Monday, December 28, 2009

So a Funny Thing Happened Today...

I fell off the treadmill at the gym this afternoon. Holy was it embarrassing. I was running at a 6.3 speed, with a '3' elevation, and was 17 minutes into my 25 minute run when I went to switch the song on my i-pod. I lost my footing, and fell face-first onto the ground.

Chin? Scraped.

Both knees? Shredded to hell.

Burns on both arms? Abso-freaking-lutely!

Full gym to witness this hilarity? Mmmhmmm.

And to ice the cake, I knew four people in the gym at the time. A few of them ran to my aid when I fell, and in hindsight it could have been worse - yet I'm still embarrassed.

At least I swallowed my pride and finished my run.

I promise to contribute something more sporty tomorrow. But something that embarassing is too funny not to share.

Hope you had a great holiday. I am counting the days til Kindersley. January 3rd and the home-stretch of the season begins.

Beware of those treadmills,


Friday, December 18, 2009

Stars Bolster Their D.

The Battlefords North Stars have added some experience and toughness to their blue-line. Ken Pearson has signed 20-year-old defenceman Grant Fahnhorst from the Owatonna Express of the NAHL.

Fahnhorst is a former teammate and friend of current North Star's forward Josh Daley, and comes to the team highly reccommended by both Daley and his old coaches.

Ken Pearson says that Fahnhorst is a 'stay-at-home' defenceman with a good first pass and a hard shot.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 North Star Reflections.

This may be the toughest blog entry yet. I say that because now that 2009 is (almost) over for the Battlefords North Stars, and now I'm charged with the task of reflecting on the past 12 months.

Thankfully the past 12 months have been nothing short of exhilerating. This team has been through it all:

- Jubilation after an unpredicted playoff run which saw them take Humboldt to the limit.

- Frustration when consistency lacked, and close games were lost.

- Resiliency when key players went down with injury.

- Regrouping during the offseason, and finding new key players to take this team to the next level in 2009-2010.

Thankfully, I've been in a position to witness it all. The laughs, the devastation, and the joys that accompany life in junior hockey. I'm going to do my best now to summarize the past year based on memory. I hope you feel compelled to share your thoughts and memories of 2009 in the comments section of this piece.


At the start of 2009, the North Stars held a three-point lead on the La Ronge Ice Wolves for the final playoff spot in the SJHL's Itech Conference. The Nipawin Hawks and Melfort Mustangs had long since seperated themselves from the bottom two teams, and it was widely agreed that either La Ronge or the North Stars would be fighting until the bitter end for a playoff spot.

The Stars lost in overtime to both Kindersley and Notre Dame in the first week of 09. The loss to Notre Dame was particularly devastating because Hounds forward Jaden Schwartz scored the winner six seconds into OT. The Hounds were short-handed at the time.

The Stars went down south to Notre Dame and Weyburn a week later and did not fair well.

The losses kept mounting for the Stars, yet fortunately the Ice Wolves were struggling even more so.

The undisputed January highlight came on the 17th during parents weekend when The Stars defeated the Melville Millionaires 3-1. Of the 15 victories during the 08/09 regular season, this was easily one of the most exciting games. Melville was the best team in the Sherwood Conference at the time, and the Stars simply outworked them. That game (in my opinion) was the best game that I had seen Brett Miller play. In Miller's case, the best was clearly yet to come.

Heading into February, the Stars would only win twice more. Once on the road in Kindersley when Dane Muench scored four goals. The final victory came at the Civic Center against Nipawin, the eventual first round opponents for the Stars in the Itech Conference Survivor Series.


Heading into the Itech Conference Survivor Series, the Battlefords North Stars were the heavy underdog. The Nipawin Hawks had 23 more points than the Stars did during the regular season, and boasted two of the premier forwards in the SJHL in Torey Dyck and Brent Ottman.

The North Stars took game one in Nipawin by a 7-4 score. The power-play was clicking, and Kyle Birch was making crucial saves for his team. It was the first time in over two years that the Stars had won a game at the Cage.

Game two of the series was held at the Battlefords Civic Center, and the Stars came out firing right away. Blake Peake opened the scoring early, and Kyle Birch was steady for a second straight game, and the under-dog North Stars beat Nipawin 4-1, and held a commanding 2-0 lead in the Best-of-Five Survivor Series.

I remember the bus trip to Nipawin before game three. I had never heard the bus so quiet. There was a focus and a confidence that was only starting to materialize. There was not a single player, coach, trainer or broadcaster that didn't 'believe' at that point that the North Stars were going to win the series.

Game three did not get off to a good start. The Stars trailed 2-0 towards the end of the first period, and Nipawin seemed to finally have some extended momentum. The Stars scored late in the first, and then Josh Clare tied things up early in the second period.

After 40 minutes of play that night, the Stars held a 4-3 lead. Nipawin tied it early in the third on a power-play goal from Taylor Thiessen. Moments later, the Stars were short-handed again. Only this time the Stars grabbed momentum when captain Mitch Wall was hauled down by Thiessen on a short-handed breakaway.

Penalty shot.

Mitch Wall skated in on Mark Currie and snuck a back-hand deke into the net to give his team a 5-4 lead at the Cage.

The next 13 minutes were the longest 13 minutes of my life. Kyle Birch continued to make saves, and the Stars finally sealed the deal with an empty-netter. They won the game 6-4 and swept Nipawin in three-straight games.

After that win, Ken Pearson said it was one of the most gratifying series victories that he's ever experienced. This coming from a former league champ! What a compliment that must have been for the boys.

Up next for the Stars, a battle with the defending R.B.C. Champion Humboldt Broncos.

Game one from Humboldt went the way of the home-team 5-2.

Game two at the Civic Center may have been the most exciting hockey game I've ever called to this point my broadcasting career.

Only one goal was scored, and it came off the stick of Troy Watt. It was the first goal that Watt had ever scored at the Junior A level. How could the team not be fired up after a goal like that?

Humboldt kept getting chances, and somehow Kyle Birch kept making saves. Birch made one save off of Kyle Cowan that still gives me the chills to this day.

The longer the game went, the more it became evident that Humboldt was frustrated. They simply could not score! When the final horn blew and the Civic Center went nuts! It was the loudest I had ever heard that place. For the first time in over two years, the Stars had beaten the Humboldt Broncos.

Game three was a 5-1 win for Humboldt, but they did so on the strength of four goals in the third period. The Star's efforts were not properly rewarded that night, and confidence remained high heading back to North Battleford for game four.

Game four brought forth a similar atmosphere to that of game two. The Star's fans were loud and proud, and got the chance to cheer early when Brody Malek wired a shot past Matt LaRochelle to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

Humboldt tied it late in the first period.

The Stars got their lead back early in the second period thanks to a clutch goal from the previously scratched Ryan Toporowski.

Kyle Birch stopped Torey Allan on a penalty-shot, and the Stars took a 2-1 lead into the final period.

The third period was all Battlefords. Mitch Wall scored twice, and Tony Oak and Ryan Andersen also found the back of the net, and just like that, the Stars had beaten Humboldt 6-1 and tied the series at two games a piece.

The following Saturday, fans from the Battlefords hopped into vans and join the North Star's in Humboldt. The Stars had a cheering section of about 150 people at the Elgar Petersen Arena, and they certainly helped.

It was 1-1 heading into the third period and the North Stars and Broncos continued to trade chances. Late in the third period, Andrew Bodnarchuk made a point-blank save off of Alex Leclerc which may have saved Humboldt's season.

Overtime was looming, and the North Stars continued to pepper Bodnarchuk with shots. But late in the third period, Humboldt got the luckiest break of their season.

Bronco D-Man Dmitri Levin cleared a puck out of his own zone to center. The Star's defence were slow getting back, and North Star's centerman Chris Jung was the last line of defence between Kyle Birch and the Broncos. Jung grabbed the puck just outside of the Humboldt blueline but fell, letting the puck go free.

Bronco forward Spencer Braaten seized the opportunity and grabbed the loose puck. Jung quickly got to his feet and tripped Braaten to the ice. The ref's hand shot-up in the air, and Humboldt was going to get a power-play. But Braaten didn't give up on the play. He got back up to his feet, cut in on Birch and lifted a back-hand over his left pad to make it 2-1 Humboldt.

My heart broke. So did 24 others on the bench, and 150 more in the stands. Spencer Braaten's goal with 23 seconds left in the third period of game five essentially won game five of the Itech Conference Semi-Final.

Game Six was a no-doubter for Humboldt won won 7-2 at the Civic Center.

If the Stars had gone to overtime in Game Five, who knows what would have happened.

