Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Season Ticket Info + More.


Season Ticket Rates

$ 209 (Before June 15th)

$ 145

$ 100

*Student = 13 and older, including post-secondary students with a valid student card
**Child = 12 and under

See the following to check out your season ticket savings!!!

Season Ticket Rate/
Gate Ticket Rate

$209 (ONLY $7.46/ ticket)

$145 (ONLY $5.17/ ticket)

$100 (ONLY 3.57/ ticket)

Other Great Season Ticket Holder Advantages:

J Reserved Seating (all regular home games & playoffs)

J Guaranteed Playoff Tickets (first right of refusal)

J Savings!! (Up to 56% OFF gate prices

J Tickets are good for any game (No date on tickets)

Don’t miss out!! Call 445-STAR for more information. You can pick up your tickets at the Scott Campbell Dodge service department (Kara), or at Bee-J's Office Plus (Debbie.)


As you may (hopefully) have noticed - I've added a few things to the blog. I've added a couple more blogs to my 'Follow Feed' and I've also posted a direct link to my twitter.


I anticipate that within the next few weeks we will learn the future hockey fates of some of the 20-year-old North Star players. In speaking to the likes of Blake Peake, Mitch Wall, and Jesse Lebreton etc. There seems to be a lot of waiting involved, but I assure you that that info will be posted here when it is made available.

We already know that Chad Filteau is heading to Sacred Heart University, but other than that it's a wide open world out there.

I'm of the mindset that it's not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN for the rest of the vets.


This broadcaster is not DONE with hockey yet this year. For a third straight season, I'm calling the North Saskatchewan River Hockey League senior hockey championships between St. Walburg and Paradise Hill.

I know that this league has a tremendous fan-base, and what I would like to know from you is:

Would you be interested in reading preview-type pieces for the remaining games of that series, a long with game recaps?

I know that it is my blog, but if there is enough interest out there, I would definitely go the extra-mile and provide extended coverage of that series. Any e-mails or comments on that issue would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Reflections and Thank You's.

So what now?

This is the toughest part of the year for any hockey broadcaster. Nothing can ever prepare you for the wave of emotion that comes when a season is over.

This year's North Star's team had as good a chance as any to win the championship, and instead they were ousted by the La Ronge Ice Wolves in six. In my opinion there is lots to celebrate, but right now the entire North Star organization is in a state of shock, and this feeling will linger for another few weeks at least.

I guess I'll start by congratulating Bob Beatty and the La Ronge Ice Wolves. They have truely earned their spot in the Bauer Conference Final and will no doubt be a tough opponent for either Yorkton or Kindersley. Great goaltending, timely offense, and solid special-teams were all key factors in the Ice Wolves series victory and I wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.


For North Star's coach Ken Pearson, the offseason begins today. As I type this, the Coach is meeting with the players, and when all is said and done today the Star's locker-room will be emptied for another season.

The coaching staff will immediately start dissecting the season, and will do their best to point out what went wrong and address those issues in the offseason. After Game Six, Ken Pearson discussed the Power-play struggles, and how special teams were the ultimate 'un-doing' of the Stars. The Star's man-advantage went 2-20 during the three games in La Ronge, and was not much better at home.


For the eight 20-year-olds who played their final game as a North Star last night, I'd like to thank all of you.

Mitch Wall, Troy Watt, Blake Peake, Chad Filteau, Jesse Lebreton, Brody Malek, Coleman Brodbin, and Grant Fahnhorst have all left a positive mark on this franchise, and we are all grateful for having watched you play and contribute to this organization and community. Your leadership, character and skill will be missed terribly, and I hope that your stint in the Battlefords was a memorable one.


As far as the 10-11 season is concerned, I think the Stars are in great shape. Assuming that everybody returns, the Stars have a great nucleus in place.


Brett Miller (91) - Cuz I'm a jackass and accidently forgot.
Josh Daley (90)
Shay Neufeld (90)
Tony Oak (90)
Blake Tatchell (91)
Ward Szucki (91)
Boyd Wakelin (91)
Nathan Tomac (91)
Dane Muench (92)
Calder Neufeld (92)
Tanner Schwab (92)


Cody Folstad (90)
Woody Klassen (91)
Dominic Perrault (91)
Kyle Schmidt (93)


Kyle Birch (90)
Graham Hildebrand (91)

Not bad at all eh?

