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

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