The North Star's fans rightfully applauded their boys when the horn sounded in Game Six. It was a wierd feeling because on one hand, the season had to be considered a success, yet the agony of defeat truely stung. The fact is that the Battlefords North Stars gave Humboldt the toughest battle of anybody in the post-season, and

Humboldt would go on to win the league, but lost in the Royal Bank Cup Final to Vernon.


The Battlefords North Star's Awards Banquet took place in early June before the Annual Golf Tournament.

Dane Muench, Jesse Lebreton, Kyle Birch, Blake Peake, and Troy Watt were some of the notable winners.

All sorts of optimism surrounded the Battlefords North Stars during the offseason. Fans were chomping at the bit to get going for 2009-2010. Ken Pearson was busy re-tooling his team.

Gone were 20-year-olds Chris Jung, Josh Clare and Nick Martin.

The Stars also learned in the early summer that defenceman Tom Kleidon would not be returning due to an injury.

In were the likes of Nathan Tomac, Ward Szucki, and Blake Tatchell.

In the days leading up to training camp, Ken Pearson also informed me that a player from Pittsburgh would be attending training camp. His name was Josh Daley, and his resume was impressive.


Training Camp started in late August, and it was an incredibly busy one from a North Star's perspective.

Colton Graf, Alex Leclerc, Skyler Dunser and Dusty Iron were shipped away in trades while Shay Neufeld, and Cody Folstad were brought back in.

Dane Muench and Brett Miller a long with defencemen Woody Klassen and Dominic Perrault were going to stick with their respective WHL clubs while goaltenders Graham Hildebrand and Kyle Birch, and forward Jordan Lane would be coming back.


The month of September started well enough for the Stars, who were 5-4 when all was aid and done. Miller, Klassen, and Perrault had all re-joined the club, and all were making significant impacts. Miller and Andersen in particular were finding a ton of early offensive success.

Josh Daley's play quickly turned him into a fan favourite, while local players Blake Tatchell, Boyd Wakelin, Justin Waskewitch, Mitch Wall and Troy Watt were making daily contributions to the team's success.

Ryan Andersen was named Player of the Month for September.


October was a good month for the North Stars, who won every single one of their home games that month, and continued to establish themselves as a legitimite threat in the Bauer Conference.

The Stars learned at the end of October that they would get Dane Muench back from the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.

The highlight of October came in the middle when the Stars won three straight home games in a shootout. They beat Flon Flon, Weyburn and Notre Dame consecutively. Brett Miller and Blake Peake scored each time.

Miller was named Player of the Month for October.

November was highlighted by the SJHL Showcase coming to the Battlefords. The Stars dropped a tough-one to Humboldt on the Friday night (November 27th) 2-1 but bounced back the next night to beat Kindersley 7-6 in overtime. Overall the Showcase was deemed a success from a league stand-point.

The Stars continued to battle with the Flin Flon Bombers for supremacy in the Bauer Conference.

The best player for The Stars in November was Blake Peake. He scored seven goals and added 10 assists. For the first time all year, it was easy to select a player of the month.


December has been an up-and-down month for the Stars. They started with a 7-3 win in Melville, and also notched a 5-4 shootout victory in Humboldt, but they lost twice to Flin Flon, once to Melfort and were battered with injuries. They also lost Brett Miller to the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League.

They did go out and grab 20-year-old forward David Lawrence from the MJHL's Dauphin Kings at the December 1st Roster Cut-Down deadline.

Mitch Wall, Troy Watt and Shay Neufeld are all currently sidelined with various ailments, yet the Stars continue to persevere. At this point today, the Stars remain in second place in the SJHL's Bauer Conference, but are now being hotly pursued by the Melfort Mustangs. The 'Stangs have played four less games than the Stars, and are only four points back.

The standings could look a little different come the start of 2010, but irregardless of inconsistency and injury the Stars have proven to the league and to their fans that they are legitimite contenders this year.


In closing, a ton of of thanks and credit is in order for the Star's coaching staff. Ken, Blair and 'Shepp' have done a fantastic job at turning a 15-win team into a contender. Hiring Ken Pearson was the best decision this organization has made since my time here, and I am grateful for my friendship and great working relationship with all three coaches. These three make coming to the rink everyday a privilege.

I want to publically thank Ken for being so forthcoming and accomodating with me. Professionally he has been of my biggest supporters. I owe a huge chunk of my professional success in the present and in the future to Ken Pearson.

Blair Atcheynum is a fantastic coach, and an even better person. He's never shy about giving me wardrobe advice, and I know he does so because he wants me to dress the part and find success. A long with Ken, Atch has been one of my biggest personal supporters, and has been instrumental in allowing me to not only call games for the Stars, but to run their website and become an employee of the team. Had it not been for a conversation in Yorkton back in February, perhaps I'm not in the position I am in now. Thanks Blair.

The North Star's training staff is 'second to none' in the SJHL. Dale Jackson is the hardest working man in the SJHL, and this team is so lucky to have his services. He's also a great roommate, and a good pal. Missy Reiter also deserves recognition for her efforts as a trainer and as an interim marketing manager. Best of luck with the baby Missy, and I'm wishing you nothing but the best.

To new Marketing and Office Manager Dawn Cardell - It's great to have you here! I look forward to seeing great things from you in 2010.

I am so grateful to the North Star's Board of Directors for supporting me, and allowing me to thrive this season. This year I've worked very closely with Debbie and Kara, and these are two of the hardest working gals out there.

Ray and Stew (and pals) deserve so much credit and appreciation for forming a committee and bringing the SJHL Showcase to the Battlefords.

Thank you Cheri for your baking!

To Cody Nickolet, Matt Ryan for providing some fanstic color commentary throughout the season. I'm blessed to work with you guys, and you are two of the best friends a guy could ask for.

Thank you Julie for taking amazing photos, and sharing them with parents, fans and readers of the blog. I think it's awesome that half the team are using your photos for their facebook profiles. Your hard work is strongly appreciated, and I look forawrd to seeing what you can do in 2010 with that camera of yours.

To the many parents/fans that I interact with during road trips and home games. I enjoy our conversations more than you'll ever know. Your compliments, listenership, and support means an awful lot.

And finally I'd like to wish all of the players a Merry Christmas. I love chatting with you guys, and I wish you nothing but the best moving forward. You guys have something special this year, and I truely hope that you can put it all together, because there is no telling how far this group can go this year.

Thanks for reading this blog and thanks for supporting the Battlefords North Stars in 2009. I'll be updating more in the days leading up to 2010, but I assure you that none will be this long.

Any and all comments are welcomed.

December 16 Photos

*** All Photos Taken By Julie Larson ***

Muench Makes Things Interesting Short-Handed.

Lebreton Finishing His Check - (Enlarge to See a Great reaction from Dale Jackson on the Bench.)

Nice Goal Tatch!

A Two Point Night for Lawrence.

Bombers Edge Stars 6-5

Last night at the Civic Center, the Battlefords North Stars wrapped up 2009 with a 6-5 loss in regulation to the Flin Flon Bombers.

The Bombers had full control of this game heading into the third period, but the North Stars made a game of it.

Down 6-1 early in the third, the Stars chipped away, getting goals from Ryan Andersen (2), Calder Neufeld, Blake Tatchell and a gorgeous short-handed goal from Dane Muench.

The Stars had a great chance to tie the game late, but Flin Flon defenceman Michael Young had a crucial shot-block, and Bomber netminder Matt Weninger was able to escape the Civic Center with the victory.

Stars coach Ken Pearson said after the game that the second period ultimately cost them the game.

Flin Flon's goals came courtesy of Alex Lamontagne (2), Dominic Martel, Taylor Thiessen, Brody Haygarth and Mike Rey.

The victory vaults Flin Flon eight points ahead of the North Stars in the Bauer Conference standings. The two teams will face each other three more times during the regular season, all of which are in Flin Flon.

That does it for the North Stars in 2009, now they'll take a lengthy break, and will return to action in Kindersley on January 3rd.


Sometime within the next 24 hours I will have photos and a lengthy 2009 review piece written for the blog. It'll be worth the wait, I promise.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stars/Bombers Preview

Record: 23-8-0-3 (First Place in the Bauer Conference)

Who's Hot Up Front:

18-year-old forward Andrew Johnston missed last week's matchup between these two teams, but will certainly be out in full force tonight. He scored once last night in La Ronge, and will no doubt be a threat every time he's on the ice. He's got some of the best vision in the league, and is widely considered to be one of the best professional hockey prospects playing in the SJHL right now.

Who's on D:

When you think Flin Flon, automatically you're going to thing about Taylor Thiessen and Michael Young. But the hottest defenceman on the Bombers right now is arguably the 19-year-old Patrick Sitko. Sitko is the reigning SJHL Defenceman of the Week, and has 21 points so far this year. He passes the puck well, and can play tough when he has too.

