North Stars lose final home game of regular season

The Battlefords North Stars wrapped up the home portion of the regular season with a 4-3 shootout loss versus Notre Dame.

Prior to the game the North Stars handed out some of their regular season awards. I was on the air and tried to jot down the award winner. I think I got them all:

Top Rookie – Matt Havens
Most Improved – Baxter Kanter
Humanitarian – Jake McMillen
Most Dedicated – Jake Erickson
Top Defenseman – Michael Statchuk
Fans Choice – Nick Fountain
Team Award – Reed Delainey

The Stars were without Statchuk, Delainey and Matt Saharchuk for tonight’s game but did get Jake Calverley back in the lineup. Levi Kleiboer played again as an affiliate.

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The first period was almost all North Stars. Brock Weston had a couple early shots and one through a screen provided by Nick Fountain was barely saves by Alexi Thibodeau. Another Weston shot was partially blocked and trickled just wide. Bryce Hall, Matt Havens, and Brenden Heinrich had a 3-on-1 rush but Thibodeau made a glove save. Nick Fountain and Jordan Townsend exchanged passes before Towny took a shot that Thibodeau fought off with his glove and pad.

Jake McMillen than had a chance but missed a bouncing puck the first time. His second attempt from a sharp angle went off the outside of the net. Jake Calverley had a shot stopped and Baxter Kanter jammed the puck just wide. Jared Martin had the best chance for the Hounds but Tremblay made his best save of the period.

In the second period the Stars got on the board. Brenden Heinrich got loose on the PK for a short-handed breakaway. Heinrich made no mistake as he went 5-hole to open the scoring. The Stars got another one quickly as Jake McMillen scored. In between the two Stars goals Tremblay actually made a couple of really good saves to stop Anderson on the powerplay and Cummings was robbed as well.

McMillen’s goal was set up by a great rush from Jordan Townsend. Townsend went wide with speed to the goal line and passed to the slot for McMillen to go roof for the Stars to grab a 2-0 lead. The Hounds called their timeout. They scored not long after and Spencer Trapp set up Martin who made it 2-1.

The Stars got a power play but Sam Aulie had a chance short handed. It was broken up by a nice back check from Brenden Heinrich. Heinrich then had a one-timer on the power play that went just wide. Evan Werle tied the game as the puck came to him off a scramble and he fired home from the slot. That made it 2-2.

The Stars were very physical in the game and maybe the most physical they’ve been all year. There were a lot of big hits in the game. Havens got a big piece of Kindrachuk. Kanter blew up Trapp. Fransoo got a huge hit on Williams as the hitting really picked up.

Tremblay robbed Lightfoot with the blocker after a back door set up from the Hounds. He then made a diving cross-crease save that was his best of the game. McMillen and Heinrich each had a chance later on a good shift. Heinrich’s shot appeared to hit the crossbar.

In the third McMillen had a great left wing rush but was stopped. Then Tremblay stopped Aulie with a pad save. Lightfoot threw a high hit on Jake Erickson who appeared to be okay after and finished the game. The Hounds captain got 2 and 10. He maybe should have had more.

The best chance of the final period for the Stars? Matt Havens powering out of the corner. But his shot went straight into the glove of Thibodeau.

In the third Baxter Kanter threw a clean hit on Aulie but Walsh didn’t like it so the two dropped the gloves. Kanter and Walsh with a spirited tilt that was probably a draw. Not long later Williams and O’Sullivan were tangled up and slashing at each other. Then they fought and both stood toe-to-toe throwing rights with no defense. O’Sullivan was leaking after the fight but appeared to be in good spirits as he watched the end of the game.

Late in the third Sych set up Erickson for a one-timer and Erickson beat Thibodeau. The Stars had a lead. But the Hounds pulled their goalie and got a goal with the net empty. Cummings able to slide the puck home through the 5-hole.

After overtime solves nothing the Stars couldn’t get a goal in the shootout. And Cummings was able to score in the 5th round to win the game for the Hounds. The Kindersley Klippers had already won their game in a shootout though so the Hounds can no longer win the division. The Klippers are 2015 Kramer Division champions. The Stars game Tuesday in Kindersley won’t mean anything in terms of the standings. But the Rivalry Cup will be on the line.

Also with tonight’s results the North Stars know they will face Estevan in the Survivor Series round. It sounds like Friday, Saturday here for games 1 and 2. Games 3 and 4 will be Monday and Tuesday in Estevan and game 5 Thursday back here in North Battleford. It’s a best of 5 Survivor Series so games 4 and 5 are only if necessary.

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SJHL Game #55 – Notre Dame Hounds at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 27-20-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The Battlefords North Stars beat the Weyburn Red Wings 2-1 in overtime last night. With that win the Stars wrapped up 5 wins out of 6 versus Weyburn this season. Every game between the two teams was decided by just a single goal.

The North Stars are still working on getting healthy and played last night with just 5 defensemen. They tried to get an ‘AP’ into the lineup but the player they wanted to call up got sick and couldn’t play.

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The first period was probably the best in terms of entertainment for the fans. It was a pretty open period with some end to end action. Matt Havens set up the first good chance of the game as he stole the puck from Jack Burgart in behind the Weyburn goal. With the Wings goalie scrambling to get back in position, Havens sent the puck out to Igor Leonenko in the slot. But the pass wasn’t on the right side of Igor’s body and he couldn’t get a good shot away toward the empty net.

The North Stars opened the scoring when Michael Statchuk threw a puck wide of the net on purpose looking for a nice bounce or deflection. The puck went to Jake McMillen and he beat Burgart from a very sharp angle. We didn’t see much of Statchuk after that as he left the game. It sounds like he’s a little banged up but removing him from the game was mostly precautionary. The Stars dropped Connor Vermeulen back to defense for the rest of the game and once again had 5 D. But they were short up front.

Spencer Tremblay was busy in the first period and he made several saves on the penalty kill. The Wings had 4 power plays in the opening frame including about 45 seconds of 5-on-3 time but couldn’t beat the Stars goalie. Tremblay seems to be hitting his best form just in time for playoffs.

The Stars had chances short handed as well. Jake McMillen almost scored as he was set up in the slot by Brenden Heinrich. His spinning shot from the slot was kept out by Burgart though. Later in the period on the PK McMillen had a good rush up the wing and he powered to the net but his backhand shot was stopped.

Burgart’s best save of the period may have come on a Matt Havens shot that the Wings goalie saw late thanks to a good screen from Nick Fountain.

The Wings best chance of the frame came late in the first period as they had what looked like a tap-in back door. But Jake Erickson got his stick in the way and prevented Neuberger from scoring.

In the second the game slowed down a bit and I thought the pace was more like a playoff game. The Wings continued to get some shots but mostly from the outside. Brock Weston had a great chance on a feed from Bryce Hall. The cross crease pass set up Weston but his shot went high over the net. Logan Nachtegaele had a nice rush in the frame and a rising shot that was stopped by Burgart.

