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)

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