Who's in Goal:

I would be shocked if Matt Weninger didn't get the call tonight for Flin Flon. His numbers speak for themselves: A .932 save percentage and a goals against of 2.15.


Perhaps the most dangerous Bomber eight days ago was forward Dominic Martel. He's got some of the best speed in the SJHL, and has really been a great offensive catylyst for his team this year, chiming in with 13 goals.

Record: 20-13-1-2 (Second Place in the Bauer Conference)

Who's Hot Up Front:

Dane Muench has scored in two straight games, and seems to be playing with much more of an edge than he was say maybe two weeks ago. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Dane's play as of late is the fact that he's doing so well away from the puck. A big night from Muench, and the Stars will be in good shape.

Who's Hot on D:

Woody Klassen is having a breakout season in the SJHL. The 18-year-old tied the game Sunday against Nipawin and set up the game winner. Currently he's second on the team (behind Lebreton) for defensive scoring. Had it not been for Pat Sitko, I think Woody is your SJHL Defenceman of the Week.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand is coming off a fantastic week and was recently announced as the SJHL Goaltender of the Week. For that, he deserves the start against Flin Flon tonight. Will he get it? That's not for me to say.


Blake Peake will be looked upon tonight to raise his game a little bit. Peake has gone four games without a goal, and if his team wants to find success tonight, he'll more than likely be right in the thick of it all.

It's 2:15 and I'm already jittery for tonight's game. It's good though. I like it that way.

You coming to the game tonight? If so, make sure you say hi!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stars Clip the Hawks in OT.

Sunday night at the North Battleford Civic Center, the Battlefords North Stars needed overtime to defeat the Nipawin Hawks 3-2, and in the process grabbed their 20th win of the season.

Josh Daley (16) opened the scoring for the Stars 1:15 into the game. After a great stop from Kyle Birch at one end, Blake Peake cleared the puck to center and Josh Daley did the rest. He lifted the stick of defenceman Scott Brkich and raced in alone on Brody Hoffman and roofed a backhand to make it 1-0.

Nipawin tied it late in the first with a nice two-on-one finish from former North Star Alex Leclerc.

Leclerc wasn't done. He scored again late in the second period to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Heading into the third period, it looked like familiar territory for the Stars - Not enough offence. It was evident that the Stars needed somebody to step up and make a play. Cue defenceman Woody Klassen.

Late in the third period, Klassen grabbed the puck at his own blue line, skated all the way into Nipawin territory, and roofed one over the left shoulder of Brody Hoffman to tie the game at two.

For a fourth straight game the Stars required overtime, and for the second straight game Dane Muench came up big. Muench pounced on a Woody Klassen rebound and roofed a back-hander over Brody Hoffman at 1:59 of overtime.

With the win, the Stars improve to 20-13-1-2 and are back within six points of the Flin Flon Bombers in the Bauer Conference standings.

The Stars and Bombers will meet Wednesday at the Civic Center at 7:30. That game will be the final game of 2009 for the North Stars.


Daley Opens the Scoring.

Big Stop for Birch!

Muench Battling for Position.

Ugly, but they'll Take It.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 11 Photos.

***All Photos Taken By Julie Larson***

Fiona Smith-Bell dropping the Puck before the Game.

Hildebrand Puts forth Another Great Performance.

Wakelin Gets His Team Going.

Muench Scores in the Shootout.

Szucki Battling By the Boards.

Stars Grab One Point in 3-2 Shootout Loss.

Friday night at the North Battleford Civic Center, the fans were once again treated to a thriller. 65 minutes solved nothing, and the Battlefords North Stars and Weyburn Red Wings needed a shootout to settle the game.

Rhett Bly and Forrest Dell scored on their breakaway opportunities for Weyburn and Dane Muench was the only North Star able to beat Tanner Erickson at the other end.

The North Stars opened the scoring 6:01 into the game. Dane Muench (4) received a pass from David Lawrence, made one move by a defenceman, and roofed one on Tanner Erickson to make it 1-0 Stars.

Weyburn tied it 14:34 when Forest Dell scored on a breakaway. Then Tyler Penny gave the Wings a 2-1 lead on a wrist-shot through a screen late in the first period.

Ryan Andersen tied the game early in the second period when he banged home a Blake Tatchell pass from beside the net.

The remainder of the game was very exciting. Graham Hildebrand and Tanner Erickson matched each other save for save. Erickson made two sensational stops off of Shay Neufeld.

The ref's let the teams play, and the fans were treated to a very exciting 65 minutes plus.

A tough loss for the Stars, given the fact that they've now gone 0-2 in their two recent shootouts and still aren't giving Hildebrand enough offence.

After the game, coach Ken Pearson (again) adressed the fact that the top forwards need to bare down and finish their chances. "If we weren't getting opportunities, I'd be more concerned. But the fact that we are getting lots of chances means, that we've just got to bare down and finish," said Pearson afterwards.

Up next for the Stars, a Sunday nighter at the Civic Center against the Nipawin Hawks. It's a 7:30 puck drop.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stars Kick Off a Three-Game Homestand Tomorrow Night.

There's no place like home for the Battlefords North Star's right now. After five games in six nights (five of which were on the road) I'm sure the team, coaches, trainers and broadcaster(s) are pleased to have some home-time.

Last night's game in Melfort was a difficult one in many respects. It's tough to get up for your fifth game in six nights, only to have it become one of those games that had little to no flow.

In this broadcaster's opinion, half of the penalties called last night were 'chinsy' at best, and at the same time there were many calls (on both sides) that were blatantly ignored. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Even though the Stars are coming home for their final three games before the break, none are going to be the least bit easy.

Weyburn, Nipawin, and Flin Flon. Yikes! I hope the North Stars have enough left in the tank for three hard-fought games, because something tells me that when all is said and done, we're going to have some exhausted North Star's on our hands.

Tomorrow night's matchup with Weyburn should be intriguing. The Red Wings have the best record in the SJHL, yet they're 0-1-0-1 against the North Stars this year. The last time these two teams played each other, the North Stars pervailed in a shootout on October 24th.

I'll provide a full-scale preview of the match-up tomorrow, and judging from the conversations I've had recently with fans, I'm anticipating a busy crowd on Friday night.

I look forward to joining Weyburn's Kevin Smith in the broadcast booth tomorrow night and providing some color for AM 1190. Kevin has always lended his services to me whenever I'm down South, and he and his pals always make sure I've got a place to hang out afterwards. He can anticipate the same thing tomorrow night.

See you at the Civic Center tomorrow night!

Stars Photos from Dec 8.

***All Photos Taken by Julie Larson.***

Blake Peake, Your Player of the Month for November.

Klassen With Some Nice Dangles.

Great Game from Graham Hildebrand.

Muench Finds Some Room.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bombers Prevail in a Shootout.

The Flin Flon Bombers and Battlefords North Stars battled each other very hard tonight. The Bombers won the game 1-0 in a shootout, with both Graham Hildebrand and Matt Weninger playing some great hockey in goal.

The offensive lows continue for the Stars when Hildy is in net. They've scored just two goals for him in his last three starts. All of which have been one-goal games.

Brody Haygarth had the lone goal in the shootout for Flin Flon who improve their record to 21-7-0-3, and up their lead to five points in the Bauer Conference.

After the game, Ken Pearson applauded his team's effort, and could find very little fault with his boys after the game. Blake Peake, and Dsvid Lawrence both hit goal posts, and both missed their opportunities in the shootout. Josh Daley was the third Star's shooter who failed to beat Weninger.

Up next for the Stars, a battle with the Melfort Mustangs. Catch the game on CJNB/CJNS! I always enjoy my trips to Melfort.

I promise that photos will be posted form this game soon. Cheers!

Bombers / Stars Preview

Record: 20-7-0-3 (43 points. First in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Hot Up Front:

Newcomer Brody Haygarth has three points in two games since joining the Flin Flon Bombers in a trade. Overall he's got 30 points in 31 games played. We'll likely see Haygarth skating with Mike Rey and Matt Lecours. Historically, Haygarth has always put up good numbers against the Stars too. He's definitely a player to watch.

Who's on D:

The Bombers have a great d-core. Maybe the best one-through-six combination in the entire SJHL. The acquisition of Taylor Thiessen though was probably the biggest trade of the season to date. Thiessen has 27 points in 30 games and will see a lot of power-play minutes tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Only the best goaltender statistically in the SJHL Matt Weninger. His record of 14-4-0-1 is fantastic, and his numbers are even better: A GAA of 2.26 and a save percentage of .928. We could be in for a very low-scoring game tonight.