But lets not kid ourselves. There are going to be trades, and there will be movement during this offseason. Ken Pearson has worked hard to improve the Star's 50-man protected list, and some more unknowns will soon be household names in the Battlefords.

The offseason can be a very exciting time for a promising team like the North Stars, and I anticipate that we'll be hearing many good things out of North Star Nation once the Royal Bank Cup comes to an end on May 9th.


A few folks have been asking me if I'm going to keep updating the blog now that the season is over. The immediate answer is yes. I will continue posting North Star news and notes, and will continue to provide the fans with info and insight into the world of sports both locally and nationally.

It's only a matter of time before some of our 20-year-olds will receive scholarship opportunities from schools, and others could very well pursue pro careers if they so choose. I will make every effort possible to keep you updated on North Star's past and present.

I want to thank each and every individual reader of the North Star Nation blog for their loyalty, compliments and support. When I started this blog at the start of the 09-10 season, I didn't really know what to expect, and I can safely say that my expectations were exceeded. Thank you.


Don't stop checking the North Star's website either. The Annual Golf Tournament is coming up sooner than you think, and we are also in the midst of trying to create an Alumni Database for the team.

Over the next few seasons it is our hope that we can host several Battlefords North Star's alumni events. If you have ever played for the Battlefords North Stars, please e-mail: and supply your name, your position, the years you played in the Battlefords and a quick summary of what you're doing now with your life.


Now onto my personal thank you's, and there are lots of them.

First and foremost I would like to thank the North Star's Board of Directors and coaching staff. At the start of this season, they trusted me enough to take on the role of Media Relations Director with the team, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity. I firmly believe that I have the best job in the SJHL, and you have given me that opportunity and I thank you.

To Ken and Blair for their support and friendship. I have enjoyed this season more than you even know. From the endless laughs on the bus, to some great conversations on the road - You've helped this 24-year-old broadcaster feel 'at home.' Not only that, but both always seemed to have my best interests in mind. Be it Blair critiquing my outfits, or Ken correcting my spelling on the blog, it all meant a lot to me, and I look forward to many more stories and memories together down the road.

To my roommate on the road Dale Jackson. You truely are Mr. Everything to the North Star's, and we are lucky to have you on board. Thanks for all of your hard-work, and dedication to your craft. I consider you a dear friend, and I am already excited for our trips together next year. Thanks for keeping me company on the way to Yorkton too, that was awesome.

To Missy Reiter, team trainer - You're the ultimate sweet-heart. Thank you for your compliments, and you're loyalty to the team. Best of luck with your delivery, and I look forward to spending more time with you and Jody over the offseason.

To Marketing and Office Manager Dawn Cardell - We truely make a great team don't we? By the way, if anybody knows of a house for rent in the Battlefords. E-MAIL Dawn at or call 445-7827.

To my broadcast team - Matt Ryan, Cody Nickolet and Trent Cey. Matt you've come such a long way as a broadcaster, and you're energy and passion for this team is contagious.

Cody, you did a remarkable job covering this league and I anticipate only bigger and better things from you in the future. You're dedication to your craft is second to none, and I appreciate your help so much.

Trent, you filled in admirably whenever I needed you, and I am grateful for that. You're a great writer, and the News Optomist is lucky to have you.

To Julie Larson for your photography. I know I speak for everybody when I thank you for your photos. You truely have a gift for photography, and I'm blessed that you shared your gift with my readers. You're the greatest girl I know, and I'm blessed just to know you, let alone share my life with you.

To the many other North Star volunteers who have lended countless hours towards this organization - Thank you. Without you, we wouldn't have a team. You're dedication and love for this team is outstanding. Neil, Tyler, Debbie, Kara, Tri-Dawn Security Members, the Northwest Hockey Developmment concession workers, the Hot Stove Lounge Commuittee and the 50/50 ticket takers - Wow. You are all terrific.

To the North Star parents who have constantly built me up and supplied me with compliments, energy and kind words. I have enjoyed meeting all of you and sharing stories and laughs with all of you. Thank you for trusting the North Star's with your children, and thank you for making my days at the rink much more fun!

