Sunday, November 29, 2009

Showcase Pictures - Nov 27, Nov 28

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

NOVEMBER 28 - Kindersley and the Battlefords.

Andy's OT Winner.

Birch With an Uncomfortable Looking Save.

Klassen Buries the Third Goal of the Game.

The OT Hero.

NOVEMBER 27 - Humboldt and the Battlefords.

Graham Hildebrand.

Coleman Brodbin Battles with Gibson.

Stars Grab Two of Four Points at the SJHL Showcase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stars Win It in OT.

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

Best game I've seen since the playoffs.

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

What a night at the Civic Center.

Stars - Klippers Preview

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

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

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

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

Who's Hot Up Front:

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

Who's on D:

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

Who's in Goal:

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


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


Who's Hot Up Front:

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

Who's on D:

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

Who's in Goal:

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


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

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

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

Day Two Showcase Recap (From the SJHL Website)

From the SJHL Website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stars PP Haunts Them, Broncos Win 2-1.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 27, 2009

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

Good evening.

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

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

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

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

Lets preview the game:

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

Who's Hot Up Front:

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

Who's on D:

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

Who's in Goal:

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


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

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

Who's Hot Up Front:

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

Who's on D:

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

Who's in Goal:

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


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


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

Blogging the Showcase - Games 3 and 4

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blogging the Showcase (Game Two - Melfort and Nipawin)

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

Nipawin has goals from Matt Guerts and Matt Spafford.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 4-2 win for the Notre Dame Hounds.

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

The best players for Weyburn: Perrault, Daniels.

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

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The SJHL Showcase Is (Almost) Here!

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

Thursday, November 26th.

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

Friday, November 27th.

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

Saturday, November 28th.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stars - Terriers Photos

*** All Photos By Julie Larson.

Birch Makes a Key Save Early.

The Captain.

Tony Oak Puts the Game Out of Reach.

12-1 this year at the Civic Center.

Stars Blank Terriers 5-0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stars - Terriers Preview

Something scary just dawned on me. I haven't watched a game from the North Battleford Civic Center since November the 8th. The previous two home games were held on Fridays. The first Friday I was calling NSRHL, and last Friday I was in Ontario preparing for a funeral. As I begin typing this preview, I'm starting to get those familiar pre-game jitters before a North Star's game.

The Yorkton Terriers are in town for their first battle of the season, and although this is a non-conference battle for these teams, the two points at stake are important for both teams. The Stars are trying to climb their way towards Flin Flon while seperating themselves from Humboldt and La Ronge. Yorkton is in a dog-fight right now with Melville and Notre Dame, and a two-point effort from the Terriers tonight would likely go a long way to get them fired up for the upcoming SJHL Showcase.

Enough personal banter - Lets preview this sucker shall we!

Record: 12-11-3-0 (3rd in the Sherwood Conference)

Who's Hot Up Front:

The Terriers are a lunch-bucket, 'score by committee' team. Over the past three years, not a single Yorkton Terrier has scored more than 20 goals in a season. It looks as though Torey Stott may do so this year, but he's walking a fine line at this point. He's got 11 goals through 26 games and has always impressed me whenever I've seen him play. Stott will likely see lots of ice-time tonight, especially on the power-play. If the Stars want to be successful, they'll have to keep Stott off the score sheet because he is their best weapon offensively.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Yorkton Terriers are led by two different players. 17-year-old Austin Bourhis has performed exceptionally well so far for Ed Zawatsky's club. He's got 14 points so far this year, and leads all Terrier defenceman in scoring.

The second player is the lone 20-year-old on the backend, Shawn Shackleton. I remember watching him back in September and thinking, "This guy is one of the best skating defenceman in the SJHL." Maybe I caught him on a good night, because he's only got one assist this year, but that also brings me to the conclusion that he's a great shutdown guy.

Who's in Goal:

You'll have to flip a couple of coins to figure this one out.

YOR 30 Luke Boechler (90) 384 14 211 2.19 0.934 3-2-2-0 3 1.88

YOR 35 Joel Danyluk (90) 412 18 223 2.62 0.919 3-3-0-0 1 2.48

YOR 29 Devin Peters (90) 765 42 412 3.29 0.898 6-6-1-0 0 2.82

The Terrier's are still carrying three goaltenders. All are 19, all are talented, and all are playing at a similar capacity right now. I'm not even going to attempt to figure this one out. I'll leave that for the coaches.


Clarke Breitkreuz has gained a lot of notoriety recently for his appearance with Team Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge in Summerside P.E.I. He's even garnered the attention of the NHL's Central Scouting. He's quick, he's tough, and he's got a good offensive knack to him. North Star fans will be impressed by this kid tonight. Mark my words.

Record: 15-10-1-0

Who's Hot Up Front:

Ward Szucki is currently playing his best hockey of the season. The 18-year-old was held scoreless Saturday in Humboldt, but is coming off a two-goal outing against the Estevan Bruins, and also scored two weeks ago in Melfort. Add Szucki's name to the long list of North Star forwards capable of being a difficult threat for Yorkton tonight.

Who's on D:

Look for Woody Klassen to have a strong game tonight for the North Stars. He had a tough game Saturday in Humboldt, but knowing Woody's character and ability, he's going to bounce back and play true to form tonight. Expect two or three big hits from Klassen tonight. I still remember watching Klassen last year during his North Star's debut (which happened to be against Yorkton) drilling Corey Silverson and immediately making an impression with the North Star faithful.

Who's in Goal:

Again, this is an area where I will simply avoid. Hilldebrand has won three straight games. Birch is an early season MVP candidate for this team. You're call Ken! Must be nice to have two very capable netminders at your disposal.


The line of Dane Muench, Blake Peake and Mitch Wall as a whole will be my x-factor for tonight's game. These three have the capability to make life miserable for the opposition. Peake's speed, Wall's finesse and Muench's natural ability to score makes them one of the toughest lines to stop. A strong night from these three, and the Terriers are in tough tonight.


You can catch tonight's broadcast on GX 94 out of Yorkton. I'll be joining my buddy Craig Stein on the radio tonight, providing some color to his play-by-play. I always enjoy my visits with Craig, and he calls a great game.

I'll be back to recap the game later tonight!



Monday, November 23, 2009

Sports Fix, Stars - Terriers, Riders and More.

