Playoffs!! Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 –  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Tonight@ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 1st @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 lost 4-1 last night to the Melville Millionaires as the Mills were able to steal home ice away from the Stars early in the series.

There were some similarities to the previous round as the Mills came into the Civic Center and outplayed the Stars. They also won by the same 4-1 score that Estevan managed in game 1 of the previous round. Blake Young scored early for the Stars as they struck on the power play. A Kyle Schmidt point shot was re-directed off the post and in as the Stars jumped on Melville. The Stars had earned the power play on a nice move from Jake McMillen to get to the front of the net. He was hauled down and the Stars scored on the power play. A great start.

But from there is was all Mills. They tied the game with a first period power play marker of their own. A shot from the line hit Colin Mospanchuk at the side of the net and rebounded past Gudmandson. They then scored early in the second to make it 2-1. Reed Murray with a nifty backhand redirection that got past Gudmandson and juts snuck inside the far post.

Gudmanson was then beat by a shot off the rush just 32 seconds into the third and the Mills got an empty netter late. it wasn’t the North Stars number 1 goalie at his best. Although I am not sure he takes much blame for any of the goals I know Goody will not be happy having given up 4 goals and he will be looking to bounce back tomorrow.

The keys for the Stars in the loss? It appeared the Millionaires got under the skin of the North Stars and that’s something coach Hasselberg talked about in the post-game show. It’s also something that will need to be addressed. The Stars also went 1-8 on the power play and after that early first period marker they didn’t do much to get to the front of the net or to bother Isaiah Plett. Of his 38 only a handful were tough and very few were through traffic.

Storylines:

  • Bounce back: The North Stars bounced back against Estevan with a much better effort in game 2. They will need the same thing tonight at the Civic Center. I did not think the North Stars had a very good game last night. Give the Mills all the credit as they were fantastic. The North Stars will need to be much better to compete with this Melville squad.
  • Physical: Game 1 was very physical from both teams. It’s going to be a long hard grind of a series. Both teams will be battered and bruised. The Stars didn’t manage the puck well last night. They didn’t get as many pucks in deep as we are used to seeing. And because of that they weren’t as physical as we are used to seeing. In order for the Stars to grind the Mills D they need to be better with the puck especially in the neutral zone.
  • Penalties: A combined 12 power plays and I thought there were several infractions that went uncalled for both sides as well. Could have been a lot more chances on the man advantage. The North Stars in particular need to play on the edge where they are physical and intense but without crossing the line. I think I would be fine with this series being played mostly at 5-on-5 as I think the Stars will be just fine playing that way.
  • Second Period: Once again I thought the North Stars had a rough second period. Not sure why it keeps happening but I know it’s something they will be looking to correct. They also need to be ready to play early in periods as they given up some early period goals so far in the playoffs. A couple little corrections that could take the Stars a long way.
  • Puck Management: Whether it was misguided passes or passes that weren’t fielded cleanly the North Stars struggled moving the puck last night. They made some bad decisions. And all in all they didn’t put pucks where they want to put them. How many times did they fluff a dump in or fan on a pass? Too many to count. That will have to chance tonight. They must take care of the puck which is the way the North Stars are famous for playing.

Game Notes:

  • Shots: The North Stars don’t lose very often when they outshoot their opponent. But when they it’s because they weren’t able to get to the dirty areas and weren’t able to create traffic in front. That was the case last night. It will be interesting to see how many shots the Stars get tonight and how many are with a guy planted in front.
  • McColgan: While he didn’t get on the score sheet I though Luke was one of the North Stars best players last night. His line looked dangerous at times. And McColgan himself? Plenty of jump. He’s played well against Melville this season. He could be a huge key.
  • Crowd: Another 1,500 people in the Civic Center last night. The Wilkie Outlaws were playing a provincial final game at home. That may have cost the Stars a few fans. Hopefully another big crowd turns out tomorrow night. No matter what happens the North Stars always work hard and the game are always entertaining. And a big crowd can really help the Stars as they need a bounce back game tonight.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Big Players – Coach Hasselberg mentioned on the post-game show that the big players need to be big players. He meant that literally. It wasn’t big players in terms of their best players needing to play well. (which they do) But in terms of their bigger players physically need to play big. They have some bulk up front that needs to used to good effect on the Mills D and in front of Plett.

2) Composure Coach Hasselberg also mentioned the Mills beaking the Stars and getting under their skin. So there is another area where the Stars can and will be better. If the just focus on  playing their hockey they will likely get the last word. With wins.

3) Consistent – The home town boys need a solid full 60 minute effort. Take care of the puck. Go to the net. And do it consistently for the full game.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Yew

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

Scratches: Leonenko, Regan Yew, Lacoursiere

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Playoffs Round 2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

 

Round 1 Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Round 2 Schedule:

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Friday @ 7:30pm- Civic Center
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, Saturday @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 1st @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 2nd @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #5 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 4th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Game #6 (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Melville Millionaires, April 6th @ 7:30pm – Horizon Credit Union Center

Game #7 (if necessary) – Melville Millionaires at Battlefords North Stars, April 8th @ 7:30pm- Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 beat Estevan 2-1 back a week ago on Friday the 21st. The Millionaires beat Kindersley 1-0 on Wednesday the 19th. Both teams have had some time off and should be fresh.

