I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that if Dane were to return to the North Stars, they immediately become a championship contender. Heck, I think they're a championship contender right now, as it is.
The only thing I can tell you with 100 % certainty is that Ken Pearson and Dane Muench have spoken on the phone. What was said? I don't know. I don't know how long they spoke for, I don't know who called who. All I know is that a conversation took place earlier today.
That's it, that's all. I promise you I'll update you on the situation the second I find out more details.
I'm doing my best not to get my hopes up, and I guess time will tell.
Chew on that for a night why don't you!
As for the future of Kory Kimpinski and Kyle Hamm, again I'm sorry to say that there is nothing new to report. I can tell you for certain that there have been offers exchanged, and that Ken has been in discussion with a GM or two, but as for specifics, again he's been holding his cards very close to his chest.
Mike Rey's arrival in Flin Flon started with a victory tonight. The Bombers crushed the Notre Dame Hounds, yet Rey only managed one assist in his Bomber debut.
Ryan Kerpan played amazing for Nipawin in his debut, but couldn't get any offence. Nipawin lost 1-0 in OT to Weyburn, and Kerpan made 40 saves.
I can't wait for tomorrow night. The girlfriend and I are hosting a Halloween Party, and I'm especially excited for my costume. I may post a photo or two if all goes well!
I will hopefully have some new information regarding the Kimpinski/Hamm trade, and Dane Muench tomorrow in the afternoon.
Until then, stay classy North Star Nation. I can't wait to get back into the broadcast booth on November 2.
*** No pictures tonight unfortunately. Julie had to cover the Civic Election for the Town of Battleford.
The Battlefords North Stars improved their record to 11-5-1-0 with a 5-3 win Wednesday against the Humboldt Broncos. It was the third consecutive win for the Stars against Humboldt, and eighth straight win for the club on home-ice.
The Humboldt Broncos scored first at 2:29 of the first period. Shawn Hunter received a pass beside the net on the power-play, walked out in front, and caught Kyle Birch cheating too hard to one side, and roofed the puck over his left shoulder.
The Stars would bounce back at 8:51 thanks to Brett Miller. Miller tied the game on a back-hand in front of the net. Mitch Wall did a lot of the dirty work to create the chance in front.
After one period of play, the Stars were outshooting Humboldt 12-6.
The North Stars grabbed a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Shay Neufeld one-timed home a cross-crease pass from Mitch Wall on the power-play.
Less than three minutes later at 18:39, Humboldt tied it on two-on-one opportunity made good. Steven Taylor made a nifty pass through a defenceman, right to the stick of Calum McCloud who made no mistake.
The shots were 25-20 for the Stars after 40 minutes, and the wide consensus was that the Stars deserved better than a tie. Andrew Bodnarchuk was outstanding for Humboldt, especially in the final two periods.
Ward Szucki put the North Stars up 3-2 at 3:25 of the third period. Dominic Perrault made a fantastic pass, when it looked like he'd be shooting, and Szucki had the whole net to shoot at.
Coleman Brodbin made it 4-2 a minute and fifteen seconds later with a soft wrist-shot from the right point that snuck it's way through traffic to beat Bodnarchuk.
Spencer Baht would score mid-way through the third to give Humboldt a chance, but a last-minute empty-netter from Ryan Andersen sealed the deal for the North Stars.
The win moves the North Stars three points ahead of the Flin Flon Bombers for first place in the Bauer Conference. Humboldt stays tied with the La Ronge Ice Wolves for third in the division.
After the game, Ken Pearson commended his team for their hard-work in the third period.
"I thought we were really 'lax' for the first two periods, but I felt we really did a good job in the third at chipping pucks off the wall, and controlling the play down low," said Pearson afterwards.
Up next for the Stars?
A weekend off, before heading to La Ronge and Nipawin on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Both of those games will be broadcast live on CJNB/CJNS.
The Stars wrap up the month of October with an excellent record of 8-3-1-0. In that span they defeated Humboldt twice, Weyburn twice, Flin Flon once, Melville once, Nipawin once and Notre Dame once.
In total the Stars have won five games in a row, and are obviously feeling pretty confident about the way things are going.
It's great to walk into the dressing room after a game like tonight and see the guys high-fiving each other, blaring their music and embracing their success. This team continues to proove their doubters wrong, and the great part is: They haven't even truely hit their stride yet.
Anybody that has watched this team so far this season will likely agree that the Stars are still a long ways away from being a "Championship Calibre" team. They've certainly got some of the tools in place, but league championships aren't won in October. Here's hoping the Stars can carry this momentum forward into November.
The month of November is going to be a tough one:
They face La Ronge twice, Nipawin twice, Humboldt twice, Kindersley twice, Melfort twice, and Yorkton and Estevan once.
Against teams in the Bauer Conference, the Stars have a staggering record of 6-0-1-0 to start the season. The only loss came courtesy of the Melfort Mustangs in overtime.
What does this mean?
It means the team is winning the games that they NEED to win, and still maintaining a promising record against teams from the south. The only team in the Sherwood Conference that has yet to beat the Stars are the Weyburn Red Wings. And yet, the Stars are still the number two team in the SJHL Power Rankings.
Only 600 fans at the Civic Center tonight.
Was it because of the election?
Was it because of the World Series?
In all seriousness, I'm a little concerned. The Stars were averaging close to 850 fans a game for the first six, and the past two games have had much smaller crowds.
I hope this changes in a hurry, because fans are truely missing out on a entertaining, affordable product.
Come on Battlefords, your team is in first place!
Finally I'd just like to congratulate the new Mayor of North Battleford Ian Hamilton on his successful campaigning, and I would like to welcome him as our new Mayor. I'm glad to see the man I voted for won!
Better Late than never! It's been a busy one today at the Civic Center, but here is tonight's preview for the Battlefords North Stars (10-5-1-0) and the Humboldt Broncos (9-7-0-1).
Having just arrived to the rink, immediately I've noticed some strange things with Humboldt's lineup:
- No Braaten, Keller, Johnson, Kotyk, Allan.
Either they've run into a ton of injuries, or coach Dean Brockman is sending a pretty fierce message to his team after a 3-2 loss in Kindersley last night.
Who's Hot For Humboldt:
With no Braaten in the lineup, the honus will now be on the shoulders of Cameron Gibson and Justin Buzzeo to carry the Broncos offensively. Gibson has played particularly well against the Stars so far this season.
Who's on D:
Kyle Cowan remains one of the most consistent Humboldt d-men, and provides his team with some poise and confidence on the blue-line. Humboldt defence is a minor shade of it's former self so far this season, and if things are going to improve, they'll need bigger contributions from players like Calum McCloud, Josh Roach and Cade Kimery. Who' in Goal:
With Matt LaRochelle no longer in the fold, this is Andrew Bodnarchuk's team. Humboldt will go as far as he chooses to take them. Again, it's going to be a lot tougher with no Braaten, Johnson, Keller or Allan in the lineup tonight, but if anybody can silence the North Stars, it's probably Andrew Bodnarchuk.
Dane Lindskog remains one of my personal favourite players in the SJHL. He's fast, he's chippy, and he has a nose for the net. If he can chime in with a goal or two tonight, chances are Humboldt can find some success. He'll have to be a big contributor given absense of Braaten, Johnson, and Keller up front.
Who's Hot for the Stars:
Brett Miller or Blake Peake. Take your pick? To explain myself would be fruitless. Read the blog if you're wondering why. Haha.
Who's on D:
Woody Klassen is back in the lineup tonight, and look for him to make an impact!
Who's in Goal:
With the injury to Graham Hilldebrand, Kyle Birch is IT for the forseeable future. We'll probably see Coleman Young play one game next week, but it won't be tonight with the Humboldt Broncos in town.