The Wings tied the game in the second period on a controversial goal. It looked like the puck was covered by Tremblay but eventually the ref saw the puck trickle across the line and indicated a goal. The Ref wouldn’t talk to anyone else about the decision and the goal stood. From what I heard from fans at that end of the rink there’s no way the ref could see the puck and when they can’t see the puck they are supposed to blow the whistle. The goal stood though and we were tied.

The Stars were further reduced in numbers when Brenden Heinrich was ejected for a Check from Behind penalty. It was an accidental collision and there was no way Heinrich meant to hit the Wings player into the boards. He may not have even deserved a penalty let alone 2 and a game.

The Wings had a short power play to start the third and Tremblay was forced into two good saves early on. Brady O’Sullivan had a very strong final period as he had 3 or 4 shots on goal in the final period. Burgart made good saves on chances for Connor Vermeulen, Brock Weston and O’Sullivan. At the other end Tremblay was also solid and Kendall Fransoo broke up a 2-on-1 with a nice defensive play.

In OT the Stars were excellent. O’Sullivan and Fountain had a great first shift during 4-on-4 OT and the Stars built on that strong shift and scored the winner. Brock Weston’s rising shot appeared to go in off Burgart who may have been screened. Weston has 3 goals this season and all 3 are in games against Weyburn.

The Stars were short a few players last night after losing Statchuk and then Heinrich. But they battled and found a way to pull out the win. Tonight will be another tough test for the Stars as they get ready for the playoffs.

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “The Battlefords North Stars play their final regular season home game against the Notre Dame Hounds. The game-day sponsor is North Battleford Hyundai. Prior to the game the North Stars will hand out the majority of their regular season awards on the ice. The fourth and final Kramer Auction Shootout Showdown was rescheduled from Friday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, Feb. 28. Once again, 10 players and a goalie will be auctioned off during the intermissions in the lounge upstairs and they will compete in an elimination shootout after the game. There will also be interviews in the Prism Cable Hot Stove Lounge after the game as well.
  • Final Home Game: The North Stars wrap up the regular season games at the Civic Center tonight. They need a win to get back to a .500 record in home games this season. Weyburn is the only other team in the league that has lost more at home than they won. Even Yorkton was above .500 at home. So the North Stars will want to get back to that mark and get a big win tonight. They know they haven’t played the way they wanted to this season on their home ice and in front of their fans. It’s not for lack of effort or determination though. Once the playoffs start everything is wiped clear and it all starts again. So that record will go out the window. Tonight’s game is mostly about taking another step in the right direction towards their best game. They will need that best game for the playoffs.
  • Health: Michael Statchuk left the game last night although it sounds like it isn’t anything like a serious injury. Jake Calverley could be back tonight for the Stars. Saharchuk and Delainey are getting close. So the Stars could be back to full health sometime soon. In fact, with a little luck, they could maybe be at full strength for playoffs (or as close to full strength as you can be at this time of year as everyone will be a little banged up with bumps and bruises). It would be nice to get a little luck with the health for the first time all year. With the way Havens has been playing lately, and McMillen is now starting to find his best game as well, the Stars could have a very tough team to beat in the post-season. Three lines with real offensive threat and a great energy line that bring physicality. Let’s hope the Stars get some luck here the next few days.
  • Playoff Matchup: Last night’s games helped to clear up the picture for the playoffs a little bit. The Stars know now they can’t matchup in a Survivor Series against Melville or Humboldt. They can still end up facing any of Weyburn, Estevan or La Ronge. Estevan and La Ronge play their finals games of the season tonight. So after tonight we have a very good chance of knowing who the Stars will matchup against.
  • Deja Vu: The Kindersley Klippers are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games played. The Notre Dame Hounds are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10. That has allowed the Hounds to pull within a point of Kindersley. If the Hounds beat the Stars and the Klippers lose in regulation then the Stars and Klippers game on Tuesday would be Kindersley’s last shot to win their division. A lot has to happen for Kindersley not to lift the Kramer Division title…..but I wonder if they feel a little deja vu after what happened last season. By the way, that lone regulation loss in the Hounds last 10? That was at the hands of the North Stars. Despite that loss though you have to wonder if anyone wants to meet the Hounds in the playoffs. And if they were to pull of the remarkable and get into 2nd as the Kramer Division champs they’d have a lot of home ice to work with in the post-season. This is a huge game for the Hounds.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Jake McMillen 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Brock Weston
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Notre Dame 2 (Feb 17 2015)
    Notre Dame 4 @ Battlefords 2 (Feb 12 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Notre Dame 3 (SO) (Jan 17 2015)
    Battlefords 1 @ Notre Dame 0 (Nov 23 2014)
    Notre Dame 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 1 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords 17-5-0-1
    Notre Dame 6-11-2-4
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Kindersley, La Ronge at Flin Flon, Estevan at Melville, Nipawin at Melfort
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Offense – The North Stars have scored more than 3 goals in a game just twice since 2014. With several key guys out the Stars have had to grind out low scoring wins. Which is great preparation for the playoffs. But it would sure be nice to see the offense break out a bit and get rolling heading into the post-season. Very tough to do against Notre Dame so if the Stars can capitalize when they do get chances to attack that would help them heading into playoffs.

2) Physical – The Stars were very physical against Melfort. I thought they weren’t as hard hitting last night. That’s an area to get tuned up for playoffs as well. You want to avoid injury obviously so the best way to do that is to play hard and fast and be the aggressors physically. Send a message to the other playoff teams in the league.

3) Outside – The North Stars have done a great job the last couple weeks of keeping the game to the outside in their defensive zone. That’s allowed Spencer Tremblay to make a lot of saves and allowed the Stars to block a lot of shots. Obviously you want to limit shots if you can but more importantly you want to limit scoring chances against and the Stars have done that pretty well. Notre Dame is a team with a lot of depth and a lot of guys who can hurt you on the attack so the Stars will need to keep things to the outside once again and control the middle of the ice.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Sych
Vermeulen – Weston
Erickson – Kleiboer (AP)

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

Scratches: Statchuk (inj), Delainey (inj), Saharchuk (inj)

SJHL Game #54 – Weyburn Red Wings at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 26-20-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The Battlefords North Stars lost 5-1 to the Melfort Mustangs in their last game a week ago tonight. I thought though that the Stars played pretty well. They certainly came out with a game plan to be very physical and the early exchanges saw the North Stars hitting the Mustangs a lot. Melfort didn’t get a shot until about 8 minutes into the first.

The Stars had some chances in the opening period to create offense but Matt Havens had a pass to the slot blocked before it reached it’s target. Otto Mitchell set up Nick Fountain but his sharp angle shot was stopped by Richard Palmer. Spencer Tremblay was solid again for the North Stars and he made a good save on a 2-on-1 as the Stars goalie slid out to stop the puck before Travis Mayan could make a move. The shots in the period ended up 10-8 Melfort. But the Stars were physical, intense, quick and good in the first period.