Storylines:

  • Regular Season: The Mills won 3 of the 4 head to head meetings this season with the North Stars lone win coming in a shootout. But the two teams haven’t played each other in a really long time. October 29th was the last time these two teams met. The Mills have wins of 4-2, 3-2 and 4-3. The North Stars win was 5-4 in a shootout. So 3 of the 4 games were decided by a single goal.
  • New Look: There are several new faces on these two teams since the last time they met. The North Stars didn’t play a game against the Millionaires with the Yew twins on the team. Or Michael Gudmandson. And Cam Blair faced them with Flin Flon but not with the North Stars. Kyle Schmidt only got into two games versus Melville. Jake McMillen just one. The Stars haven’t seen Melville since they lost Tyson Predinchuk and TJ Reeve and added Sam Williams. These teams will look and lineup differently than they did earlier in the season. If anyone can even remember those games way back at the start of the year.
  • Similarities: These two teams are very similar in a lot of ways. They were separated in the standings by a single point. They have the top two candidates for Coach of the Year which Melville head coach Jamie Fiesel won. They have great goaltending. They skate fast, work hard and hit. And they battled each other closely all season long. Each team lost just once in regulation in the regular season when leading after two periods. They have similar special teams numbers. They were the top two road teams in the SJHL this season and both are 2-0 on the road so far in playoffs. The list goes on and on. They basically played 4 games this season that were decided by a single goal, one had an empty netter, so we know they are closely matched.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars closed the regular season on a great run and they were able to catch Kindersley for the Kramer Division title. But Melville faltered a little down the stretch as well and that enabled the Stars to catch them as well. That late rally gives the North Stars home ice advantage in this series which could be huge as it is almost certainly going to be a long hard fought series.
  • Secondary Scoring: Scoring of any kind could be hard to come by. The Stars scored 11 goals in 5 games against Estevan. The Mills scored 10 goals in their 4 game sweep of the Klippers. But 5 of those goals came in game 1. These two teams have already played a bunch of close hard fought playoff games. Secondary scoring will be huge in this series. We know what the top guys like Blair and Young for the Stars and Mospanchuk and Farrell can do for the Mills. The Mills got secondary scoring from guys like Walz, Constant and Harbor in round 1. The Stars got a little from Nick Fountain and the D corp. For the Stars a big series from the likes of McColgan, McMillen and someone like Reich or Delainey could go a long way to tipping the balance.

Game Notes:

  • Goalies: Isaiah Plett is the top goalie so far in playoffs. He is 4-0 with a 1.49 goals against and has stopped 95 percent of the shots he has faced. Michael Gudmandson is 4-1 with a 1.70 GAA and a 94.4 save percentage. Both goalies have a shutout.
  • Stars struggles: It won’t have any bearing on this series because the teams are so different from earlier this year and of course from last year as well. But it’s interesting to note that the Mills have beaten the Stars 7 out of the last 8 meetings. They were 4-0 last year and 3-1 this year. In the last 16 games the Stars are 6-10 which means they were 5-3 the two years previous.
  • Regular Season Scoring: For the North Stars it was Luke McColgan, which is encouraging for the Stars, who lead the way with 6 points in 4 games. Latrell Charleson had 4 points in 4 games versus Melville. Igor Leonenko had 2 goals and 3 points versus the Mills. Allan Kilback paced the Mills with 5 points in those 4 games.
  • PIMs: Remember who often the Stars were in the box at the start of the season? Dillon Forbes had 54 PIMs in games against the Mills. The Mills had 21 power plays in 4 games versus the Stars this season. The North Stars don’t have that same problem anymore. They were great at staying out of the box versus Estevan. That will be big in this series.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Secondary Scoring – I touched on it earlier. We know what the top guys can do. The Stars will get offense from Blair and Young. They need to continue to get offense from other areas and in particular the second line.

2) Special Teams With the special teams units both being so similar it could come down to a big kill at a key moment that makes the difference.

3) Timely Scoring – I think almost every game in this series is going to come down to a goal or two at most. So scoring a goal at a key time will be huge. The Stars got key goals at key times, both 5-on-5 and on the PP, in their series win over Estevan.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Yew – Charleson

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

Scratches: Regan Yew, Delainey, Lacoursiere

Gudmandson named SJHL MVP

For the second time in the past three seasons a North Star has been named the SJHL’s Most Valuable Player. And it would be tough to argue with this year’s selection. After joining the North Stars in mid-November Michael Gudmandson helped lead the team on a super charged run to the Kramer Division title as they swept past the Kindersley Klippers on the final weekend of the season.

The North Stars were starting to come out of their struggles a little when Gudmandson arrived but they took off when he grabbed the starters role. The Stars brought Gudmandson in as almost a roll of the dice as they were looking for a 20 year old veteran goalie. A young tandem of Darren Martin, who ended up having a heck of a rookie season, and Casey Parker, a great young man and player, wasn’t what the North Stars were looking for in net. So they brought Goody in to compete for the job and on that first weekend he took off with 2 wins and a shutout. He never looked back.

Gudmandson ended up with sparkling numbers. 20-3-0-1 in his 24 starts with a 1.74 goals against average. Gudmandson stopped 94.4% of the shots he faced. He was a huge part of the Stars going from a 4-12 start to Kramer Division champs and was also a big part in their first round series win over Estevan.

It was the year of the goalies in the SJHL with Ryland Pashovitz also being honoured as the SJHL’s top rookie and Kale Thomson named the top goalie after posting 8 shutouts. But it’s Gudmandson who had the biggest impact on his team as he stabilized the North Stars in goal as they posted one of the league’s best defensive records. To be fair the North Stars improved as the season progressed and they do have a great group of defenseman, plus two way forwards, playing in front of Gudmandson. But when it comes to the last line of defense it was Goody making all the key saves.

It’s a special story as Gudmandson bounced around a lot in his career. He made stops in the NAHL with Dawson Creek. The VIHJL with Oceanside. The BCHL with Nanaimo. The CCAA with Nait, after attending North Stars training camp, before finishing last season with the Humboldt Broncos. This season Goody was in the MJHL with Neepawa before rejoining the Stars. He was a self described “suitcase” before finding a home here in the Battlefords. To finally land in the right spot with the right team and to run with that opportunity, to show what a talented player he was all along, well that is all part of what made this season so special.

So now he has SJHL MVP honours to go with his Kramer Division MVP award and multiple goalie of the week awards.