To the billets who bleed for this organization. Again, without you, there would be no team.

To the loyal season ticket holders and fans who cheered loud and proud game after game for this team. The fact that 60 of you came to La Ronge for Game Six was inspiring, and I can't help but smile when I think about the cheering section from last night's game. Great job North Star Nation. Great job.

And once more I want to thank the players. You provided us all with a tremendous run, and you helped take my broadcasts to another level this season. Thanks for making yourselves available to me before, and after games, and I hope that we can stay in touch and keep the laughter going forward.

If i've missed anybody, I apologize. I hope I was able to give this season justice with my broadcasts, and blogs. Thank you again for your tremendous support, and comments over the course of the season. You've been a constant source of insipiration to me and I look forward to more great memories together.

Don't be a stranger.

Dan O'Connor

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Game Six Preview - Stars and Ice Wolves

Who's Up Front:

The Top Six forwards of the Ice Wolves are going the focal point in Game Six. The Stars need to find a way to keep the likes of Lindensmith, Carre, Findlay, DeCorby, Brennan and Conacher off the score-sheet. Don't get me wrong, the Ice Wolves can beat you in many ways, but if the Stars want to force a game Seven, they'll need to limit the time and space of some of the higher scoring forwards on the Ice Wolves.

Who's on D:

Will Mike Alexander be back in the fold for Game Six? If so, that drastically increases the Ice Wolve's power-play effectiveness, and it also bodes well for them defensively.

Who's in Goal:

Bartko did all he could in Game Five to win the game for his team, and fell just short. It'll be his turn in Game Six to try and steal the show.


Today I look at the grinders: Richard Cameron and Nolan Souchotte. Both have had a terrific series, but just haven't been able to capitalize. If the Wolves can get a goal from one of their role-players, that will spark the rest of the team, and perhaps put them into the SJHL Final.

Who's Up Front:

The top six of the Stars will have to put this team on their back offensively tonight. On one hand the Stars have proven that they can get scoring from anywhere, but in the same breath, they've shown that when their top six are going - The rest seems to follow dutifully. Mitch Wall, Chad Filteau, Brett Miller, Blake Peake, Ward Szucki and Blake Tatchell are the ones to watch today.

Who's on D:

Do you think that Jesse Lebreton, Coleman Brodbin and Brody Malek want their season to end on a Sunday in La Ronge? Those three are going to bring it, and bring it big-time tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Blair Atcheynum hinted after Game Five, that it was going to be Kyle's time to shine. He won Game Five, and now Game Six will be on his plate too. The Stars need Kyle Birch to have another effort like Game Five. If so, then Game Seven is a legit possibility on Tuesday night.


Discipline. Keep the Ice Wolves off of the power-play in La Ronge and you'll find success.


Game time is 6:00 PM with the pre-game show at 5:45. You won't want to miss a second of this one.

Enjoy the game tonight,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 26 Photos

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

Brodbin Thumps Souchotte.

Miller Makes it 1-0.

The Coach.

Nice Save Birch.

The Call of the O.T. Winner

Stars Force Game Six with a 3-2 OT Win.

Persistence payed off for the Battlefords North Stars in Game Five. They hit three goal-posts in OT, and had several other chances which Adam Bartko denied - Yet, with 16:19 gone in Overtime, Nathan Tomac extended the North Star's season with the overtime winner.

The Star's won Game Five 3-2, and will now give the Ice Wolves something to think about heading up to La Ronge for Game Six on Sunday night.

The Stars opened the scoring at 7:28 when Brett Miller (6) tipped home a Cody Folstad point-shot on the power-play. Chad Filteau added an assist.

The Wolves responded late in the first when Dustin Stevenson came in on the left-wing, and took a shot which Birch stopped. However, the rebound (fittingly) bounced directly back to Stevenson who roofed it over top of Kyle to tie the score at 1.

Kyle Birch and Adam Bartko both made crucial stops in the first period. Birch faced 17 shots in the first stanza and stopped 16.

Mid-way through the second period, the Stars made it 2-1 off a La Ronge turnover. Jesse Lebreton received a quick pass at center from Brett Miller, and Lebreton did the rest. He skated across the blueline, got the left circle, and blasted his second goal of the playoffs over the glove of Bartko.