Early in the second Matt Havens made a nice steal and spun to get a shot that was stopped. The last few weeks has seen Matt Havens really arrive in the SJHL. He’s going to be some player and will be a huge key for the Stars in the playoffs. His billet mate threw a large hit on David Heath in the second period on the PK that ended up being the San Berg Collision Collision of the game.

Baxter Kanter threw a big hit that drew a crowd and eventually the Stars came away with a power play. After helping to draw the PP it was Kanter helping to get the Stars on the board. He was jamming the puck towards the goal when it came free for Brady O’Sullivan to pop home and it was 1-0 North Stars.

The Stars had chances to extend the lead. a 3-on-3 rush almost ended up with a scoring chance for Jake Erickson. Havens had a wrap around stopped by Palmer. And Bryce Hall had a glorious chance after he was set up by Havens. The beautiful little reverse feed found Hall all alone in front. He looked up to pick his post and the puck stopped in some snow. Hall fanned and the chance was gone.

The Mustangs then got two quick ones to take a lead. A nice rush saw Mayan and Boyer exchange passes before Tristan Frei tipped home past Tremblay. That power play goal tied the game. Less than a minute later Mayan’s shot got past Tremblay who may not have seen the shot through a screen. That little 2-3 minute spell where the Mustangs came on and the Stars couldn’t quite respond may have decided the game. If the Stars had been up going to the third? Who knows what happens.

With the lead to play with and with first overall and home ice throughout the playoffs to play for as well the Mustangs needed the win and in the third they got it. 3 more goals and a very strong period from Melfort wrapped up the 2 points. That included an empty net goal. Spencer Tremblay was so good he didn’t deserve to see 5 goals up on the board at the end of the night but the Stars were still fighting right to the final minute.

I thought the Stars battled incredible well considering they had 2 ‘AP’ defensemen in the lineup. Both Levi Kleiboer and Dawson Boehm were solid in their SJHL debuts. Connor Sych was on a fly down as he is being recruited by a Division 1 hockey program. Jake Calverley joined Reed Delainey and Matt Saharchuk as injured players out of the Stars lineup. I also thought the Stars really made Melfort work for the first 40 minutes. The D pair of Riley Boomgarden and Health really had to work hard in their own zone all night. But in the end the Mustangs just had a little too much for the Stars.

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “The North Star play the Weyburn Red Wings, which could be a potential SJHL Wildcard Series showdown. The North Stars and Red Wings will face off at 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre. Access 7 and Crime Stoppers are the game-day sponsors and will have tables set up in the lobby for the game.
  • Playoffs: Every team in the SJHL is in action tonight. There’s still a battle between Notre Dame and Kindersley for the Kramer Division title which Kindersley could clinch this evening. Melville, Weyburn and Estevan all still have a shot at the Sherwood crown. The Nipawin Hawks and Flin Flon Bombers each have 70 points and a shot at 5th. Melfort is first overall. The Notre Dame Hounds look to have 4th wrapped up. The North Stars are definitely finishing 7th. Yorkton is out. Those are the only 4 that we know for sure and technically Notre Dame can still be caught by the two teams behind them in the standings. Who will the Stars face in the Survivor Series round? We may know by the end of Saturday night’s games. But we do know this game tonight against Weyburn is a potential playoff match and the Stars will be planning on going into the playoffs playing their best hockey of the season. That starts tonight.
  • Surprises: The North Stars had to use a couple of affiliates on D last game. In Weyburn, it was Cody Spagrud helping out. Lately there has been a surprise for me each time I have gone to the rink on game day and found out who was in and who was out of the lineup. I am hoping for some surprises in terms of getting guys healthy. It would be nice for the Stars to have a healthy lineup ready to go for the first game of the post-season.
  • Last Weekend: This is the final weekend of the regular season. And once again I am blown away by how quickly it past me by. It always happens. It seems like just yesterday that I was at the rink watching rookies hit the ice and now here we are wrapping up the regular season. The Stars have two more home games before closing out in Kindersley on Tuesday. Then the playoffs. I think I am really going to take the time to enjoy this final weekend of regular season hockey at the Civic Center. Hopefully a lot of fans do that as well.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Justin Boyer 2) Baxter Kanter 1) Travis Mayan
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Feb 16 2015)
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Jan 16 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Weyburn 3 (Nov 22 2014)
    Weyburn 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Nov 16 2014)
    Weyburn 0 @ Battlefords 1 (SO) (Nov 14 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords 16-5-0-0
    Weyburn 5-11-0-5
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Humboldt at Yorkton, Notre Dame at Kindersley, Flin Flon at La Ronge, Melville at Estevan, Melfort at Nipawin
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Grind – The North Stars have won 4 of the 5 meetings with the Wings this season and all of those games have been decided by a single goal. In fact, the last 4 meetings have all ended with a 3-2 score. So this should be another good game for the Stars to get ready for the post-season. They will get a chance to play in a close game with Weyburn scratching and clawing for a playoff berth. Should be a good tune up for playoff hockey. In order to win the North Stars will have to match the Wings intensity and grind out a W.

2) Message – The North Stars were very physical against Melfort. That’s a style that could really help them in the playoffs. And since this is a potential playoff match you want to see the Stars send a message. If Weyburn is on a bus back here next weekend for a playoff match-up you want them to be thinking about all the times they got hit last time they faced the Stars and how hard the game was to play in. Plus we just want to see the Stars locking in their best game and that game involves hitting people.

3) Stay Healthy– The North Stars injury list this season has been a little bit ridiculous and over the top. It would be nice to see them at full strength for the post-season and I am hoping that the Stars manage to avoid anyone getting hurt tonight. But all they can do is go out and play hard and hope for the best. A little good luck wouldn’t hurt either.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Erickson
Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych

Leonenko – Townsend – Havens
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – O’Sullivan – Mitchell
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Calverley (inj), Saharchuk (inj), Delainey (inj)

SJHL Game #53 – Melfort Mustangs at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 26-19-6-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars won their second straight on Tuesday when they beat Notre Dame 3-2. Here’s the recap: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/north-stars-come-back-to-beat-hounds/

Storylines:

