SJHL Quarter-finals Game #2 – Kindersley Klippers at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Kindersley Leads Series 1-0

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost 9-0 in game 1 back on Friday night. The Klippers scored 4 in the first, 4 in the second and got one late in the third. Darcy DeRoose led the way with 3 goals and an assist. The nice thing about that game is that it still only counts for one win in the series.

Storylines:

  • Bounce Back: The North Stars are known for their ability to bounce back from defeat. I’ve seen many times that they have the ability to come back strong from a rough outing. They did it in game 2 versus Estevan. Game 5 as well. Everyone on the team from Spencer Tremblay on to the D and the forwards can and will all play better this evening. I am sure of it.
  • Recovery: After playing 6 times in 8 days the North Stars had a day off yesterday. Sounds like they were on the ice but only for about 20 minutes of hard skating and then they worked on some other stuff like special teams. Let’s hope that day of mostly resting will mean the North Stars are fresh and ready to go tonight. If they have more jump tonight and have their legs then they can really skate the Klippers and see if they can keep up.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars won two big games in the Estevan series on home ice. Game 2 after dropping the first game on home ice and then game 5 as well. The Stars didn’t have a home ice record of which they would be proud in the regular season. But that doesn’t matter now. They have a couple wins at home in the post-season and they need to protect that home ice in this series. In the regular season the Klippers won 3 times out of 4 at the Civic Center. The Klippers know they can win here in the Battlefords. So that’s something the Stars will have to overcome.
  • Midget Stars: In the previous round of playoffs the North Stars and AAA Stars each won games 2, 3 and 5 of their series to move on to the next round. Then both teams lost game 1 of the next round. So they have been mirror images so far. The Stars won last night in overtime to even their series with Tisdale at a game each. Let’s hope the coincidence of the parallel results continues in tonight’s game.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Braden Oleksyn 2) Marc Dubeau 1) Darcy DeRoose
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: 
  • Regular Season Head to Head:
    Battlefords 6 @ Kindersley 5 (SO) (Mar 3 2015)
    Kindersley 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Dec 10 2014)
    Kindersley 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 30 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ Kindersley 3 (Oct 21 2014)
    Kindersley 3 @ Battlefords 2 (OT) (Oct 7 2014)
    Battlefords 2 @ Kindersley 1 (SO) (Sep 27 2014)
    Battlefords 3 @ Kindersley 4 (OT) (Sep 20 2014)
    Kindersley 5 @ Battlefords 2 (Sep 19 2014)
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: No other games
  • Playoff Schedule:
    Game #1 – Kindersley 9 – Battlefords 0
    Game #2 – Tonight – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 17th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
    Game #4 – Mar. 18th – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #5 – Mar. 20th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    Game #7 – Mar. 24th – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Smart – Coach Hasselberg said after game 1 that the North Stars have to be smart with how then approach the Klippers. The Stars are the smaller team so they can’t just run around hitting everyone trying to win the physical battle. They have to win battles in more ways than just by throwing hits. Still, it is important to finish checks. But the Stars have to be smarter than they were in game 1.

2) Fast Start – The Klippers got a couple of early goals in game 1 and the North Stars were always fighting an uphill battle. That’s hard enough to do at the best of times but when a team has played a lot of hockey? Maybe they didn’t have the legs to try and really fight back into the game. No excuses though, the North Stars have to be better early on tonight.

3) PK – The North Stars gave up 3 power play goals in game 1 of the series. They gave up 2 goals to the Klippers power play in each of the first two games of the season and then after that the Stars had one of the best penalty kills in the league. If the Stars give up power play goals to the Klippers they are going to struggle. They have to be rock solid on the PK as they were for most of the season.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Weston – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

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SJHL Quarter-finals Game #1 – Battlefords North Stars at Kindersley Klippers

Best of 7 Quarter-final Series – Game 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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – TheNorth Stars beat the Estevan Bruins 5-2 last night. I did a quick recap for the blog here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/2137/

The North Stars dominated the first five minutes o the hockey game last night. Jordan Townsend almost scored but his back hand shot went through the blue paint and out the other side. The Stars strong start did draw a penalty and a goal. Nick Fountain able to spin in the slot and slide the puck home after a Michael Statchuk point shot. Igor Leonenko also drew an assist.

The Stars had a chance to increase the lead but Matt Saharchuk couldn’t get his pass through to the stick of Fountain on a 2-on-1. Leonenko made a nice drop pass to Jake Erickson who was back in the lineup after missing 5 games including the first 4 of the series. Erickson’s shot hit Tyler Fuhr and stayed out.

Saharchuk then went to the backhand with a patient move but Fuhr stopped him in close. The Stars had other chances in the frame including Otto Mitchell dragging and shooting high.

Spencer Tremblay was busy at the other end making several key saves as the Bruins came on in the middle of the period. Connor Sych also had another strong game and his timely shot block on Keegan Allison kept the Bruins scoreless. Sych then broke up a short handed rush by the Bruins when he knocked a pass out of mid-air that was intended for Keaton Longpre who was on a 2-on-1 with RT Rice.

The best chance for the Bruins came off an Erickson turnover. His only mistake of the game as he was good in his return. Lynden Pastachak closed right in but was stopped by Tremblay. Brenden Heinrich was set up for a one-timer at the other end but his shot was deflected wide. In the final seconds Jason Duret was found in the slot all alone and he fired over the net. The Stars had a 1-0 lead going to the second.