Two minutes later, the Stars lost the services of Woody Klassen for the remainder of the game when the refs called him for charging Adam Bartko. They gave Klassen five and a game. Unfortunately for the Wolves, Robert Monfore took a minor penalty, and shortly afterwards Colton MacPherson took a roughing penalty, and the Ice Wolves only received about 45 seconds of Powerplay time.

The Wolves would tie the score early in the third period. Doug Lindensmith lifted a rebound over the left pad of Kyle Birch, and the Ice Wolves tied it on the man-advantage.

For the most part the Wolves carried the play in the third period. The Stars gave up numerous chances, and were largely outhustled for pucks. Kyle Birch held his ground until the late stages of the frame, and then the Stars were handed two late power-play opportunities which they couldn't deliver on.

Overtime was needed for a second straight game, for a third time in the series.

Early in O.T. Ward Szucki DINGED one off the goalpost, and that type of luck continued for the Stars. Chad Filteau, Blake Tatchell, Blake Peake, Troy Watt and Ward Szucki again had chances to end it, but Adam Bartko stood tall and kept the game tied.

At the other end, former North Star Richard Cameron had the best chance to win it for the Wolves, when he out-waited everybody, and nearly snuck one by Kyle Birch.

Late in overtime, the Stars thought they won the game off a Blake Tatchell shot from the slot. The red light went on, but the puck actually went through Bartko's legs and off the goal-post. The nasty puck-luck continues.

The game ended at 16:19, during a mad-scrambled in front of the Wolves net. The puck was sitting loose in the crease, and the four-odd bodies in front of the net couldn't seem to wack at it. Enter Nathan Tomac.

Tomac came off the bench and bee-lined straight towards the Ice Wolves net. He dove at the loose puck, and stuffed it underneath Adam Bartko. Game over!

"These boys know that they still have a job to do, but we'll enjoy this one tonight," said Blair Atcheynum after the game.

The Stars finished 1-8 on the power-play, while the Wolves finished 1-7.

The Wolves saw Aaron DeCorby return to the lineup, but were missing the services of Mike Alexander.

Game Six goes Sunday night at 6:00 pm from the Mel Heglund Arena in La Ronge. You can catch that game on the radio starting at 5:45 with the Sask-Tel Pregame Show.


The North Stars are sending a fan-bus to La Ronge for tomorrow's game. The cost is 55$ and that includes your ticket to the game. The bus will be leaving the Civic Center at noon, and will get to La Ronge at approxomitely 5:00.

At this time, there are roughly 27 spots remaining on the bus. Call the North Star's office until noon at 445-7827 and then call Kara Rosen at home: 446-4910 to get your seat on the bus.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stars - Wolves (Game Five Preview)

Who's Up Front:

So far in this series there hasn't been on forward in particular who has dominated the Stars. The Wolves have beaten the Stars three times with depth. Game one it was Doug Lindensmith, Game three it was Marc-Andre Carre and in Game Four it was Travis Eggum, Ben Findlay and Dan Conacher. If the Ice Wolves are going to win this series tonight, their depth will have to shine once again.

Who's on D:

On the same night that he was crowned SJHL Player of the Year, Dustin Stevenson scored the most important goal of his career. Stevenson's OT winner has set the Stars back 3-1 in the series. Stevenson will have to bring a similar type of effort in Game Five, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Mike Alexander and Kirk Moore.

Who's in Goal:

Adam Bartko continues to find ways to win hockey games. If Bartko is not the early choice for Playoff MVP then I give up.


Coaching. Bob Beatty has been the master of putting teams away during his coaching career. The former RBC Champ has already dethroned Humboldt, beaten number one Flin Flon, and has a chance to slay another giant tonight. Beatty knows that momentum is a key thing, and in order to keep momentum on his side, he'll have to lead his troops to victory in Game Five.

Who's Up Front:

Ward Szucki scored twice for the Stars in Game Four, and darn nearly had the OT winner in the first minute. Szucki found great chemistry with Blake Tatchell and Blake Peake, and if those three are together again tonight I'd expect another positive result.