  • Tests: The North Stars have recently won games away from home against Nipawin and more recently versus Notre Dame. Two of the top 4 or 5 teams in the league in terms of the standings and in terms of how I personally view the league. Both Nipawin and Notre Dame have a shot to go on long playoff runs based on their rosters and the way they play. And the Stars have won in their barns. The North Stars can still be one of the top teams in the league and we have seen that this season. Tonight is another massive test against the top team. The Mustangs have the best balance of any team in the league. They have 4 strong lines, 3 good D-pairs and no real weaknesses. Just the team you want to face to get yourself ready for the playoffs.
  • Tonight’s Festivities: From the North Stars website (www.northstars.ca): “Northland Power is the game-day sponsor and the Battlefords Initiation Stars will take to the ice during the first intermission. There will be post-game interviews in the Prism Cable Hot Stove Lounge after the game. This is also the second, and final, ticket redemption night of the season. Any unused season tickets will be accepted as admission for this game. There will be two 50/50 draws at the game. Anyone who purchases a ticket before the 10-minute mark of the first period will have a chance to win the previous 50/50 draw of $990, which was unclaimed from last game as well as be entered in the regular third period draw for the game on Friday night.”
  • Playoffs: The North Stars can wrap up 7th place with a win this evening. They are likely going to finish 7th anyway barring a very strange finish to the season. Elsewhere in the SJHL tonight, La Ronge is taking on Weyburn that’s a match-up with huge playoff implications. La Ronge isn’t in must win territory yet but they are pretty darn close. Also, Estevan is playing tonight as they host Yorkton. And Humboldt has a tough test on the road versus Nipawin. It’s going to come right down to the wire to figure out who the North Stars will face in a Survivor Series.
  • Close Games: The North Stars have played a lot of one goal games this season. And you have to hope that the experience gained by playing in those situations will help them once the playoffs start. The last two games the North Stars have played have ended 3-2 for the Stars. The Weyburn game arguably wasn’t that close in terms of how the Stars played. But in the end that’s what the Stars have had this season. A lot of tight games.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Kendall Fransoo 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Igor Leonenko
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Kendall Fransoo
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 0 @ Melfort 3 (Jan 9 2015)
    Melfort 4 @ Battlefords 2 (Nov 28 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ Melfort 3 (SO) (Nov 5 2014) 
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords – 18-7-0-1
    Melfort – 8-15-0-3
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Humboldt at Nipawin, La Ronge at Weyburn, Flin Flon at Melville, Yorkton at Estevan
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Mar. 3rd Kindersley – 7:00pm @ West Central Events Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Manage the Puck – The North Stars have to be careful in tonight’s game. The Mustangs have a great transition game and are very dangerous off of turnovers. They skate well but they move the puck even quicker. If the Stars don’t get puck deep then the Mustangs will have chances to create offense.

2) Offense – The Mustangs have allowed 2 or fewer goals in 12 straight games. They have allowed 102 goals against this season in 51 games played this season. That’s exactly 2 goals against per game. For the North Stars to win the game they have to be solid in their own zone but they will also need to find ways to generate offense against a very good defensive team.

3) Keep Building – The Stars are coming off back to back wins in game where they played well. They took two good steps in the right direction. As much as I would love to see them play well tonight and show themselves and the league just how good they can play, I am not sure they need to win the game. Another good performance and another step in the right direction. Build on what they did early this week. The performance is more important to me tonight than the outcome.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Erickson – Kleiboer ‘AP’
Fransoo – Boehm ‘AP’

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Fountain – Mitchell – O’Sullivan
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Sych, Calverley (inj), Delainey (inj), Saharchuk (inj)

North Stars come back to beat Hounds

The North Stars grabbed a come back 3-2 win in Notre Dame last night as they were sparked by Igor Leonenko.

The Stars actually came out playing quite well at the start of the period and Kendall Fransoo’s rising right point shot was fought off by Benjamin Patt in the Hounds goal. With about 11 minutes left in the first the shots were 2-0 in favour of the North Stars. Not long later Spencer Tremblay made a nice pad save. Not long later the Stars were behind. Sam Aulie teed up a one-timer that appeared to hit the crossbar. The ref was in great position and immediately waved it off and play continued. At the next whistle the refs got together and eventually a goal was given. I am not sure how anyone else had a better view than the ref that was just on the goal line? In the end though they talked it over and someone must have been sure it was in the net.

Later in the period the Stars had a chance to tie when Brenden Heinrich found Bryce Hall out front. Hall’s shot though went off the heal of his stick and just wide. The Hounds went up 2 nothing on a breakaway goal by Cory Anderson. His shot was stopped but Tremblay couldn’t stop himself from sliding back into his own net. The puck did appear to be clearly across the line before the whistle went but again no goal was given. The refs talked it over, they did that a lot last night, and called it a goal. The Stars called a time out and re-grouped.

Brady O’Sullivan’s back hand pass to Nick Fountain on a Stars power play bounced passed Fountain in the slot and went to Igor Leonenko. He stepped into a big slapshot that rifled passed Patt and got the Stars on the board.

Late in the first Tremblay stopped a deflection and then the rebound was taken around the net on a wrap around attempt but Tremblay stopped that as well. It was 2-1 after 1.

In the second the Stars were outshot 11-9 but the first half of the period was all Hounds. Jake Calverley fell awkwardly and went off limping and in a lot of pain. I was surprised to see him return later in the period but glad that he was okay.

The Hounds had a 2-on-1 with Andrew Cummings setting up Jared Martin. Martin’s quick one-time shot was stopped by Tremblay. The Stars didn’t get their first shot of the period until over 5 minute had been played. Jordan Townsend took a feed from Matt Havens and went to the net. I was shocked there was no penalty as Townsend had a Hound draped all over him and didn’t score.

More controversy later in the period. Connor Sych took down a Hound player in the corner and a delayed penalty was coming. Sych then tried to get up and get back in the play and the Hound put him in a VERY clear headlock and wouldn’t let him up. Right in front of the referee. He blew his whistle with the Hounds in possession of the puck so I figured both guys were heading off. Then the puck went in the net behind Tremblay a few seconds after the whistle and the ref who blew the play down pointed for a goal. The Stars bench was all set to explode. After discussion the goal was rightfully disallowed. The whistle had gone. Sych was then the only player to go to the box. So why was the whistle blown? I am not sure. I am sure that Sych was livid with the call. The Stars killed the penalty with Tremblay making save after save.

And that penalty kill seemed to give the Stars momentum. After back to back kills they tied the game. Igor Leonenko sent Matt Havens in alone. Havens has some pretty sick hands. A little fake to open up the goalie and a backhand through the 5-hole made it 2-2.

Sych had a shot stopped and the rebound went right to Logan Nachtegaele who appeared to have an open net but the puck bounced and his shot just missed. End to end action saw Bryce Hall set up Jake Erickson for a chance but Patt turned Erickson’s shot aside. Tremblay made a good save seconds later at the other end of the ice. Brenden Heinrich had a tough start to the second period but a very strong finish with a few great shifts in a row. his rush helped set up a couple of chances including Jake McMillen who just missed.

Igor Leonenko found a loose puck with 2 minutes left in the period and his spinning slap shot beat Patt low along the ice. A goal that the goalie would like to have back for sure. I think Igor may have partially fanned and that could have fooled Patt.

In the third Dion Antisin got into it with Leonenko and they both went off. During 4-on-4 Patt robbed McMillen with a glove save. Tremblay then had a nice glove save off his own moments later.

The Stars took back to back penalties in the period but the PK was great. Tremblay has really found his form here late in the season. And the Stars blocked shots like crazy. O’Sullivan, Fransoo several times, and Logan Nachtegaele with memorable shot blocks in the period. Logan dropped down in front of Evan Werle, who has an absolute cannon, to block a shot. It hurt but it kept the Stars in front. Tremblay’s best save of the game was during a massive scramble in front. With sticks and bodies everywhere the Stars goalie really battled for his ice, tracked the puck and mad a save before covering up.