Tonight's x-factor for the Bombers is forward David Dykstra. Here's a play who's tallied 28 points in 29 games, and has provided great offensive depth to the Bombers. Historically he's been pretty quiet against the Battlefords, but is always a fun player to watch.

Record: 19-12-1-0 (39 points. Second in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Hot Up Front:

No single player on the Battlefords North Stars is hotter than 20-year-old forward Blake Peake. Peake scored a short-handed goal in Humboldt Sunday, and added a goal in the shootout. Blake Peake and Josh Daley must have a good game tonight in order for the Stars to beat Flin Flon.

Who's on D:

Dominic Perrault and Coleman Brodbin (in my opinion) were two of the more impressive d-men in Sunday's win in Humboldt. Perrault scored a crucial goal on the power-play, and Brodbin was solid at both ends of the ice. If these two can be physical with some of Flin Flon's talented players, then the Bombers may think twice about heading to the front of the Star's net.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand gets the start tonight. He's beaten Flin Flon once already this season, and has been playing some of his best hockey as of late. Unfortunately for Hildy, the Stars never seem to provide him with any offence. If Hildebrand continues his strong play, and if the Stars can score more than twice tonight, they'll be in good shape.


David Lawrence will be playing his first game at home as a Battlefords North Star. So far through three games he's looked good, but has maybe been guilty of trying to do "too much" with the puck. If he simplifies, and sticks to his strengths, there is no doubt in my mind that the Civic Center crowd will love the way he plays the game. A strong outing from Lawrence and the Stars could be within two points of first when all is said and done tonight.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just Another Game? Yeah Right.

Good evening North Star Nation.

It was (mostly) a great weekend for the Battlefords North Stars. They went south and won two of three games, and were in a fine position to get six of six points, but the stingy Yorkton Terriers had other plans.

The highlight of the road-trip was the win last night in Humboldt. The Stars were fatigued, yet they figured out a way to beat the Humboldt Broncos 5-4. In three years of travelling and working with the Stars, they've only ever won twice at the Elgar Petersen Arena during the regular season.

From a broadcast perspective, a game like the one last night is always a highlight. In fact very few games this year by the North Stars have been what I would call a 'dud' and the players deserve all of the credit for that.


**Photo Taken from the Flin Flon Bomber website.**

Flin Flon Bomber's coach Mike Regan was a guest of mine on the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix tonight. I have a lot of respect for Regan. He's a good coach, with a lot of confidence, and he's always treated me with a great deal of respect.

Tonight we talked about his club, and some of the deals they've made as of late. The fact that Taylor Thiessen and Brody Haygarth (and others) are now wearing a Bomber uniform, does (on paper at least) make them the favourite in the Bauer Conference.

Thiessen provides a consistency factor that few other defenceman in the SJHL possess, and as long as he stays healthy he will be a tremendous addition to Flin Flon.

Haygarth has fit in seemlessly with Matt Lecours and Mike Rey and is on pace for a great second-half of the season now that he's with a contender.

What tickled me about our interview though tonight was one answer in particular he gave me.

I asked him, "Do the Flin Flon Bombers carry an extra chip on their shoulder heading into tomorrow night's game? Do they want to make a statement at the Civic Center, or is this simply just another game without any added emotion."

He replied that tomorrow was just another game.


Maybe I'm simply guilty of over-hyping something that may not deserve it. But how on earth can tomorrow night's game be 'just another game.'

Tomorrow's game is so much more than that, for many reasons which I've highlighted below.

For the North Stars:

- A win, and you're two points back of first, and you've put yourself in a position to challenge for that spot and grab it before the holiday break.

- A win, and you've sent a message to the Bombers that you are not going to be a push-over and you do truely deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as them when it comes to being a contender in this league.

- It gives the North Stars a fantastic opportunity to assess where they stand compared to the Bombers. Can the Stars score more than once on Matt Weninger? Can they penetrate a Flin Flon D-Core that may the best in the league on paper? Can the Stars buckle down defensively and keep Mike Rey, Matt Lecours, and Brody Haygarth off of the score-sheet?

- A loss, and you've got some soul searching to do. With six weeks remaining before January, 10 - You've got to figure out what it's going to take to get to Flin Flon's level. No disrespect towards La Ronge, Humboldt, Melfort or Nipawin, but as of right now, today, the two best teams in the Bauer Conference are Flin Flon and the Battlefords.

For the Bombers:

- A win, and you've sent a real message to the Stars, their coaching staff, and their fans that you are indeed the real deal, and that you are to be feared moving forward.

- A win, and you've given yourself a six-point seperation in the Bauer standings with games in hand on the Stars. That has to make you feel more confident moving forward.

- A win, and you've done something that only one other club has been able to do all season, and that is to win a game at the Civic Center.

- A win, and the pressure falls entirely onto the North Stars to come back and win on December 16.

Are you convinced yet?


These teams have met once this season, and the Stars won the game 2-1 in a shootout.

If the North Stars want to win this game tomorrow night, maybe (joking of course) they want to force a shootout! They're 4-0 this year.


Who do you start in goal tomorrow night?

Looking at the wins and losses, one might feel compelled to start Kyle Birch. Yet fans may not remember, but it was Graham Hildebrand who stole..errr... won the game for the North Stars against Flin Flon back in October.

Given how busy the schedule is going to be, and especially given the fact that the Stars are in Melfort tomorrow night, I have an inkling that 'Hildy' may get the start. Remember, this is only my intuition.


Did you know that when Kyle Birch is in goal, the Stars average 4.32 goals per game?

When Hildebrand plays, the Stars average a full goal less. The last two games that Graham has played in, the Stars have lost both games 2-1.

Give him more support fellas! Come on.


According to the SJHL website, Blake Peake leads the SJHL in shootout goals. However, the website doesn't appear to list his actual total.

In case you're wondering: Peake has scored four times on four attempts this year.


Please fill out the poll question. I'm really curious to know what type of demographics are reading my blog on a daily basis. In the New Year, I'd like to open this blog up for potential advertisers, and getting this demographic information will really help me.

Plus, polls are fun.


I want to thank some people for really 'stepping up' and helping me this weekend.

1) To North Star's equipment guru Dale Jackson for foregoing the bus on Friday, and riding shotgun with me en route to Yorkton. That 4.5 hour drive would have gone by a lot slower had it not been for your company.

2) To the manager at the Howard Johnson hotel in Yorkton for his kind gift. He gave me a portable alarm. I finally got the thing set-up today and it works like a charm.

3) To Matt Ryan who braved the elements with me and rode shotgun with me to Humboldt for yesterday's broadcast. Matt's come a long way, and in my opinion provides some excellent color commentary. I'm still waiting for his next 'invented word.'


In closing, I'd like to end by simply writing a public plea to Mother Nature.




I'd love to hear your comments and predictions for tomorrow night. In your opinion do the Stars deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the Bombers? Are you going to the game tomorrow night? North Star Nation I want to hear from you.

Goodnight, and stay warm.


Stars Pass Mid-Season Test With A Four-Point Weekend.

Heading into the weekend, the Battlefords North Stars were facing a big test. Win at least two games, and you proove that you belong in the top half of the your division. Some losses and all of a sudden you're back in the middle of the pack.
The North Stars did not dissapoint. This weekend they grabbed four of a possible six points, and did so without the services of their captain Mitch Wall.
Sunday night in Humboldt, the North Stars found a way. They trailed 4-3 late in the game, until Jesse Lebreton's point-shot somehow found the back of the net. 65 minutes solved nothing, and a shootout was needed. Blake Peake and Josh Daley scored consecutively for the Stars who defeated their rivals from Humboldt 5-4.
Blake Peake, Boyd Wakelin and Dominic Perrault scored the other goals for the North Stars in regulation.
Spencer Braaten scored twice for Humboldt, while Cam Gibson and Kenton Valliant also chimed in for Humboldt. Valliant's goal came early in the third period to make it 4-3 Humboldt, and it was one that Kyle Birch wanted back. Kyle made several big saves for the team down the stretch to keep it close, and made two nice stops in the shootout against Gibson and Justin Buzzeo.
Saturday night in Yorkton, the Stars got off to a slow start. They had to kill of three penalties in a row early, and were able to do so thanks to great goaltending from Graham Hilldebrand.
Momentum changed for good though when the North Stars had a goal dissallowed. Ryan Andersen knocked home a rebound, but a quick whistle from the official haulted any celebration, and Yorkton was able to hang on for the 2-1 win at home.
Ward Szucki scored the lone goal for the visitors.
Friday night in Melville, Josh Daley paced the Stars with five points. Daley's two goals and three assists were more than enough to guide the Stars to a 7-3 win over the Millionaires.
Blake Peake scored twice, and Shay Neufeld, Troy Watt and Cody Folstad contributed offensively for the Stars too.
Mid-way through the first period, Stars captain Mitch Wall had a spirited fight with Mil's defenceman Tyler Howe. The two combatants traded blows with Howe finally able to wrestle Wall to the ice. Wall didn't take another shift in the game, and was taken to a Melville hospital. Wall will be missing for the next four weeks (at least) with an injury to his jaw.
Overall the weekend has to be considered a success for the Stars who remain in second place in the Bauer Conference, and now get set for a tough week which includes a Tuesday home game against the Bauer division leaders from Flin Flon.
A win against the Bombers on Tuesday night, and the Stars are back within two points of the Bombers for first in the division. See you at the Civic Center at 7:30 on Tuesday because this will be a game that nobody will want to miss.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stars Solve Melville 7-3

Friday night in Melville the Battlefords North Stars defeated the Millionaires 7-3 on the strength of a five-point night from Josh Daley.

