and 5 assists in 3 games against the North Stars this season. A big chunk of that came last time they met as the Bruins came from 5-1 down to win 7-6 in a shootout.
3) Chemistry: – Forbes and Fransoo. Erickson and Schmidt. McMillen, McColgan and Keller. Young, Blair and Leonenko (Leonenko has 7 points in his last 7 games playing on that line). Petrino and Heinrich. The North Stars have some pretty set combinations that they have relied on when healthy. Reich and Fountain of late have seen a lot of ice together and put up points since Christmas. Latrell Charleson with either Lacoursiere or Yew work well together. The North Stars style of puck possession, puck management and commitment to a team system is certainly aided by that chemistry. The trust of knowing where the other guys will be and knowing that someone has your back at all times. That chemistry is always a key and will be tonight against a team that can really run and gun.
North Stars Lineup:
Forbes – Fransoo
Erickson – Schmidt
Lacoursiere – Charleson
Quinn – Petrino – Heinrich
McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Regan Yew
Fountain – Reich – Greenaway
Scratches: Delainey, Leonenko, Robin Yew