After the Stars took 3 straight penalties it was the Hounds who lost composure late. Lightfoot for tripping, Walsh for boarding Jake Calverley, Trapp for slashing Leonenko (a moment in the game that should be looked at by the league), Lightfoot again for a cross-check, and Cummings for hooking. It was a parade to the box. The Stars had 2 lengthy spells of 5-on-3 but couldn’t put the game away. Antisin and Fountain got into late as Antisin stood right over top of Fountain who was on the ice. The Hound forward wouldn’t let Fountain up so as the Stars forward tried to force his way to his feet both players ended up wrestling and both went off. It was all right below me in the press box and I thought it was a strange call to send Fountain off as well.

During that 4-on-4 Tremblay made another huge save on Werle then the Nachtegaele shot block I mentioned earlier helped the Stars hang on.

The Hounds were short handed for the last 1:30ish and got their net empty to make it 5-on-5. Nick Fountain missed the empty net. Tremblay was not going to be beaten and the Stars got the win.

That’s two in a row for the Stars and they know they have even more to offer moving forward. They were good this week and know they can get even better. And now they get to test themselves against the best team in the league on Friday when the North Stars host Melfort.

SJHL Game #52 – Battlefords North Stars at Notre Dame Hounds

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 25-19-6-1

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 – 7:45
  • Puck drop – 8:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars got off to a good start last night coming out of the gate playing very well. They were without Reed Delainey and Matt Saharchuk again and an ‘AP’ defenseman named Cody Spagrud filled in for Connor Vermeulen. Spagrud was up from the Midget AAA Swift Current Legionaires and had a solid debut. He makes a very good first pass and I expect we’ll see more of him in the future.

The Stars got on the board on an early power play. The Stars were already on a man advantage when Jake McMillen drew a hooking call when he powered the puck towards the front of the net. The Stars couldn’t score on the 5-on-3 but did convert on the second power play. Igor Leonenko went behind the net and then stopped up and passed the puck back out front against the flow. McMillen was alone out front and the Stars had a 1-0 lead.

Mike Eskra caught Otto Mitchell in open ice with a big hit. Not long later Nick Fountain got a big hit on Josh Cronin that won the San Berg Collision Collision of the game. The Wings got a couple of first period power plays and had chances but Spencer Tremblay made some key saves. Brendan McKay looked like he had a back door tap in but the Stars D did just enough to force McKay to tip the puck wide on a nice pass from Matt Eng. Then Aidan Teilborg had a weak shot that hit the post and then Tremblay was able to flop down on top of the puck and get the whistle.

The Baxter Kanter line had a good shift later in the first period with Kanter landing 2 good hits and Jake Calverley had a good hit on that shift as well. And Jake McMillen preserved the Stars one goal lead with a great back check on a possible 2-on-1 late in the first.

The Wings had an early second period 3-on-1 but Kendall Fransoo played it very well and the Wings didn’t even get a scoring chance out of the rush. McMillen and Heinrich had a good early second period shift that led to Bryce Hall drawing a penalty and the Stars converted. Good passing set up the goal as the puck went from Statchuk down to the corner to Heinrich and he fired back up to the far point for Brock Weston to one-time his first of the season.

A few minutes later the Stars made it 3-0 as Weston scored his second of the period and the season. This time it was Statchuk making the pass to tee up Weston for the one-timer. Matt Havens, who has been playing very well of late, drew the second assist. At that time the Stars were 3-4 on the power play. Statchuk broke up a 2-on-1 late in the period as he sprawled and prevented the pass getting across to the loose Wing forward. And on a late 2nd period Wings power play it was McKay again back door and again he was not able to get enough to tip the puck home.

Spencer Tremblay was perfect on 19 shots heading to the third and the Wings tried to shake him up as McKay ran the Stars goalie in the third. Jordan Townsend broke up a chance for the Wings when they tried to pass to an open man in the slot. Townsend collapsing to the net to break it up. McMillen had a great shorthanded rush in the third for the Stars but couldn’t slide the puck into the net before he bumped Nick Malvin. Malvin had come in to replace Jack Burgart after the Stars third goal.

The Wings got some 5-on-3 time in the third and with 7 minutes left and down by 3 they pulled the goalie to make it 6-on-3. They couldn’t score and it was still the Stars up 3 late. The Wings then scored twice with the net empty in the final 3 minutes. Donovan Lumb poking at a puck and it may have bounced in off Tremblay who was scrambling  back to his post. Then Eskra popped home a rebound with a minute left to make it 3-2. That’s as close as the Wings would get though. The Stars choosing not to use their time out and it worked as the guys took care of the puck in the last minute to wrap up the win.

Overall, I though it was a great performance and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Stars took their foot off the gas a little late and other than that they had as close to a full 60 as they’ve had since Christmas break. They took a big step in the right direction as they gear up for playoffs.

Storylines:

  • Playoffs: Not that it was ever a real concern but the two points yesterday ensured the Stars will make the playoffs. They look to be pretty well looked into 7th in the standings barring a remarkable finish from the Humboldt Broncos. From 7th the Stars would face the #10 seeded team in a Best of 5 Survivor Series. The winner of the Survivor Series would then take on the #2 seed in the first round of the best of 7 portion of the playoffs. Right now that #2 seed is….Kindersley.
  • Big Ice: The Hounds home games are played on a big ice surface. Olympic sized ice in fact. Usually that means the Stars have to defend a big ice surface on the third game in three nights scenario that they usually end up with on a southern road trip. This is a little different. The Stars did have a busy weekend with the Ice Fishing Derby and played yesterday. But it’s not a three in three situation. And they have more than 24 hours between the games thanks to the 3pm start yesterday. So they should be a little more fresh in the legs than they usually are in Wilcox. Still, it’s a lot of ice to cover and they will have to really battle tonight.
  • Offense: The North Stars have played the Hounds 4 times so far this season. They are 1-2-0-1 so far in those 4 games. The problem? They’ve scored just 6 times this season against Notre Dame. Their only win this season versus the Hounds was a 1-0 win earlier this season. In order for the Stars to beat the Hounds they need to do more to score goals. That’s why one of the keys to the game is traffic to the net. Special teams will also be important for the Stars.
  • Close: The North Stars have lost just 5 times in regulation in games decided by one goal. The Hounds in the same situation have just 3 regulation losses. Combined these two teams have won 36 games that were decided by a single goal. They are both good in close games and experienced. So if the game is close late, as it usually is when these teams play then it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. The North Stars are also 10-0-1-0 when leading after the first and 12-0-0-0 when leading after 40. The Hounds are 21-0-0-2 when leading after two periods. Don’t expect to see a comeback tonight. Having a lead is massive.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Spencer Tremblay 2) Michael Statchuk 1) Brock Weston
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Nick Fountain
  • Head to Head:
    Feb. 12 – Notre Dame 4 @ Battlefords 2
    Jan. 17 – Battlefords 2 @ Notre Dame 3 (SO)
    Nov. 23 – Battlefords 1 @ Notre Dame 0
    Nov. 1 – Notre Dame 3 @ Battlefords 1
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Notre Dame 6-10-2-4
    Battlefords 16-5-0-1
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: La Ronge at Humbldt, Melfort and Flin Flon
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 20 Melfort – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 28 Notre Dame – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Final Period – The North Stars are a very good third period team. Lately that’s been their best period game after game. But lately they have usually been behind and chasing the game. Last night the Stars had a lead and the third was a bit of a let off from what they did in the opening 40 minutes. The key? For the Stars to play every period like it’s the 3rd period and they are battling for a win.