Josh Daley is my x-factor for tonight. I choose Josh because he's played well as of late, but hasn't been neccessarily rewarded for his efforts. A big game from Josh, and we're looking great for tonight!
I'll be posting some insight on TWITTER tonight. Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/danoconnor19
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is pleased to announce the return of the annual Showcase for the 2009-10 season. This year, the event has been moved back two months from years previous and it has been moved to an SJHL centre as the Battlefords North Stars have assumed the role of host.
A hiatus of the Showcase in 2008-09 resulted in an overwhelming response from hockey scouts at the college, minor pro, and NHL level that caused the SJHL to reassess the great value of this unique weekend on all fronts, including economically and for player development; keeping in mind part of the charm of this event is the ease for scouts to see all the talent the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has to offer.
Plans were, subsequently, put in motion to revamp the Showcase for 2009-10 with the Battlefords North Stars stepping up to be the host during a period of the season that better reflects the make-up of each team as far as roster composition.
SJHL President Laury Ryan states, “The SJHL is pleased to be back with the Showcase. I thank the Battlefords North Stars Executive, host sponsor Strike Energy, and league partner National Hockey League, for stepping up and enabling the league to provide this opportunity for our players and the scouting community.” From Thursday morning at 11am and going until Saturday night’s final game at 7:30pm; there will be twelve SJHL games played at the Civic Centre.
SJHL SHOWCASE - NOVEMBER 26-28-2009 HOSTED BY THE BATTLEFORDS
So much for two new North Stars in the lineup tomorrow night.
Ken Pearson announced this afternoon that Kory Kimpinski and Kyle Hamm will not be reporting to the Battlefords, and instead will await a trade to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Both players are from Brandon, and apparently want to finish their hockey careers close to home.
This marks the second time this season that a player or players have refused to report to the Battlefords. This type of thing now seems to be happening too regularly (not just in the Battlefords) around the entire junior hockey world.
Ken was visibly frustrated with these developments. He was quick to admit that both would have helped this team immensely, but he's going to honor their wishes, and he has already started preliminary discussions with teams out East.
I'm curious North Star Nation, how do you feel about this?
We didn't give up any players for these kids, and the Stars are already a first place team. As far as I'm concerned, this could ultimately be a blessing in disguise. Ken holds their rights, and nothing says that he has to have these kids traded by the end of the day or anything. Ken can buy his time and wait for the perfect offer. He'll get a great return for Kimpinski and Hamm, and sooner or later the Stars will stand to benefit from having these two (albeit temporarily) on their roster.
I'm just having trouble sitting here, digesting the fact that two skilled hockey players (three including Koltyn Miller) would rather play elsewhere than here in North Battleford for a first-place team.
It also strikes me as odd that so many kids are rejecting trades, and letting their egos get in the way. This problem stems from the NHL and flows all the way down to us here in the SJHL.
I realize that there are lots of other factors out there, but whatever happened to the old motto of "Shut Up and Play."
My ultimate stance is this:
I don't want anybody coming to the Battlefords to give a half-assed effort. Ken has made it no secret from Day One that if players don't want to be here, then they're good as gone.
Kory Kimpinski and Kyle Hamm are excellent hockey players, and are probably nice kids who have good intentions. But that doesn't change the fact that they've turned their back on an excellent opportunity.
As for the 23 remaining North Stars?
They're still ranked number two in the SJHL Power Rankings, they haven't cracked the top 15 in the country yet even though they've beaten Weyburn twice (who are ranked number 8). I still get the feeling like the majority of SJHL fans out there are expecting this team to fall back into mediocrity.
Don't count on it.
You're talking about a team has lost once (and not even in regulation) to a divisional team this year. A team that has scored more goals than any other team in the SJHL, and has done so with tremendous balance and depth.
The Humboldt Broncos are in town tomorrow night, and if the first two matchups of the season are any indication, then a big-time battle will be taking place tomorrow night. The Stars are 2-0 against the Broncos this year, and will likely need to keep that trend going. Humboldt could be tied with the Stars when all is said and done tonight.
Another first-place showdown already?
Bring it on. Keep your head up North Star Nation. We've got 23 studs in that dressing room that WANT to be here, and that have played their tales off to start the year. Come out tomorrow night and give this team the support that they deserve.
Ken Pearson also announced today that 18-year-old Goaltender Coleman Young will be re-joining the North Stars for the forseeable future. Graham Hilldebrand will be sidelined for at least 2-4 weeks, and Coleman Young had a GREAT pre-season with the North Stars. In fact, he's probably a Star on opening night if not for the return of Kyle Birch.
I've always liked watching Coleman play, and there's no doubt that he'll be able to serve the North Stars well over the next little while. Welcome back Coleman, and lets hope at the same time that Graham Hilldebrand can have a speedy recovery.
Ken Pearson has told both Hamm and Kimpinski to sleep on it for a night. Through text message I asked Ken whether he was encouraged by his discussions and his response was a simple "yes."
Hey, it's better than the 'nothing' that we got from Koltyn Miller.
I've been pondering this trade all night, and the more I think about it, the more exciting this all becomes.
The Stars have a chance to add a top-line forward and a top four defenceman to a team that is already sitting in first place. The addition of Hamm and Kimpinski would give the Stars 25 players, and they wouldn't even have to dwindle their roster down.
If I'm Hamm and Kimpinski, this is a no-brainer for me. But as we've seen before, there are always uncertainties and complications that you or I know nothing about. Either way, Ken Pearson deserves mad cudos for attempting to pull this off.
Hopefully the Stars have two new players in their lineup on Wednesday night.
The news on Graham Hilldebrand isn't good.
Turns out he'll be sidelined between 2-4 weeks with an injury to his knee.
If he were a forward or a d-man, he could put a brace on and play. Being a goaltender though makes things a little tougher.
Ken's got a tough task ahead of him, knowing that any goaltender that he brings in will likely be a quick-fix and nothing more.
Imagine being a goaltender and getting a call that says, "Hey! We need you for a month, and if you play amazing, you might just stick."
Two names that come to my mind:
Spencer Laycock Coleman Young
Both are playing Junior B right now, and from what I understand, both are eligable to play in the SJ with the North Stars should they be interested.
Keep in mind, that all I'm doing here is spouting off ideas. I have no inside knowledge on who or what Ken is pursuing here.
The next 24 hours should be extremely interesting. Hang in there North Star Nation!
First I'd like to tell all of you what is coming up tonight on the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix.
I'll be speaking with the President of the World Junior Hockey Championship Organizing Committee Jack Brodsky. Brodsky was on the show last December teeing up the WJHC, and tonight we'll get an update on how things are coming a long. For those readers that are still on the fence about whether or not to attend the WJ's, let me tell you from personal experience that NOTHING beats watching your home country play for the Gold Medal live.
My second guest on the show tonight will be the Head Scout for Hockey Canada Al Murray. Murray was a long-time scout for the LA Kings, and has been with Hockey Canada since 2007. He's a great speaker, and should provide some excellent insight. If you are at all interested in hockey scouting, than I suggest you listen to tonight's interview.
My final guest will be the voice of the Dauphin Kings, Kevin Jeffery. The interview was supposed to run last week, but we had too much content for an hour, so Kevin's interview (which is great) got pushed to this week.
The show starts at 8:00, and you can here it on www.cjnb.com.
The Battlefords North Stars are tops in the Bauer Conference still, yet this past weekend still felt kind of weird. You ask anybody in the Battlefords, and I'm sure they'll tell you, "It's great that we're winning." But at the same time, it's HOW we are winning that gets a lot of people thinking negatively.
