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!