2) Battles – The Stars lost a lot of puck battles against the Hounds at the Civic Center last week. At times they looked slow and using speed is one way the Stars can win battles. They also just flat out didn’t show the desire that they need to show. Last night the Stars chipped and chased and got to pucks. They showed that desire and it led to them recovering pucks and getting puck possession, drawing penalties and scoring goals. That’s the blueprint for the Stars to stick to tonight.

3) Traffic – The North Stars didn’t get as much traffic to the front of the net, against Notre Dame the last time these two teams met, as they would have liked. Thibodeau is a very good goaltender in this league so one of the keys to the game will be making sure that there is a good screen in front and some deflections.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych
Erickson – Calverley

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Mitchell – O’Sullivan
Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Vermeulen – Kanter – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Saharchuk, Delainey

SJHL Game #51 – Battlefords North Stars at Weyburn Red Wings

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 24-19-6-1

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 – 2:45
  • Puck drop – 3:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost 4-2 to Notre Dame on Thursday night at the Civic Center. The Stars fell behind 4-0 in the first period and were never able to recover.

The Hounds opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush. Ian Williams sent the puck across to Sam Aulie and the Hounds forward blasted home a one-timer past Ryan Rewerts. It was still 1-0 thanks to a great save from Rewerts when he went post to post to stop Jared Martin. The Stars had a chance to tie as Matt Havens set up Igor Leonenko in front but Leonenko’s shot fluttered wide.

The Hounds made it 2-0 about 30 seconds later. Martin able to set up Cummings who showed good patience to deke around Rewerts using a team mate as a decoy and sliding the puck home. It was 3-0 later in the frame as Devin Gerun was able to steal a loose puck that bounced past the North Stars D at the Hounds blueline. From about the red line Gerun was in alone on a breakaway and he beat Rewerts through the 5-hole.

The Stars made the goalie switch at that point although I don’t think Rewerts had much blame attached to him for the score. Spencer Tremblay came into the game in relief and was excellent. He was beaten just once on 27 shots.

The Stars almost made it 3-1 but Bryce Hall was robbed by Alexei Thibodeau when Hall was all alone in front. The Hounds 4th goal, and Aulie’s second of the game, appeared to be kicked in. But the ref signalled that the goal counted.

The Hounds played well in the second period and could have added to their lead. But Tremblay was outstanding to keep the score 4-0. In the third the North Stars made a game of it. Matt Havens was the Stars best player Thursday and he hit the scoresheet when he set up Igor Leonenko to make it 4-1. 2:02 later and the Stars were within 2.

It looked like Michael Statchuk poked home a loose puck in the slot area but Nick Fountain was given credit. After the Stars were within 2 goals they had 2 power play but the Hounds regrouped and had a couple good penalty kills and then they were able to see out the game for the victory.

Storylines:

  • Schedule: The North Stars are coming off a very busy portion for their schedule. From January 15th until February 7th the North Stars played 12 games in a 25 day span. And for a large chunk of those games they were without key players due to injury and suspension. It’s not an excuse at all but you do wonder if some guys have been forced into roles they aren’t familiar with and into extra ice time that has led to some fatigue. With just one game last week let’s hope the North Stars are recharged and ready to go down the final stretch of the season. After tomorrow night’s game in Notre Dame the Stars have a 9 day stretch with just one game. This is a part of the schedule just before playoffs that the North Stars can really benefit from.
  • Return: The North Stars will get one player back in the lineup this afternoon for sure. Jake Calverley’s harsh 4 game suspension is over and he is set to return to the lineup. I am not sure of the status of Matt Saharchuk or Reed Delainey but I would imagine the two forwards, and the Stars top two scorers, are getting closer to a return. can you imagine having a health scratch or two? It’s been so long for the North Stars that’s it tough to remember what that’s like. A fully healthy lineup, if they get to that point this season, will give the North Stars a chance to rest guys who need it. It will let them chose a lineup based on who is playing well and the opponent being faced.
  • Standings: The La Ronge Ice Wolves look like they will be putting a little pressure on Estevan for the final playoff spot. Weyburn could be sucked into that battle as well. They have won 2 straight though and look pretty comfortable for a Survivor Series berth at this point. There is a chance that this could be a matchup in a Survivor Series as the North Stars still hold down the 7th seed.
  • Afternoon start: Today is Family Day here in Saskatchewan so the Stars are playing the Wings at 3 this afternoon. A holiday Monday afternoon start? This is the first time I have experienced a game like this in the SJHL. So it will be a bit different. The bus left the Battlefords early this morning and the guys will have to be ready to go a few hours earlier than they are used to. Luckily, it’s the same for both teams, the preparations should be the same just pushed up earlier in the day and it will give the Stars a little extra rest before tomorrow night’s game versus Notre Dame.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Matt Havens 2) Spencer Tremblay 1) Sam Aulie
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 3 @ Weyburn 2 (Jan 16 2015)
    Battlefords 2 @ Weyburn 3 (Nov 22 2014)
    Weyburn 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Nov 16 2014)
    Weyburn 0 @ Battlefords 1 (SO) (Nov 14 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Weyburn – 5-10-0-5
    Battlefords – 15-5-0-0
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: No other games tonight
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 17 at Notre Dame – 8:00 pm @ Duncan McNeil Arena
    Feb. 20 Melfort – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 27 Weyburn – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) First Goal – The North Stars have had a little trouble this season when they give up the first goal of the game. Especially lately when they’ve had some decent first periods only to find themselves behind. I think it’s a key for the North Stars to get a lead early and play with a lead for a while today.

2) 4 lines – The North Stars are still going to be short a few forwards with Delainey and Saharchuk still out but if everyone else is ready to go with Jake Calverley returning from injury then they can once again roll all 4 lines without having to double shift anyone or create lines. Last game Connor Vermeulen was playing forward for a while as the Stars went with 5 D. If they are able to have 18 skaters and use them all then the North Stars will be more fresh come the third period. The Wings are a hard working team and so the Stars will need to be energetic in that final 20 minutes.