Does winning a hockey game in a shootout make the win a little less convincing?
I don't think so. They all count on the stat-sheet, and it's not like the Stars are playing poorly and winning games. But I'm really curious to know what you think.
I've been receiving text messages all afternoon from North Star's fans asking me about the trade that's been announced on the SJHL website.
If you haven't heard:
October 26/09 Nipawin Hawks trade 1989 F Kory Kimpinski (Brandon MB) and 1990 D Kyle Hamm (Brandon MB) to the Battlefords North Stars for future considerations.
I know. What a steal right?
Well all of this is contingent on Kimpinski and Hamm wanting to play here. We've already had one player say no this year (Koltyn Miller) and mark me down for one of those fans who is silently pleading that these two show up to play here.
Both were very impressive when I saw them play in Nipawin nine days ago. Kimpinski would be an excellent fit up front with his vision and skill, and Kyle Hamm adds more experience and depth to our back-end.
Ken Pearson has told me that he'll know by the end of the day whether they're coming to play here or not. When I know, you'll know.
But should this trade work out, then the North Stars have just grabbed two quality players for next to nothing.
I'm really intrigued by the results of the blog poll right now. It's not that I was expecting a certain player to win by a landslide, but it's great to see such a close battle.
You still have a few days to weigh in, and I'm looking forward to seeing who prevails. We'll see if the coach agrees!
The Battlefords North Stars player of the month for October is going to be announced on Wednesday night. The choice for September was extremely difficult, and the choice for October may be a little easier.
In my opinion Brett Miller has been a step above everybody else, and given the teams success in October, that's really saying something.
Other possible candidates for me would be: Kyle Birch, Blake Peake, Mitch Wall or Cody Folstad.
Did I miss anybody for the month of October that you feel deserves to be there?
That's all for now. I've got a dentist appointment. I'll more than likely be adding to the blog at some point this evening, hopefully with news about Kimpinski and Hamm.
Fingers crossed North Star Nation, this could be big!
Fans at the Civic Center have certainly been getting their moneys worth as of late.
Saturday night, the Battlefords North Stars won their seventh straight game on home ice with a 5-4 shootout victory over the league-leading Weyburn Red Wings.
The North Stars found themselves in trouble early. They took some penalties, and allowed the Red Wings to establish a lot of offensive possession. At one point, the Wings were outshooting the Stars 9-1.
But late in the first period, the Mitch Wall (5) capitalized on the power-play and gave his team a 1-0 lead. Nathan Tomac (1) would score a minute and eighteen seconds later to make it a 2-0 game.
The Red Wings would inch within one at 7:56 of the second period when Chris Daniels tallied on the power-play.
But the Stars would regain their two-goal lead late in the frame. Ward Szucki (2) was finally rewarded for his great play of late, when he banged home a loose puck in front of AJ Whiffen at 19:26 of the second period.
Early in the third, the Stars made it 4-1 when Brody Malek (3) scored an unassisted power-play marker at 1:56 of the third period.
But once again the Stars had immense difficulty holding onto a lead. The Wings crept a little closer when Tyler Penny scored at 7:04 of the third. Forrest Dell bridged the gap to one when he scored at 15:44, and then with the goaltender pulled in the final minute, Weyburn tied the score when Rhett Bly finished off a neat pass from Andrew Perrault.
Overtime solved nothing (again).
For the past home games, the Stars were heading to a shootout, and why change a thing?
Blake Peake shot first, and made no mistake.
Rhett Bly shot first for Weyburn, and out-waited Kyle Birch to tie the score at one.
Justin Waskewitch and Jesse Lebreton both missed for the Stars.
Andrew Perrault and Brock Appleyard did the same for Weyburn.
When Brett Miller took the ice for the Stars, the 700 strong at the Civic Center got loud. It must have helped, because for the third straight game at home, Brett Miller buried in the shootout.
Tyler Penny was stoned by Birch on the final shot, and the Stars remain unbeaten on home ice. The North Stars though may have lost the services of Graham Hilldebrand for awhile.
Hilldebrand was originally supposed to get the start in goal for the Stars, but was injured in warm-up. The initial prognosis wasn’t too good, but we should know more within the upcoming days.
Up next for the Stars: A home matchup with the Humboldt Broncos on Wednesday, Oct 28th. Make sure you go out and vote, then head to the Civic Center for another great matchup between these two teams.
Heaven forbid that the Battlefords North Stars ever make a game look easy.
The Notre Dame Hounds went toe-to-toe with the Stars tonight and damn nearly escaped with another two points against the Bauer Conference division leaders. But, instead they were only stuck with one. The North Stars once again found a way to win a hockey game, and their home record now improves to 6-0.
The Stars quickly got off to a 2-0 lead as Brody Malek (2) and Justin Waskewitch (4) scored for the home squad. Notre Dame would draw within one when Travis Janke scored his first of two consecutive goals for the Hounds.
In true fashion, the North Stars came within inches of pulling this game out of reach. A couple of meatball opportunities eluded the Stars, and they wrapped up the first 20 minutes with a 2-1 lead.
Notre Dame owned the second period. Travis Janke and A.J. Moore scored in the later portion of the frame to make it 3-2 Notre Dame.
To their credit, the North Stars were able to redeem themselves in the third period. They out shot Notre Dame 13-6, and came close on a number of different opportunities.
Finally, the Stars were able to get a good bounce, when Mitch Wall was sent in on a two-on-one with the most reliable point producer on the team. Brett Miller made no mistake when he received a cross-crease pass, and tallied his 9th of the season.
Overtime would solve nothing, and for the second straight Friday, the game would require a shootout. And for the second straight Friday, Blake Peake and Brett Miller score the goals for the Stars in order to seal the deal on their sixth straight home-ice victory.
After the game, Ken Pearson admitted that he wasn't exactly thrilled with the way his team conducted themselves during the second period. But on a positive note, he said, "Last year, we lose a game like this. This year, we're able to win them." He's absolutely right. Not much else to really say.
Overall, it was a very exciting game, and the fans made their presence known.
It won't get any easier for the first-place North Stars, as they host the Weyburn Red Wings tomorrow night at 7:30.
I'll have some photos posted tomorrow. Julie took some beautys again!
Goodnight North Star Nation, you kicked ass tonight. Great work.
Notre Dame Hounds (5-3-1-0) @ Battlefords North Stars (8-5-1-0)
Hounds - 5th Place in the Sherwood Conference Stars - Tied for First in the Bauer Conference.
The last time these teams met, it was October 8th, and the North Stars dropped a 4-3 decision in Wilcox. You ask any of the players and they will likely agree that the loss to Notre Dame was the WORST of the season. The Stars played-down to the Hounds level that night and got nothing for their efforts, tonight will have to be a different story.
Who's Hot For the Hounds:
Trevor Cameron leads the Hounds with seven points in seven games. He's got some capable players around him in Travis Janke (Yon-Kee) and Kyle Ireland, and if the Stars don't defend these guys properly, it could be a long night.
Who's On D:
The Hounds have an underrated D-Core that centers around their captain Blayne Stevenson. He, a long with James Howden will log a ton of minutes for the Hounds on the blueline. Stevenson is probably their best shut-down guy too.
Who's in Goal:
Russell Abbott was the netminder who beat the North Stars back on the 8th, and for the most part played very well in the process. He's an aggressive goaltender who likes to play the puck, and has proven that he can win hockey games.
Travis Janke always seems to bring his A-Game when the North Stars are involved. His numbers this season aren't what they were last year, but he's got a quick release and could be a thorn in the side of the Stars tonight.
Who's Hot for the North Stars:
Blake Peake had a solid weekend for the Stars last week. He scored a beauty on the powerplay in Nipawin, and seems to be skating with a ton of confidence right now. He a long with linemates Daley and Neufeld could be poised for another big night.