A couple seasons ago it was North Battleford native Blake Tatchell taking home the MVP award. So in my three seasons of broadcasting North Stars hockey I’ve been lucky enough to witness two MVP seasons. Tatchell and the Stars fell in the North final that season. Here’s hoping Gudmandson can lead the Stars even further in this year’s playoff run.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The SJHL also announced some more awards yesterday on their website. Cam Blair was named the SJHL Player of the Week. During the past week in three games played Blair posted 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points. He led the Stars offensively in their 3 straight wins during the voting period. And with at least a point in all 5 games versus Estevan it was arguably Blair who was the Stars MVP in round 1 of the playoffs. He has done exactly what the North Stars were looking for when they traded very good players to get Blair from Flin Flon.

Round 1 Audio Highlights

Here is an audio highlight package from the North Stars round 1 victory over Estevan. I will have more later today on the MVP award for Michael Gudmandson and the player of the week award for Cam Blair.

North Stars reach semifinals with 5 game series win

Series Results:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Last Game:

The Battlefords North Stars eliminated the Estevan Bruins last night with a 2-1 victory at the Civic Center.

The Bruins jumped out to an early lead with their top line providing the offense yet again. A Tanner Froese shot came back off the chest protector of Michael Gudmandson and the loose puck went right to Cory Kosloski. He was able to bat the puck across to Austin Daae who finished into the empty net.

Gudmandson shut the door the rest of the way. He ended up making 20 saves for the win which seems like a pretty easy outing but several of those saves were top notch. Gudmandson was a real key for the Stars in this series giving up just 8 goals in the 5 games and 4 in the final 4 as the Stars streaked to the series win.

The Stars tied the game late in the first period when Latrell Charleson set up Cam Blair. Charleson was along the wall skating up the right wing into the Bruins zone. His pass to the high slot found Blair. The Stars forward closed in on Gibney and used the D man as a screen before firing in on the blocker side just inside the post.

The Stars were 0-1 on the power play in the first and were able to stay out of the box.

The second period was when Gudmandson really stood tall. He made a number of great saves on the 9 shots he faced including a fantastic save with the arm/glove to rob Froese. The Stars were 0-1 on the power play in the second and after really controlling the first had a bit of an off period. The Bruins out shot the Stars 9-8 in the middle frame.

In the third it was the Stars starting to take over once again. They had 13 shots and got the goal they needed. It was Blair again on the power play beating Gibney. For Blair that was goal number 5 in the series to go along with 2 assists as he was the Stars top offensive player in round 1.

The Stars were able to shut the door late and not give the Bruins anything. The third period was also the only period in which the North Stars were in the penalty box. But the PK was outstanding killing both Bruins PP chances. The work last night of Petrino, Quinn and Heinrich was outstanding. I thought the Reich line was excellent as well with Reed Delainey closing the series with two really good performances.

The Stars now have about a week to rest and get healthy. There were some guys who were a little bumped and bruised after a tough 5 game series with Estevan so the rest will be beneficial.

After game 1 the Stars for the most part were pretty locked in defensively as they were able to limit scoring chances against a really good offensive team. They will need to continue to work on their defensive structures as the Mills have a strong offensive group as well.

We will have more on that series coming up this week. But for now we can enjoy a great 5 game series win over a tough and gritty Bruins team. With a special shout out to the 1,500 fans at the Civic Center last night.

Playoffs!! Game 5 – Estevan Bruins at North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: Stars lead series 3-1

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 2 (OT)

Game #5 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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

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Last game recap: – They say the playoffs will breed unlikely heroes. Like game 1 in the Melville Kindersley series when a player who had scored 4 goals in the regular season, Brady Constant, scored a hat trick in his first playoff game. Well for the North Stars the unlikely offensive hero was Kendall Fransoo. Early in overtime the Stars got the puck in deep and were able to recover it with good work down low from Nick Fountain. Taylor Reich took the loose puck towards the right corner and then fired a pass out front.

Originally I thought Reed Delainey missed the puck in the slot but after seeing a replay it sure looked like he meant to let the puck slide through his legs and all the way to the point. Reed said after the game that it was in fact intentional.

Fransoo was manning the line and took that puck and hammered a slapshot past Matt Gibney. Fountain was working his way to the front of the net but I am not sure they he managed to get a screen. Lynden Pastachak was also in the lane but it looks like Fransoo just blasted the puck right by Gibney.

Before the OT winner that game was similar to the game on November 1st when the Stars were on their losing streak and gave up a goal with 3 seconds left and then lost in a shootout. This time they got a different result.

Blake Young scored 14 seconds into the second period after a pretty quiet first. The big news out of the opening period was that Tanner Quinn didn’t return to the ice for the remainder of the game. His status for tonight’s game is uncertain. As is Ben Greenaway’s after he got sick following game 3.

The Stars had finished the first on the power play after a double minor for high sticking against Pastachak. Young’s goal came 1 second after the second penalty had expired early in the second. Cam Blair got the puck to Young in the slot area and Young was able to get to the backhand and roof the puck past Gibney.

With the score still 1-0 the Stars got a huge save from Michael Gudmandson. Latrell Charleson had just finished belting Lynden Pastachak when the Stars lost the puck and it came right to the slot to Tanner Froese. He was all alone but couldn’t beat the glove of the sprawling Gudmandson.

The Stars then hit the crossbar and post in rapid succession later in the frame. Reed Delainey was back in the lineup and had a good game. His shot hit the bar and the rebound went right to Nick Fountain who spun and fired off the post. I seem to remember a similar play in Weyburn earlier this season when the Stars hit iron twice back to back like that and I am sure Nick Fountain was involved in that play as well.