3) Saves – The North Stars lately have had their backup come into the game and make a lot of saves. Rewerts in La Ronge and then Tremblay on Thursday were able to give the Stars at least a chance to make the game close and get the goalie pulled late to make it interesting. But they need some saves early from whoever gets the start. Yes, the team must be better in front of their goalie and that needs to happen right from puck drop. But the Stars also need their goalies to be on top of their game as they are capable of being two of the top guys in the league when they are rolling.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych
Erickson – Spagrud ‘AP’

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

Scratches: Vermeulen, Saharchuk, Delainey

SJHL Game #50 – Notre Dame Hounds at Battlefords North Stars

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 24-18-6-1

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 La Ronge Ice Wolves beat the North Stars 4-3 on Saturday night. Here is my recap: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/north-stars-fall-4-3-in-la-ronge/

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Game: From http://www.northstars.caThere will be a volunteer appreciation award presented prior to the game, a raffle set up in the lobby and a puck toss in the second intermission. Milbanke Flowers will have a Valentine’s Day prize package available for one lucky program purchaser and with February being Heart and Stroke Month, there will be a table set up in the lobby for donations and to provide information as well. The Battlefords Initiation Predators will be playing during the first intermission.
  • Standings: The North Stars are going to be in the playoffs. They will almost certainly now end up in a survivor series. In that series they will have home ice advantage. And we likely won’t know who they will face as that will all shake out over the final few games. At this point I think we can kind of put the standings and the playoffs on the back burner. As coach Hasselberg said on the post game show in La Ronge, the Stars aren’t worried about where they finish in the standings. They are simply looking to be at their best when the playoffs start.
  • Identity: I’ve been thinking about it for a few days now and I do wonder if this team is still searching for it’s identity. What kind of team are the North Stars? We know they can be very good in their own end when they are on their game. Their special teams can be a difference maker. They have offensive creativity. They have some guys who work their tail off and can impact the game in different ways. But as a cohesive whole I am still not sure this team knows exactly what it is and what it is they want to be.
  • Consistency: Part of the issue with not having found a strong identity may be that the team is still struggling to be consistent. Whether that’s game to game or within the games themselves. They can look like a top team in the league one minute and struggle mightily the next. Not for the first time I would suggest that if this team can find it’s game for consistent 60 minutes and do that game in and game out they are still capable of being a top team in the SJHL.
  • Health: Not an excuse in any way as the North Stars know, and have shown, they are capable of winning games without some key guys in the lineup. And we saw what they could do in that third period in La Ronge when they looked fantastic. But it will be nice to see the North Stars starting to get healthy again. Hopefully they get back to being close to full strength here soon. It would be ideal to get everyone back and into game shape before heading into the playoffs. Jake Calverley has one game left on his suspension before he is able to return to the lineup.
  • Ice Fishing Derby: The North Stars annual Ice Fishing Derby is this weekend. That’s the reason the Stars only have one game this week. This break comes at a pretty good time as the Stars look to get some key pieces back into the lineup. The North Stars will spend a fun weekend, and a hard working weekend, out on the ice at the lake. The Ice Fishing Derby brings in a lot of money for the hockey team and is always a great event. Let’s hope they get to give away lots of prizes again this year.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Baxter Kanter 2) Bryce Hall 1) Kris Joyce
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: 
  • Head to Head:
    Battlefords 2 @ Notre Dame 3 (SO) (Jan 17 2015)
    Battlefords 1 @ Notre Dame 0 (Nov 23 2014)
    Notre Dame 3 @ Battlefords 1 (Nov 1 2014)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    Battlefords 16-4-0-1
    Notre Dame 5-10-2-4
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: No other games tonight
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 16 at Weyburn – 3:00 pm @ Crescent Point Place
    Feb. 17 at Notre Dame – 8:00 pm @ Duncan McNeil Arena
    Feb. 20 Melfort – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Special Teams – The Hounds, for one of the best teams in the league, aren’t great on the power play and are middle of the pack on the PK. This could be an area where the Stars can take advantage. I know I’ve been talking about this a lot. But again you look at the Hounds and where they could be vulnerable and the PK and PP for the Stars can decide tonight’s game.

2) Net – The North Stars have to get to the net and stay in front. Alexei Thibodeau is the reigning SJHL goaltender of the week. He’s been incredible this season stopping 92 percent of the shots he has faced. He’s third in the league in goals against average. If he sees it then he will stop it.

3) Home – The North Stars have been up and down at home this season. But the Hounds have been struggling on the road of late having a 4-4-0-1 record on the road in their last 9 games away from Wilcox. The Stars have to embrace having home ice advantage as they will have to win games like this at home to have a long playoff run. It’s time to start enjoying playing at home and protecting that home ice.

North Stars Lineup:

Rewerts
Tremblay

Erickson – Statchuk
Sych – Fransoo
Weston – Vermeulen

McMillen – Heinrich – Townsend
Hall – Hvens – Leonenko
Fountain – O’Sullivan – Mitchell
Kanter – Weston

Scratches: Calverley (susp), Delainey (inj), Saharchuk (inj)

North Stars fall 4-3 in La Ronge

The Ice Wolves skated to a 4-3 win last night as they held on in the third period and staves off a North Star comeback bid.

The Stars trailed by 1 after the first as a Bryce Fiske point shot beat Spencer Tremblay. He reacted in a way that made me think he didn’t see the shot due to a screen in front. Fiske’s second of the season made it 1-0 after 1 and it could have been worse. Michael Stathchuk’s desperation shot block late in the first prevented a second goal.

After Toby Shattler made it 2-0 Ice Wolves the North Stars got on the board. Bryce Hall’s second of the season got the Stars back within a goal. Hall made a ridiculous move to come out front of the La Ronge net. A drag and hop move to open ice and then a spinning shot up under the bar past Kris Joyce.

40 seconds later the Ice Wolves restored their two goal lead. A good shift by the Stars down low was negated when the Ice Wolves transitioned quickly back for a 2-on-1. Colby Daniels found Matt Painchaud and he slid the puck past Tremblay. Later the Ice Wolves kept the puck in at the line and all of a sudden Kyle Campbell was alone in front of the Stars net. His backhand went top shelf past Tremblay and the Stars made a goalie change with the score 4-1.

A later second period 5-on-3 for La Ronge seemed like a chance to put the game away but two good shot blocks by Kendall Fransoo and one by Baxter Kanter kept the Stars within striking distance. Early in the third Ryan Rewerts made a really good double save on Jared Iron and Adam Moghrobi. He was solid in relief to give the Stars a chance at a comeback.

In the third Igor Leonenko’s pass out front found Baxter Kanter but he was stopped by Joyce on a quick one timer. Moments later the Stars drove the puck to the net and Kanter jammed away until he scored his first SJHL goal. A power play then gave Bryce Hall the open ice he needed to fire a shot past a screened Joyce. Hall’s second of the game on a power play made it 4-3. But despite 10 minutes being left in regulation the Stars couldn’t find a tying goal.

Otto Mitchell fought in the second period, perhaps trying to spark his team. He and Nedelec were ejected and later Shattler was given a misconduct and left the game. Both teams finished with 16 skaters. The Stars had at least three posts in the game. Logan Nachtegaele in the first when it was scoreless. Brady O’Sullivan in the second when it was 2-0 hit the post behind Joyce. And Bryce Hall got his own rebound and hit iron also in the second period when it was 3-1. The Stars didn’t have a great first 40 but things could maybe have been different if the Stars had gotten a little puck luck.

