SJHL Game #46 – La Ronge Ice Wolves at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 22-16-6-1

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 lost 5-2 to the Melville Millionaires last night here at the Civic Center. The game got off to a slow start. A good rush from Igor Leonenko ended when he was angled into the boards and hit hard in the corner to the right of Melville goalie Josh Bykowski. The plastic clip holding the glass in place broke and there was about a 5 minute delay as repairs were made.

The Stars then got rolling. Jake Calverley had a good scoring chance looking for his first of the season. A short handed rush from Jake McMillen almost resulted in a goal but his bachhand effort was stopped. I thought the game was maybe a little too open for the North Stars liking and Tyson Predinchuk did have two decent chances in the early going as the puck was moving end to end. Brenden Heinrich drew a tripping penalty against Jeff Hubic and the Stars capitalized. Michael Statchuk’s point shot beat Bykowski clean. The goalie was maybe partially screened by Reed Delainey swooping through the high slot after dropping the puck off to Statchuk.

Matt Havens crushed Drew Litwin in open ice to win the San-Berg Collision of the game award. Late in the first the Baxter Kanter line had a fantastic shift. They cycled, hit and harassed the Mills in the Melville zone. Moments later the game was tied. A quick rush for the Millionaires’ Dalton Menke the other way and a shot that may have tipped off Connor Sych’s stick beat Spencer Tremblay. 9 seconds later it was 2-1. A slapper off the stick of Lane Harbor beat Tremblay off the tip of his glove and just like that the great start and the momentum were gone.

Ryan Rewerts entered the game as the Stars looked to right the ship. They did just that early in the second. Every time the Stars needed a response shift they sent out Jake McMillen’s line. And it was working. That line was very good and I thought they could have scored 3 or 4 goals.

Moments after a Stars powerplay expired the game was tied. Igor Leonenko stayed on the ice and the puck came to him. His drag and shot beat Bykowski to make it 2-2 and arguably all 4 goals were relatively preventable.

Less than a minute later the Millionaires had the lead. A 2-on-3 rush for Melville lead to the goal as the Stars failed to pick up the trailer. Harbor was found alone in the slot and his shot beat Rewerts. The Millionaires doubled their lead when they popped home a rebound that landed in behind Rewerts. Reitmeyer got a stick on it before Rewerts could flop on top of the puck for a whistle.

McMillen’s line had another good response shift at that point and drew a penalty. Matt Havens had chances. Brenden Heinrich had a couple chances from the slot area in the second period that just whistled wide on the blocker side. The Stars got some momentum back but couldn’t convert on the scoresheet to reduce the lead.

Bykowski made his best saves of the night in the second. First a paddle down save on Leonenko then a pad stretch save to stop Nick Fountain. Havens had a chance late but his shot hit traffic and bounced right to the floundering Bykowski.

So it was 4-2 going to the third and the Mills started the period on the power play. A chance for the Stars to build momentum with a good PK. But they couldn’t Connor Sych’s clearing attempt from a scramble in front went right to Reed Murray. Sych was simply trying to throw the puck away from pressure and spun and fired right onto the tape of Murray. The kind of play that the Stars have had lately that they need to battle through. That’s bad puck luck. Murray took advantage and it was 5-2.

Baxter Kanter sent Murray to the ice late and Murray was livid. He was screaming and kicking as he went off the ice. Hopefully he is okay. Kanter then drew some penalties against the Millionaires as they went after him a few times. The Stars PP couldn’t convert late despite 3 straight minutes of pressure in the Melville zone with the North Stars net empty.

Lots of glass and out from the Mills and despite chances for each team the game finished 5-2.

Storylines:

  • Kramer Division: All 4 Kramer division teams are in action tonight. The Stars are still looking to reel in the Hounds. The Klippers are battling for the overall league lead with Melfort and the Humboldt Broncos are in action tonight looking to maintain a playoff spot. So all 4 teams on the ice from the Kramer have a lot to play for as well.
  • Momentum: The North Stars have struggled this season at times with momemtum swings. And lately it seems like they have been especially victimized by momentum swings and by not creating, maintaining or absorbing momentum. Whether it’s been an untimely PP goal against. A costly turnover at an in opportune time or missing a chance that would have changed the momentum it’s something the Stars can improve on. It’s Junior hockey so momentum will always play a big role and learning to deal with that can really help a team go a long way.
  • Local Flavour: As we have mentioned many times this is always a fun game especially here at the Civic Center as the Ice Wolves have several players with ties to the Edam area, the midget AAA Stars or the North Stars in various ways. There will be plenty of fans here tonight supporting the Ice Wolves as well as the usual strong crowd for the North Stars.
  • Season Series: The North Stars can win the season series with a win tonight with one game to spare. This is another potential first round Survivor Series playoff matchup. And whenever that’s the case you want to be able to recall good feelings, success and confidence from earlier games against a team come playoff time.
  • Overtime: These teams have met 4 times this season with 3 going past regulation. The Stars have an OT and a SO win under their belts. The Ice Wolves won in OT here at the Civic Center back in October.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Otto Mitchell 2) Brennen Miller 1) Lane Harbor
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Matt Havens
  • Head to Head:
    La Ronge 1 @ Battlefords 2 (Jan 8 2015)
    Battlefords 6 @ La Ronge 5 (SO) (Nov 8 2014)
    La Ronge 4 @ Battlefords 3 (OT) (Oct 14 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ La Ronge 3 (OT) (Oct 3 2014)
    Out of Town Scoreboard:
    Yorkton at Humbldt, Flin Flon at Notre Dame, Melville at Kindersley

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Be Ready – The Ice Wolves are coming off a very good win on the road in Kindersley. They will be coming into tonight’s game full of confidence and ready to get back out on the ice. The Stars will have to be ready to go. A similar start tonight to what we say last night would be just fine.

2) Momentum – This is a huge key. Get it, keep it, and absorb it when it’s going against you. The North Stars will have chances tonight to learn from what has happened the last few games and we will see how they respond. The North Stars in my experience usually respond very well to adverse situations like this and learn from their mistakes.

3) Fun – After what’s happened the last few games I hope the North Stars can bounce back with a win tonight. These guys deserve some success because I know they are battling and working hard to get through some tough times. Especially with key guys out of the lineup. So hopefully they have some fun tonight and enjoy a win.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Erickson – Statchuk
Fransoo – Sych
Weston – Vermeulen

Fountain – McMillen – Heinrich
Calverley – Havens – Leonenko
Nachtegaele – Kanter – Mitchell
Hall – Townsend

Scratches: O’Sullivan, Bond, Saharchuk, Delainey

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