The Stars opened the scoring mid-way through the first period when Troy Watt skated in on a two-on-one and made no mistake. 1:58 later, Cody Folstad wristed one from the right point that got through goalie Zack Rakochy.

Rakochy's night was done after that and newcomer Chris Jackson took over from there.

Seconds later, Mitch Wall dropped the gloves with Melville's Tyler Howe. It was a spirited tilt and both combatants landed their share.

Unfortunately for the Stars, Wall's night was done after that fight. More on that later.

Josh Daley and Shay Neufeld both scored before the first period expired.

Josh Daley notched his second of the game early in the second, and was on his way to his five-point night. Melville got on the board midway though the second frame when captain Michael Jordan scored on a rebound from Sean Gallagher.

Blake Peake scored his first of the game late in the second. It was 6-1 after two.

Dane Bonish scored twice in the third for Melville and Peake chimed in once more for the Stars.

The North Stars and Mil's both finished 0-2 on the PP. Melville outshot the Stars 41-33.

After the game, Mitch Wall was taken to the hospital. All I can tell you for certain is that Wall seemed to have suffered a facial injury during his fight. More details will be revealed as the week progresses.

Tonight, the Stars are in Yorkton and are looking for their third win in a row overall.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea? Trade Reaction.

Anybody out there looking to give a unique gift this season should consider an individual photo of your favourite Battlefords North Star.

I've gotten several e-mails over the past few days from North Star fans/parents wondering how they can get their own printed photos of the North Star's photos taken so far this season.

If you're looking to get your own individual print(s) of your favourite North Star's player or photo this year, you can e-mail Julie at

You can negotiate size, price, and amount from there.


Some interesting trades in the SJHL World, but none bigger in my opinion than the trade of defenceman Taylor Thiessen to Flin Flon.

With Thiessen in the fold, and the addition of Brody Haygarth to boot, the Flin Flon Bombers are making a real big statement before the holiday break. They are for real, and they are not looking to take any steps backwards.

Flin Flon already has the lowest goals against average, and the one of the best defensive cores in the league, and the addition of Thiessen now puts them over the top.

Don't get me wrong, I love the makeup of the North Stars, but the battle for first place in the SJHL's Bauer Conference just got a whole lot tougher.

The Flin Flon Bombers are in the Battlefords on Tuesday, and that (by default) may become the most important game of the North Star's season to date. How will they matchup now with the division leaders?

The plot has officially thickened.

Full List of SJHL Trades over the past 48 Hours.

Estevan Bruins acquire 1991 D Brett Rock (Redwater AB) and future considerations from the Melfort Mustangs for 1989 F Brant Harris (Estevan SK).

Estevan Bruins trade 1989 F Anthony Collins (Surrey BC) to the Winkler Flyers of the MJHL for 1990 F Joe Becker (Moorhead MN) and future considerations.

Yorkton Terriers trade 1990 G Joel Danyluk (Yorkton SK) to the La Ronge Ice Wolves for 1989 F Adam Moar (Canwood SK).

Flin Flon Bombers acquire 1989 D Taylor Thiessen (Prince Albert SK) from the Nipawin Hawks for 1991 F Jeff Lorenz (Lloydminster AB) and 1991 D Patrick Howey (Calgary AB) as well as futures.

Kindersley Klippers trade 1989 G Joshua Baker to the
Dryden Ice Dogs of the SIJHL for future considerations.

Melville Millionaires trade the CJHL rights to 1989 G Justin Leclerc (Saskatoon SK) to the La Ronge Ice Wolves for the SJHL list rights to 1992 F Taylor Fauchaux (Prince Albert SK).

Melfort Mustangs acquire 1990 F Joe Blake (Firth ID) from the St. Albert Steel of the AJHL for future considerations.

Battlefords North Stars acquire 1989 F David Lawrence (Calgary AB) from the Dauphin Kings for future considerations.

Weyburn Red Wings acquire 1989 D Davis Brown (Regina SK) from the Estevan Bruins for 1990 F Kyle Johnson (Buena Vista SK).

Flin Flon Bombers trade 1990 F Devin Mitzner (Strathmore AB) to the Estevan Bruins for 1990 F Brody Haygarth (Estevan SK).

Melfort Mustangs trade 1990 G Jordan Washburn and future considerations to the MJHL's Portage Terriers for 1990 G Alex Christiansen (East Grand Forks MN).

Flin Flon Bombers acquire 1991 F Derek Ginnell (Brandon MB) from the Ste. Agathe Montagnards (LHAAAQ) for future considerations.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Miller to Chilliwack, Lawrence to the Battlefords.

The Battlefords North Stars will have a different look to them when they take to the road this weekend.

Star's leading scorer Brett Miller is getting another crack at the WHL. Ken Pearson announced today that Brett Miller has signed on with the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL and will join them immediately.

Miller led the team in scoring up to this point with 31 points in 26 games. Here's hoping Chilliwack makes good use of his skills. Miller's presence in the Battlefords will definitely be missed.

The Stars have also acquired 20+year-old forward David Lawrence from the Dauphin Kings in exchange for future considerations. Lawrence is a skilled forward who played in La Ronge two years ago.

Some other big deals made by SJHL clubs today. More on that latert. Right now, back to the Football Banquet.

Battlefords North Stars Halfway Report Card.

The halfway point in the SJHL season is here, and the Battlefords North Stars are 17-11-1-0 and are in sole possession of second place in the SJHL's Bauer Conference. After a 15 win season last year, the Battlefords North Stars will almost certainly be the "Most Improved" team in the SJHL.

Lets go a little deeper shall we?

**Keep in mind that these are my opinions. These choices were not made by coaches, and truthfully have no real merit aside from my own opinions. Feel free to share your own in the comments section of the blog.**

Overall Synopsis:

The Battlefords North Stars may have the best offensive depth in the SJHL. They have six players currently with more than 20 points on the year, and that number will only increase further as the season progresses. The Stars have a near-perfect mix of veteran leadership and impressionable youth. Rookie's Blake Tatchell, Boyd Wakelin, Ward Szucki and Justin Waskewitch have all contributed in big ways to the team, and the Stars appear to be set up nicely for the upcoming years. They're biggest struggle has been maintaining consistency in the defensive end. If the Stars can buckle down defensively, and awaken their power-play, they are at least a second place team in the Bauer Conference.

First-Half MVP: Blake Peake (12 G, 18 A, 30 P, 29 GP)

Blake has been the most consistent North Star to this point in the season. He's also been the most durable. Only Blake Peake, Jesse Lebreton and Cody Folstad have dressed for the Stars in all 29 games so far this year. Peake has used his speed, smarts and natural hockey ability to become a real force in the SJHL this season. Not bad for a player that was essentially given to the Stars by the Notre Dame Hounds.

Runner(s) Up: Brett Miller, Josh Daley, Kyle Birch.

Top Defenceman: Jesse Lebreton (7 G. 11 A. 18 P, 29 GP)

When Jesse Lebreton puts it all together, there are very few defenceman in the SJHL that can be as effective in the offensive end. Defensively his game has improved, although he still is prone to getting beat in one-on-one situations. His leadership and durability are two major factors which have allowed Jesse to stick with the Battlefords for his third full season.

Runner(s) Up: Woody Klassen, Cody Folstad.

Top Rookie: Ward Szucki (8 G, 4 A, 12 P, 23 G)

Due to the fact that Josh Daley is not considered an actual rookie in the SJHL, then Ward Szucki (barely) becomes the next choice. Szucki has shown from day one that he can score goals and hold his own defensively. The 18-year-old is the co-leader in rookie scoring with 12 points and those numbers should only improve in the upcoming years. Two things that Ward can improve on: His puck handling, and his physicality. There are games when Szucki is great with the puck, and games where he's not. Also, for a player who's 6 ft 3, it would be nice to see him play with a bit more of a physical edge.