Who's On D:
The play of Cody Folstad has been one of the best surprises this season for the Stars. He had another goal last Saturday, and continues to be a stellar compliment to Jesse Lebreton.
Who's In Goal:
Kyle Birch gets the call tonight for the North Stars. He beat Nipawin 5-4, and currently boasts a record of 7-2-1 for the Stars right now. This means that we see Graham Hilldebrand tomorrow against the Weyburn Red Wings.
Neil Gamble's choice for North Star's X-Factor tonight is Jesse Lebreton. He also chimed in with a goal last Saturday in Nipawin, and is bound to see a lot of ice-time again tonight given the absense of Woody Klassen. If Jesse plays well, the Stars have a great chance to win.
Even though there have been no games played since Saturday, it has been a busy week for the North Stars.
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending Lawrence School with North Star forwards Ward Szucki and Josh Daley.
Daley and Szucki took turns dancing, reading, and high-fiving the youngsters in Grades: Kindergarten, Grade 1,2 and 3.
Both Daley and Szucki were total class acts, and I was so proud of the guys for representing the organization the way that they did. I'm sure Szucki isn't going to be thrilled with me, but I took some great photos of the event, and they'll be posted to the website and the blog before the end of the week.
If you see Ward Szucki around town, you have to tell him that he's a great dancer!
This afternoon, there are several other North Stars at Lawrence School playing Floor Hockey with the Grade 8's and Grade 6's.
Nathan Tomac, Kyle Birch, Graham Hilldebrand, Blake Peake, Cody Folstad and Brody Malek were all on hand, and put their skills on display.
It was really weird seeing Graham and Kyle playing hockey without goalie pads.
They even invited me to join their team, and I set up Malek for a great goal on our last shift. Other than that, I was held off the score sheet.
More photos were taken of this event, and I'll be posting them soon. I promise.
Other than that, I've just been busy getting things organized for tomorrow night. It's an important game for the North Stars as they'll need to win to hold on to first place in the Bauer Conference.
I'll have a whole preview up on the blog by tomorrow afternoon.
Rather than loading the videos through blogger, I've decided that You Tube is the better route. It's faster, and it allows me to build up a You Tube portfolio, and also allows more people to gain exposure to the interviews.
After some frustration earlier this evening, I've found an uploading system that works, and I'm really excited about being able to add this type of thing to the blog on a more regular basis. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of this as I am.
Last night on the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix, I spoke with North Stars forward Brett Miller.
As you well know, Miller has been lighting it up for the past number of weeks, and leads the team in goals (8) and points (15).
The interview lasted nearly 14 minutes, and I feel like the interview went really well. I have since chopped up the interview into three parts, and I am going to try and learn how to upload audio on the blog tonight.
In speaking with some fellow bloggers, I'm told that this task can be quite difficult, but I'm devoting my entire evening to figuring it all out. If I hit a glitch, I will let you know - if not, you can expect to see my three-part interview with Brett Miller on the blog later tonight.
For those that aren't aware, Puck N Funny is coming to the Battlefords again. The date is January 29th, 2010 and tickets are available at the North Star's souvenir booth.
If you have never attended a Puck N Funny event before, I warn you in advance that you will laugh yourself stupid! It's a tremendous fundraising opportunity, and it gets you out of the house in late January!
You can find more details about price, and location here.
The past two weeks have felt rather slow.
It's rare that the North Stars would go two straight weeks with no weeknight games. I guess you can look at it two ways:
1) The team is kicking butt right now, and it would be great to keep the games coming so that more fans can get on board.
2) The fact that the games are on weekends means that more fans will attend, and that absense is making the heart grow fonder.
Now for some sad news. The CJNB broadcast that was originally slated for Oct. 28th has been cancelled. There is a CIVIC Election taking place that night, and CJNB will be providing regular election updates that would otherwise interfere with a hockey game.
WE felt that it would be best to change the broadcast date to help provide citizens with more transparent coverage!
The October 28th broadcast against Humboldt has been switched to November 6th, when the Kindersley Klippers will be in town.
Don't let that stop you from coming out to the game on Wednesday the 28th though. It's the perfect setup really, you go out and vote, then come to the Civic Center to watch the Stars/Broncos Part 3!
Harry Michael Dekker had a great idea earlier this morning. He said (jokingly of course) that they should set up ballot boxes at the Civic Center, that way they'd get more voters.
It's actually not a bad idea, as long as no Humboldt fans try to mess up our election! I'm kidding of course.
Tomorrow and Thursday, I'll be accompanying several members of the team to Lawrence School to help with "READING WEEK."
Tomorrow, some of the boys are going to read to the younger children.
Thursday, the fellas and I be playing floor hockey all afternoon with the older kids. Don't you worry, I'll be posting a lot of pictures, and I'm really looking to this team interaction.
For those parents with kids at Lawrence School, tell your kids to be on their best behaviour, and they might come home with some prizes from the North Stars!
Yesterday was the WORST DAY EVER for me from a sports fan perspective.
The Canucks, Dodgers, Yankees and Chargers all lost their games.
The Chargers loss hurt the most, because it cost me 10$. Anytime I lose a bet to Matt Ryan, it's going to be an extra tough pill to swallow. However, I'll be able to redeem myself if the stinkin' Argonauts can win one more game.
Shut up. It could happen!
More blogging tonight. I hope the audio loads the way it's supposed too. It was a really great interview with Brett and I want you all to hear it.
Its the first meeting of the season between the Nipawin Hawks (4-5-1-0) and the Battlefords North Stars (7-5-1-0). Last season the North Stars were 1-5 against Nipawin during the regular season, but were 3-0 in the playoffs.
Nipawin will no doubt be hoping to redeem themselves after an unexpected sweep in the Survivor Series.
Who's Hot for Nipawin?
Mike Rey. He's tallied 6 goals and 11 helpers in 10 games, Kory Kimpinski is second with 12 points.
Who's on D?
For my money, the best all around defenceman in the SJ is Nipawin captain Taylor Thiessen.He has 7 goals and 4 helpers so far this year. Thiessen was easily the best Nipawin Hawk during last years playoff series.
Who's in Goal?
We will either see former Battlefords Midget AAA Star Brody Hoffman, or 20 year old Wyatt Waselenchuk. Wyatt struggled against the Stars last year in the playoffs, but is definitely capable. Its a toss up as for who goes tonight for Nipawin.
Two Ex-Northstars are likely to be really jacked up for tonight. Forwards Taylor Epp and Alex Leclerc are going to be tough to deal with.
Leclerc was a major contributor in the playoffs last year for us, but has dealt with some injuries so far this year.
Epp was traded to the Weeks Crushers last year at the January 10th deadline. He's got some good touch around the net, and will definitely be looking to make an impact tonight.
Who's Hot for the North Stars:
Brett Miller is unflapable right now. Last night against the Bombers, Miller was outstanding again.
Who's on D?
Again tonight I'm looking at Jesse Lebreton. He made a ton od noise againat Nipawin last year, and should be motivated by a battle with Taylor Thiessen.
Who's in Goal?
Well, I would think Birch, but maybe the coaching staff goes back with Graham after his performance from last night.
Mitch Wall. He played his best hockey last year in Nipawin and having spoken with him, I know he's real fired up.
The Flin Flon Bombers led 1-0 for a majority of the game thanks to a first period goal from Dominic Martel.
The second period produced no goals, but plenty of great stops, as Graham Hilldebrand and Matt Weninger put forward a terrific battle.