They were great in the third though and that’s where the frustration comes from I think. They showed the flashes of what they can do when they play their best but again couldn’t do it for a full 60 minutes.

They will get their next chance on Thursday when they host the Notre Dame Hounds at the Civic Center.

SJHL Game #49 – Battlefords North Stars at La Ronge Ice Wolves

North Stars 2014-15 Record: 24-17-6-1

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 – 6:45
  • Puck drop – 7:00
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The Flin Flon Bombers skated to a 4-0 win over the North Stars on Wednesday.

The North Stars got off to a decent start in the first period but were down early. The Bombers drew a penalty during 4-on-4 play and Chris Rauckman scored his 33rd of the season on the power play to make it 1-0.

Not long later Bryce Hall threw a big hit on former North Star Braden Lacoursiere which was followed by a good shift from the Baxter Kanter line. Logan Nachtegaele stole the puck out of mid-air after Brett Boehm made a terrible decision going rink wide from his own red line up to the blue line. Nachtegaele took it away and had a good scoring chance. Simon Hofley made the save but the puck went through him and trickled just wide. Not long later on a Stars power play Brock Weston’s shot again got through Hofley and again trickled just wide. The Stars had another chance on the power play as Michael Statchuk set up Hall for a shot that was tipped in front, I think, by Jake Erickson. Again, the puck didn’t go in.

The Bomber goalie looked shaky but wasn’t beaten in the first period. The Stars did a great job in the opening period blocking shots. Brock Weston stopped a shot from Rauckman that definitely stung. Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych had a couple in a row on a shift late in the period. With 20 seconds left in the period Tyson Empey had an empty net to shoot at but the Bombers’ forward fired wide of the toe of his stick.

In the second period Stars ‘AP’ Kevin Bendall found a nice pass to Jordan Townsend but Townsend’s shot was deflected out of play by Tyler Bell. The Bombers power play looked dangerous in the second period as they came out firing. Boehm, Dean Allison and Rauckman teamed up but Allison was stopped by Spencer Tremblay. Those three teamed up again on a tic-tac-toe side to side passing play but Rauckman’s shot was stopped by Jake Erickson’s stick heck. After a few more shot blocks and a Spencer Tremblay save the game was back to 5-on-5.

Nachtegaele had another chance for the Stars and then Jake Erickson and Otto Mitchell had chances but couldn’t get the puck through traffic in front of Hofley. WIthin a few seconds it was 3-0. A dump in by the Bombers took a strange bounce right out front to the blue paint. Tremblay was in behind the net waiting for the puck and couldn’t get back in time and Michael Knaub poked home. Seconds later a bouncing puck of the end boards came to Parker Evans-Campbell in front and he scored. Two goals in 22 seconds and the game was getting out of reach for the Stars.

On a Stars power play Weston was topped, Nachtegaele got the rebound but was also stopped. Jordan Townsend’s wrap around chance was stopped as well. The Matt Havens line had a good shift and were buzzing but seemingly every time the Stars had a good shift going the net behind Simon Hofley came dislodged.

In the third the Bombers added another goal that was initially waved off by the ref. After discussion with the linesmen and the goal judge the goal was given. That was, from my view, clearly the right call. Despite some chance the Stars couldn’t get a puck past Hofley. It wasn’t the most convincing performance in a shutout that I’ve ever seen but he got the job done. The Stars had chances on the power play but couldn’t convert. Things got really chippy down the stretch and some things happened that I didn’t like. Knaub putting his stick on Nick Fountain’s throat while lying on top of him and then punching Fountain was a particularly low point. 2 minutes for roughing? Knaub should have been ejected and probably suspended.

There was some other stuff as well but rather than fan the flames or complain I will just say the Bombers got a deserved win and the Stars will look to move on tonight in La Ronge.

Storylines:

  • Final Meeting: This is the final time this season that the Stars head to La Ronge and the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season. This is a potential Survivor Series playoff matchup although for that to happen the Ice Wolves really need to get hot down the stretch to catch the teams ahead of them. Every game up in La Ronge had gone to OT so far between the two teams. The North Stars won one of those games in OT and one in a shootout. The games between these two teams have been very entertaining this season.
  • Fireworks: With a recent game on the schedule that had some…eventfulness, these two teams have a healthy dislike for each other. Jake Calverley is suspended which will take some of the steam out of the game but I am sure there will be some message sending and a response from both teams to things that happened last time out. That means there could be fireworks and definitely means we are in for a very good hockey game.
  • Health: A continued talking point at this point in the season. The Stars are battling to get healthy and get all their top guys back in the lineup. After tonight’s game they have just one game in the next 8 days. So that means some guys should be starting to get back in the lineup with around 6 games remaining.
  • Standings: The North Stars at this point just have to win as many games as they can and let the rest fall into place where it may. They can control their own destiny in some ways as they play Notre Dame three more times. They will also have a big say in how the playoffs take shape. The Stars have a couple games left against Weyburn as well as tonight’s game versus La Ronge and there are battles throughout the league for final placing in the standings. The one thing that is almost guaranteed is the Stars won’t finish any lower than 7th and I could be wrong but it seems very likely that Yorkton won’t be making the playoffs.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Brett Boehm 2) Baxter Kanter 1) Simon Hofley
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Jake Erickson
  • Head to Head:
    La Ronge 2 @ Battlefords 4 (Jan 31 2015)
    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)
  • Last 5 Years Head to Head:
    La Ronge: 13-14-1-2
    Battlefords: 17-11-1-1
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Kindersley at Yorkton, Humboldt at Estevan, Melville at Melfort, Nipawin at Weyburn
  • North Stars Upcoming Schedule:
    Feb. 12 – Notre Dame 7:30 pm @ Civic Center
    Feb. 16 at Weyburn 3:00 pm @ Crescent Point Place
    Feb. 17 at Notre Dame 8:00 pm @ Duncan McNeil Arena
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Composure – Things happens in La Ronge and they happen very quickly. Last time time Stars were here they blew a three goal lead and it happened in a matter of minutes. It’s a unique and fun place to play a hockey game and the one thing you need in La Ronge with the small ice, the fans, the frozen fish and the bounces? Composure.

2) Rebounds – There were a lot of rebounds in Flin Flon and the Stars didn’t get to enough of them. In La Ronge there will likely be rebounds simply because the ice surface size means there will be lots of shots. The Stars have to be better at getting to those loose pucks and rebounds and keeping the pressure on the Ice Wolves.

3) Battles – There are lots to be had in La Ronge. The Mel is a rink where a lot of play takes place close to and along the boards. If you want to win in La Ronge you have to win puck battles down low in both ends and the Stars have to find a way to control the walls if they want to win.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Erickson – Statchuk
Fransoo – Sych
Weston – Vermeulen

Nachtegaele – Kanter – Mitchell
McMillen – Fountain – Heinrich
Hall – O’Sullivan – Townsend
Havens – Leonenko

Scratches: Saharchuk (inj), Delainey (inj), Calverley (susp)