Runner(s) Up: Blake Tatchell.

Best Surprise: Brett Miller (15 G, 16 A, 31 P, 26 G)

Blake Peake's recent surge is the only reason why Miller is not listed in the MVP Category up top. Miller is one of many 'feel-good' stories for this year's Battlefords North Stars team. After starting the season in Red Deer and then a brief stint in Everett, Miller arrived back home and immediately went to work on proving his critics wrong. The WHL told Miller he couldn't be a scorer in that league, so what does he do? Well 31 points in 26 games is an impressive statistic. Miller has used his size, speed and offensive ability to his full advantage, and few other things so far this season have impressed me as much as Brett Miller's "arrival" in the SJHL.

Runner(s) Up: Ryan Andersen, Cody Folstad

Unsung Hero: Nathan Tomac (1G, 6 A, 7 P, 23 GP)

The 18-year-old product of Moose Jaw has been one of the most versitile, reliable players for the Stars this season. His offensive numbers won't blow you away, but his ability to win faceoffs, and provide a secondary source of energy and offense should not be overlooked. He'll never be a 20-goal-scorer, but he does all of the little things right.

Runner(s) Up: Woody Klassen, Boyd Wakelin, Troy Watt

Biggest Goal: Tony Oak's winner on Friday, November 13 against La Ronge.

Runner(s) Up: Ryan Andersen's OT winner on November 28 against Kindersley.

Prettiest Goal: Peake and Miller's Give and Go at the Showcase against Kindersley.

Runner(s) Up: Josh Daley's breakaway goal at the Showcase against Kindersley.

Best Save: TIE! Graham Hildebrand (Nov. 14) off of Brant Henry-Norton of Melfort and Kyle Birch (Nov. 28) off of Braedon Adamyk.

Second-Half X-Factor: Mitch Wall

The Battlefords North Star's captain is playing very well, and as is nearly on a goal-a-game pace. If he can elevate his game even further and maintain his mean streak while contributing offensively, that might just be the key for the Stars to make a real run at first place in the SJHL's Bauer Conference.

Team's Overall Grade: B

Stars and Sharks Team Up for Charity.

For the fourth straight year, the Battlefords North Stars and Battlefords Midget AAA Sharks will be teaming up tonight for a mixed charity hockey game at the Battleford Arena.

The purpose of this game (as always) is to raise awareness of hunger in our area. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perrishable canned food items to the game, and as long as they do so, they'll be able to watch for free.

Even if you can't make it for the whole game, your food donations are certainly welcome.

The puck will drop tonight at around 6:00 p.m. at the Battleford Arena.


Check the blog later this afternoon for the North Star's 'Report Card' for the halfway point of the season. It will most likely be one of the most in depth piece I've written about the team this season so far.

Tonight I'm going to do my best to be at two places at once. I will be at the Charity Game but will not be playing this evening because I also committed to attend the N.B. Comp Viking's Football Awards Banquet.

Selfishly I'd love to play in the game, but I can't back out of a commitment, particularly if it pertains to my job as Sports Director at the radio stations. That and my gear is in serious need of an upgrade.

More later. Please enjoy your Tuesday!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Showcase Pictures - Nov 27, Nov 28

*** All Photos Taken by Julie Larson. ***

NOVEMBER 28 - Kindersley and the Battlefords.

Andy's OT Winner.

Birch With an Uncomfortable Looking Save.

Klassen Buries the Third Goal of the Game.

The OT Hero.

NOVEMBER 27 - Humboldt and the Battlefords.

Graham Hildebrand.

Coleman Brodbin Battles with Gibson.

Stars Grab Two of Four Points at the SJHL Showcase.

Another chapter of the Battlefords North Stars - Kindersley Klippers rivalry was written last night at the Civic Center, and for North Star's forward Ryan Andersen, this may have been the most meaningful game of his tenure with the North Stars.

It appeared as though Ryan Andersen was benched early in the third. He did not get a shift in the third period until the half-way point. The coach's message clearly got through. Andersen scored the overtime winner, and gave his team two points instead of just one. The Stars prevailed 7-6 over the Kindersley Klippers.

The Stars quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead in large thanks to Josh Daley. Daley opened the scoring 51 seconds in, and then added his second of the game at 4:40 of the opening frame. Daley then used his craftiness to set up Woody Klassen for the third North Star's goal of the game.

The Stars had a 3-0 lead after one period, but given Kindersley's knack for offence, everybody seemed to understand that this game was far from over.

Mid-way through the second period the Klippers found the score sheet on a powerplay. Taylor Duzan tipped home a Justin Perraulx point-shot. 66 seconds later, Andrew Dommett scored his first of four goals for the Klippers. Dommett would add another goal 31 seconds later, and all of a sudden it was 3-3.

Blake Peake took matters into his own hands off of the next face off. He got the puck off the draw, skated wide, and threw a shot towards the goal. Josh Baker made the initial save, but Shay Neufeld was 'johnny on the spot' to tap home his first of the night. Stars led 4-3.

Andrew Dommett struck again for Kindersley late in the second period. His hat-trick goal was greeted by a chorus of cheers from the many Kindersley fans in attendance.

Through 40 minutes the score was 4-4, and everybody inside the N.B. Civic Center was feeling the nerves.

Shay Neufeld got the Stars back on top at 2:19 of the third period thanks to some alert play by Woody Klassen.

The Stars were then given a power-play, and an opportunity presented itself for the Stars to (possibly) put the Klippers away. But for the second straight game, the Star's powerplay unit surrendered a short-handed goal. Kevin Clark tied the game at five with a fantastic individual effort.

Less then a minute later, it was Blake Peake who took the North Stars on his back. He brought the puck across center, fed Brett Miller with a quick pass, and then rifled home the 'give and go' pass to give the Stars a 6-5 lead. At this point, the Civic Center is going absolutely berzerk, and the fans started to realize that they were watching a classic.

It was only fitting that Andrew Dommett would score again late to tie things up at six. Overall, Dommett scored six goals in two games at the Strike Energy Showcase.

Lost in all of the offence, was the fact that goaltenders Josh Baker and Kyle Birch were both making ludacris saves. I lost count of how many breakways Baker stopped, and Kyle Birch made some saves late in the third period that kept his team in the game.

Both teams had a number of chances to put the game away in overtime, and North Star's captain Mitch Wall missed on his first breakaway opportunity against Josh Baker.

With 35 seconds left, Jesse Lebreton grabbed the puck in his own zone and ripped one high off the boards right to the stick of Mitch Wall. It was his second breakway of the shift! He raced in on Baker, deked and was robbed! The rebound came loose in front, and there was Ryan Andersen to knock home the most important goal of his SJHL career.

The Stars finish the weekend with one win and one loss, and will now take to the road for three straight games. They'll take on Melville, Yorkton and Humboldt in succession coming up next weekend.

Overall, the SJHL STRIKE ENERGY Showcase was a raging success, and a big 'thank-you' is in order for the many board members, sponsors, and volunteers that all got on board to help bring back this event.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stars Win It in OT.

Ryan Andersen bangs home a Mitch Wall rebound with 31 seconds remaining in OT.

Best game I've seen since the playoffs.

Will provide a detailed recap tomorrow, but for now I'm off to celebrate.

What a night at the Civic Center.

Stars - Klippers Preview

It's 4:35 as I start typing this, and I am thinking about NOTHING ELSE other than tonight's SJHL STRIKE ENERGY Showcase Finale. The Battlefords North Stars are obviously looking for some redemption after a tough loss last night, and if they can't 'get up' for a game against their rivals from Kindersley, than why bother even showing up.

The Kindersley Klippers are arguably the hottest team in the SJHL's Sherwood Conference right now, and certainly looked good Thursday night when they defeated Melville 5-3.

A part of me is nervous for tonight's matchup, yet a majority of me is fired up. Although these teams aren't in the same conference, I'm expecting a real 'playoff feel' to the Civic Center tonight. I hope the fans really bring it tonight.

Record: 16-10-0-2 (34 points. Second Place in the Sherwood Conference.)

Who's Hot Up Front:

Up to this point, Kindersley forward Andrew Dommett has been one of the best kept secrets in the SJHL. But after a two-goal performance on Thursday night against Melville, I'm certain that Andrew Dommett is now on the radar of many important scouts. He's an entirely different player from last season, and is leading the way with 22 goals for the Klippers.

