SJHL Playoffs Game #4 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Stars lead series 2-1

NorSask North Stars Hockey Broadcast Info:

  • 1050 CJNB in the Battlefords
  • 102.3 CJNS in Meadow Lake
  • Listen Live:
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm

Last game recap: – The North Stars took game 3 in wild fashion last night in Estevan as they came from 2 down after 40 to win. That win brings the North Stars to within a game of the next round of playoffs.

The Stars were without 5 regulars last night including Brock Weston and Matt Havens. They joined Brady O’Sullivan, Jake Erickson and Reed Delainey on the sidelines. So the Stars called up 3 affiliate players: Levi Kleiboer, Cody Spagrud and Kevin Bendall.

The first five minutes of the first period was not a strong portion of the game for the North Stars. They seemed to be slow out of the gates and fighting the puck a lot. I mentioned on the radio that they needed a good shift to settle in. And they got it from the excellent Jake McMillen. His line was flying and Brenden Heinrich almost scored on a rebound off Tyler Fuhr. The Bruins goalie made the save but the shift sparked the Stars.

On the next shift they scored. Nick Fountain was set up by linemates Matt Saharchuk and Connor Vermeulen and Fountain was able to score his own rebound. With the Stars in front Spencer Tremblay made a nice glove save through traffic. Brenden Heinrich then used the Bruins D as a screen but was unable to beat Fuhr.

The Stars had a power play but weren’t able to get much going. A Michael Statchuk shot was stopped. Nick Fountain then set up Jordan Townsend for a one-timer but he fired wide. On a delayed penalty the Stars started buzzing and Igor Leonenko almost set up Nick Fountain but he couldn’t get  stick on the puck.

The Stars scored on teh ensuing power play. Leonenko fired rink wide up the the blueline and Jordan Townsend sent the puck right back on a diagonal to Leonenko and he was able to one-time the Stars into a 2-0 lead. Townsend was on the point on the power play thanks in part to the injury problems the Stars are facing.

Late in the first Otto Mitchell got a big hit in on Lynden Pastachak. The Bruins responded with a very good shift in the attacking zone. The Stars couldn’t clear. After good work by Allison and Pastachak it was the Duret brothers doing the damage. With the Stars still stuck in their zone, and on the same shift started by the Allison line, Jason Duret scored his first of the playoffs to make it 2-1.

The second period was all Bruins. Nolan Nicholas scored early in the frame on a long shot that went in off the post. That’s a goal Tremblay would like to have back I am sure. The Stars Matt Saharchuk and Brenden Heinrich tried to spark the physical game with big hits.

Somehow Jason Duret missed an open net from the top of the crease. He managed to fire wide. Bryce Hall was set up back door by a wrap around from McMillen that was stopped. Heinrich poked the puck to Hall at the side of the net and he missed.

The Bruins had other chances as Ryan Duret missed a good chance and Jordan Ross fired wide from in close. Allison was able to get around a sprawling Kendall Fransoo on a 2-on-1 and he set up Pastachak who made it 3-2 Bruins. A minute and sixteen seconds later Wyatt Garagan chipped home to make it 4-2.

The Stars closed the period with a few chances but Leonenko fired wide off a face-off win. The McMillen line had a strong shift but Connor Sych fired a shot over the net. RT Rice then made a nice play to tie up the stick of Nick Fountain as Leonenko tried to set up the SJHL player of the week for his second of the game.

In the third with the Stars down 2 the coaching staff decided to shorten the bench. Coach Hasselberg said after the game that it was no negative indication of the play of the APs. They just wanted to put the game in the hands of the veteran guys. And they delivered. It was 4-on-4 to start the period and then Matt Saharchuk took a goalie interference penalty that was questionable.

With the Bruins on a 4-on-3 power play the Stars got a bounce. Jake McMillen was able to skate onto a loose puck and get in alone. He was taken down and a penalty shot was awarded. McMillen went in and shot post and in on the glove side. That was almost a must score and McMillen was cool as a cucumber. That made it 4-3.

The Bruins were still on the power play and they set up Zack Douglas on a back door play but the defenseman somehow shot wide when it looked easier to score.