In the middle frame the Stars were very good start to finish and built on their lead. Jake McMillen set the tone early in the frame with a huge hit on Pastachak. That was the San Berg Collision of the game.

Erickson had a good chance from a sharp angle but Fuhr saved. Jake Calverley tried to wrap around but was stopped. Leonenko was then sprung for a break away by Saharchuk but Fuhr made the glove save. Mitchell set up Nachtegaele back door but his shot whistled just wide.

The Bruins got a power play and spent the entire first minute in the Stars zone but Tremblay made a couple of good saves and the Stars cleared. Kendall Fransoo then crunched Pastachak with another solid hit.

A goal was coming though for the Stars and it was Saharchuk. What a return he has had since missing the end of the season. He blew by Charles Manley like he was standing still and powered through the low slot. Saharchuk was then able to slide the puck past Fuhr. 2-0 North Stars.

McMillen tried to set up Heinrich. He couldn’t get his stick down to direct the pass into the net. Then it got physical. McMillen got hit high. No call. Heinrich crushed his man Pachal. A penalty was called on the play. But down 2-0 the Bruins decided to go after Heinrich. 3 of them rushed in and the refs evened up the calls. A game 5 on the road and down 2 goals the Bruins needed to keep their cool and get a power play to try and close the gap. Instead the Stars were further in front.

Baxter Kanter pestered his man all the way around the Estevan net and then poked the puck away as the Bruins tried to escape their zone. Otto Mitchell was on hand to wire his first of the playoffs past Fuhr.

Sych was sent off for tripping after a good move and rush up ice by Pastachak. Fransoo then made a really nice shot block and Fountain dove to clear the puck. The Stars PK was excellent on that Sych penalty with Erickson breaking up the play in front and clearing.

Josh Reiger then slashed Logan Nachtegaele for no reason and went off. The Stars couldn’t extend their lead. Short handed Pastachak tested Tremblay but he made the save. It was 3-0 going to the third.

The Stars had more chances. Sych fired wide from a good position. Heinrich tried a wrap around that was stopped. Allison then showed great patience to get a good shooting position but Tremblay squeezed the puck against his body and kept it out.

Connor Vermeulen and Saharchuk teamed up to steal the puck from Rice and get it to Fountain. He walked right into the slot and finished off the play. 4-0 North Stars. Cruise mode. Except the Stars don’t like to do things the easy way.

16 seconds later Taylor Ross was in alone and beat Tremblay high blocker. Just under 5 minutes later Ross set up Pachal and the AP defenseman’s shot got by a screened Tremblay. The Stars called their time out not long later to get their guys rested and ready to go for the final 8 or so minutes.

Bryce Hall had a strong shift and set up Sych but he fired high. Tremblay then made saves on chances for Allison and Jason Duret later in the game. The Bruins pulled their goalie and were buzzing but eventually the Stars cleared and Nick Fountain scored into the empty net to complete his hat trick.

As far as I can tell that’s the first North Stars hat trick since Kyle Hall in an 8-2 win over La Ronge way back on November 17th of 2012. The Stars had plenty of guys (Luke McColgan, Josh Betinol, Spencer Gosselin, Brody Luhning, Kyle Hall and Jake McMillen each a few times, Blake Young, Austin Evans, Cam Blaie, Reed Delainey, Matt Saharchuk and more) score twice in a game. But that was a long time between hat tricks. Including playoff games? By my count 161 games.

Storylines:

  • Familiar Foes: The North Stars and Klippers met twice in pre-season and 8 times in the regular season. They will now play at least 4 more times and you have a feeling this won’t be a short series. So they know each other pretty well. There won’t need to be much in terms of coaching guys about what to expect. They will know what each other wants to do out on the ice and the players should have an idea of what they need to do to be successful. Xs and Os should be well ingrained so these games will be about who executes better and who wants it more.
  • Turn Around: The North Stars played last night and beat Estevan to move on. They now get to face Kindersley tonight. That’s a quick turnaround for the Stars. On the plus side? They have a ton of momentum as they are coming off a huge win. They are used to playing playoff hockey. They should be very much in game shape. The Klippers have had some time off so will be fresh and re-charged but will they be rusty? It’s a fascinating match-up and we will see how it shakes out tonight.
  • Overtime: We didn’t see any overtime game in the Estevan series. Which is somewhat surprising because of how often the Stars went to overtime in the regular season. The Stars and Klippers went to OT in 4 of their 8 matches this season. And another game was won by Brady O’Sullivan with a goal that came with a few seconds left in regulation. So they almost had 5 OT games. The season series was really close, they are big time rivals and they are both excellent hockey teams. So some OT would not be a surprise.
  • Rivalry: This is a series I was hoping to see last season at some point in the post-season but that wasn’t to be. The Melville Millionaire spoiled the party when they swept the Klippers. When this current playoff format was introduced by the SJHL this series was for what we were hoping. Local rivals. A few hours apart. A playoff series that could be one for the ages. Well, we get that series this season and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Spencer Tremblay 2) Matt Saharchuk 1) Nick Fountain
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Jake McMillen
  • Regular Season Head to Head:
    Battlefords 6 @ Kindersley 5 (SO) (Mar 3 2015)
    Kindersley 2 @ Battlefords 3 (Dec 10 2014)
    Kindersley 4 @ Battlefords 3 (Oct 30 2014)
    Battlefords 4 @ Kindersley 3 (Oct 21 2014)
    Kindersley 3 @ Battlefords 2 (OT) (Oct 7 2014)
    Battlefords 2 @ Kindersley 1 (SO) (Sep 27 2014)
    Battlefords 3 @ Kindersley 4 (OT) (Sep 20 2014)
    Kindersley 5 @ Battlefords 2 (Sep 19 2014)
  • Out of Town Scoreboard: Weyburn at Melfort, Nipawin at Melville, Flin Flon at Notre Dame
  • Playoff Schedule:
    Game #1 – Tonight – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
    Game #2 – Mar. 15th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 17th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center
    Game #4 – Mar. 18th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #5 – Mar. 20th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    Game #6 – Mar. 22nd – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ Civic Center (if necessary)
    Game #7 – Mar. 24th – Kindersley – 7:30pm @ West Central Events Center (if necessary)
    (The Ultra Print pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to each game)