Midway through the third period, Flin Flon got into penalty trouble, and the Stars tied the game at 8:08. Who else? Brett Miller. He grabbed his eigth goal of the season and ensured that the Stars grabbed at least a point against the Bombers.
Graham Hilldebrand did the rest. He was brilliant down the stretch, and made a number of key saves in regulation.
Overtime solved nothing.
Blake Peake scored first for the Stars in the shootout, and Josh Daley and Myles Cameron both missed.
David Dykstra, and Devon Mitzner missed for Flin Flon before Matt Lecours tied it up.
Boyd Wakelin missed for the Stars, and Alex Lamontagne was unable to bury for Flin Flon in Round 4.
The Stars grabbed the shootout lead when Brett Miller fired one through the legs of Weninger.
Michael Young raced back and fired one over the net, and the Stars won the game.
With the win, the Stars improve to 7-5-1-0 and have the outright lead in the Bauer Conference by one point over the Flin Flon Bombers.
Up next for the Stars, the Nipawin Hawks, tonight at 7:30. This game will be broadcast on CJNB/CJNS and www.cjnb.com. This will be the first matchup between these two teams since last year's Itech Conference Survivor Series.
Enjoy the broadcast tonight!
I'll preview the matchup later on this afternoon on the bus. I've got photos coming up shortly.
Flin Flon Bombers (6-3-0-1) @ Battlefords North Stars (6-5-1-0)
Whoever wins Friday night at the Civic Center will be first place in the Bauer Conference. The Flin Bombers 'technically' hold first place today because of two games in hand, but that could all change if the home team gets two points Friday.
Who's Hot Up Front?
The FLin Flon Bombers have three forwards that can score, and score in bunches. Devon Mitzner leads the way right now with 15 points (9 Goals, 6 Assists), and has a great supporting cast with Matt Lecours (13 points in 8 games), and Andrew Johnston (11 points).
Factor in players like Dominic Martel, Alex Lamontagne, David Dykstra and Doug McCloud and these Bombers can come at you in many different directions.
It's no wonder why 'on paper' this team is slated to be one of the top teams in the SJHL.
Who's On D?
Michael Young has potted 10 points so far this season, and might be one of the most effective, versitile defenceman in the SJ. He can throw a body-check, quarterback a powerplay, and protect the front of his net. Add players like David Roper, Brennan Cox and Pat Sitko into the mix, and the Bombers look pretty deep on the back-end too.
Who's in Goal?
Matt Weninger struggled early on this season, but has quickly regained his form. Wenninger was just recently named Goaltender of the Week in the SJHL. Some fans may remember back to last year on Halloween when Weninger fought Kyle Birch. Weninger played for Kindersley at the time, but don't think for one minute that either player forgot that brawl.
In a game of such importance, I'd be shocked if the Bombers started any other goaltender.
Alex Lamontagne. By his standards, he's off to a so-so start for Flin Flon this year, and he always seemed to 'get up' for games against the North Stars last year.
Who's Hot Up Front:
A healthy crop of forwards that are looking to redeem themselves after a TON of missed opportunities last Saturday in Estevan.
Brett Miller was named Player of the Week and should be riding a strong wave of momentum this weekend.
Who's On D:
The Stars have seven healthy D-man who are eligable to play. Woody Klassen will draw back into the lineup after missing Saturday's contest in Estevan, and should be reunited with defence partner Dominic Perrault.
Who's in Goal:
Just playing a hunch, but I expect that you see Kyle Birch play Friday, and Graham Hilldebrand Saturday in Nipawin. Hilldebrand shutout the Hawks in Nipawin during the preseason, and given the importance of tomorrow night's game, Kyle has earned the right to get the start.
While most of the Battlefords North Stars are playing some pretty dynamite hockey right now, Jesse Lebreton seems to be struggling as of late. When Lebby is on, he's easily one of the Top Three D-man in this league when it comes to offence. If Jesse can simply his game a little more, and chip in with a point or two on the powerplay, the Stars will be in great shape.
It's Wednesday and admittedly things have been rather 'slow' for North Star Nation as of late which may not neccessarily be a bad thing at all. The Stars have settled in quite nicely through the first 12 games of the year. If you had asked any member of the team if they would like to be tied for first in the Bauer Conference standings through 12 games, you wouldn't have received a single objection.
On the other side, it's easy to see why some fans are still a little gun-shy. Consistency needs to improve, but the coaching staff is well aware of where the team's weaknesses are, and you can bet that over the next 12 games those issues will be resolved.
I spoke with head-coach Ken Pearson this morning over the phone, and the first bit of good news that we discussed was Brett Miller. No North Star forward has received POW honors since I started calling games for the Stars, and it couldn't have gone to a more worthy candidate this time around.
I asked the coach about the team's overall health heading into the weekend, and according to the coach, Woody Klassen was back skating yesterday and should be good-to-go for the weekend.
No disrespect to the Southern teams of the SJHL, but they just don't have the same lustre as divisional matchups. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's already thinking about Friday and Saturday.
Friday night should be a busy night at the Civic Center. Flin Flon is always a great draw, the matchups are always entertaining, and it's not like people are going to be rushing off to the lake for the weekend anymore!
The Stars seem to be averaging around 800 or so fans per home game, which is better than any other year so far since my arrival, yet according to several die-hard Stars fans, that number pales in comparison to what it used to be during the so-called "glory days" of the organization.
My quesetion to the fans is this:
What would it take for you to come back to the rink to watch the Stars play?
- Are the seats too expensive? - Is the product just not good enough in your eyes? - Is it a lack of local content on the team? (if so, give your head a shake!)
I guess I'm biased, but I have a tough time thinking up better ways to pass the time on a cold Friday night.
Saturday's game in Nipawin should be exciting as well, because it will be the first time the Stars have gone back to 'The Cage' since they swept the Hawks in last year's Survivor Series.
The Hawks also boast three former North Stars in Skyler Dunser, Taylor Epp and Alex Leclerc.
Leclerc is off to a decent start to the year, he missed some games due to injury, but has scored in each of the past two games for Nipawin. I'll admit that I was sad to see him go.
The Battlefords Midget AAA Stars are off to a good start in the Sask. Midget AAA League with a record of 2-2-1-1. Tonight they welcome the Saskatoon Blazers to town, and it gives the 'Trips' a chance for revenge after falling 8-4 on Friday night to the same squad.
According to their head-coach Martin Smith, they Stars are not a team that can be taken lightly, and fans will definitely get their moneys worth coming to see this team play.
I'll be at the game tonight, and I hope you decide to do the same.
Can the Saskatchewan Roughriders survive without Weston Dressler?
In a word - Yes.
But Jason Clermont and Andy Fantuz will both need to see more touches. I feel bad for Jason Clermont. This was supposed to be his dream season playing for his hometown Riders, and subsequently it has turned into the season from hell.
Can the Riders possibly redeem themselves by using him more down the stretch? Or is Clermont definitely wearing a different jersey next season?
So much for my World Series prediction. The St. Louis Cardinals fell three straight to the LA Dodgers. But at least the NY Yankees are still in it.
I'm now rooting for the Yankees and the Dodgers. IMO it would be perfect if Joe Torre got to manage against his former team in the World Series.
By the way, if you want to read a great baseball book? Read "The Yankee Years" by Joe Torre. It's outstanding.
Lets get 1000 people or more to the Civic Center on Friday night. The Flin Flon Bombers pride themselves on having the loudest rink in the SJ (which is pretty damn valid), but since when are we prepared to be out-done? Enjoy your next two days, and we'll see you at the rink on Friday night.
1991 F Brett Miller (North Battleford SK) is emerging as a top goal scorer in the SJHL. Miller had struck seven times in his first nine games since returning from the WHL (Everett). He also ended the week of October 11th with four goals in four games and also collected six points to earn himself the SJHL Player Of The Week award.