From there the Stars basically rolled 3 lines and two pairs of D. Sych and Fransoo followed by Statchuk and Calverley over and over again. Leonenko, Saharchuk and Fountain almost scored. Hall, McMillen and Heinrich had good shift after good shift. Nachtegaele, Kanter and Townsend were hitting.

Kendall Fransoo fired a point shot that went in off a Bruin. 4-4. Fransoo only ever scores against the Bruins and what a time to pop up and score a goal. Townsend was hit up high and Garagan went to the box. The Stars power play couldn’t score. Heinrich and Fransoo each had big hits moments later. Heinrich set up Sych for a shot from the slot but Fuhr made a spectacular glove save.

Nachtegaele then got a big piece of Pastachak for the San Berg Collision Collision of the game. The Stars were in front moments later. Bryce Hall was set up in the slot. He was able to drag and shoot a laser high glove to give the Stars the lead.

From there the shortened bench wrapped up the game with great shift after great shift. Tremblay shut the door and made a few key saves and the Stars were able to hang on late with the Bruins net empty.

The comeback win gives the Stars a 2-1 series lead and a chance to close out the series tomorrow night.


  • Elimination: The Estevan Bruins season is now on the line. And for the second straight season it could be the North Stars putting an end to the Bruins season. They will be desperate to force a 5th game back in the Battlefords and to win a playoff game in front of their home crowd.  
  • Fatigue: The North Stars shortened the bench last night and the third period saw the North Stars lean heavily on a few guys. Those guys will be feeling a little fatigued I am sure. In fact, with tonight being the 4th game in 5 nights in this series I am sure almost every guy on both teams will be feeling a little fatigued today. So they need to do what it takes to be ready to play tonight including eating, resting, hydrating and mentally preparing. Whichever team deals the best with these challenges will likely come out on top.
  • Health: The North Stars are missing key players right now. Some of those key players could be back in the lineup later this week. In an ideal world, from a North Star perspective, those players would draw back into the lineup for a game 1 versus Kindersley rather than a game 5 versus Estevan. The Bruins are a little banged up as well and the Stars have been hitting their key players a lot. Those players play a lot as well. So you do wonder how healthy they are heading into tonight’s game.
  • Streaks: Nick Fountain has a goal in each of the games in this series. Igor Leonenko now has a goal in back to back games. Matt Saharchuk is now on a two game point streak with 3 assists in the last 2 games. Nice to see some of these guys really stepping up and providing consistent offense. It’s what this team needs right now. Brenden Heinrich has a point in 2 of the games in this series. And now Jake McMillen is starting to take over. The Stars have some offense from the backend as well and Bryce Hall has 2 goals in the series.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Matt Saharchuk 2) Kendall Fransso 1) Jake McMillen
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Logan Nachtegaele
  • Regular Season Head to Head:
    Estevan 3 @ Battlefords 6 (Jan 23 2015)
    Battlefords 1 @ Estevan 0 (SO) (Jan 18 2015)
    Battlefords 4 @ Estevan 5 (OT) (Nov 21 2014)
    Estevan 2 @ Battlefords 9 (Oct 18 2014)
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Humboldt
  • North Stars Upcoming Playoffs Schedule:
    Game #5 – Mar. 12th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Consistent – I did a rough estimate of face-off wins and scoring chances last night. The North Stars were well on top in both aspects in the first period and the third as well. But they really struggled in the second period. It wasn’t just on the scoreboard where they struggled. The North Stars can be very good. But they need to be good a little more consistently tonight.

2) Desperation – The Bruins have to win tonight or their season is over. That will create the kind of desperation that only an elimination playoff hockey game can create. The Stars will somehow have to try and match that intensity and desperation tonight.

3) Face-offs – Speaking of the face-off circle. When the Stars were winning in the dot they were controlling the game. They had the puck and the Bruins weren’t creating much in the way of offense. There transition game was limited. The North Stars can really take a lot of pressure off themselves if they perform well on draws.

North Stars Lineup:


Statchuk – Spagrud ‘AP’
Fransoo – Sych
Calverley – Kleiboer ‘AP’

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Bendall ‘AP’ – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, Weston, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

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