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Momentum – The Stars are fully up to playoff game speed and have a lot of positive feelings coming off last night’s win. If they can carry that momentum into the game tonight maybe they can jump on the Klippers early on. The Bruins did it to the Stars last season and got off to a good start winning game 1 after coming off a Wildcard series win. The North Stars will try that same game 1 feat tonight.

2) Underdog – The North Stars and Klippers appear to be pretty evenly matched after what we saw in the regular season. But the Klippers are the #2 seed in the series and have home ice advantage. the North Stars are coming off a hard fought 5 game series and have several key players out injured. The Klippers are fresh and should be healthy. I would think that would mean most people consider the Stars the underdogs. I think they should embrace that role. There doesn’t appear to be any pressure on the Stars. It’s all on the Klippers. If the Stars play an underdog role, scrap and claw and play with no pressure they should do really well.

3) Traffic – I personally think that, other than the North Stars goalies, Evan Wenninger is the top tender in the SJHL. And I don’t think I am the only one who thinks that. This kid is an outstanding goalie and is tough to beat. So the Stars will have to get in his grill and stay there. They will have to find a way to get deflections and rebounds. If they can make life uncomfortable for Wenninger they will have a much better chance to win tonight’s game.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Calverley – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens, Weston

Stars down Estevan in Game 5

The Battlefords North Stars beat Estevan 5-2 last night at the Civic Center in Game #5. The Stars now move on to face Kindersley in Round 2.

wpid-20150312_210338.jpg

 

The North Stars got the first goal of the game on a beauty by Nick Fountain. He showed great patience to walk into the slot and beat Tyler Fuhr. The Stars got two more in the second period as Matt Saharchuk blew past the Bruins D to score his second of the series. Then Baxter Kanter stole a puck that went to Otto Mitchell and he got his first of the post-season.

In the third, Fountain scored again to make it 4-0. But the Bruins responded. 16 seconds later Taylor Ross scored on a break away.  Then ‘AP’ defenseman Brayden Pachal scored to make it 4-2.

But the North Stars re-grouped and closed out the game. Fountain got his hat trick goal into an empty net to finish the series with 6 goals and an assist. Saharchuk had 2 goals and 5 assists so he had 7 points as well. Igor Leonenko had 3 goals and 5 points in 5 games.

The North Stars had Jake Erickson back in the lineup and he was excellent. Fransoo and Sych were once again outstanding and Statchuk provided the leadership and steady presence on the back end. Every line and every player contributed to the series win as well.

But I do want to say a special tribute to the ‘AP’ players who filled in so well. Cody Spagrud, Levi Kleiboer and Kevin Bendall had a big hand to play in the series and the North Stars have a lot to look forward to with these young guys.

Also, congratulations to the Estevan Bruins. They provided a stern test for the North Stars and showed a lot of character and determination as well. They have a bright future to look forward to next season.

I will have much more on the game tomorrow as we get set for game 1 in Kindersley tomorrow night.

But for now North Stars fans, enjoy this:

wpid-20150312_213601.jpg

 

SJHL Playoffs – Game #5 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Series tied 2-2

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars lost game 4 in Estevan. Check the recap here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/bruins-force-game-5/

Storylines:

  • Elimination: The series will end tonight. The winner moves on the loser is done. If the Stars win they will move on to face Kindersley. If the Bruins win they will head to Melfort to face the Mustangs. Because of that quirk the Weyburn Red Wings still don’t know who they will face in the quarter final round. The last time the North Stars played in a game like this where the series was going to end no matter who won? They beat Nipawin in a game 7 at the Civic Center in overtime. I remember it like it was yesterday. These are games you don’t forget.
  • Home Ice: The North Stars were much better than Estevan over the course of the regular season and that’s why the game will be played here in the Battlefords tonight. That’s the reason you play those games. So that you can play a game like this at home. It doesn’t guarantee anything of course and the Bruins have won at the Civic Center once in this series before. So anything can happen. But let’s hope that the home town crowd is big and loud and helps get the Stars over the line.
  • Lineup: The North Stars have been playing with 3 APs in the lineup the last couple games. The Bruins with one. It sounds like maybe the Stars will be getting a regular or two back in their lineup tonight. I am not sure how healthy the Bruins are at this point. It will be interesting to see who gets into the game tonight.
  • Goaltending: Spencer Tremblay and Tyler Fuhr have really battled each other in this series. Every game decided by a single goal. The goalies stats are almost identical. Tremblay has a .911 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. Fuhr is at .908 and 2.77. In a game like this I think the goalies will also be so important and either one is capable of stealing a game.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Kendall Fransoo 2) Matt Saharchuk 1) Tyler Fuhr
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Logan Nachtegaele