"Instead of pouting about being sent back from the WHL, (Brett) has came back and played like the player we all hoped he would be. He has been great in the room, been a good leader, and is playing with great confidence," said Ken Pearson this evening through a text message.
This could be a good news, bad news situation for the Battlefords North Stars. On one hand, Miller continues to mow down his competition, and is buring the puck at a terrific rate.
On the flip-side, the 18-year-old is getting some more attention from the WHL, and I hear that he's already been listed by a team out West. Would Miller want to get another crack at the Dub? Or does he have a good thing going here, and decide to stick it out in his hometown with his pals?
Through 12 games this season, the Battlefords North Stars have a record of 6-5-1-0 and are presently tied for first place in the Bauer Conference with the Flin Flon Bombers. I thought it would be fun to critique the North Stars through their first 12 games, similarly to the way that a newspaper critiques their team after every game.
Lets break this down, and tell me if you agree or not.
BATTLEFORDS NORTH STAR'S 12-GAME REPORT CARD
Through 12 games, no team has scored more goals than the North Stars. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the extraordinary depth that the Stars seem to have up front. Six different players (Daley, Miller, Wall, Peake, Andersen, Neufeld) have more than 10 points through the first 12 games of the year. Of those six, four (Daley, Miller, Neufeld, and Wall) are averaging at least a point-per-game if not more.
Some other pleasant offensive suprises:
- Cody Folstad leading all Stars D-Man with 9 points.
- Three goals from Boyd Wakelin
- Two goals from Troy Watt
- Through 12 games, there is not a single North Star that has not recorded a point.
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT UP FRONT?
- The Wingers have been caught being lazy a number of times early on in the year. Nothing frustrates a defence-core more than not having a winger in place to move the puck too, and several players have been inconsistent in that regard.
- Faceoffs. Need I say more?
DEFENCE: B -
Hot and Cold would be the best way to describe the Stars D-Core so far. I personally don't feel like the entire defence-core has hit their stride yet, and the Stars need to dwindle their goals against down big time.
The Stars have only held their opposition to less than 3 goals twice this year. That simply isn't good enough through 12 games.
WHAT NEEDS IMRPOVEMENT:
The Stars D needs to get meaner without becoming more undisciplined. Too many goals have occured because of too much time for the opposition in front of our net.
IMO the North Stars goaltending is the least of our worries moving forward. That being said, I think both Kyle Birch and Graham Hilldebrand haven't even come close to hitting their potential either.
Graham just can't buy any type of break whatsoever, and Kyle is probably a big save-or-two away from an even better record to start the season.
The Stars need to give better support to both of their goaltenders (Graham in particular) and I promise you, once Graham gets his first win, they will start coming in bunches. Then the other teams are in for a real struggle. Goaltending is all about confidence, and right now both guys are getting there, but they are't quite at the A-level yet.
POWERPLAY: C +
The Stars are currently ranked 8th in the SJ in terms of their powerplay success rate of 18%.
How do you improve:
- More bodies to the front of the net?
- Faster passes.
- The D-man get their point shots through. This team seems to miss a lot of nets.
PENALTY KILL: C -
A penalty-kill percentage of 71% is a glaring weakness for this team. Given the Star's size and aggressiveness, it's only natural that they are going to take a lot of penalties - but they need to figure out a better way to approach their penalty-kill because righ tnow it's just not working.
COACHING: A -
I'd love to hear any objections to this letter grade. The only critique that I could possibly give the coaching staff is that this team has blown a lot of leads early in the season, and perhaps the boys are falling into a trap of being "over-confident." This is where the coaches need to strut their stuff, and guide the guys through protecting a lead while staying aggressive. Small adjustments clearly need to be made to turn this team into one that can get a lead and keep it.
INDIVIDUAL LETTER GRADES:
I'm not going to critique every single player for obvious reasons, however I will single out a few players every 12 games for their 'A' performances.
Brett Miller: A
He leads the team in goals, and has only started to tap into his enormous potential. Miller has really taken off playing alongside Mitch Wall and Ryan Andersen. It's been a ton of fun watching he and Josh Daley battle back and forth in the goal-scoring race. It seems when one scores, the other is soon to follow.
Josh Daley: A -
When Josh is on, he's on. He's incredibly difficult to check off the puck when he wants to be, and his touch around the net rivals the best in the league. He needs to play with a little more 'edge' on occasion, but he's getting there.
Woody Klassen: A -
For an 18-year-old, he has a unique ability to calm the rest of his teammates. Woody leads by example everytime he's on the ice, and the Stars are a much better team with him in the lineup.
Shay Neufeld: A -
Shay has shown to be an extremely 'opportunistic' player since his arrival. He puts himself in the right position on the ice, and he usually buries his chances. 12 points in 12 games is an impressive statistic.
To me, those are the four that have stood out with A performances so far this season. Don't get me wrong, there are numerous players that are in that 'high B' range and are knocking on the door. We'll have to see what the next 12 games bring.
OVERALL TEAM GRADE: B -
I'd have to agree with the majority on our blog poll right now that suggests that this team is underachieving. Yes, they are a first place team, but if this team had been willing to pay more of a price, they'd have 9 wins. No doubt about it.
Your thoughts? Who else deserves to be an A-grade?
First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
The Battlefords North Stars dropped a 5-2 decision to Estevan on Saturday night.
For a third straight game, the Stars opened the scoring in the second minute of the game. This time it was the captain Mitch Wall (3) receiving a pass at the side of the net, and walking right out in front and burying one by Derek Tendler.
Kyle Harty and Brody Haygarth scored in the final six minutes of the first, to make it 2-1 Estevan after one.
The Bruins and Stars would both score goals in the second period. Chad Filteau notched his sixth of the season for Estevan to give his team a 3-1 lead, but Brett Miller (7) tallied soon after, and the Stars entered the third period trailing 3-2.
Michael Hengen scored 6:42 into the third period to give Estevan a 4-2 lead, and they would add an empty netter to make it a 5-2 final.
Overall the coach was pleased with the effort of the Stars. The main reason why they fell in Estevan was their inability to finish. At least four different North Stars hit goal-posts or fanned on open nets.
The Stars now will enjoy some days off before heading back to practice on Tuesday. Their next game is Friday night against the Flin Flon Bombers at home.
Sorry for the late entry, I have slept virtually all morning.
By now I'm sure you are aware of the fact that the Battlefords North Stars held on to defeat Weyburn 4-3 last night.
Josh Daley (6), Shay Neufeld (5), and Justin Waskewitch (2) scored in the first 6:57 of the game to give the Stars a 3-0 lead. Rhett Bly scored late in the frame to make it 3-1.
A scary moment for the Stars late in the first as Woody Klassen went down with an ankle injury, he wouldn't return.
The Wings would inch closer midway through the second on a goal by Daniels. The second period then turned into a goaltending clinic. Kyle Birch and Tanner Erickson were outstanding!
Late in the second, the Stars regained their lead when Dominic Perrault finished off a beautiful pass from Brett Miller. The dirty work was done by Boyd Wakelin and Ward Szucki on the fort-check to get the job done.
Ethan Wrigley would capitalize on the power-play early in the third to force the 4-3 score.
Kyle Birch made an enormous save on Tyler Penny and from there, the Stars finished off the Wings.
The Stars were 0-6 on the PP and outshot Weyburn 43-33.
After the game, we learned that Klassen will likely miss a week of action with a high-ankle injury.
The Stars now must put this spirited victory behind them and brace themselves for the Estevan Bruins.
The Stars have had a tough time winning in E-town and Brody Malek and I are particularly haunted by a 13-0 loss suffered in December 07.