Finally it seems as if things are back to normal for me. The past four days have been a whirlwind, and you have no idea how good it feels to finally be able to sit in front of a computer and have the time to write something insightful (I hope).

First and foremost, I want to talk about tonight's Sports Fix which is airing as I type this.

Guest number one on the show tonight is Newstalk 980's sports reporter Jamie Nye. Nye covers the Riders on a daily basis, and he and I talked about the Rider victory yesterday against Calgary, and tee'd up the Grey Cup matchup against the mighty Allouettes.

Guest number two was Sean Campbell of the Team 990 in Montreal. I met Sean practically by accident early last year when I put a call into the Team in Montreal and asked the receptionist, "Can you put me in touch with somebody familiar with the Montreal Allouettes?" She chose Sean, and ever since we've done interviews for each other in a regular basis.

Sean host's two Montreal Allouette's specialty radio shows: The Al's This Week and the Rouge Radio Show (which he hosts with Scott Flory) and he also has a blog which you fan check out here.

My final guest on the program tonight is the voice of the Yorkton Terriers and Melville Millionaires for GX 94 radio in Yorkton, Craig Stein. Steiner's blog can be found here. In my opinion, he's one of the best out there. He and I discussed the Sherwood Conference of the SJHL, and tee'd up the North Stars and Yorkton Terriers matchup tomorrow night at the Civic Center.


The Battlefords North Stars and Yorkton Terriers meet for the second time this season tomorrow night at the N.B. Civic Center. The Terriers come to town with a record of 12-11-3-0 and currently hold the third place spot in the Sherwood.

I'll perview this game tomorrow in the afternoon, but right now the general consensus with Yorkton is they allow few goals, yet they score even fewer. All signs point to a low scoring game tomorrow night at the Civic Center.

Meanwhile the Battlefords North Stars will be looking to avenge a Saturday loss in Humboldt. For my money, the Stars played a good game, but were still guilty of trying to do "too much" in the defensive zone. Three of Humboldt's goals were all a direct result of defensive miscues.

However, don't read into that statement and think that the defenceman are the only ones to blame. The North Star's coaching staff will be the first to tell you that better defense starts with the wingers and centerman sticking to their responsiblities and being not getting caught cheating up the ice. I'm convinced that once the North Star's consistently can get this right, they'll be a real force to be reckoned with in the SJHL. They've showed flashes of good defense lately, but it simply hasn't been consistent enough.


Only a handful of hours left to vote on the blog's poll question. Choosing an MVP through the first 26 games is a tough thing to do. The North Stars have shown this season that they never seem to rely on the same people on a nightly basis, hence choosing an MVP is very difficult to do.


The SJHL website also has a new poll question posted. The question asks, "Which SJHL rookie has been the most impressive so far this season?"

What I'd like to know is why North Star's forward Josh Daley's name is not listed as an option for that poll. I'm not sure why, but Daley isn't listed on the SJHL website as a rookie for some reason. It should be noted that he's second in rookie scoring with 22 points.


After months of tireless effort, the SJHL Showcase is finally set to arrive. In case you've been hibernating for the past three months, the SJHL Showcase is taking place this weekend at the North Battleford Civic Center. All 12 SJHL teams are on-hand to play in two games each.

There will be a ton of extra fans, scouts, parents and people lining the stands at the Civic Center, and it wouldn't surprise me the least bit, if some of the night games were played in front of 1500 or so people.

If you have yet to get your tickets for the SJHL Showcase, you can do so through the North Star's office, or through Kara Rosen.

Don't bother asking me to help you move, fix your car, or help you shovel snow. I am going to be at the Civic Center for much of the weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing North Battleford on display for an entire league and it's scouts to see.

Which team or player are you the most excited to see?


Wednesday night I'll be broadcasting my second North Saskatchewan River Hockey League game of the season. The Paradise Hill Hawks will be hosting the Edam 3 Stars in a rematch of the 2008 Championship. Both teams are looking much different on paper now than they were two years ago, but it should definitely be a fun matchup and I'm definitely looking forward to heading back to P-Hill.


Switching gears now to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

I had the good fortune of being in attendance at the West Final yesterday. Needless to say I was blown away by the atmosphere and the passion put forth by Rider Nation.

Coming from BC, I'm used to some pretty lame CFL crowds. A trip to BC Place to watch the BC Lions was always an excuse to get drunk and watch people fighting in the stands. A trip to Mosaic Stadium on the other hand is something that never gets old.

I've only personally witnessed one sporting event that has been louder than yesterday's West Final, and that was the 2006 Gold Medal Game on the World Juniors in Vancouver.

The thunder-sticks, the sea of green, and the sheer noise of 30,000 odd Rider fans was something to behold, and I sure hope Rider Nation brings it's 'A-Game' on Sunday to Calgary, because putting it bluntly: The Riders are going to need it.


I'll be throwing a lot of Rider stuff onto this blog leading up to the Grey Cup. Currently I'm efforting the CJNB/CJNS Powers that Be to let me host a Grey Cup preview show.

The early response has been good, and it looks like Harry Michael Dekker and I may be hosting a preview show together at some stage this week. I'll keep you posted.

My goal is to provide a forum for fans in the Northwest to call in with their predictions, comments, and thoughts regarding the Grey Cup.


Tonight I'll share my view on one of the hot-topics right now in Rider Nation.


It is my opinion that only two coaches in the CFL deserve consideration for the CFL's Coach of the Year Award. The two finalists will surely be Montreal's Marc Tressman and Saskatchewan's Ken Miller.

Say what you want about Montreal being a 15-3 team, being the class of the CFL, and being a strong favourite to win the Grey Cup. I get all that, and I understand all of that. But considering the difficult nature of the CFL's West Division, considering the many difficult obstacles that the Saskatchewan Roughriders had to overcome (again) this season to get to where they're at right now, the Coach of the Year Award shuold be awarded (without much debate) to Rider's Coach Ken Miller.

Miller had the unenviable task of taking over as head-coach for a Rider's team in 2008 that had just won a Grey Cup under Kent Austin. I can only imagine the conversation that took place between Ken Miller and Eric Tillman once it was announced that Kent Austin was leaving for Mississippi:


ET: Ken, Kent just announced that he's leaving Saskatchewan to go run the offence in Mississippi, do you want to be our new coach?