Some Keys for the Stars:

1) Trust – In a game like tonight the guys on the ice are going to have to trust each other and work together as a unit. They have to believe in each other and rely on each other. The Stars are successful when they work as a 5 man unit. That means they have to do their job and know that the other guys on the ice are going to get their job done as well.

2) Step Up – There are going to be chances for someone to step up and be a hero. All of the guys who suit up tonight will have to be mentally ready to be that guy. Whatever it takes to be that hero. Scoring a goal, a big save, getting a puck off the glass and out, blocking a shot or throwing a big hit. Whatever it takes and whoever it is there will be moments in this game that will require someone to step up. Which ever team is ready and willing to do that will be successful.

3) Intimidate – With a big crowd on hand and raring to go I think it is key for the North Stars to come out flying and really take the game to the Bruins. Lots of hits and pressure. Play with speed and confidence. And let the Bruins know that the Stars are not going to go down without a massive fight. It’s likely that whichever team wants it more will win tonight so let’s see the Stars want it. Make them think very early that it’s going to be a long night.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Fountain – Saharchuk – Vermeulen
Calverley – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Weston, Delainey, O’Sullivan, Havens

Bruins Force Game 5

The Battlefords North Stars were once again without 5 regulars as they battled the Bruins last night at Affinity Place. With their season on the line, Estevan managed a 3-2 victory to force a 5th and deciding game in the Wildcard Series.

wpid-20150310_211334.jpg

With APs Levi Kleiboer and Cody Spagrud in the lineup on defense, Connor Vermeulen was used as a forward last night. And he had a couple of early hits as he looked to provide a physical presence. Spagrud had a nice early shot block that got the Stars bench fired up. The excellent Matt Saharchuk then set up a scoring chance that eventually led to Nick Fountain being hooked. The Stars scored on the power play. Igor Leonenko walked out of the corner and right into the slot before firing home passed Tyler Fuhr to get the Stars on the board.

Connor Sych then had a fantastic penalty killing shift to help the Stars maintain the lead. Brenden Heinrich drew a penalty by moving his feet but the Stars couldn’t increase their score. Fuhr made a blocker save from a nice shot by Bryce Hall and the line of Mitchell, Kanter and Nachtegaele had a good shift in the attacking zone.

Heinrich was called for a blow to the head penalty and was given 2 and 10. The Bruins tied the game on the ensuing power play. A nice passing play ended up on the stick of Taylor Ross backdoor and he made no mistake.

The Stars tried to up the physical game as Kanter got a nice hit on Pastachak and McMillen caught Douglas with an open ice hit. ‘AP’ forward Kevin Bendall almost scored a rebound after Leonenko fired on target but Fuhr made both saves and it was 1-1 after 1.

After killing part of a penalty to start the period the Bruins got some momentum. Ross had a shot straight from a face-off win that Spencer Tremblay was able to stop. Douglas took a shot that hit traffic in front and got passed the Stars goalie. 2-1 Bruins.

Leonenko and Jordan Townsend teamed up to get a shot and Bendall fired the rebound just wide. Tremblay made a save at the other end before Michael Statchuk jumped in the rush and almost scored. The game was stretched and end to end. Kendall Fransoo threw a nice hit on Levi Barnstable. Then Wyatt Garagan hit Bryce Hall and it was a dangerous hit. High and right to the head. Jake Calverley stepped in. Garagan appeared to say no to the fight and then dropped the gloves moments later perhaps trying to gain an edge on Calverley. The fight was probably a draw.

The Stars got a power play as Garagan got 2 and 10 for the hit and 5 and a game for fighting. I thought 2 and 10 was not enough based on the hit I saw on Hall. But that’s not my decision to make. It looked like a very dangerous hit to me and I was glad Hall was okay. The Stars made the Bruins play with another power play goal.

Matt Saharchuk appeared to bunt the puck into the net with his stick but it also looked like it may have gone in off his hand. I couldn’t tell as the puck was on the other side of Saharchuk’s body from my vantage point. Replays I saw were not really conclusive either. In the end the goal stood and the game was tied. The Stars are now 4 for 17 on the power play in the series.

Logan Nachtegaele almost scored a rebound after a nice rush up ice by linemate Otto Mitchell. Sych then made an excellent diving stick check shot block on a Bruins power play to prevent what looked like a sure goal. Fransoo, Sych, McMillen and Heinrich had a penalty kill shift that almost lasted the full 2 minutes. But they kept the Bruins from scoring and got off the ice.

Tremblay then made a number of key saves including one beauty with his left pad. Fransoo threw himself in front of a shot for a key block and the Stars didn’t allow another goal in the period despite running into penalty trouble late in the second frame.