Estevan has some talented players, especially forward Chad Filteau.
A win for the Stars tonight and they'll have earned four of six points on this trip. I'll take it, and I'm sure the coaches would too.
The broadcast kicks off at 7:15 tonight with the Sasktel Pregame Show. Hope your listening.
I got some great feedback on yesterdays blog. I am extremely grateful to your readership, and I'm happy that my writing has become a part of your day.
Blogging has become one of the highlights of my day, and I will do my best to keep improving these entrys.
Okay, now for the good stuff. I promised to share a story from the road.
A couple come to mind from my days in Dawson Creek with the Junior Canucks, but I guess I'd better tell one from the North Stars first.
One of the funnier stories comes from my first overnighter with the Stars back in October 2007. We were staying in Nipawin and this was the first time that D-Jack and I were rooming together.
After the game that night we had a meal and then I went to the hotel room to watch some TV and I expexted Dale to arrive shortly.
10:30 PM - No Dale.
11:30 PM - No Dale.
I assumed that he had probably gone out with the coaches or something, yet as a new roommate I was a tad worried!
At around 1:00 AM I woke up to go to the bathroom, and totally by chance, in walks Dale.
DO:*laughing* Hey man, where have you been?
DJ: I was out having drinks with Nipawin's trainer. Were you worried about me or something?
DO: A little bit, haha, I didn't know where you were.
Dale had a good laugh and we both crashed. The next morning Dale informed the coaches of our little encounter, and I still get chirped about it to this day for being a protective roommate.
Now we've gotten to the point where I'm invited to these post-game gatherings, so I don't worry anymore!
More stories to come during the season. Enjoy the broadcast tonight.
I'm currently sitting in the warm lobby of the 'Perfect' Inn in Weyburn while the North Stars are head off to practice. So far our stay in Weyburn has been less than perfect, but I assure you that everybody seems to be in a better mood this morning after a tough one last night.
I wouldn't trade this for the world. Traveling with a hockey team across the province is so much fun, and so unique compared to many other jobs out there. For those that are curious, I'd like to share with you a glimpse of what life is like on the road with the Battlefords North Stars.
We'll use yesterday as an example:
8:45 AM - I arrive at the Civic Center and begin packing my stuff onto the bus. First and foremost I stash my coffee and bagel in a safe place, as to make sure that it stays warm. I will then stuff my suitcase underneath my seat and then finally I will grab my broadcast kit and stash it in the upper compartment. However this only takes place after I've opened up the suitcase and made sure that every vital piece of broadcast equipment is present and accounted for.
Last year I ended up leaving two crucial broadcast chords in the broadcast booth in Kindersley, and had it not been for Debbie Prescesky, and her convenient trip to Kindersley - I would have been in some trouble.
9:15 - The past half-hour has consisted of the following: Rookies loading the equipment, sticks, jerseys, the stereo etc. onto the bus while the 'vets' supervise. North Star's equipment guru Dale Jackson will make sure the job is done correctly. Quite often he will ask if a specific player remembered his socks. If the player realizes that he has indeed forgotten his socks, Dale will smirk and assure said player that he's already taken care of it. This team would fall apart if it weren't for Dale Jackson.
Our bus driver for this trip is a man named Elden from PA Northern Buslines. He's a very pleasant man who gets a long well with our coaches and players. This morning he's wearing his North Star's jacket on the bus. If he were to ever wear a Humboldt jacket on our bus, he'd never hear the end of it.
The rookies at the front, while the 20-year-olds sit at the back of the bus. In my two-plus years with the team, I've only ventured to the back on two occasions. Once to play cards, the other to give a CD to Mitch Wall. I would gladly go back there and hang out with some of the fellas, but only if I'm invited. It's important to know one's role when riding the bus - plus I'm sure there are some topics of conversation not fit for the ears of a sportscaster.
That being said, I love sitting at the front. I've almost always got a TV station set up in front of me, and I always enjoy the company of Blair, Ken and Dale. We've had some fun trips together, especially when the team is winning games.
11:00 am - We arrive in Chamberlain. Elden stops the bus to grab a coffee and have a cigaratte, and a few of us get off the bus to use the bathroom. This stop often takes awhile because a lot of the guys (myself included) will stock up on Gatorade, snacks and lottery tickets.
11:20 Once we get back onto the bus, I hand Dale three movies and he gets to choose which one we watch. Blair and Ken drove down in Ken's vehicle, so Dale is in charge today.
He chooses "The Girl Next Door" with Elisha Cuthbert and Emile Hirsch. Nobody in the bus seems to complain about this decision, and after about five minutes of watching it's easy to understand why...
1:00 PM - We arrive to the outskirts of Weyburn right as our movie has come to an end. We are to meet the coaching staff at a restaurant called "Carves" which is run by Blair Atcheynum's cousin.
2:30 - After our meal, we proceed to the Perfect Inn. The coaches hand out room keys, and announce who's rooming with who. Quite often, the pairings are switched up, and almost always a rookie is paired with a veteran.
My roommate is always Dale, and it's great because (for the most part) we enjoy the same TV Shows.
4:30 PM - The past two hours have consisted of a nap, a shower, and getting dressed. I noticed a stain on the sleeve of my white dress-shirt which has left me in something of a sour mood. However, I used some water, soap and a little bit of 'elbow grease' and the stain is now a fraction of it's former self. My Mom would be quite proud of my determination.
Sometimes I'll use these two hours to go for a walk, a workout or I might even take a trip to the mall and buy a book. My first year with the team was especially bad for my wallet, not a road-trip would go by where I wouldn't find something to buy.
Gary Clark always used to make fun of me. One night in Yorkton he said, "Dan, you never need to pack, because you always go and buy new stuff anyway."
I hop on the bus, and after a quick stop at Subway to pick up our post-game meals we are off we go to Wilcox (ETA: 5:45).
5:45 - We arrive with a ton of time to spare in Wilcox. Most of the bows grabbed a quick cat-nap on the way to Wilcox, while others like me looked at their Blackberry for hockey scores, facebook and twitter updates and news about our favourite leagues and teams. Okay, maybe it was just me and the coaches surfing our phones, but quite often it leads to some good sports-talk before games.
6:30 - By this time, I've set up my broadcast kit in the booth (always hoping for a working phone line, and an available power outlet), done my pregame interviews with two players (One as the Ultra Print Shooting-Star Profile), and both head-coaches.
Last night my pre-game interview was Blake Peake, my Profile was Troy Watt, and I spoke with Ken Pearson and Darren Evjen.
7:30 - For the past hour I've hung out in the lobby at the Duncan McNeil Arena, sipping hot chocolate and chatting with Coleman Brodbin, Ward Szucki and Boyd Wakelin. All three are naturally dejected that they aren't in the lineup, but all three are conversational enough, and time goes by rather quickly.
There is NOTHING worse than killing time by yourself before a broadcast - especially in Wilcox where there are so few people.
7:35 - I have a great conversation with the Oak's and Tomac's before I head to the broadcast booth. Both sets of parents/relatives are from the Moose Jaw area, and they usually make the effort to come watch their boys play. I really respect that, and it's great to see parents taking such a vested interest in their boy's. They all leave me with some encouraging words, and then I head off to the booth to start my pregame show.
10:00 - The game is over, the post-game show is complete, and I pack up as fast as I can in order to make it to the bus on-time. Given last night's result, the bus is eerily quiet.
The first thing I do after a loss is make sure my phone is on 'silent' because the last thing I want is to create unneccessary noise. The next 45 minutes consists of: checking more scores, texting my girlfriend and other pals and informing them of the results.