KM: Eric!? Are you mad at me?! What did I do to deserve this?! There is no way that I'll be able to accomplish what Kent Austin did! You're feeding me to the dogs! The fans will never accept me.


Yet all Ken Miller has done since he's taken over for Kent Austin is win football games.

His tutelage has allowed Darian Durant to thrive as a full-time CFL quarterback. His offensive schemes (a long with Paul LaPolice) have proven to be one of the most conssitent and exciting in the CFL.

Seeing players like Rob Bagg and Chris Getzlaf emerge as legitimite touchdown threats is not only a testament to their talent, but coaching plays a significant role in the development of players, and those two in particular owe a lot of their success to Ken Miller.

We're talking about a coach who lost the services of Defensive Coordinatior Richie Hall, a long with Anton Mackenzie, Scott Gordon, Mo Lloyd, Kitwana Jones (briefly) and James Johnson and still managed to put forth one of the best defensive squads in recent Rider memory.

Not to mention that the Riders have been regarded as one of the CFL's most respectable, humble and professional team's in the league.

When a receiver makes a catch for a first-down, he's not doing a 15 second dance in front of the other team. He's running back to the huddle, and getting ready for his next play. That is another shining example of the type of professionalism that Ken Miller has instilled into this team.

We don't hear stories about Rider's getting in trouble with the law, and any inner-clubhouse turmoil between teammates. The players have clearly "bought in" to Ken Miller's philosophies both on and off the field, and the end result has left the Riders in great standing with the CFL, their own community and they're on-field success has thrived because of that.

Don't get me wrong, Marc Tressman has likely accomplished all of those things in his own right. But he's also coaching a team that had to play Toronto, Winnipeg and Hamilton at least three times a season.

If Ken Miller is not named the CFL Coach of the Year, than the system is obviously flawed, and it will be just another example of the Riders getting the shaft in favor of a bigger market with more of a media influence.

Ken Miller is to be congratulated (win or lose on Sunday) for his efforts at the helm of the Riders, and I for one hope that Ken Miller sticks it out for a few more years after this to continue to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

What do you think? Are you a Ken Miller fan? Let me hear it?


Tomorrow my take on the Riders may not be so positive. I'm going to be talking about Wes Cates.

With that in mind, good night to you. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stars Go One for Two.

Saturday night in Humboldt the Battlefords North Stars dropped a 4-2 decision to the Humboldt Broncos in front of a energetic crowd at the Elgar Petersen Arena. The Broncos were able to use some strong goaltending and opportunistic play to their advantage.

Humboldt opened the scoring 2:12 into the game. Riley Gillies received a pass on a two-on-one and beat Kyle Birch five-hole. Humboldt would then get three power-plays late in the first period, but were unable to capitalize on any of their opportunities.

Early in the second period, the Stars tied it. Ryan Andersen received a pass at center-ice from Josh Daley and did the rest himself. He used his speed to cut wide on the Humboldt defender, and then out-waited Andrew Bodnarchuk to tie the score at 1.

Moments later, Humboldt's Spencer Baht received a breakaway pass from Kyle Cowan, and was hauled down by Jesse Lebreton. The referee signalled for a penalty-shot, and Baht made no mistake. He glided in from center and went five-hole on Birch to give Humboldt a 2-1 lead.

The lead was short-lived because the North Stars went to the power-play a few seconds later, and at 7:32 of the middle frame, Jesse Lebreton scored his eighth goal of the year to tie the score at two.

Late in the second, the Stars got their fair share of power-plays but Humboldt's penalty-kill held the Stars in check. Goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Bryce Walker were particularly impressive for the home team and after two periods, the score was tied at two.

The third period was all North Stars. They controlled play from the outset and had an enormous territorial edge. Troy Watt hit a goal post, and Dane Muench was stopped point-blank by Andrew Bodnarchuk. Humboldt didn't even get a shot on goal until the 13:51 mark of the final stanza.

But Humboldt showed some fantastic patience, and managed to weather the storm. After a defensive turnover between the blue line and center, justin Buzzeo picked up the puck, skated in alone on Birch, and scored his eighth goal of the season to give Humboldt a 3-2 lead. Troy Gasper would then add an empty-netter to seal the victory.

After the game, Ken Pearson applauded the efforts of his team, but suggested that once again some attempts at making "cute plays" cost his team.

It wasn't all bad news for the Stars though on the weekend.

Friday night at the Civic Center, the Stars climbed back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Estevan Bruins 5-3.

Ward Szucki scored twice, and Josh Daley, Mitch Wall and Brody Malek added singles for the Stars who still have only lost once at home all season.

Up next for the second-place North Stars: The Yorkton Terriers, Tuesday night at 7:30.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It Just Feels Right

It feels so good to be back at the rink. The past two days were full of celebration, rememberance and family. It's safe to say that my grandpa got a fantastic send-off.

Right now I'm blogging from the broadcast booth in Humboldt. I drove from Saskatoon to get here, and managed to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

I confess that I'm mentally drained given the events of yesterday, but stepping into the Elgar Peterson Arena has given me all of the energy and excitement that I'll need and I can't wait to see how tonight's game unfolds.

Once more, I'd like to thank everybody (parents, players, coaching staff etc.) For their kind words.


The Battlefords North Stars beat Estevan last night 5-3. Ken Pearson was rather pleased with the effort of his team, and after a slow start to November, the Stars have won three straight games and are alone in second place.

Tonight they face a Humboldt squad that is playing some good hockey. They were down in Melville earlier this week and grabbed an important two-points. Dean Brockman's team only trails the Stars by six points in the Bauer standings and are likely going to come out strong in front of their home fans tonight.

After Flin Flon's 12-1 win in Weyburn last night, I'm thinking that both teams featured in Humboldt tonight would like to send a return message to Flin Flon saying; "We can do that too!"

My broadcasting intuition suggests that overtime might be in the cards tonight. Just a hunch!

Anyway, that's all for now. Ill be blogging up a storm tomorrow night. Hope you can catch some of the broadcast tonight.