In the third the Bruins got the game winner. A point shot hitting traffic in front and changing directions past Tremblay was the game winner. Manley was given credit for the goal. I had the scoring chances in the period at roughly 8-2 in favour of the North Stars.  Leonenko had a chance in the slot. Mitchell a spinning back hand shot. McMillen and Heinrich teamed up but Fuhr was there as well.

Baxter Kanter tried a backhand wrap around but couldn’t smuggle the puck home. Vermeulen’s drag and shot was stopped by Fuhr. Sych was robbed with a nice lunging save. McMillen, Hall and Heinrich worked an opening for Spagrud but again Fuhr was there to keep the Stars from scoring a third goal.

Kendall Fransoo tried a warp around of his own and it was loose for a moment in the blue paint before Fuhr covered. Fountain had a chances as well but the puck slid off the end of his stick on the backhand and he couldn’t get a shot on target. Saharchuk couldn’t beat Fuhr with a sharp angle shot as the Stars forward tried to pick the top corner.

In the end the Stars got their net empty but couldn’t tie the game. Sych took a penalty but prevented an empty net goal in the process. That allowed the Stars to again pull Tremblay and get the game to 5-on-5 in the Bruins zone. But Fuhr wouldn’t be beat and the series is now even at 2.

The North Stars and Bruins will play a game 5 tomorrow night at the Civic Center. The winner moves on. The loser’s season is over. Tickets are available online starting this morning and at the rink from 9am to 4pm and 6:30pm to 9pm this evening.

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: http://www.cjnb.com
  • Ultra Print Pregame Show – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

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.

Storylines:

  • 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:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

SJHL Playoffs Game #3 – Battlefords North Stars at Estevan Bruins

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Series tied 1-1

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars took game 2 on home ice to even the series at a game a piece. The recap is here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/north-stars-even-series/

Storylines:

  • Players of the Week: The SJHL Player of the week awards were handed out this morning. The North Stars picked up three awards. Nick Fountain was named Player of the Week, Connor Sych the Defenseman of the Week, and Bryce Hall Rookie of the Week. Thanks in part to the strong play of those three the North Stars beat Kindersley and picked up a win in game 2 over Estevan. Congratulations to all three and let’s hope there are plenty more awards to come.
  • Game 3: I couldn’t find data on the importance of winning a game 3 in a 5 game series but I think it’s pretty clear that tonight’s game is huge. I did find a paper that concluded that the team with fewer home games in a series winning an important game at home early in that series drastically increases their chances of winning the series. Now it’s a best of 5 and game 3 isn’t really early in the series but it is the Bruins first home game. At the end of the day, the Bruins want to try and win this series at home. To do that they must win tonight. A North Stars win at least guarantees a home ice game 5 if necessary. And you play all season to try and have those big games played on your ice surface in front of your fans. All of this is simply to say that game 3 is a massive game. But I think we all already knew that.
  • Road: The North Stars were the second best road team in the SJHL in the regular season. Their 17 road wins were second only to Melfort. Some of their notable road wins include beating Melfort, Notre Dame, Flin Flon, and Kindersley a couple times on their home ice. The Stars also won in Estevan this season. So they will be comfortable that their game, their preparation and their structure can and does succeed away from home.
  • Affiliates: The North Stars are still without Jake Erickson and Brady O’Sullivan. There are a couple other guys who are banged up and may not be able to go tonight. So there are a handful of affiliate players on the trip with the Stars and they made need to play important minutes in a playoff game. The North Stars will be confident though as these ‘AP’ players have come up a few times this year and shown that they can play at this level and aren’t intimidated. If called upon? They will perform.
  • Travel: The Estevan Bruins came to the Battlefords and won game 1. And now the North Stars make the almost 700km trip to Estevan on the day of a game. Earlier this season the Stars made the same trip and won. The key? Getting rest as much as possible on the bus, getting mentally ready on the way to the rink and then having a good pregame including a strong warmup.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Baxter Kanter 2) Nick Fountain 1) Spencer Tremblay
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Baxter Kanter
  • 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 #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    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) Transition – My memory of games against the Bruins here in Estevan from the past few seasons are of Estevan being very aggressive with their transition and with their break out. Pushing bodies up ice and making very long passes to generate offense. That is something the North Stars will have to be ready to counteract.

2) Discipline – This series really started to heat up in game 2. And I do think that suits the North Stars just fine. They seem to really enjoy playing in that heat. But they also have to be smart. The fine line is to get your opponent off of their game while staying on yours. Play with emotion but don’t let emotions play you. The Bruins have a very god power play as well so that’s another good reason for the Stars to maintain that discipline. .

3) Tremblay – The Stars goalie has been great so far this series and that is going to need to continue. The Stars are missing some offensive weapons and have struggled to score so far in this series. But for the better part of 2 games Tremblay has been unbeatable. He’s actually given up more goals than his play has suggested he would. He was unlucky to give up a goal in game 2. And didn’t deserve to lost game 1. He’s going to be a huge key over the next few days and especially tonight.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

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

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

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

North Stars even series

The Battlefords North Stars beat the Estevan Bruins 2-1 last night at the Civic Center. Goals from Igor Leonenko and Nick Fountain were enough as Spencer Tremblay made 36 saves for the win.