11:00 - Upon our arrival back in Weyburn we notice that more snow has fallen. The boys unpack their bags at the Weyburn Arena, then we head back to the hotel. Coach Pearson announces that "Breakfast Bus leaves at 9:15. Don't be late!"
As for what happens afterwards, the program is generally quite flexible. When location allows for it, Dale and I (and sometimes the coaches) will head out for an appetizer somewhere, or sometimes we'll even just hang out in a specific room and watch the sports highlights and reflect on the game.
I'm extremely gracious towards the coaches for viewing me as a peer, and allowing me to have access into their personal lives. I know that other sportscasters around the country don't have it nearly as good as I do, and I take a great amount of pride in rapport with Ken, Blair and Dale.
It's nice to know that even after a tough loss, that laughs can be obtained and stories can be told.
Hope you enjoyed that little glimpse into a Day in the Life of Dan O'Connor on the road. Perhaps I'll start telling more road-stories on the blog. Lord knows there has been a ton of hilarity over the years. If we win tonight I'll share a road-trip story tomorrow on the blog. Deal?
19 players owe their goaltender an apology. Graham Hilldebrand did his part, and got no help when it mattered the most.
The Stars lost tonight 4-3 to a Notre Dame team that was injured, offensively futile and riddled with the Flu.
The Stars get four powerplays in the third period and yet somehow Notre Dame grabs all of the momentum. It was the most puzzling games I've ever called.
Josh Daley (5), Brett Miller (6), and Troy Watt (2) scored for the visitors tonight. A win tonight (and Lord knows they were given the chance) and the Weyburn Red Wings are in some trouble tomorrow, and now the Stars are in jeapardy of being .500 again.
I'm going to finish this sentence and then I am through with this game. In my opinion our Stars are still among the class of the conference, and I know deep down they will show us on this trip.
Stay positive North Star Nation, and thanks for letting me rant.
It's amazing how the ebs and flows of a hockey season work.
Does anybody else find that it's so much easier to wake up in the morning and embrace the day when your favourite team wins a big game? Seriously, I'm not trying to be dramatic, but in my case, it is sure easier to get excited for a 4:45 AM start-time at work when you have something exciting to talk about.
Last night's game against the Humboldt Broncos was probably one of my Top 5 favourite games. I thought Cody Nickolet did great with color, the atmosphere in the Civic Center was awesome (Attendance: 850) and the North Stars figured out a way to regain momentum after having it sucked away from them in the third period.
Blair Atcheynum said it best during the Valley Ford postgame show: "Last year, in this type of situation we would have crumbled." It's so true. How many times did we have Humboldt on the ropes during the regular season last year, only to come up short in the end?
Two consecutive victories against the defending league champs deserves to be celebrated, but at the same time North Star fans, players, coaches and broadcasters (yes, especially me) need to keep everything in perspective.
I think it's now safe to say that North Stars fans don't need to "hope" for a victory anymore. Dare I say it, fans should expect victory. And on the nights when victory doesn't occur, fans should at least expect this team to compete and make things bloody difficult for the opposition.
You look at the way this team has performed lately, and I think it's really started to sink in. Aside from maybe the penalty-kill (which was very good last night) this team doesn't appear to have a glaring weakness anymore.
Now after all of that being said: The North Stars have a bloody difficult road trip ahead of them, and if they aren't ready to battle and compete for every square foot of ice during the next three days, they could very well be 5-6-1-0 by the end of it all.
Granted that's an unlikely circumstance, but this team still has a long way to go before they proove that they are for real. I can assure you that more and more fans will become "believers" of this group once they start winning consistently on the road. If the North Stars come back from this southern-swing with four, five, maybe even six more points to their name.... I couldn't even tell you how jacked up this city would be.
You want to talk about a character builder? It doesn't get much tougher than three games, in three nights in three very different rinks.
The North Star's stay in first place could be extremely short-lived tonight, depending on the Melfort Mustangs. The 'Stangs' are on the road tonight in La Ronge, and could really do themselves and the North Stars a favor with a win.
The Humboldt Broncos are in Kindersley tonight, and should the Klippers decide to beat the Broncos on home ice, I'm sure that there will be a few smiling faces tonight in North Star Nation.
I'm particularly excited for Friday's game in Weyburn. For those that aren't aware, its the SJHL Hall of Fame weekend, and the first five inductees are being enshrined in the Hall. Ron Hextall, Chris Chelios, Ron Rumball, Dwight McMillan, and Wayne Kartusch are the first five, and I'm hoping for a chance to meet some of these folks.
The first and only time I've ever interviewed Dwight McMillan was last season when we were in Weyburn in November, and I can honestly say I've never been more nervous for any other SJHL interview. Dwight is held in the highest regard by almost everybody I've spoken too in this league, and it was a really cool experience to pick his brain for five minutes about his team and about his career.
North Star's colorman/board operator Matt Ryan bet me five dollars earlier this year that the Toronto Argonauts wouldn't win four games this year. I've got five more weeks to try and proove him wrong. Obviously I'm hoping that win number four for TO doesn't come this weekend, but at the same time I feel like the Riders need to be careful.
The Argonauts are fighting for their lives, and will need at least two more wins to even have a hope for a playoff spot.
I don't care the slightest bit whether Toronto makes the playoffs, but I do like winning money.
Again, bringing my point home - I just hope it doesn't happen Saturday night.
My MLB Postseason Prediction goes as follows:
COL/PHI - Philly (Even though the Rockies are my favourite NL Team)
STL/LA - St. Louis
ST/PHI - St. Louis
BOS/LA - BOS (I strongly dislike the Boston Red Sox, yet they keep beating the Angels in the playoffs.)
NYY/MINN - NYY
NY/BOS - NYY
NYY/STL - STL
World Series Champions: St. Louis Cardinals. Who's going to be this year's David Eckstein???
Last night at the Civic Center, the Battlefords North Stars grabbed their fourth straight home-ice victory with a 5-4 victory over the Humboldt Broncos. It was the second meeting of the season between these teams, and the North Stars have won both of them.
Humboldt opened the scoring on the powerplay at 5:40 of the first period when Nick Keller stuffed a puck underneath Kyle Birch.
The Stars would counter at 14:53 when Brett Miller's (4) shot from the right circle eluded goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk on a powerplay.
The second period belonged to the North Stars. Shay Neufeld (4), Blake Peake (4) and Jesse Lebreton (4) all scored in succession to give the home team a 4-1 lead.
Griffin Lacey scored late in the second period to give Humboldt some life in the third period.
Midway through the final stanza, the Humboldt Broncos scored twice in 21 seconds to tie the game at four. Spencer Braaten (again!) found his way past the North Star's defence and beat Kyle Birch on a breakaway, then Mitch Peeke scored on a rebound.
The North Stars were then forced to kill off a Brody Malek roughing penalty, and just when it looked like Humboldt was gaining full control, the Stars quashed their momentum and grabbed it back at 16:59 of the third period.
Mitch Wall and Ryan Andersen cycled the puck wonderfully in Humboldt territory, and Andersen then fed the puck out front to a wide-open Miller who baet Bodnarchuk for his second of the game, and team leading fifth goal of the season.
Kyle Birch did the rest. He made a great stop on Justin Buzzeo with one second remaining to cement the two points for the Stars. The victory places the Stars into first place in the Bauer Conference.
"A year ago, we probably don't win a game like this," said Stars Assistant Coach Blair Atcheynum during the Valley Ford radio post-game show. "But we stuck to our game plan, and we used our size and speed to our advantage."
Up next for the Stars, a three-game road swing down south which starts Thursday night in Wilcox against the Notre Dame Hounds. Thursday's game is an 8:00 tilt, and the Sask-Tel Pregame Show gets going at 7:45.