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

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