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The Stars came out with a decent first period on home ice and had a 1-0 lead after the opening frame. Matt Saharchuk had the Stars first scoring chance but Fuhr made the save. The Stars couldn’t get to the big rebound that bounced off the Bruins goalie.

At the other end Ryan Duret couldn’t get a stick on a back door pass and then moments later Spencer Tremblay was run over by Wyatt Garagan. Tremblay has been bumped and ploughed over several times. To his credit he hasn’t taken a dive trying to embellish contact and con the referee.

Bryce Hall had a couple shots in the first and Brenden Heinrich tested Fuhr but he stood tall. Then he made his best save of the game to rob Igor Leonenko. Igor showed great patience to move through the slot. On his forehand he waited, and waited, and waited some more. When he finally shot it appeared he had done everything right to score. But Fuhr made a jumping/lunging right pad save. The best of the game.

Just after a Stars power play they got on the board. The puck came to Igor Leonenko and he was able to bat it from along the goal line and in off Fuhr who wasn’t on his near post. That was Igor’s first of the post-season.

The Stars got caught in their own zone a few times. But they were blocking lots of shots and throwing lots of hits. Heinrich got a big hit on Pastachak. Fransoo hammered Taylor Ross.

Tremblay’s best save of the period came as he charged out to challenge Pastachak and stop the forward’s shot. Not long later Allison was able to replicate the move of his team mate and get in alone on Tremblay. Again he made the save. Tremblay with a stretching right pad save and the rebound was cleared.

In the second period the North Stars were without Reed Delainey who left the game and did not return. Jake McMillen started the frame with an epic shift on the PK. Logan Nachtegaele got out of the box, threw a hit, and then went back to the box. The Stars killed that penalty as well. Baxter Kanter got a huge hit on Kurt Sonne. On the PK Kanter crushed Allison. Matt Havens didn’t shy away from the physical stuff either and he hit Ryan Duret.

The North Stars set up Kendall Fransoo for a one-timer but Fuhr made the save. The Stars made it 2-0 moments later. Matt Saharchuk and Nick Fountain got away on a 2-on-1 and Saharchuk was able to go around the sprawling d-man and set up Fountain in front. His second in as many nights got the Stars the lead and stood up as the game winner.

Brenden Heinrich almost made it three for the Stars. Fuhr didn’t appear to see the one-timer from Heinrich from the slot but was in position and made the save anyway.

Then the rough stuff. Rice hit Saharchuk with what looked to me like a clean hit but Fountain didn’t like it. He jumped Rice and the two fought. Fountain got 2, 5 and a game for instigating. Rice got a double minor for roughing. The referees really messed up though. All 4 officials were watching the fight down in the corner and no one was watching as a wrestling match broke out in front of the North Stars bench. That led to more penalties and the Stars lost Kendall Fransoo for 2 and 10 because the refs weren’t on hand to stop the Bruins from going after the North Stars.

After the rough stuff Tremblay made some nice saves including stopping a one-timer from Reiger on a Bruins power play. Estevan had 3 minutes of Fountain’s major penalty as a power play but couldn’t score. At the other end Brenden Heinrich hit the post.

The Stars managed to get to the third period with a 2-0 lead for the second straight night. This time they held on.

At times the third was a bit nervous looking. Kanter kept hitting as he got a good one on Pastachak. Saharchuk had a strong period but more than once his shots were stopped by Fuhr and the rebounds cleared. Jordan Townsend had a chance to add to the lead. Saharchuk set up Havens for a shot which Fuhr stopped. The rebound bounced up in the air and Townsend missed it as he tried to bat it in out of mid-air.

Saharchuk blocked a shot later that trickled in on Tremblay and he made the save. Seconds later Manley’s shot was turned away as well. The Bruins were running out of time and Kanter, Mitchell and Nachtegaele had a great shift keeping the puck down in Estevan territory.

With under a minute to go the Bruins got their net empty and did eventually jam a puck home. A greasy goal with about 20 seconds left that broke the shutout bid of Tremblay’s. But the Bruins couldn’t get much going in the final 20 seconds and the Stars kept the puck to the outside and away from their net to hold on for the win.

The series is now even at 1-1.

After the final horn Kendall Fransoo and Pastachak came out of the penalty boxes and got into it. Their wrestling match drew a big crowd but nothing kicked off as cooler heads prevailed. But this series is now getting seriously heated and should be a lot of fun in Estevan tomorrow and Tuesday.

SJHL Playoffs Game #2 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Estevan leads 1-0

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

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Last game recap: – The North Stars dropped game 1 of the Wildcard series last night 3-2. The Bruins scoring three times in the third period to grab the victory.

The North Stars got Reed Delainey and Matt Saharchuk back in the lineup after lengthy injury absences. The captain Michael Statchuk returned as well after missing the last couple games of the season. But the Stars were without Brady O’Sullivan and Jake Erickson as they aren’t back yet to full health.

I thought that Delainey, Saharchuk and Leonenko had a tough first shift as the two returning players struggled to get up to game speed. But after that the Stars seemed to settle in a bit. They drew an early penalty against the Bruins and Nick Fountain had a couple of shots that Tyler Fuhr was able to fight off.