Oh, and one last 'shout-out' to Dean in Humboldt who introduced himself to me earlier tonight. He's a scout for the Broncos who enjoys reading this blog. I look forward to our next visit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stars Hire a Marketing and Office Manager

The Battlefords North Stars Hockey Club and the Board of Directors are pleased to announce that a new Marketing and Office Manager has been hired.
 Effective immediately, Dawn Cardell takes over the position that was vacated in September 2009.
 Cardell has spent the past five years working in a similar capacity with the Flin Flon Bombers organization. Cardell brings a wealth of experience in marketing and book-keeping to the Battlefords.
"I'm looking forward to relocating, starting a new life, and helping the North Stars as best as I can," said Cardell. "I'm very out-going, and good at handling the marketing end of things."
Her ability to manage the books will be a great asset to the organization.
 "She's well aware of the type of accounting neccessary for a hockey team that also needs to meet the format of the SJHL," said North Star's Governor Stew Demmans. Cardell's ability to maintain the books gave her a distinct advantage over other applicants.
Most of Cardell's initial work will be conducted from her home in Creighton, SK until her move to the Battlefords takes place.
Dan O'Connor will continue to assist Cardell and the Battlefords North Stars with game-day promotions, website management and public relations.
All marketing inquiries can be made through the Battlefords North Star's office at the Civic Center (306-445-7827).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Morning Thoughts At Large

First and foremost, I'd like to thank everybody for their warmth and support over the past two days. The e-mails, blog comments, text messages and facebook messages are much appreciated.
  The arrangements have been made, and I will be attending a funeral/memorial for my Grandpa on Friday morning in Fort Frances, Ontario. The good news here, is that I'll be hopping a flight from Winnipeg to Saskatoon at 1:30 pm on Saturday afternoon, landing in Saskatoon at 3 pm and then driving to Humboldt for the Saturday night broadcast.
 It's important to me that I make it to Ontario, but also important that I don't miss a North Star's broadcast. At the latest, I should be landing in Saskatoon at 3:30 on Saturday, which will give me plenty of time to make it to Humboldt and not miss a beat.
The next two days are going to be incredibly busy, but it will most definitely be worth it in the end. I spoke to my Mom yesterday, and she seemed to be in a good frame of mind. The family has been and will continue to celebrate his life.
Tony Oak made his first appearance on the CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix last night, and he killed it. Tony did a great job and was very candid. One of the highlights for me this year has been watching Oak come into his own as a two-way player in this league.
He's done a good job at killing penalties this season, and is starting to get rewarded offensively for his efforts.
I admit that I've got a 'soft-spot' for Oak, Brody Malek, Coleman Brodbin, Mitch Wall and Jesse Lebreton. Those five players and I have stuck it out together in the Battlefords for the past three seasons, through thick and thin and it's great that all of us can now enjoy some prolonged regular season success.
I also spoke with Estevan Bruins head-coach and GM Kerry Biette.
Kerry made his second appearance on the show, and for a second time, he did very well. Admittedly the Bruins are not playing their best hockey right now, but Kerry did not shy away from tough questions, and showed a lot of integrity during the interview.
Some tough news for the Estevan Bruins over the weekend. Their leading scorer, and (easily) their best player Chad Filteau injured his shoulder, and is a 'no-go' for the weekend, and even looks doubtful for the SJHL Showcase.
This is bad for several reasons.
- Filteau is an integral cog of the Estevan offense and is irreplacable in my opinion.
- If he does in fact miss the Showcase, a ton of fans and scouts have to miss out on witnessing one of the best in the league 'strut his stuff.'
A speedy recovery from Chad Filteau can only benefit the SJHL.
Biette hinted that the next two to three weeks are very important for the Bruins. If the Bruins can rattle off some wins, then I'd expect them to try to add some pieces. Should they continue to lose, we may very-well see players like Filteau, MacPhearson, and Brant Harris dealt to other teams.
It might be a 'radio night' in the O'Connor house tonight, as the Flin Flon Bombers are in La Ronge for a matchup with the Ice Wolves.
A win for the Ice Wolves, and they are tied for first with Flin Flon.
A win for the Bombers and they'll have three points of seperation again on the North Stars.
It's only mid-November, and already there are some really important games happening in both conferences. If you can't get excited for that type of thing, then what are you doing watching hockey!?
I'm also curious to see what happens in Humboldt tonight when the Mustangs battle the Broncos. If the playoffs were to start today - Humboldt and Melfort would be facing one another in the Bauer Conference Survivor Series.
Some other thoughts and table topics for you to consider morning:
- Can the Riders beat the Stamps AGAIN at home? I'll be attending the West Final on Sunday, and I admit that I'm incredibly nervous. Darian Durant can solidify his status as the Rider's quarterback for the next three years at least if he wins on Sunday.
- All three of my fantasy hockey goalies are eligable to start tonight: Pekka Rinne (vs. SJ), Carey Price (vs. CAR), and Mikka Kiprusoff (vs. COL).I'm starting 'Kipper' for sure, but I'm still undecided as to who else to dress. Right now I'm ranked sixth out of 12 competitors and I'm slowly climbing the ladder.
- The NFL Monday Nighter was an abomination last night. The Cleveland Browns are an NFL laughing-stock, and it sucks because there are few teams out there that have such a loyal following (Riders... Cough...). I like Brady Quinn as a quarterback dating back to his days at Notre Dame, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him shovelled off to another team in the near future, and find success at this level. The worst part about watching the Browns? There doesn't appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel.
- It looks like Ottawa City Council has approved a motion to kick-start renovations to Landsdowne Park. This means that a CFL franchise in Ottawa could once again be immininet. My only take on that is this: DON'T MESS IT UP AGAIN!
- Rumor has it the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in acquiring Cincinnati Reds second-baseman Brandon Phillips, and converting him to a third baseman. If Alex Anthopolous can swing this deal, I will immediately deem myself an 'AA Supporter." I've always like Phillips, and I think he could help the Blue Jays at the top of their order. Lord knows they need all the help they can get at this point.
- I'm 15 pounds away from reaching my first weight-loss goal. Julie and I went halfers yesterday on an exercise bike for the house! This way I won't have to drive to the gym in -40.
- If you're still reading this entry right now, thank you!
- I know that this weather won't last forever, but right now I am embracing every second of the "no-snow" around here.
- I miss golf and I'm tempted to try the "Nine In, Nine Out" Golf that they have in town here. Has anybody tried it? Is it worth it?