The Stars went 0-5 on the power play in game 4 but both of Young’s goals came just after penalties had expired. His second goal was again set up by Blair. After a nice move around Pastachak, again just out of the box, Blair rushed into Estevan territory, went wide, swooped behind the net and then tried a wrap around. He was stopped but Young poked home the rebound.

From there it was a matter of the Stars missing some chances to extend the lead and the Bruins missing chances to close the gap. The Bruins started not taking penalties and got better as the third period progressed. Garagan missed a great chance in front before Austin Daae got on the board. He was stopped on the first attempt by Gudmandson but got his own rebound and scored on the back hand.

The Stars were holding on a little at this point but looked to have the job done. Unfortunately they were unable to clear the puck. David Robertson’s pointshot was deflected by Tanner Froese in front and it was 2-2 with 4 seconds left. There was a lot of debate about whether it was a high stick. It looked close to me on the rebound but the Stars didn’t complain too much and we went to OT.

After the game coach Hasselberg said his team will look to learn from the 3rd period and get better at playing with the lead. They now have a chance to win the series tonight.

Storylines:

  • Elimination: The 4th game is the toughest to win in any series. The Bruins have plenty of 20 year olds who will not want their junior careers to come to an end. Plus younger players who won’t want their season to end. Down 2 goals with a little over 5 minutes left the Bruins still fought back to force OT in game 4. They showed just how determined they are in that game. The Stars will have to be at their best to win tonight’s game and end this series.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars have a chance to win a series on home ice for the first time since beating Nipawin in game 7 on home ice two years ago. That was the last time the Stars won a playoff series as they then lost the north final to Humboldt in 6 games. And last season the Stars lost in the wildcard series. It’s always great winning a series at home in front of a huge crowd. But like I said it won’t be easy tonight.
  • Home Ice, part 2: The home team in this series is 1-3 so far. The Stars won game 2 at the Civic Center but other than that the road team has won each game.
  • Overtime: That was the first time in this series that OT was played. But there have been plenty of OT games in the playoffs so far in the SJHL. There were two last night. The Bruins played a bunch of OT against the Bombers in the wildcard series. The Stars are 1-0 in OT so far. The Bruins are 2-2. Each series in the quarterfinals has had at least 1 OT game. The Stars were really good in the regular season in one goal games which could serve them well in the postseason.
  • Unlikely Hero: Last game it was Kendall Fransoo scoring a goal. What will it be tonight? Who will make the big play that sets up his team for the win? It’s always fascinating watching the playoffs develop to see different players taking on different roles. Seeing a young player come through in a clutch moment. I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.
  • Travel: The new SJHL playoff format has the potential to spit out some cool matchups. Melville versus Yorkton for a league final is still a possibility. Imagine a season ending at some point in the future with the North Stars and Klippers going head to head for a league title? That would be incredible. But the worst has happened in terms of the Bruins travel schedule. Up to Flin Flon for games last round and now up to the Battlefords for the second time. I empathize with their players and staff being on the bus that much. That’s just a lot of travel. The BCHL has 3 division and they playoff within the divisions and then the 3 winners will play a round robin style format. I’m not sure that’s the answer either.
  • Other Action: There is one other game tonight in the SJHL with Yorkton hosting Notre Dame. The Terriers won in OT last night and now lead that series 3-1. So they can move on with a win. The Humboldt Broncos won 3-2 in OT against Melfort last night. That series is tied 2-2. Game 5 goes tomorrow night. Not to get ahead of ourselves because there’s a lot of hockey to be played tonight. But IF both the Stars and Terriers win tonight then three of the four series will be done. That would just leave Humboldt and Melfort and that series looks like a potential 7 gamer.

Game Notes:

  • Point streaks: Cam Blair’s goal streak came to an end in game 4 but his point streak continued. With his 2 helpers last game Blair now has 5 points in 4 games. Kyle Schmidt is on a 2 game assist streak and now has 3 points in the playoffs.
  • Shutout Streak: Michael Gudmandson put up a pretty impressive streak of 169 minutes and 11 seconds. From early in the first period of game 2 until late in the third in game 4. That’s about as close as you can get to a 3 games shutout streak without getting more than 1 shutout.
  • Penalty Killing: The Bruins went 2-5 on the PP in game 1. Since then they are 0-12. The Stars PK has been excellent. The Bruins PK in the playoffs is operating at 94.6 percent. That’s tops in terms of the teams left in the playoffs. Partly because of the strong play of the goalies in this series but the PK units have been great.
  • One Penalty: The North Stars only allowed the Bruins one chance on the power play in game 4. Which is obviously a fantastic performance. The Stars played physical but composed and between the whistles. They skated away from places where they may take a penalty. I said on the broadcast if the Stars take 3 or fewer penalties they have a great chance to win.
  • Crowd: There were 1,400 fans at the Civic Center on Saturday night for game 1 and a little over a thousand for game 2 on a Sunday night. So I can only imagine how big the crowd will be for a Friday night game with the Stars having a chance to move on. 1,500? More than that? Close to 2,000? All I know for sure is that I am very excited to get to the rink tonight.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Front Foot – The North Stars sat back a bit in the third period of game 4. Which is natural with a 2 goal lead and that’s why a 2 goal lead is the worst in all of hockey. It will be important for the Stars to come out on the front foot and stay there.

2) Opening Frame Coach Hasselberg said on the post game show after game 4 that the first period tonight will be a key. He talked about setting the tone on home ice. It goes hand in hand with the first key. The first 20 minutes could decide the whole game.

3) Desperation – The Bruins season is on the line. Their 20 year old players will be desperate to keep their careers going. The whole team will be desperate to force the series back down south. The North Stars will have to match that desperation.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Schmidt – Erickson
Forbes – Fransoo
Yew – Charleson

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

Scratches: Greenaway, Robin Yew, Lacoursiere

Playoffs!! Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins – Affinity Place

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: Stars lead series 2-1

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars 3 – Estevan Bruins 0
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Wednesday March 19th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #5 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 did not have a great first period last night. They got a little scrambly early in the period and didn’t seem to recover until the second period. Early in the first the Stars had some trouble in their own zone as Nick Fountain’s skate broke. Then the Stars got running around a little and they turned the puck over a few times. But to their credit they also had 4 or 5 huge blocked shots in that time as well. Michael Gudmandson made several key saves.