Jordan Townsend almost got the Stars on the board. His shot off a nice rush up the wing was stopped by Fuhr but almost got through on the blocker side. Jake McMillen then had a shot through the legs of a defender that was stopped by Fuhr.

The North Stars had several odd man rushes in the game but struggled to create chances off of those rushes. Delainey, Saharchuk and Heinrich had a 3-on-2 in the first period but couldn’t get a shot.

Baxter Kanter’s line almost got the Stars on the board but Kanter’s backdoor pass to Mitchell got by the Stars forward before he could get a stick on it. The Bruins outshot the Stars in the opening frame but I thought of the 10 shots none were really great scoring chances. Spencer Tremblay had a relatively routine period and it was scoreless after 1.

In the second Fuhr made a couple of saves up high and seemed to be struggling a little bit as rising shots kept getting him up near the throat area. Brenden Heinrich threw a big hit on Zajicek as the Stars started to hit a bit more. The first period was a little bit nervous and cagey and the second started in a similar manner. Lots of whistles. Not a lot of flow. But the Stars weren’t giving up chances against and were creating opportunities for themselves.

They got on the board when Bryce Hall was found by Jordan Townsend and Hall went to the Bruins net and made a little deke before dropping the puck to Nick Fountain. Fuhr had bit hard on the fake and was not able to adjust to the pass. I don’t think many people were expecting that Hall would pass that puck but he did and Fountain was able to roof the puck to get the Stars on the board.

The Stars had a couple of power play chances after that but couldn’t extend the lead. Logan Nachtegaele threw a big hit on Keegan Allison and Hall got a nice check on MacLellan. Igor Leonenko then made a nice diving shot block. It was still 1-0 when Tremblay made a nice save to stop Lynden Pastachak and after the whistle there was some pushing and shoving.

Baxter Kanter almost got on the board as he was able to power out front on the back hand but was stopped by Fuhr before jamming away at the puck but the whistle went before the Stars could pop the puck home. The Stars kept getting chances though. Fuhr made a nice glove save on Leonenko and then Leonenko was unable to set up a chance on a 3-on-1 rush. RT Rice was able to block the pass.

Bryce Hall then doubled the Stars lead. A power play shot from Connor Sych fluttered towards goal and ended up on the stick of Hall. He was able to poke the puck home. Two points for Hall and the Stars lead 2-0 going to the third.

But they did not have a strong final period. The Stars will have to be ready to go at the starts of period tonight. In all three periods last night the Bruins got a shot in the first 20 seconds. Tremblay stopped all those early shots.

Just after I noted that the Stars had started the third pretty well they gave up a goal. Tremblay made a save but the rebound was poked past him through the 5-hole.

The Stars had a 2-on-1 later in the first and had the pass from Havens to Leonenko blocked.

Keegan Allison then tipped home a pass on a power play to tie the game. Moments later a pass appeared to hit Brad Arabia and deflect past Tremblay. The Stars were all of a sudden down by a goal. There was time left but they couldn’t get much going after that. Brock Weston with a nice rush but Fuhr was able to make a couple saves as he stopped Nick Fountain in close and the rebound was cleared.

The Stars got the net empty for an extra attacker but had a hard time breaking out and getting the puck down into Bruins’ territory. And for the first time this season the Stars lost after having a lead at the start of the third period.

There are positives though as the Stars had plenty of chances and odd man rushes. they just need to get more shots from those opportunities.

Storylines:

  • Rematch: The North Stars lost game 1 last season in a series with Estevan. They then won 4 straight to take the series. That was a best of 7 and this isn’t. So it’s a bit tougher for the Stars. This is such a short series in a best of 5 that every game is huge. But there players who were on that team last season will know that there is no need to panic. This team is a very strong road team and they will have plenty of confidence that they can win in Estevan. Obviously, tonight’s game is huge but like I said, there is no need to panic.
  • Health: The returning North Stars now have a game under their belts and should be a little closer to full strength. The speed and intensity of a post-season game is tough to drop into after missing several weeks. Both Delainey and Saharchuk will be better tonight. We will see if there are any other players able to get back in the lineup.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Keegan Allison 2) Connor Sych 1) Bryce Hall
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Brenden Heinrich
  • 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: Humboldt at Weyburn
  • North Stars Upcoming Playoffs Schedule:
    Game #3 – Mar. 9th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    Game #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place (if necessary)
    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) Finish – The Stars feel like they didn’t play well last night and there are a lot of guys who will be looking to play a stronger game tonight than they did last night. But even with not playing to the level they would like, the Stars still had a number of 2-on-1, 3-on-1 and 3-on-2 chances to create offense. They weren’t able to capitalize on those chances. They will play well tonight and so they will get chances. They need to execute better in those scenarios than they did last night.

2) Decision Making – I thought that the North Stars looked to pass a little too much last night. There were so many odd man rushes where they didn’t even get a shot. But I would never suggest that the players should just shoot. They are on the ice. They see things as they are happening and have to make split second decisions. I think this team is capable of making better decisions than they did last night and if they do that will lead to more production.