- I stink at growing facial hair. I'm taking part in 'Movember' and my attempt àt a moustache so far has been futile. Hopefully two more weeks will show some kind of results.
Okay, I think I'm done for now. Enjoy your Tuesday North Star Nation and thanks again for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. I appreciate your readership and friendship more than you know.
- DO

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gigi's Gone.

I got the call at 10:30 this morning. My dad calling to tell me that my grandpa had been taken to the hospital in Thunder Bay, and was suffering from a severe case of pneumonia. At age 91, it was clear that his time was running out.

This came as something of a surprise to me. My mom had told me a few days ago that Gigi was in hospital with an illness, but that he was going to be okay. My how things can change.

While my Dad was calling me, my Mom was in the air, on a flight to Ontario. My only thought after hanging up the phone was: "I hope she makes it on time to say goodbye."

Fast forward to around 7:45 tonight - My Dad called me with the news. My grandpa had died, and my Mom did manage to make it there on time.

I'll be honest. Right now I'm feeling great sadness. My grandpa was an amazing man. A fabulous provider, and an individual that brought smiles to everybody that he encountered.

I feel for my Mom, who had to fly across the country this morning and no doubt she had to know what was coming. For my two aunts and one uncle who have also now lost their father and family leader. To my grandma who must now make a run at life without her husband of 66 years.

Beneath I have posted a news article from the Fort Frances Times that highlights my grandparents relationship.


Seven decades in love
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 - 1:29pm

For Nick and Mary Andrusco of Fort Frances, humor and patience are two simple qualities they believe are crucial to a successful marriage.
And they should know.
Tomorrow (July 19th) the couple will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.
They met here 70 years ago, purely by chance. It’s a moment that Mary Andrusco remembers as if it was yesterday. She was just shy of her 16th birthday and Nick was all of 19.
“My dad [George Pidlubny] had bought the Emperor Hotel and on June 26, 1937 he moved our family down here from Winnipeg,” reminisced Mary Andrusco, now 86, during an interview with the couple at their home last week.
“My dad had to know where all the Ukrainian people were and what was going on. He found out there was a youth meeting at the Reading Society (CYMK) and he marched us right over there the day after we got here.
“They were having lunch and Nick sat right across from me,” she said with a smile, and engaging her husband’s familiar and jovial laughter.
Nick, 89, also added to the recall of long ago days with memories of the long walks they took together to Pither’s Point that first summer.
“We used to walk from Armit Avenue on the railway tracks to the Point and back again sometimes three times a day,” he said.
Another defining moment for Mary Andrusco early-on in their romance was when she heard Nick sing.
In her eyes, no one--celebrity or otherwise--has since ever matched it.
“I tell this story all the time, because to me this was the highlight of [our courtship],” she continued.
“Later on in July [1937], Nick said the town band was having a concert at the Town Hall, and he said, ‘After the concert we’ll go and have a milkshake,’” she recalled.
“I was a little bit late getting to the concert and when I walked in, he was on the stage singing ‘Danny Boy’ and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard,” she said with a smile.
“[Nick] and those big blue eyes—I say it even now—whenever I hear the song, nobody has ever sung it better than Nick and I honestly mean it.
“It was simply the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard,” reiterated Mary Andrusco.
(Nick Andrusco and also his brother Walter, who recently turned 100 years-of-age, were well-known musicians across the district and played music for weddings, dances, and social events for years.)
Mary and Nick courted for five years, through high school and on into the years Nick was in administrative military service with the Canadian Forces, where he led the marching band used during conscription and recruitment tours across Canada.
Their marriage in 1942 was decided upon by the uncertain times and the ever possibility that Nick would be sent into service overseas.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen and we wanted to be together [and] if you were 21 in those days and weren’t married . . .,” Mary Andrusco said, chuckling.
The Andruscos were married at St. John’s Anglican Church here and waited until the end of the war to take their honeymoon in Chicago.
The couple began their family in 1947, having three daughters and a son.
Parenting was primarily Mary Andrusco’s department as a stay-at-home mom. Nick worked in the mill and also was involved in his own music band.
“I was with them more [yet] I knew what Nick would approve of and not approve of, so I tried to guide myself that way,” Mary Andrusco explained.
“If things got to the point where the kids were really pushing me, my answer always was ‘Go ask your father’ and their reply was, ‘Forget it,’” she chuckled, with a rousting bout of laughter added from her husband.
“My other [answer], if I wasn’t sure at the time of a reply [to a child’s want], was ‘We’ll see.’
“Those were my two defenses until I had support,” she noted.
The couple never have laid claim to the secret for a happy marriage, suggesting they are just an everyday loving couple, living in the moment and appreciating what they have.
“Our kids call us the ‘Archie Bunkers,’ and we wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t have [disagreements], but we have never fought and we are not mean to each other,” said Mary Andrusco.
“We never got into arguments where we wouldn’t talk to each other, no. I’d never heard of such a thing,” Nick Andrusco concurred.
Perhaps their 65 years together are the result of thinking on a much smaller scale.
On a recent flight to Florida the couple was asked by a flight attendant how long they’d been married, and upon hearing that they were soon to celebrate 65 years, the attendant queried, “How do you do that?’
“I told her, ‘One day at a time,’” Mary Andrusco said with a smile, with her husband’s nod and laughter right on cue.


I was instructed by my father to have a drink in Gigi's honor and that's precisely what I'm doing.

Over the next few days, arrangements will no doubt be made. I can only hope that my schedule allows me to make it to Ontario for the memorial.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stars Win 5-2 in Melfort.

Saturday in Melfort, the Battlefords North Stars finally solved the Melfort Mustangs. The final score was 5-2, and the Stars arguably played their first 'full 60' of the season.

Ward Szucki (6) scored 44 seconds into the game to give the Stars a lead. He received a pass from Tony Oak, darted by the defence and out-waited Jordan Washburn.

Melfort tied it on a powerplay goal from Brant Henry-Norton mid-way the first period.

The Stars would regain their lead thanks to Troy Watt. Watt scored his third of the year after Blake Tatchell fed him perfectly in the high slot.

The Stars outshot the 'Stangs 13-6 after one.

Early in the second the Mustangs tied the score. Lee Christianson scored his first ever goal in the SJ after some nice work by Gary Childerhose to force a two-on-one. This goal was also scored on the powerplay.