Who's on D:

Hopefully the same group that shut-out the Wolves in Game Two. A stronger emphasis on defence, and net protection will be in order for the Stars tonight if they want to extend the series.

Who's in Goal:

If Ken Pearson sticks to his rotation, it would appear as if Kyle Birch gets the call tonight and likely for the remainder of the series if he can win. Birch loves the pressure, and he's proven that he can win the big game. That being said, don't count out Graham Hildebrand.


In an elimination type of game, the veterans need to strut their stuff. I'm thinking of four 20-year-olds in particular: Jesse Lebreton, Brody Malek, Coleman Brodbin and Mitch Wall. These four have spent the past three seasons in North Battleford and will not want their North Star's caree to end in defeat. Look for those four in particular to bring a spirited physical effort in tonight's game.


All hands need to be on deck tonight. Puck drop 7:30 from the North Battleford Civic Center. We'll see you there.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

For Those Seeking Inspiration.

I couldn't help myself.

You Do what You have to do to get pumped up right? Game five just 24 hours away.


Congratulations to F - Chad Filteau and F - Brett Miller for being named to the All Second SJHL team. That honor was well earned.

I must pose the obvious question though:

What about Blake Peake? What does this guy have to do to get a little credit?

Maybe it's a good thing though. After Blake was (miraculously) snubbed from the All-Star game, he had one of his best games of the season up in Flin Flon. An omen for tomorrow night? Lets hope so.


Three Major SJHL Awards were announced yesterday:

SJHL Player of the Year - Dustin Stevenson (La Ronge Ice Wolves)

SJHL Defenceman of the Year - Mike Alexander (La Ronge Ice Wolves)

SJHL Most Valuable Player - Andrew Bodnarchuk (Humboldt Broncos)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stars Fall 4-3 in O.T. - Their Season On the Line Friday.

The La Ronge Ice Wolves tied it up with 1:20 remaining and then grabbed a 3-1 series lead with Dustin Stevenson's overtime winner. The Stars fell 4-3 and now return home with their season hanging in the balance.

The Wolves drew first blood when Dan Conacher buried a Dustin Stevenson rebound mid-way through the first period.

The Stars tied it on the power-play in the second on Ward Szucki's first of the game.

A scary moment for the Stars mid-way through the second when Dustin Stevenson hit Brett Miller open-ice. Miller's helmet flew off, and he hit the ground hard. Miller shook it off, got up on his own power, but didn't take another shift.

Mike Alexander left the game as well in the second with an injury and did not return.

Early in the third, Szucki struck again for the Stars on a power-play to give them a 2-1 lead.

The Wolves tied it at 11:10 when Travis Eggum beat Graham Hildebrand with a wrister from the right-wing boards.

The tandem of Shay and Calder Neufeld regained the lead for the Stars when Calder slid a dandy pass through the defense, and Shay tipped it home. The Stars led 3-2 with less than five minutes to play.

Cody Folstad took a penalty late which gave the Wolves a power-play with 2:20 left in the game. Ben Findlay made the Stars pay, scoring his sicth of the playoffs with 1:20 reamining.

The Stars had a few chances late in the third, but Adam Bartko stood his ground and made saves off Blake Tatchell and Ward Szucki.

Early in OT, Szucki had another opportunity but shot a puck wide on Bartko from the slot.

Dustin Stevenson ended the game 3:38 into overtime with a nice individual effort from his own zone. Stevenson carried the puck through center, gained the blue-line and then buried a wrister by Graham Hildebrand's glove to cement the victory and a 3-1 strangle-hold on the series.

"The pressure is now on the Ice Wolves," said Ken Pearson afterwards. The Wolves will no doubt be in tough on Friday at the N.B. Civic Center that could be flirting with 2000 fans.

It's do-or-die for the Stars Friday night. Game Five will be a game for the ages and one that nobody will want to miss.


After the game, Ken Pearson brought up the fact that a shift prior to the game winner, the Wolves got away with too many men on the ice.

I didn't see it, but in my defence, I have ZERO view of the Wolve's bench from my broadcast location in La Ronge.

I'm not going to dwell (too much) on non-calls, The Ice Wolves are such a talented team and have truely and rightfully earned the right to be up 3-1 in the series.