3) Rebounds – The North Stars created a lot of rebounds off of Tyler Fuhr last night. The Bruins goalie makes the first save. But there were times when the puck was loose in the blue paint area and the Stars couldn’t get to it. I think the Stars need to be a little more physical and a little more desperate. If they do that they will find a few greasy goals tonight.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Fransoo – Sych
Statchuk – Weston
Calverley – Vermeulen

Hall – McMillen – Heinrich
Saharchuk – Delainey – Fountain
Havens – Townsend – Leonenko
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, O’Sullivan

SJHL Playoffs Game #1 – Estevan Bruins at Battlefords North Stars

Best of 5 Wildcard Series – Game 1

North Stars 2014-15 Regular Season Record: 28-20-6-2

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 – 7:30pm
  • Puck drop – 7:15pm
  • Twitter.com/NorthStarsVoice

Last game recap: – The North Stars beat Kindersley in a shootout. The recap is here: https://northstarsbeacon.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/stars-beat-klippers-to-wrap-up-regular-season/

Storylines:

  • Tonight’s Festivities: From NorthStars.ca – “Friday at the Civic Centre will be Kinsmen Telemiracle night at the Civic Centre, as their will be a donation table set up. Donations collected will be added to the total raised by Reed Delainey with this year’s Miracle Mission. For every point Delainey scored this season $10 from CJV Carpet, $10 from L & M Wood Residue and $10 from P & E Logging will be donated to Telemiracle.”
  • Crowd: Playoff hockey at the Civic Center. It’s amazing. The fans really come out to support the team and make a lot of noise. The Stars last year were getting crowds of 1,300-1,400 people. My first year when they faced Humboldt in the North Final there were crowds of well over 2,000. I hope that a lot of people will turn up this weekend. Playoffs can be make or break for a Junior A hockey program and a time to make some money that will help the team in years to come. I know it’s a Wildcard round and that might not draw as many people but it’s a Friday night, the weather is getting nice, there isn’t much else going on tonight in town and so….why not check out what should be a great game?
  • Home Ice: It wasn’t much of an advantage at times this season for the North Stars. But that part of the season is over. This is essentially a whole new season. And what happened in the regular season? It doesn’t really matter at this point. It tells us who gets home ice and that’s about it. Once the puck drop’s tonight and the game is underway all that matters is tonight. The North Stars have always been strong away from the Civic Center. If they get off to a good start at home tonight they could be a team no one wants to face in the post-season.
  • Rematch: These two teams met in the post-season last year with the North Stars winning the best of 7 series in 5 games. The Bruins had won a Wildcard series versus Flin Flon to get to the series versus the Stars. So this is the second straight year these teams will go head to head and the second straight year the Bruins are in the wildcard series. There are just 7 players on the North Stars roster who were involved in that playoff series last year.
  • Health: The North Stars have been banged up all year long and that trend continues into the post-season. They really could have used some time off before getting the playoffs started. But they don’t get that luxury. There are a few guys who should return to the lineup tonight. But there are also a few who could miss out as well. What can you do though? Get the guys on the ice that are ready to play and go to battle with those guys. There’s no reason this team can’t compete with any team in the league even if they have to call up an affiliate or two. They’ve shown that all season. Hopefully at some point though we see a full strength lineup as I would love to see what they could do.
  • Special Teams: The Estevan Bruins had a very good power play in the regular season. Their PK struggled. The Stars power play was near the bottom of the league and their PK was in the top 3. So it will be an interesting battle. A good penalty kill taking on a good power play and a penalty kill that struggled at times against a power play that struggled at times. The Stars PP was better in the second half of the season though and could be a big key for the team. Generally in the playoffs you get less chances on the power play so those chances become even more crucial. The team that capitalizes on those opportunities has a great chance to win a series.
  • OT: The North Stars went to overtime more than any other team in the regular season. They went to OT or beyond with Estevan twice. Don’t be surprised if there is extra hockey played in this series.

Other Notes:

  • Last game’s Canadian Tire 3 Stars: 3) Nick Fountain 2) Igor Leonenko 1) Jake McMillen
  • Last game’s San-Berg Collision Collision of the Game: Baxter Kanter
  • 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 #2 – Mar. 7th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Civic Center
    Game #3 – Mar. 9th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place
    Game #4 – Mar. 10th Estevan – 7:30pm @ Affinity Place (if necessary)
    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) Impose – The Bruins style of play is quite a bit different from the North Stars style. It’s important that the North Stars impose their style of game on the Bruins and don’t get caught up in playing a more wide open run and gun style game.

2) Hit – The Stars aren’t the biggest team in the league but they can hit. Kanter’s line will be a big key. Leonenko being physical will go a long way. Brenden Heinrich can crush guys. The Stars have shown in the past that they can wear teams down in the post-season. As coach Atcheynum used to say, hits thrown in game 1 are like deposits in the bank that you can cash in on later in the series.

3) Finish – The Stars lately have been finishing their chances at a pretty high rate. They have guys going into the post-season with confidence who are playing well and scoring. There’s no reason that can’t continue. The key is when you get a chance that you finish that chance. In the playoffs that’s even more important because chances tend to be fewer and farther between.

North Stars Lineup:

Tremblay
Rewerts

Statchuk – Weston
Fransoo – Sych
Calverley – Vermeulen

Saharchuk – Delainey – Leonenko
Havens – McMillen – Heinrich
Hall – Townsend – Fountain
Kanter – Mitchell – Nachtegaele

Scratches: Erickson, O’Sullivan