Lynden Pastachak had a great early chance turned away. And then the North Stars scored on a power play. Jake Erickson took a pass from Kyle Schmidt and then immediately returned the puck back to the captain in the high slot. Schmidt’s quick pass over to the right side of the umbrella set up Luke McColgan and he blasted the Stars in to the lead.

Both teams had first period posts. The Bruins got one on a nifty deflection in front that would have been a ridiculous goal. Austin Roesslein with a between the legs attempt that just missed. Gudmandson also had big saves off Egan and the ‘AP’ McKersie in front. The Stars were out of sorts a little and the Bruins were very physical. But Gudmandson turned aside 13 shots and the Stars blocked another 10 or so on top of that and got to the intermission up 1-0.

The second period was a grinding period with a lot of play in the neutral zone. The Stars outshot the Bruins 10-8 and aside from some big hits not a lot happened.

In the third the Stars scored a goal that was waived off and Blake Young was sent off for slashing. He poked the puck into the net. If it was covered he wouldn’t have been able to do that. Strange call in my opinion. But the Stars kept plugging. The Stars also had 2 really good early penalty kills that seemed to spark them into life and created a lot of momentum.

Cam Blair has a goal in all three games of this series now after a sharp angle shot that beat Gibney. That made it 2-0 Stars and they had a little breathing room. Moments later Igor Leonenko stole the puck and went in with Nick Fountain on a 2-on-1. Fountain took a nice feed and beat Gibney short side again but this time from a good scoring area. 3-0 North Stars and from there they were able to cruise to victory.

So Gudmandson with a shutout and the Stars special teams were very good. The Bruins played well and really played a physical game. The gave the Stars some really trouble at times. But they also seemed frustrated and maybe a little tired at the end.

They will come out flying tonight trying to even the series. I expect a really strong, gritty effort from Estevan this evening.

Storylines:

  • Home Ice: The Bruins stole home ice away from the Stars. So they stole it right back last night. The Stars now don’t need to win in Estevan again to win the series. They could win with just home victories. But they have a chance to take a 3-1 stranglehold on this series tonight. They will be desperate to do just that.
  • Back to Backs: The North Stars set up their schedule with a bunch of back to back games in January and February to prepare for the playoffs. We spoke about this idea last night. And the Stars won a bunch of those back to backs. So they are prepared for playing a team two nights in a row. And they are prepared to play that team the second night when they are trying to bounce back from a loss. The North Stars have an idea of what to expect tomorrow night from a desperate and determined Estevan team.
  • Physicality: Last night’s game was very physical. The North Stars and Bruins both hit hard and often. There were players coming off the ice slowly seemingly every other shift. It was a real playoff style game. Both teams will have to get the ice bags out and will have had to make sure they got a good nights sleep so they can do it all again tonight.
  • Special Teams: The Stars PP and PK units have been excellent in the last couple games of this series. As long as that continues they have a great chance to win these games. They are moving the puck well and scoring on the power play. When they aren’t scoring they are gaining momentum. The PK has been great and was fantastic last night. The work ethic has been impressive and has given the Bruins fits at times.
  • Frustration and Fatigue: The Bruins looked a little tired in the third period last night. And they certainly took some penalties that were born out of frustration. Will that carry over to tonight’s game? Or will they re-group and bounce back?
  • Game 5 Tickets: After the split of the first two games we now know for sure that the Stars and Bruins will play a game 5 Friday night at the Civic Center. And tickets are now on sale for that game. Tickets for game 5 at the Civic Centre are available through the team’s website, by going to the Civic Centre during office hours or calling the office at 306-445-7827. For more check out http://www.northstars.ca

Game Notes:

  • Lineups: The North Stars can freshen up their lineup tonight if they desire. They have three healthy players who haven’t played since game 1, in the case of Reed Delainey and Regan Yew, or game 2 in the case of Braden Lacoursiere. Those fresh legs could pay huge dividends against a Bruins team playing for the 9th time in the last 12 days.
  • Goal streaks: Cam Blair, on a 3 gamer, and Nick Fountain, on a 2 gamer, are both hot for the North Stars.
  • Balance: The North Stars got a goal from a player on 3 different lines last night. Blair, McColgan and Fountain all tallying. That balance is a North Stars hallmark and bodes well. They also got a couple assists from the defense. Jake Erickson should have an assist added that would be his second of the series and second game in a row with a helper.
  • Goody: After a rough first start Gudmandson is now sailing along with a 1.67GAA and amongst goalies with more than 1 start in the playoffs he has the best GAA and the second best save percentage.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Skate – The North Stars had a two week break while the Bruins were grinding out a series win over Flin Flon. With this series about to play it’s 4th game in 5 nights the North Stars are in a position to try and use their freshness. But the Bruins are a gritty group playing at home so it won’t be easy. The Stars need to put the pedal to the metal and really try and force the Bruins to skate with them. Maybe they will tire out a little as the game goes along.

2) Continue The Stars got 3 goals last night. Their biggest offensive outpouring of the season. They must continue to get lots of rubber to the net. Get bodies to the net. And convert on their chances. Matt Gibney has been excellent so far and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. So the Stars will continue to try and make his life difficult if they can.