After the tying goal, the Mustangs came in on another two-on-one and Graham Hilldebrand STUNNED Brant Henry-Norton point blank! This was a real game saver. Easily the best save he's made all season.

Late in the period, the Stars went to the power-play of their own and Jesse Lebreton rifled home a shot from the left-point for his seventh of the season.

Moments later, Blake Tatchell scored to give the Stars a s-2 lead.

After 40 minutes the Stars were outshooting Melfort 28-12.

Boyd Wakelin added to the mix with a goal in the opening minutes of the third and from there the Stars were in full control.

The Mustangs couldn't get any offence going and when they did get shots towards the net, The Stars defenders kept blocking them.

In the end the Stars outshot Melfort 38-15 and cruised to victory. The Stars improve to 14-9-1-0 and now trail Flin Flon by one point in the Bauer Conference.

Cudos to Kyle Birch for providing some great color commentary tonight!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oak Strikes in OT to Lift the Stars over La Ronge.

*** All photos by Julie Larson:

What a time to score your first of the season!

Third-year North Star Tony Oak has struggled to score all season, but Friday night at the Civic Center he scored the overtime winner, giving the Battlefords North Stars a 5-4 victory over the La Ronge Ice Wolves.

The North Stars were one second away from winning the game in regulation, but Travis Gordon had other ideas.

The North Stars could have easily folded the tent, and blown the game after letting La Ronge force overtime, but they remained resilient. Ken Pearson afterwards said, "It was ugly, but we got the job done."

Brett Miller's 14th of the season got the Stars on the board at 6:21 of the second period. Doug Lindensmith quickly replied for La Ronge.

Taylor Pillar put the Ice Wolves up by one with an unnassisted marker at 16:00. Blake Peake quickly countered for the Stars with a goal at 18:22.

Early in the third, Doug Lindensmith scored his second of the game to give La Ronge a 3-2 lead.

The Stars then went to the power-play and Dane Muench tied it up with his second of the season. Blake Peake gave the Stars the lead at 8:44 of the third period.

Gordon's goal forced overtime, and Oak sealed the deal at 3:55 of the extra frame.

Here are some other photos from tonight's game:

Cameron in a fight with Enns.

Birch doing his thing.

Brett Miller Buries his 14th.

Up next for the Stars, the Melfort Mustangs - tomorrow night at 7:30. I'll have the call for you at 7:15.

You have no idea how difficult it was for me to NOT be at the Civic Center for this game. From what I hear, the crowd was outstanding. Great job North Star Nation.

Stars - Ice Wolves Preview + Much More.

If you consider yourself a die-hard North Star's fan, heck, even a casual fan, this is one game that you will not want to miss.

Record: 11-9-1-1 (Third place in the Bauer Conference)

Who's Hot for La Ronge:

Ben Findlay (30 points) and Doug Lindensmith (27 points) are on fire for the Wolves! These two players have been a nightmare for opposing teams all season. Both are shifty, quick and extremely difficult to play against. Doug Lindensmith in particular has given the North Star's a really tough time over the past year or so. It seems like everytime he gets a chance, he buries against the Stars. Stopping him has to be the number one priority tonight.

Who's on D:

Dustin Stevenson (21 points) and Mike Alexander (24 points)are easily the best 1-2 defensive tandem in the SJHL. There's no other worthy comparison. The minutes that these two log are astounding. Offensively they're both having great years, but defensively they are equally effective. It will be important for the North Stars to be physical in the offensive zone, especially when these two are on the ice.

Who's in Goal:

The last time La Ronge was here at the Civic Center, coach Bob Beatty started Chris Jackson instead of North Battleford's Adam Bartko. Jackson was pulled after surrendering five early goals, and Bartko came in and played well in a 5-3 loss. I'd expect to see Adam Bartko getting the start tonight in his hometown.


Findlay, Lindensmith, Stevenson and Alexander get a ton of attention, and rightfully so. Yet there are several other Ice Wolves that are contributing to the team's success. My x-factor tonight is forward Dan Conoacher. He was the team's offensive catylyst last year, and admittedly hasn't put up the numbers that he is capable of. Dan Conacher could be the ultimate difference-maker in tonight's game if La Ronge is to be successful.

Record: 12-9-1-0 (Second place in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Hot for the Stars:

Dane Muench has put up three points in only two games played this season for the Stars. Muench has managed to find some early success even though he isn't fully healed from an injury that he suffered in the Western Hockey League. Tonight Muench will be skating on a line with Mitch Wall and Blake Peake. If that isn't a recipe for success, than I don't know what is.

Who's on D:

Hopefully six angry players. The North Star's defence (and forwards too) need to play with more of an edge. The North Stars as a team were embarassed by the Nipawin Hawks, and will no-doubt be looking to be the 'intimidator' tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch did not have a good game in Nipawin, thus Ken Pearson has a tough decision to make. Does he give Coleman Young a chance? Or does he go back to Kyle and allow him to redeem himself. We all know what Kyle Birch is capable of, and if I were to play a hunch, I'd expect that in a game of this importance, with only one point separating the two teams - You'll see Kyle in net tonight.


Tony Oak is the x-factor for tonight's game. He needs to be mean. Tony Oak needs to send a message to the La Ronge Ice Wolves tonight. After a couple of dissapointing efforts, the North Stars need their veteran tough-guy to play physical and play with an edge. If Oak can draw some penalties, throw his weight around and chip in offensively, I can almost guarantee a successful night for the North Stars.


Tonight's going to be a rowdy one at the Civic Center. Nachtegaele Agri-Services is holding their Annual 10,000$ Shootout during the first intermission of tonight's game, and three different growers in our area have a chance to enter a draw for 10,000$ worth of Canola Seed through Nachtegaele Agri-Services.

Each contestant will get 20 seconds to shoot 20 pucks at an empty-net from center. If 15 pucks go in, then the shooter is entered into the draw.

Add on the fact that it's a Friday night, with some nice weather, and there is no reason why we can pack 1200 fans into the Civic Center tonight.


The SJHL Showcase is just under two weeks away. Do you have your tickets yet? It's important to note that season ticket holders MUST call and book their tickets in advance, or they'll be out of luck for the Showcase when it comes to redeeming their usual seats.

