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)

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