Playoffs!! Game #4 – North Stars at Melville Millionaires – HCUC

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:

Millionaires lead 2-0

Game #1 – Melville Millionaires 4 –  Battlefords North Stars 1
Game #2 – Melville Millionaires 2 – Battlefords North Stars 1

Game #3Melville Millionaires 5 – Battlefords North Stars 2
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 are on the brink of elimination after last night’s 5-2 loss in Melville. The North Stars fell behind early on in the game when they were unable to clear a rebound. Michael Gudmandson was good last night and several goals against were on the second and third rebound. The opening goal was popped home by Lane Harbor after a couple of Gudmandson pad saves.

The North Stars responded a couple minutes later with Jake McMillen again hitting the back of the net. For the second game in a row McMillen was able to deflect a good point shot past Isaiah Plett in the Mills goal.

In the second period the North Stars played perhaps their best period of the series so far. They controlled the play for long stretches and the Millionaires were struggling to deal with what the North Stars were throwing at them. Latrell Charleson threw a big hit on Eric Meyer that I think was clean. There was no call on the play. I didn’t have a great view but I didn’t see much wrong with the hit. Meyer appeared to be okay immediately after the hit but moments later went down in a heap and I don’t think he returned to the game.

Adam Dibella took exception to the hit and stepped in to fight Charleson. Latrell is a big strong kid and he handled himself well in the fight. Dibella didn’t get a chance to throw many punches and Charleson took the decision.

The North Stars had a lead to play with in the third period thanks to a power play goal from Braden Lacoursiere. He was likely only on the PP unit because Charleson was in the box at the time serving his fighting major penalty. Lacoursiere was able to step into a puck and fire it past Plett. Ryne Keller with the assist and the Stars had a 2-1 lead to play with heading to the final period.

But that’s where the wheels came off. The Stars took a couple early penalties including one for having too many players on the ice. The Mills scored on the second of those penalties to tie the game. Another rebound goal past Gudmandson who made the initial save. Moments later Kyle Schmidt hacked at Sam Williams who was on a partial break. The ref awarded a penalty shot. I didn’t think it was a clear break away but none the less the Mills suddenly had a chance to take the lead. Williams made a nice move to the back hand and beat Goody.

So suddenly with 2 goals in 18 seconds the Mills had the lead and the Horizon Credit Union Center was rocking. So were the North Stars. And they weren’t able to regroup in time. Reed Murray scored two more goals as the Mills pulled away for a 5-2 victory. The home side went 3-9 on the power play and scored on a penalty shot as well. The Stars lost their cool a little in the third.

Both Colin Mospanchuk and Ashton Clark were helped off the ice at various points last night. Mospanchuk was able to return in the third and help spark his team to the win. I don’t think Clark returned to the game.

Melville now has a chance on home ice to win their 8th straight game to open the playoffs and sweep their way through two rounds and into the league finals. The North Stars must win tonight to extend the series and their season.

Storylines:

  • Sweep: The Mills swept the Kindersley Klippers in the previous series. So they have experience closing out a team on home ice. They have been on an incredible roll through the playoffs so far. The North Stars will be going up against a team that is supremely confident. They will have to overcome the Mills and their momentum if they want to force a 5th game in the series which would be Friday night at the Civic Center.
  • Race to 4: The North Stars approach doesn’t change in a playoff series whether they are up 3-0 or down 3-0 in the series. It’s a race to 4 wins and it doesn’t matter how or when you win those 4 games. As long as the Stars get to 4 before the Mills. The North Stars don’t have any room for error now. But the Mills haven’t won the series yet. They haven’t gotten win number 4 yet.
  • Destiny: The North Stars can’t think about it tonight because they can’t win all 4 games at once. All they can do is win game #4 this evening. But the last time the North Stars won a league championship they came from 3-0 down to win a series. That is what they will have to do this year if they want to have a chance to win the league title.
  • Second Period: The Stars were fantastic in the second period last night. That was the kind of hockey this team is capable of playing. And the Mills struggled with the Stars. The road team will need to play that way for a full 60 minutes in order to pull out a victory. They know what they are capable of producing on the ice and I am sure they know that they haven’t played their best hockey yet in this series. The Mills deserve a lot of credit for playing so well and maybe they find a way to win if both teams are at their best tonight. The Stars will play a great game for a full 60 and see what happens.
  • Rebounds and Deflections: The North Stars have scored 4 goals in 3 games so far in the series and 3 have been deflected. The Mills scored 3 or 4 goals last night that were on rebounds. Both teams are having a tough time scoring on the first shot. Which is to be expected at this time of the season. The North Stars have to be a little better at controlling the ice in front of Michael Gudmandson and clearing rebounds.
  • Spring Camp: The North Stars will be holding their spring camp at the Civic Center coming up this weekend. I will post a spring camp schedule a little later this week. It’s a chance for young players to experience the North Stars program. They will be on the ice for scrimmages several times over the weekend. They will get to make an impact on the Stars coaching staff and the staff will get to make an impression on the players. Game 5, which is still if necessary and let’s hope it is necessary, on a Friday night at the Civic Center would be a great way to show the young players just what the North Stars program is all about.

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Just Win – It doesn’t matter how they do it. If they win 8-7 or 1-0 in 5 overtimes. If they play bad and find a way to grind out a win or dominate for a full 60. It doesn’t really matter how they do it or what it looks like at this point. The North Stars just need to find a way to win tonight’s hockey game. Win pretty. Win ugly. Just win.

2) Protect the House Clearing rebounds and controlling the front of the net will go a long way to clinching a victory tonight. Gudmandson was good last night and made the first save pretty much every time. The Stars control their house and they have a great chance to extend the series.

3) Full 60 – We have seen flashes of it so far in the series but we haven’t seen a full 60 minutes of North Stars hockey. A full 60 is what is needed. No matter what the score is at the time. No matter if the bounces seem to be going their way or not. No matter what the refs decide is a penalty or isn’t. On the PK or the PP. A full 60 minutes effort of the brand of hockey that the North Stars are famous for producing. That’s the order of the day.

North Stars Lineup:

Gudmandson
Martin

Forbes – Fransoo
Schmidt – Erickson
Charleson – Lacoursiere

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

Scratches: Leonenko, Robin Yew, LaFramboise ‘AP’, Petrino

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