Anybody wanting to buy tickets to the Showcase, can do so by calling Kara Rosen at: 306-445-6640 (Work) or 306-445-4910 (Home). I don't think enough people realize how big a deal this Showcase Weekend is going to be.

A reminder that the SJHL Showcase is presented in part, by Strike Energy.


Have you bought your tickets yet for Puck N Funny? This is another outstanding way to help the Battlefords North Stars with their fundraising, and as well it's a great holiday gift idea.

When: JANUARY 29 - 2010

Doors @ 6:00, Meal @ 7:00, Show @ 8:00.

Where: Alex Dillibough Center (Battleford)


Single Ticket - $30

At the Door - $35

Table of 8 - $240

Only 450 total tickets are available. Tickets are on sale now!!!!! Get them at the North Star's souvenir booth or through the office at 306-445-7827.

For more information click here.


I won't be at tonight's North Star's game because I will be doing play-by-play for the North Saskatchewan River Hockey League. Each season, CJNB/CJNS does 10 regular season games, and recently we started calling the league final.

Tonight I'm in Maidstone watching the Edam 3 Stars and Maidstone Jets launch their season. I did my very best to schedule my Senior League broadcasts around the North Stars, but in some cases (like tonight) the conflict was unavoidable.

It's always tough missing North Star games, but I'll be getting text updates from Julie who will be on hand taking her photos as usual!

Also, major cudos to Tyler Loewen for filling in for me during tonight's "Hot-Stove Feature" after the game. If you've never seen a Hot-Stove Feature, let me enlighten you:

After every weekend home-game, we meet upstairs in the lounge afterwards for a Hot-Stove interview with the coaching staff and a player. Ken, Blair and I will sit at a table in the center of the hall, and I'll ask them each a few questions about the previous game. It's a neat feature, and I urge you to check it out tonight as Tyler leads the charge.


Monday's edition of the CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix is going to be great. I'll be speaking with Jim Kozak, who is the Senior Manager for Kraft Canada Consumer Promotions. Essentially, Jim is one of the faces behind "KRAFT HOCKEYVILLE."

The interview will center around Hockeyville, and in particular, what a community needs to do in order to become Canada's hockeyville for a given year.

I'll be honest - The interview inspired me. I would love to be a part of a committee that allows North Battleford to run for Hockeyville 2010. I don't have the time to spear-head the endeavor, but I'd love to help.

In your honest opinion, do you think North Battleford could successfully market itself as Hockeyville in Canada? To me, it's a easy YES, but I'm not sure if others share the same kind of optimism that I do.

The deadline for entry is January 18th, and I hope that somebody from North Battleford enters the Civic Center and the community into the competition. I know that four other Saskatchewan cities/towns have already done so: Waldeim, Yorkton, Unity and one other that I can't place right now.

Are we passionate enough about hockey that we could win Hockeyville? I'm really curious to know your thoughts.

I'll leave you with that for now. I'll recap tonight's game on the blog either later tonight, or early tomorrow morning. A reminder that we're live from Melfort tomorrow night.

Be loud and be loyal tonight North Star Nation. I'll be thinking of you from Maidstone.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stars Sink in Nipawin

Sometimes when two good goalies face one another you get a defensive showdown. Other times (like tonight) the opposite occurs.

The Nipawin Hawks defeated the Battlefords North Stars 6-4 tonight at the Cage on the strength of three power-play goals.

Defensively the Stars have seen better days. During the srcond periood, the Hawks seemed to score at will, with little to no objection from the Stars.

It was 2-2 after one. Ward Szucki (4) and Dane Muench (1) scored for the visitors.

The second period started badly, and only got worse.

Matt Spafford (twice), Alex Leclerc. Jon Ceci scored in the first 10:06 of the seconf to pace the Hawks to a 6-2 lead.

Ceci's goal was off a turnover. Leclerc's goal due to a homerun body-check that missed, and the sixth goal was just a combination of all of those things.

The Stars still managed to make this game interesting, and actually played an excellent third period. But tonight it was too little too late.

Coach Pearson juggled the lines, and I thoought it worked well in the third.

Muench - Wall - Peake

Andersen - Daley - Miller

Oak - Tatchell - Neufeld

Szucki - Tomac - Watt

Were the combos and lots of chances were created.

Hopefully the Stars can bounce back and put it all together Friday when the La Ronge Ice Wolves come to town.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beat Goes On.

The month of November has gotten off to a less-than-stellar start if you are a North Star's fan.

The team has dropped three of their last four, and the reactions from fans after the loss last night were understandedly solemn. I had some loyal listeners call me at work today to ask "whats up?" and my trip to Tim Horton's this morning sort of felt like a post-game press conference, with different folks asking me about last night and what went wrong.

My response?

The same thing that the coaches have been saying all season.

The Stars are still a relatively young team that are still figuring things out. Those who know the sport know that a season is always going to have it's ebs and flows. Right now things are magnified because of the recent string of losses.

Every goal against, failed power-play and every defensive miscue stings even more. But mark my words: Things are going to get better before they get worse. How can they not?

The Stars are too talented, too well coached, and have played too well for things to be 'this' negative around here.

Lets review all of the positives shall we?

We still have one of the best goaltending tandems in the SJHL. Kyle Birch has one of the best overall records in the league, he's still making big saves, and I mean this when I say that there is NO OTHER GOALIE in the SJHL that I'd rather have starting a "big game" for me. A couple of losses in early November shouldn't be enough to change anybody's mind in that regard. Add the fact that Graham Hilldebrand continues to progress, and he should be good to go by the Showcase. Heck, I'm excited to see Coleman Young get his shot in a game.

Defensively we've got some of the best depth in the SJHL. When our 'D' is clicking, there are few teams that can match the Stars depth-wise. It's been great this season watching the skill of Jesse, the poise of Cody, the passion of Woody, dependability of Brody, sturdiness of Coleman, maturation of Dominic, and the steady improvement of Myles.

Up front, you've got a group of guys that all bleed their North Star colors. You've got great skill with Dane, Josh, Brett, Blake P, Blake T and Justin. Add the size and consistency of Mitch, Shay, Ryan, a long with the gutsiness of Ward, Nathan, Boyd, Troy and Tony.

I've raved all season about the quality of our coaching staff, and that will never change.

No need for panic. No need to worry. All teams go through bumps in the road. For the first time in three seasons, we are watching a North Stars team that not only has a chance to win every game, but in most cases is expected to win every night.