Who's on D:

Steven Turner and Kurt Leedahl are two of the more underrated and under-mentioned defenceman in the SJHL yet they've both had great seasons to this point. Turner in particular has been impressive as he's got seven goals and 13 assists so far this year.

Who's in Goal:

We saw Josh Thorimbert play in goal for the Klips on Thursday, which might propel coach Larry Wintoneak to give Josh Baker the start. But given the importance of tonight's matchup and Thorimbert's success as of late, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Wintoneak give Josh another go.


The entire second line of Johnny Calkins, Braedon Adamyk and Andrew Dommett (see above) will be under the microscope here tonight. You know that Jordan Braid and Taylor Duzan are going to be tough to deal with, but if Dommett, Adamyk and Calkins can continue to provide the Klippers with this type of secondary scoring, than the Stars could be in real trouble tonight.


Who's Hot Up Front:

Nobody, and that's the problem. Last night on the broadcast, I called out the line of Brett Miller, Ryan Andersen, and Mitch Wall and stated numerous times that they needed to be better. I'm willing to bet my left arm that these three play better tonight.

Who's on D:

Brody Malek has quietly been playing his best hockey of the season as of late. He scored the lone goal in last night's loss to Humboldt, and seems to have regained that jump in his step that was maybe lacking earlier in the season. If Malek continues to play the way he is, I'm certain that he will also be garnering a lot of interest from scouts in the stands.

Who's in Goal:

Tonight it will be Kyle Birch getting the call for the Stars. He loves playing Kindersley, and he even told me last night that it's going to be a real battle. Kyle is a confident guy, and I think he relishes the challenge of shutting down a high-powered offensive team like the Klippers.


Wall, Andersen, Miller, Muench. If all four of those players come out tonight and play the way that they are capable of, than it could be a long night for the Kindersley Klippers.

The time is now 4:57 and I am even MORE fired up than I was half an hour ago. Can this game get started already please!?!?

Hope to see you at the Civic Center tonight. Last night we had 1047 fans. I think we can beat that tonight.

Day Two Showcase Recap (From the SJHL Website)

From the SJHL Website:

Four of the five games played at the Strike Energy Showcase on Friday were one-goal affairs as the competition was fierce in front of numerous college and professional scouts.

On Friday morning, Russell Abbott was the story as he made 39-saves in a 2-1 shootout decision for Notre Dame over La Ronge. Defenseman Blayne Stevenson had the only goal of the shootout. Travis Eggum, just acquired from Kindersley, tipped in a Dustin Stevenson shot in the first period for the Ice Wolves. Trevor Cameron converted a goal mouth pass on a powerplay in the second for the Hounds.

The Flin Flon Bombers whipped the Nipawin Hawks 7-2 and they also raced out to a 3-0 first period lead after outshooting the Hawks 19-0 in the opening twenty minutes. It appeared as though Nipawin as going to sneak back in as they cut the lead to 4-2 before Mathieu Lecours scored late in the second by beating Ryan Kerpan up high and that, essentially, put the game out of reach. Lecours finished with three points.

Yorkton survived a third period scare and defeated the Melville Millionaires 4-3 in a game that saw defenseman Drew McDermott make his SJHL debut after being reassigned by the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. Torey Stott scored two including a nice second period tally as he jumped out of the penalty box and went in on a breakaway. Luke Boechler stopped 38-shots for the win. The Mils scored two in the final six minutes to make it close after falling behind 4-1.

AJ Whiffen made several spectacular saves over the final forty minutes to preserve Weyburn’s 4-3 win over the Estevan Bruins. Whiffen stopped 32-of-33 in the second and third periods and the Wings capitalized early with two powerplay goals in the first five and a half minutes of the game as they snapped a four game skid.

The host Battlefords North Stars fell 2-1 to the Humboldt Broncos as the Broncos got shorthanded goals from Nick Keller and Cameron Gibson. Keller scored on a left wing rush when he threw the puck at the net. Gibson scored when he took a centring pass out of the corner from Spencer Braaten. Andrew Bodnarchuk was the difference with a 33-save effort.

On Saturday, three more games will take place before the event wraps up.

At 2pm, the Bruins will play the Yorkton Terriers and the Bruins will be looking to get to within two points of fifth place Melville in the Sherwood Conference. Yorkton is tied with Notre Dame for third, three points back of second place Kindersley.

Stars PP Haunts Them, Broncos Win 2-1.

Last night at the Civic Center the Battlefords North Stars dropped a 2-1 decision to the Humboldt Broncos. Andrew Bodnarchuk made 33 saves, and the Broncos scored both of their goals short-handed.

The game was scoreless after 20 minutes but the Battlefords outshot Humboldt 11-5. Andrew Bodnarchuk and Graham Hildebrand both made some great stops.

Humboldt opened the scoring at 11:02 of the second period when Nick Keller dodged a check at the Stars blueline and then buried a short-handed goal low glove-side on Graham Hildebrand.

Three minutes and 37 seconds later, the Broncos did it again. This time it was Cameron Gibson who was all alone in front of the North Star's net, and made no mistake. Earlier on the play, Jesse Lebreton lost his stick, and Cody Folstad went into the corner to try and help him out. No forwards were able to race back in time to cover Gibson.

Brody Malek scored for the Stars at 8:27 of the third to make things interesting, but goal-posts, missed nets, and great stops from Andrew Bodnarchuk haunted the North Stars all game.

Up next for the Stars: Another battle with the Kindersley Klippers. The Stars are 2-1 against Kindersley this season. Tonight's game will be the finale of the STRIKE ENERGY SJHL Showcase. The puck drops at 7:30 pm. You can catch the broadcast tonight on CJNB/CJNS.


Last night's game was a tough one from a broadcast stand-point. I admit that I was probably 'too tough' on the North Stars during the game. But having seen what this team is capable of, and then watching last night's game, I think some of my frustration was justified.

There is simply too much talent, too much heart, and too much pride with this group to let something like that happen twice in a row.

I'm expecting an enormous turn-around from last night to tonight. The Stars - Klippers rivalry is one of the best out there, and I'm really excited to see the Stars bounce back after last night.

Kindersley will be no slouch. Right now they are playing their best hockey, and it would come as no suprise to me if they make a real run at first place in the Sherwood Conference.

I'll be back on the blog later to preview the game. Right now I'm off to do color for the Estevan Bruins broadcast against Yorkton.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Blogging the Showcase - Day 2 (Broncos - Stars Preview)

Good evening.

Day two of the STRIKE ENERGY SJHL Showcase has gone smoothly. Notre Dame won their second game of the Showcase earlier this morning with a 2-1 shootout victory over the La Ronge Ice Wolves.

Flin Flon downed Nipawin 7-2 in the second game of the day.

Yorkton held off Melville 4-3 in the third one, and now Estevan and Weyburn are going at it.

The Friday night finale starts at 8:00 tonight. The Battlefords North Stars host the Humboldt Broncos in their fifth meeting of the season against one another. These teams last met six days ago in Humboldt with the Broncos coming out on top. Overall the Stars are 3-1 against Humboldt this season.

Lets preview the game:

Record: 14-13-1-2 (Third in the Bauer Conference with 31 points)

Who's Hot Up Front:

Spencer Braaten, Cameron Gibson and Justin Buzzeo are the three 'go to' guys on Dean Brockman's roster offensively. Humboldt defeated Flin Flon 2-0 last night, and Braaten had both Humboldt goals, and Buzzeo assisted on both. Braaten always seems to bring his A game when the North Stars are involved, and given the presence of all of these scouts, I'd anticipate another great performance from him tonight.

Who's on D:

The Broncos don't have a big-game defensive threat, but one player who I've been very impressed with over the past few months is Josh Roach. The 17-year-old hasn't scored yet in the SJHL, but he lots a lot of minutes and seems to be a player that Dean Brockman can trust at both ends of the ice.

Who's in Goal:

Andrew Bodnarchuk played last night, so that likely means that we'll see Kirk Crosswell in net for Humboldt tonight. Crosswell came over from the BCHL and so far has performed well, getting two victories and his goals against average and save percentage are good (2.40 and ,932).


Bryce Walker is one of my favourite players in the SJHL. He won't wow you with talent, and his not always the most noticable player on the ice. But he blocks shots, and does all of the little things neccessary to help his team win hockey games. Walker is most noticable when his team is killing penalties. The Stars were not very good on their power-play last Saturday in Humboldt going only 1-6, and Bryce Walker had a lot to do with that statistic.

Record: 16-10-1-0 (Second place in the Bauer Conference with 33 points.)

Who's Hot Up Front:

Shay Neufeld was the best offensive player for the North Stars on Tuesday during their 5-0 win over Yorkton. He scored once and assisted on two goals. It was a nice 'bounce-back' game from Neuf, who was a scratch last Saturday when the Stars were in Humboldt.