3) Kills – The Stars power play has a goal in each of the last two games of the series. Their penalty kill has been so strong. The Bruins are a talented offensive team that has great ability and poise with the puck. They are dangerous on the power play to say the least. If the Stars PK continues to win the battle the Stars have a great chance to win the war.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Robin Yew

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

Scratches: Regan Yew, Lacoursiere, Greenaway

Playoffs Game #3: North Stars at Estevan Bruins – Affinity Place

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: Series tied 1-1

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Battlefords North Stars 2 – Estevan Bruins 1

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Tonight @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Wednesday March 19th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #5 – if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 bounced back on Sunday night with a very solid effort and a 2-1 victory to even this series at a game a piece. But it wasn’t a great start.

SJHL President Bill Chow was on hand to present Michael Gudmandson with his Kramer Division MVP award. The Stars netminder was fishing the puck out of his net not long later. The Stars came out flying and earned an early power play. But a D to D pass along the blueline was picked off by Austin Roesslein and he raced in alone and beat Gudmandson. That was the only shot that got past the Stars netminder all night. He stopped 26 shots in the end to pick up the win.

Cam Blair scored later in the period on the power play to tie the game. It was his second of the playoffs. A shot from the slot appeared to change directions and slide underneath Gibney.

The only other goal of the game came in the second period. Nick Fountain stole a puck in the left face-off circle. He looked up to find a play and the seas parted. A huge lane opened up for Fountain to go right to the net and fire a perfect shot up under the crossbar on the short side. 2-1 North Stars and that was the final score.

But it wasn’t easy. The North Stars PK had to be great as they gave the Bruins 6 power plays. I thought the North Stars were very physical in game #2 and that will pay dividends as the series moves along. The line of McColgan, McMillen and Leonenko was good after the two Macs struggled a little in game 1. McMillen had a great chance in the second period as he cut around a check into the shot but his shot was gloved by Gibney.

Dillon Forbes made a great play to break up a 2 on 1 and Gudmanson stopped a break away at one point after a turnover at the Bruins blueline and a lucky Estevan bounce. Latrell Charleson missed the game with a suspension and it’s a credit to the play of Robin Yew and Braden Lacoursiere that Charleson’s absence wasn’t really felt. He will be back for game 3 tonight but the Stars know they have plenty of depth on the back end.

The one area that showed improvement I thought was the face-off circle. The Stars were better in game #2 and need to continue to improve. Reich, McColgan, Blair, Petrino and Delainey are all more than capable of winner 55-60% of their face-offs. And with Keller and Regan Yew around as well the Stars have a plethora of face-off winners if the need arises. Speaking of Petrino I thought he was very good in his return. And Igor Leonenko created several chances with his big frame and great hands.

So all in all it was a good win with plenty of positives and lots to build on.

Storylines:

  • Home Ice: The Bruins have stolen away home ice advantage and for the first time in the series will play on home ice. Game #3 in a 7 game series is a huge swing game. The Stars can steal home ice right back. The Bruins can get back in front and protect that home ice that they grabbed in game 1.
  • Road Warriors: The North Stars were the SJHL’s best road team in the regular season. The won at a rate of .714 in the regular season on the road. No one else was close to that mark. In fact only Yorkton and Kindersley had better winning rates on home ice than the Stars had on the road. A road split would be great for the Stars.
  • Odd man rushes: The North Stars gave up another couple odd man rushes last game. That’s still something to watch as the series moves forward.
  • Home Coming: You never know what the Stars will do with their lineups but as long as he plays I think Taylor Reich is going to have a big game today in front of the home town crowd. He’s not been as influential in this series so far as he was in the final two games against Kindersley. The Stars 20 year old forward is capable of doing a little bit of everything to help his team win and I expect playing in his home town and in his old home barn he will have a really good game tonight.
  • Preparation: The North Stars came down south yesterday and stayed an extra night on the road. They won’t have bus legs to shake off in the warmup tonight. They will have a whole day of a regular routine prior to the game. It’s all designed to give the team the best chance of performing to their maximum. It’s important that they use that time and prepare in the right way.
  • Back to Backs: The North Stars set up their schedule with a bunch of back to back games in January and February to prepare for the playoffs. They knew that the playoffs would likely turn up match-ups that would lead to overnight back to back games. They wanted to prepare for just this time of situation and it will be interesting to see how it works.
  • Game 5 Tickets: After the split of the first two games we now know for sure that the Stars and Bruins will play a game 5 Friday night at the Civic Center. And tickets are now on sale for that game. Tickets for game 5 at the Civic Centre are now on sale and available through the team’s website, by going to the Civic Centre during office hours or calling the office at 306-445-7827. For more check out http://www.northstars.ca

Game Notes:

  • Roger Neilson Award: I was reading about La Ronge forward Sebastian Beauregard winning the Roger Neilson Award which is given to the player who:
    a) Displays fair-play and honest dedication to the game of hockey.
    b) Embodies the values of the League and his team.
    c) Is dedicated to fair play and sportsmanship throughout the season under all circumstances.
    And I was pleased to see that Beauregard is sharing the award with Battlefords North Stars captain Kyle Schmidt. Two very deserving winners.
  • Affinity Place: The newest and nicest of the SJHL’s modern arenas is always a real treat. I get a great view of the action and a little area all to myself to concentrate on the broadcast. It’s everything a guy could ask for as a broadcaster. I am really looking forward to being there for a playoff game.
  • Blair: Cam Blair has scored in 5 of 6 meetings with Estevan this season. He has scored in both games so far in this series.
  • Discipline: Interestingly the Stars gave up more power plays in game #2 than they did in the first game and yet I thought they were more disciplined. I didn’t like a lot of the calls against both teams. It’s the playoffs. I say let these guys play. Staying out of the box will be key.
  • Losing Streak: Sunday night’s win for the North Stars snapped a franchise 5 game playoff losing streak. That stretched back two seasons to a game 6 OT loss to Humboldt. And of course last season’s sweep at the hands of Melfort. It was a streak that wasn’t likely to last long. Nice to have it over with.

