SJHL Game #22 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

It’s with a heavy heart I write this update tonight. Logan Nachtegaele did not travel with the team this weekend in order to be with his family and his father who has been sick. We found out this afternoon that Logan’s father Jim has passed away. Today is also Logan’s birthday which to me just makes this even more heartbreaking. I want to express my deepest condolences to Logan and his family. I hope Jim is able to find peace and hopefully he has a great view of North Stars games in the future. I am glad he got to see his son live out his dream of playing for the North Stars.

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 13-4-4-0 NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:15
  • Puck drop – 7:30
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat the Weyburn Red Wings 3-2 at the Civic Center. The recap lives here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/north-stars-win-again/ photo(1)

Storylines:

  • Respect: The Battlefords North Stars have won 5 of their last 6 games and haven’t lost in regulation since November 1st. They are 13-4-4 on the season and in second in the Kramer Division based on win percentage. They are nationally recognized with an honourable mention in the CJHL’s Top 20. Yet they were placed 7th in the SJHL’s “Power Rankings” and not one of their players was on the “Who’s Hot” list. Are they getting the respect they deserve? I have to ask myself if I have been too hard on this team. Have I been focusing too much on the process and not enough on the results? I am not sure. There needs to be a balance there I think and I will look to find a better balance moving forward. As for the team it may be time to start forming an “us against the world” type mentality if they haven’t already.
  • Award: Despite not being in the “Who’s Hot” list, Spencer Tremblay was named the SJHL’s goalie of the week. Tremblay was 2-0 last week, stopped 73 of 75 shots, had a shutout and didn’t give up a goal at even strength. It’s the third weekly award for a North Star after Connor Vermeulen picked up a defenseman of the week award and Jordan Townsend picked up a rookie of the week award. In his last 7 games Tremblay is 4-2 with a 1.71 GAA and 0.939 save percentage. (and that includes the two goals on two shots game in Melfort) He’s been outstanding.
  • 3 in 3: The Stars have a tough schedule this weekend. It’s never easy to go down south and win 3 games in 3 days. The Estevan Bruins are not as bad as that 9-2 game might suggest. Weyburn showed at the Civic Center that they work hard and are not easy to beat. Notre Dame is one of the top teams in the league so far. The Stars will need to rely on their conditioning, depth and goaltending this weekend.
  • Family: The North Stars have a few players from Minnesota on the team. Jake McMillen is from southern Saskatchewan as well. And Spencer Tremblay is from Manitoba. I am not entirely sure who is going to have family in town for the games. But I know there are some families coming up from the US. There is usually a decent little group of North Stars fans when the team heads south and I expect that to be the case this weekend.
  • Kramer Division: The Kindersley Klippers have lost 2 in a row falling in La Ronge and Flin Flon. They are still on the road. Talk about a tough road trip? 4 in 5 nights and after dropping the first two they are in Nipawin tonight and Melfort tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Klippers win their next two as they are a very good team but those aren’t easy games to win. So the Kramer Division is a lot tighter than it was earlier this week. Also this week, Humboldt lost to Melville and Notre Dame lost to Melfort. So the Kramer is struggling a bit this week. Last night, Humboldt and Notre Dame went head to head. The Hounds
  • Spectra Place: It’s not called that anymore. It’s called Afinity Place and that’s something I will have to adjust to at some point. But the picture I posted above is a couple years old. Anyway, the point is that it’s a fantastic facility. Gorgeous, functional, and a treat to broadcast from. I always enjoy games in Estevan.
  • Road: The North Stars have the league’s best road record. And since they’ve been at home for a while it’s been a while since I have been able to point that out. Only Kindersley has a better home record than the North Stars road record. The Stars have an 0.850 win percentage on the road. That’s remarkable and hopefully improves this weekend.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Nick Fountain 2) Spencer Tremblay (And the team’s D) 1) Ryne Keller
  • Last game’s Sanberg Collision Collision of the Game: Nick Fountain
  • Head to Head: North Stars 9 – Bruins 2 – Oct 18th 2014
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Kindersley at Nipawin, Yorkton at La Ronge

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Forget  – The Stars beat Estevan 9-2 the last time they met. The Stars need to forget about that game. That was at a time when the Bruins were really struggling and having a really bad week. That’s not representative of what to expect in tonight’s game. The Bruins at home are a tough team to play against. Always have been tough at home and I suspect always will be. They will work hard, be gritty and if the Stars think it’s going to be easy it could be a long night.

2) Puck Battles: Against the Red Wings on Sunday the North Stars were in control, or seemed to be in control, for most of the game. Even when they were behind it never felt like they wouldn’t get back into the game. Where the Stars performance really took off though was when they started winning puck battles. Seemingly all of them in the third period went to the Stars. They have the speed and skill up front and a solid D with great goaltending. When they are winning battles they are winning games. You don’t have to be big and strong to win a puck battle either. There are more ways than one to do that job. On home ice the Bruins will be working their tails off so if the Stars can match that and win puck battles they give themselves the best possible chance to win the game.

3) Free  – The Stars have played their best this season when they play with a bit more freedom. The creativity in the offensive zone really comes out when they play that way. They have the monkey off their backs and have the first home win. So tonight a key will be to play with a little more freedom, creativity, and fun. When they do that they can be potent. (I stole this directly from my pregame blog from the last time the Stars played the Bruins. It worked then so let’s see if it works again.)

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Vermeulen
Erickson – Sych
Calverley – Fransoo

Fountain – Keller – Heinrich
Saharchuk – Delainey – Townsend
Havens – McMillen – O’Sullivan
Kanter – Bond – Mitchell

Scratches: Weston, Smith, Leonenko, Nachtegaele

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