Sometimes we all need to embrace our struggles, hardships and trials. Nobody ever won a championship without conquering some adversity first.

Hang in there North Star Nation. We'll chat at you tomorrow night from Nipawin.

- DO

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Melfort Haults the Stars Winning Streak at Home.

Sunday night at the Civic Center, the Melfort Mustangs halted the North Stars home-ice winning streak. The Mustangs used solid defense and an effective power-play to pace the North Stars 5-2.

The North Stars opened the scoring early on, as Blake Peake banged home a Dominic Perrault rebound.

Melfort quickly responded at the eight minute mark thanks to two quick goals from 20-year-old forward Blake Hietela.

Josh Daley’s 10th of the season tied it for the Stars mid-way through the first, but from then on out it was all Melfort.

Regan Nabseth scored at 4:25 of the second, and Devon Stillar later added a power-play marker, and from there the ‘Stangs were in complete control. Nabseth added his second of the game into an empty net late in the third period.

The North Stars faltered on the man-advantage going a dismal 1-10, and many times failed to penetrate the Melfort defense.

For the Stars, it was a tough loss given the fact that they had previously won nine in a row at the Civic Center. The loss moves the Stars record to 12-8-1-0 (2nd Bauer Conference). The Mustangs improve to 8-8-2-1 (5th Bauer Conference).

“We were lethargic tonight,” said Ken Pearson after the game. “Credit to Melfort, they played a strong game tonight.”

Next up for the North Stars is a battle in Nipawin Tuesday night against the Hawks. The puck drops at 7:30. You can catch the game live on CJNB/CJNS and

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Daley Scores Twice as Stars Beat Kindersley

After two tough losses away from home earlier this week, the Battlefords North Stars returned home Friday night needing a boost in momentum.

They got it in the form of their power-play.

The Stars tallied three times on the man-advantage en route to a 5-3 victory at home over the Kindersley Klippers.

Mitch Wall opened the scoring for the Stars 6:25 into the game on the power-play. Brett Miller fed Wall behind the net, and Wall did the rest. He curled around the net on his forehand side, and outwaited Josh Thorimbert to tally his sixth goal of the season.

The Stars outshot Kinderlsey 17-14 after one period, as both Josh Thorimbert and Kyle Birch made some fine stops.

Early in the second, the Stars struck again, this time it was Josh Daley. Daley raced down the right side of the ice, and fired a low snap-shot by Josh Thorimbert for his eigth goal of the year.

Justin Waskewitch scored his fifth of the year a few moments later. Brett Miller would add his 13th, and Josh Daley scored his ninth of the year mid-way through the second, and that spelled the end of the night for Kindersley netminder Josh Thorimbert.

The Klippers finally beat Birch early in the third period, as Taylor Duzan banged home a Jordan Braid rebound for his sixth of the year. Steven Turner then made things very interesting with two straight goals, and with 9:50 gone in the third, it was a 5-3 score.

The North Stars simplified, and increased their intensity. The game ended without another strong chance from the Klippers.

Before the game, Brett Miller was named Player of the Month for November. Miller had three shootout winners, a long with two other game winning goals.

Up next for the Stars, a home matchup with the Melfort Mustangs on Sunday night at 7:30. If all goes according to plan, Dane Muench will be making his 09-10 Stars debut.

Here are some photos from the game. All photos were taken by Julie Larson.

Your Player of the Month for October, Brett Miller.

Nice block by Neufeld in front.

Folstad Tangling with Perraulx

Miller Buries on the Backhand.

Some Rough Stuff at the Kindersley Bench.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stars - Klippers Preview

Whenever these two teams get together, fans can expect a battle. There is certainly no love-loss between the Klippers and North Stars. Kindersley has won four straight games, while the North Stars are a perfect 8-0 at home. Sadly one of these streaks will end tonight.


Who's Hot Up Front:

No surprise really that Jordan Braid is leading the charge with 23 points in 18 games. But what maybe does come as a surprise is the fact that second-year Klipper Andrew Dommett has 21 points. Dommett is tied for the team lead in goals with 13, and has proven to be an outstanding secondary scoring threat for the Klippers.

Who's on D:

Steven Turner leads the Klippers with five goals and 14 points to start the season. He's a solid two-way defensive threat who will likely log a ton of ice-time tonight. Look for other D-Men like Kurt Leedahl, Sean Flanigan and Justin Wilkinson to see a lot of minutes as well.

Who's in Goal:

With the way he is playing right now, I'd be shocked if we saw anybody other than Josh Thorimbert. The 17-year-old native of Saskatoon has been super for the Klippers, and was recently named SJHL Rookie of the Month for October.


Taylor Duzan is probably the smallest player in the SJHL, but you'd never know it by watching him play. He's shifty, physical, and talented. Duzan has shown tremendous poise and vision over the years, and always seems to bring his best when the North Stars are involved. If the Stars can limit his time and space, they will likely find some success against the Klips.


Who's Hot Up Front:

Coming into tonight's game, Blake Peake is the hottest North Star's forward. Peake scored twice earlier this week in Nipawin and La Ronge, and seems to have regained some offensive confidence. Josh Daley and Shay Neufeld continue to provide Peake with some great support. I've also noticed that Peake tends to do well against Kindersley.

Who's on D:

The North Stars are probably looking for a more collective offensive effort from the back-end. No D-Man stood out really during the two-game road swing up North. Jesse Lebreton, Cody Folstad, and Woody Klassen in particular are all players that are going to be knocking on the door tonight, and if one of those three can pick up a couple of points, the North Stars could be on their way to win number nine at home.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch likely gets the call again tonight, as he looks to redeem himself after a two-loss road trip. Birch played well in both games, but has exactly looked "himself" lately. If both Birchy and Thorimbert are on their game tonight, we could be in for a low-scoring affair.


No player has had more scoring chances lately than Blake Tatchell. The 18-year-old North Battleford boy has been a little snake-bitten recently around the net. If Tatch can get off the schnide tonight, the Stars will have a very good chance at victory.

Lets get over 1000 people to the Civic Center tonight. We've got some redeeming to do after a couple of smaller crowds in recent weeks.

For those that can't make it, you can catch the broadcast tonight on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15 with the SaskTel Pregame Show.