Some Keys for the Stars:

(Michael Gudmandson provided help with today’s keys)

1) Poise – The North Stars made a great poise play last game and it ended up being Nick Fountain’s great game winner. They showed increasing poise as the game went on. Everything ramps up during the playoffs and things happen very quickly. That makes the poise that the Stars showed in the regular season even more important.

2) Forecheck The North Stars are at their best when they are on the attack hunting down the puck. Get pucks deep and then go get them back. Guys like Brendan Heinrich who had 9 hits last game are huge keys for the Stars in a potentially long series. The more time the Stars spend on the forecheck the less time the Bruins great forwards will spend with the puck.

3) Traffic – Gudmandson thought the Stars did a better job getting to the front of the net last game. But says they can still do even more to get traffic in front of Gibney. The Bruins goalie has been excellent so far in the series and right now if he sees the puck he stops it. So the Stars will try and make his life difficult and make sure he can’t see some of the shots coming his way.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Robin Yew

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

Scratches: Lacoursiere, Delainey, Regan Yew

Game #2 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: Bruins lead 1-0

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins 4 – Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, Sunday March 16th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Tuesday March 18th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Wednesday March 19th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #5 – if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 lost game 1 last night at the Civic Center and in the process lost their home ice advantage in the series. After two weeks off since beating Kindersley to close out the regular season the North Stars showed no signs of rust in a pretty dominant first period. The Bruins were credited with 5 shots but I think one of those was blocked on it’s way to Gudmandson. In any case the North Stars controlled the play and tok a 1-0 lead. Cam Blair scoring what turned out to be the Stars only goal.

Tanner Quinn had a good game and was one of the North Stars who had a good second period. Again the Stars outshot the Bruins but this time the shots don’t tell the story. It wasn’t a great period for the home team and the Bruins got back in the game as the period went on. Matt Gibney made a lot of saves and kept his team in the game but he also saw almost every shot as the North Stars couldn’t get bodies in front. A late Tanner Froese power play marker made it 1-1 heading to the third.

And with a little momentum and belief on their side the Bruins came out with a very good final period. They scored three times and heavily out shot the Stars. Allison, Kosloski and Froese all scored in the final period. The Bruins also had a break away for Froese that was stopped by Gudmandson as Estevan’s dangerous style payed off. Late in the game Latrell Charleson his Nick Egan and Charleson was given a 5 minute major for boarding. I thought Egan turned as he saw Charleson coming. I didn’t think it was deserving of a major. Egan was cut and it sounds like he could be fine to play today.

Storylines:

  • Discipline: The North Stars took a few too many penalties last night as the Bruins power play went 2-5. The North Stars were just 0-2 on the PP as they were given few chances. The Stars want to play an aggressive and physical style which will serve them well over a long series but they have to find a way to take fewer penalties or draw more power plays.
  • Home Ice: The Bruins have stolen away home ice advantage which means the North Stars will have to win a game in Estevan to win the series. That isn’t the end of the world for the team that had the SJHL’s best road record this season. But it does put a little pressure on for game 2 tonight. The last thing the North Stars want to do is fall into a 2-0 hole heading to Estevan on Tuesday.
  • Top Line: The trio of Froese, Kosloski and Daae were excellent last night and especially in the third period. It took them a while to get going but once they got rolling they ended up contributing all 4 goals. Allison was playing on the top line for a shift when he scored. The Bruins play a dangerous style offensively that involves long rink wide passes that create odd man rushes when they work. The Stars will have to find a way to make sure those passes don’t work tonight.
  • Lineups: The Bruins have a few players that are banged up and the North Stars may need to make a change on the back end. Leonenko and Lacoursiere are available to draw into the lineup for the home team. Jack Petrino is day to day and may be ready to go tonight as he is close to being back to full health. I also wonder if we will see the Stars juggle their lines a little as well.
  • Odd man rushes: The North Stars gave up a bunch of 2-on-1s last night and Froese was stopped on a break away. That’s unusual for a Stars team that is noted for it’s strong defensive play. One of the real stories to follow in tonight’s game is the Stars ability to slow down the Bruins through the neutral zone and prevent odd man rushes.

Game Notes:

  • Goody: The only other time this season that Michael Gudmandson allowed more than 3 goals was against the Estevan Bruins. He allowed 8 goals in the 5 games following that 7-6 shootout loss. Gudmandson only lossed back to back games once all season.
  • Firsts: Several North Stars players were playing in their first playoff game last night. Regan Yew picked up an assist for his first SJHL playoff point. Robin Yew, Charleson, Erickson, Delainey, Heinrich, and Nick Fountain got into SJHL playoff action for the first time. Dillon Forbes played his 14th career SJHL playoff game and picked up his first career playoff assist. He had previously posted just 1 goal in the playoffs. That was Gudmandson’s first SJHL playoff start and the first goals he’s allowed in postseason action.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Balance – The North Stars roll four lines and three D pairs and get contributions from all their skaters when they are playing at their absolute best. In the first period last night it was like that but then it drifted off. The Stars will need to have everyone going tonight.

2) Smart Coach Hasselberg said last night on the post game show that the Stars worked hard but they need to work smart. One of the things they need to be better at is getting bodies in front of the net. They also need to be better at dealing with the Bruins attempts to create odd man rushes. The effort is always there for this team. They always work hard. Tonight they need to work smart.