Who's on D:

Woody Klassen had a great 'bounce back' game as well on Tuesday. He assisted on two goals, and played one of his better defensive games of the year. He had a tough time Saturday in Humboldt, so you can bet that Woody Klassen will be looking for some form of redemption tonight, and look for that redemption to come in the way of physicality. Klassen is at his best when he's delivering big body-checks.

Who's in Goal:

All I can tell you for sure is that both Hildy and Birch will be playing this weekend.


The POWERPLAY! Humboldt's PK owned the North Stars on Saturday night, and if the Battlefords North Stars want to find the win column tonight, their power-play will have to be a factor.


All elementary school aged children get into the game for free tonight. So if you want to bring the family and enjoy an affordable night out on the town, swing by the Civic Center tonight and watch a four-pointer between these great rivals.

Blogging the Showcase - Games 3 and 4

Game three of the SJHL Showcase definitely had a "playoff feel" to it. The Humboldt Broncos and Flin Flon Bombers went hard after one another, and it ultimately came down to goaltending.
Andrew  Bodnarchuck continues to leave a lasting impression on many folks in the SJHL with his consistency and his ability to make big saves. Just ask David Dykstra about Andrew Bodnarchuck's goaltending.
**Side note. Nothing's funnier than watching a player celebrating after he thinks he's scored. Makes for an embarrassing moment.**
I did color for Darryl Skender's broadcasting on CK750 for this game, and I was emphatic about the fact that Humboldt's top players were better than Flin Flon's. I saw more from Justin Buzzeo and Spencer Braaten than I did from Matt Lecours and Devon Mitzner.
Braaten scored both Humboldt goals en route to a 2-1 victory.
The final game of the evening was by far the best (in my opinion).
The Kindersley Klippers and Melville Millionaires were physical from the get-go and overall this game seemed to have more flow than any of the others.Does the fact that it was a typical 7:30 start have anything to do with it?
I did color with Craig Stein on GX 94 last night, and I thought he and I had a great call together. Tough given the fact that Melville lost the game 5-3, but I don't think it was Melville playing bad, as it was Kindersley playing well.
I've seen a lot of Kindersley teams over the years, and I've got to be honest: This Kindersley team looks good. Really good. Sanfred King seems to making a real impact on a line with Jordan Braid and Taylor Duzan, and Andrew Dommett (19 years old) has totally transformed his game from last season.
If my memory serves correctly, it took Andrew Dommett until the 4th of January last year to even score a goal in the SJHL, and now he's got 22 of them!
Watch out Weyburn, I'm calling right now - Kindersley will make a real run at the Sherwood Conference Title. Having seen Weyburn, Melville, Notre Dame and Kindersley all play yesterday, the Klippers in my opinion have the best team in that conference.
Agree or disagree?
Tonight the Battlefords North Stars take the ice for their first game of the Showcase. They'll take on the Humboldt Broncos in an 8:00 start, and I for one am thrilled that the Stars have this type of opportunity to strut their stuff.
It's a tough situation though for these players. Yes they're trying to showcase their abilities for scouts, but at the same time they can't sacrifice the team's success for their own personal gains (Or can they?).
It's an important game for the Stars as far as the standings are concerned because a win by Humboldt tonight, and we have a tie in the Bauer Conference Standings for second place. Granted the North Stars have three games in hand on Humboldt, but games in hand are trivial until they're actually played.
More blogging from the Civic Center today. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blogging the Showcase (Game Two - Melfort and Nipawin)

So far through two periods (to no surprise) Devon Stillar has been the best player on the ice.He's scored twice and assisted on Blake Hietela's Goal.

Nipawin has goals from Matt Guerts and Matt Spafford.

Its been a tough game for Hawks netminder (and former North Star) Ryan Kerpan. 11 saves on 15 shots against.)

For Melfort I've really liked what I've seen from Stillar (obviously), Chinova, Roschuck, Tribble and goaltender Chris Ward.

For Nipawin the usual suspects: Leclerc, Dusyk, Thiessen, Spafford and Brkich.

I've just volunteered my color-commentating services for the upcoming CK750 broadcast for the Humboldt - Flin Flon game.

Clearly I have some type of broadcasting addiction. I freaking love this Showcase.

Blogging the Showcase - Game 1 (Weyburn - Notre Dame)

Not a good start to the weekend for the Weyburn Red Wings.

The quiet atmosphere at the Civic Center allowed everybody in the building to hear Dwight McMillan's frustrations from the bench. Cowie, Bly, Penny were all non-factors and Notre Dame earned every inch of ice.

I admit that I got to the game late, and missed the first period. But overall the Notre Dame Hounds were largely the better team. The game had a sloppy feel to it for the most part, and big highlight occured mid-way through the second period when Weyburn's Hilton CRUSHED Notre Dame forward Travis Janke at center-ice.

A 4-2 win for the Notre Dame Hounds.

The best players for Notre Dame: Milner, Cameron, Janke, and Smidt.

The best players for Weyburn: Perrault, Daniels.

The crowd was understandedly quiet, but for an 11 am game, still satisfying. I'm excited to see the crowd for tonight's Flin Flon - Humboldt game.

Up next is Melfort and Nipawin. I promise a more insightful entry. Hope you're able to make it to the Civic Center for some of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The SJHL Showcase Is (Almost) Here!

Here is a complete schedule for the SJHL Showcase which kicks off tomorrow morning and runs all the way through Saturday. A 3-day pass for the Showcase will run you 30 bucks if you are not a season-ticket holder. Season ticket holders get all three days for just 25 dollars. 30 dollars divided by 12 games equals close to 2.50$ per game! You will not find another bargain like this out there.

Thursday, November 26th.

Nipawin vs. Melfort - 11 am
Weyburn vs. Notre Dame - 2 pm
Humboldt vs. Flin Flon - 5 pm
Melville vs. Kindersley - 7:30 pm.

Friday, November 27th.

Notre Dame vs. La Ronge - 9 am
Flin Flon vs. Nipawin - 11:30 am
Yorkton vs. Melville - 2:30 pm
Estevan vs. Weyburn - 5:30 pm
Humboldt vs. Battlefords - 8 pm

Saturday, November 28th.

Estevan vs. Yorkton - 2 pm
La Ronge vs. Melfort - 5 pm
Kindersley vs. Battlefords - 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stars - Terriers Photos

*** All Photos By Julie Larson.

Birch Makes a Key Save Early.

The Captain.

Tony Oak Puts the Game Out of Reach.

12-1 this year at the Civic Center.

Stars Blank Terriers 5-0.

Tuesday night at the North Battleford Civic Center, the Battlefords North Stars shutout the Yorkton Terriers 5-0. Kyle Birch made 33 saves, and Shay Neufeld led the way with three points en route to victory.

The Stars capitalized early on the game thanks to some early powerplays. Brett Miller deflected home a Dominic Perrault point shot to net his 15th goal of the season. 56 seconds later Dane Muench scored his third of the season and quickly the Stars were up 2-0.

Yorkton coach Ed Zawatsky wasted no time in sending a message to his team. He pulled goaltender Joel Danyluk after only four shots!

Yorkton outshot the North Stars in the first period by a total of 12-9, but were unable to get their power-play going.

The second period yielded no offence, but Yorkton definitely held the territorial edge in the frame. Matt Chomyc had several chances for Yorkton, but Kyle Birch again stood his ground.

Yorkton got an early power-play in the third period but were unable to generate much of anything offensively. The Stars and Terriers went back and forth with little result until Tony Oak took advantage of a broken play and buried his second of the year. Shay Neufeld then used his wheels to get behind the Yorkton D and sniped on a breakaway and Blake Peake capped off the night with his 11th of the year on a two-on-one finish.

Shay Neufeld, and Blake Peake were the only North Stars to have multi-point nights.

Afterwards Ken Pearson spoke fondly of his team's resolve.

"I liked our forward makeup tonight. I thought all four lines had opportunities to score some goals. I thought Muench, Szucki and Tatchell played really well," said Pearson afterwards.

As for goaltending, Pearson said that Kyle Birch deserved the shutout. "Good for Kyle. He deserved it tonight. He's come close a few times this year. It's nice to see him be squared to the puck and make some good covers. Nice to see him rewarded that way."

Now the Stars will focus their attention to the SJHL Showcase. The Civic Center is going to be packed, and emotions will no doubt be running high as these SJHLers gather to impress the scouts, all while trying to leap-frog other teams in the standings.

We'll have both games on the air this weekend, starting with the Humboldt Broncos game starting at 7:45 Friday night with the Sask-Tel Pregame Show.