3) Rebounds – Hand in hand with working smarter. The Stars got a lot of shots last night and there were a lot of rebounds. The home team just wasn’t getting to those rebounds. Gibney did a decent job with rebound control, in part because he could see the shots, but there were some juicy rebounds that the Stars didn’t find. When the Stars are on their game they are swarming on rebounds and loose pucks.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Yew – Lacoursiere

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

Scratches: Regan Yew, Reed Delainey
Suspended: Charleson (1 game)

Playoffs!!! Game 1 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars – Civic Center

40th Anniversary Season – 2014 Kramer Division Champions

North Stars Regular Season Record: 36-17-0-3

Best of 7 Series: 0-0

Schedule:

Game #1 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, Saturday March 15th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center
Game #2 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, Sunday March 16th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Tuesday March 18th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place
Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, Wednesday March 19th @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #5 – if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 21st @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Game #6 – (if necessary) – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins, March 23rd @ 7:30pm – Affinity Place

Game #7 – (if necessary) – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars, March 25th @ 7:30pm – Civic Center

Broadcast Info:

  • 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 beat Kinderlsey, two weeks ago already, to clinch the division and the #2 seed heading into the playoffs. After a shootout loss to Estevan on November 1st the North Stars went 32-5-0-2. It’s been so long you almost forget but no one in Canada was playing better than the North Stars at the end of the regular season.

The Bruins are coming off a hard fought 5 game series with Flin Flon. The Bruins used home ice to their advantage winning game 5 by a score of 3-1 with an empty netter.

Storylines:

  • Kramer Division Champs: The North Stars won their division and got that two week rest that every team can use at this time of the season. That high seeding also means they get to start at home in this series and have home ice in a game 7 if necessary. Other than that though? The regular season is over and this is a whole new ball game.
  • Fitting Playoff Matchup: The Bruins win on November 1st, and a come back OT win in Wilcox the next night, helped turn the Stars season around. And these teams have played some very entertaining hockey games this season.
  • Offense vs Defense: The North Stars ended up scoring 176 goals in the regular season which was good for a tie for 3rd in the league. And was 12 more than the Bruins scored. The Stars gave up 139 goals which was 4th best in the SJHL. The Bruins allowed 173. So even though it seems like a matchup of the Stars D versus the Bruins offensive fire power I think the key match up will be the other way around. Can the Bruins defense slow down the North Stars offense? Matt Gibney could be a huge key.
  • Crowd: A couple years ago the North Stars were a top team and packed the Civic Center for playoff games. Lets hope that happens again this year. A lot of the local senior hockey in the area is over. Midget AA is as well. The Midget AAA Stars are rolling in their playoffs but will be at the game tonight. (hopefully celebrating a series win over PA!!) The days are getting longer and the weather isn’t going to keep people away from the rink. Is 2,000 too much to ask for this earlier in the playoffs?
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Saturday night during the first round of playoffs. It doesn’t get much better than that. All 4 series will be on the ice. Melfort took care of business on home ice last night and now head to Humboldt looking to go up 2-0 in the series. The Mustangs with an 8-3 win and who saw that score happening? Certainly not me as I was expecting a low scoring close game. The Yorkton Terriers get their series with Notre Dame underway tonight. And in the series I will keeping a close eye on the Melville Millionaires stole home ice away from Kindersley with a 5-4 win in overtime last night. Brady Constant with a hat trick including the game winner last night and that is after scoring 4 goals for the entire regular season. Playoff hockey breeds unusual heroes. So now the pressure is on Kindersley. They don’t want to go on the road to Melville down 2-0 so they need a big response tonight. I expect they will have a very good game.

Game Notes:

  • Head to Head Scoring: In the regular season Cam Blair led the way for the Stars with 6 points versus Estevan. 4 of those came in 2 games as a North Star. Both Dillon Forbes and Latrell Charleson had 5 points in 4 games. Austin Daae led the Bruins with 8 points in 4 games. Daae, Kosloski, and Froese were all over a point a game in the games against the Stars.
  • Playoff Scoring: In their 5 game series with Flin Flon the Bruins top line combined for 3 goals and 5 assists. That’s less than a point a game for those guys which is a little surprising based on how good they were in the regular season. Other guys like Keegan Allison and Lynden Pastachak stepped up. You would think in order to upset the North Stars it will take a big series from the Bruins top line.
  • Power Play: Both teams are excellent on the man advantage as both finished in the top 5 in the league. But somehow in the Wildcard series not a single goal was scored by either the Bruins or the Bombers on the power play. The North Stars were 8 for 25 on the PP in their final 4 games of the season. Good for 32% so their special teams were playing well. Playoff hockey tends to be more physical but with less penalties. I think this game will be decided 5 on 5.
  • First Goal: So far in the SJHL postseason the team that has scored first has won 8 of the 11 games. That’s a win percentage of 77.3 or in other words getting that first goal is very important.
  • Ice Condition: With the AAA Stars playing at 1 and then a charity game at 4 the Civic Center will be busy tomorrow. I am sure the rink workers will do their best to make sure the ice is in good shape. And both teams have to play on the same ice so there can be no complaints that way. But I will keep an eye on the ice as the game goes on. Hopefully it is good and the game can be played at a high tempo and keep the fans entertained.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Intensity – The Bruins are coming off a 5 game series win over Flin Flon. They are playing at playoff intensity. The North Stars will have done their best to replicate that in the last two weeks. I am sure they practiced incredibly hard. But it isn’t the same. So the Stars will have to get up to playoff speed as quickly as possible.

2) Adjustments For the North Stars to be successful they have to play their style and force that style on the Bruins. If at any time it starts to turn into run and gun style hockey then the Stars will have to make some adjustments and reel it back in. The Bruins play with a little less structure to their game and at times can be a little unpredictable. That will be something else the Stars will have to deal with.

3) Just Play – The old adage is that the playoffs are a new season. Which is true. Both these teams have zero wins at this point and it is a race to 4. It’s pretty simple. But the Stars can’t forget what got them to the Kramer Division title. The way they played. The lessons they learned. The confidence that a #2 seed should have going into a series. And then just go out and play the way they’ve been playing.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Robin Yew – Charleson

McMillen – McColgan – Keller
Young – Blair – Fountain
Quinn – Delainey – Heinrich
Regan Yew – Reich – Greenaway

Scratches: Lacoursiere, Leonenko, Petrino (day to day)