What I will say 'matter-of-factly' is that the Stars have been on the short-end of a lot of debatable calls.throughout the playoffs.Hockey is a cruel game in that way. Some teams just seem to get all the breaks, and right now it just seems like the Stars aren't getting too many. Even when they do, the Ice Wolves have found an answer.

Again, I can only go on what I'm told from the coach, but a non-icing call (Game One) a disallowed goal because of the goalie not being close enough to the bench on a delayed penalty (Game Three) and a non-call on an 'alleged' Too Any Men on the Ice infraction have impacted these games. Do the Stars win the game if any of those three calls are different? Who knows.

The fact is, that the first four games of this series are done and now the Stars face their toughest challenge to date. If anyone can pull this off, it is the 09-10 version of the Battlefords North Stars.

I know that fans are upset right now, and I know that remaining positive right now is a tall order.

But right now it is CRUCIAL that you stay supportive, stay positive and pack the hell out of the Civic Center on Friday night.

The Stars are brilliant at home and aren't going to lie down and let the Wolves stomp all over them. The Wolves have already won once in North Battleford, and to do so again on Friday night will be a tall order.

Teams come back from 3-1 defecits all the time. It takes four games to win a series, and I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here on a quiet bus and start naking other plans for April and May.

My plan still involves a seven game series with the La Ronge Ice Wolves in the SJHL's Bauer Conference Final.

As a professional broadcaster for CJNB I am told to do a job and to call the games for the North Stars on the radio. On a nightly basis I try to be objective, and honest.And speaking honestly we have not seen the best from the Stars yet. But as long as there is still a game to play, there is a chance.

I will NEVER lose faith in this team. I can proudly say that I bleed Black, White and Silver and so do the other 26 people on this bus.

These men don't deserve negativity and they don't deserve to have they 'naysayers' count them out just yet.Anybody deciding to share their negativity with me will be greeted coldly.

If you must, take tonight to be sad, get mad, blame refs, and wallow In your frustration - Do whatever you have to do. Do so tomorrow to if need be.

But come Friday, it's go time. No negativity. No criticism. It's time to rally around this team stronger than ever.

All of the die-hard, loyal, optomistic, confident members of North Star Nation know where to find me on Friday night. I'll be in the lobby drinking my pre-game coke, and I'll be socializing with the many great parents and fans in the Battlefords.

Friday night I am going to call the game of my life. These players are going to play the game of their lives. And God willing, Sunday night we'll do it all again.

Thanks for reading.

Stars - Wolves Preview (Game Four)

Who's Up Front:

Marc-Andre Carre was the first star in last night's game, and he earned it with two goals including the game winner. The Rookie of the Year finalist has eight goals in the playoffs, and really used his speed effective in Game Three. It'll be important for the Star's to return to form defensively and keep the likes of Carre, Lindensmith, Findlay and Brennan away from the high percentage scoring areas.

Who's on D:

Hands down, Mike Alexander had his best game of the series in Game Three. He tallied two helpers, and was excellent defensively. He blocked shots, passes, and played physically against some of the Star's top forwards. His patience, and skill with the puck has been an asset to the Wolves all season, and it will be up to the Star's to defend better against Alexander tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Adam Bartko played well enough to warrant another start in my opinion. It's not my call to make, but I suspect that Bob Beatty will continue to play the hot hand.


The Power-Play was excellent for La Ronge in Game Three, and if they continue to find success with the extra man, then the Stars will be in tough in Game Four. Keeping the Wolves silenced on the Power-play tonight is of the utmost importance.

Who's Up Front:

Chad Filteau, Blake Peake and Ward Szucki were probably the three most consistent players for the Stars in Game Three. Filteau scored the first goal and remained a threat all game. Blake Peake had a ton of opportunities to score, and Ward Szucki showed some great offensive ability. When the Stars win games, it's usually because of their depth, and that will definitely have to be the case in Game Four.

Who's on D:

Jesse Lebreton and Brody Malek contributed offensively in Game Three and can hopefully continue that trend moving forward. If the Stars can get some more offense from the defense, they'll be in good shape for a victory in Game Four. In particular I look to Lebreton and Woody Klassen to have their best game of the series tonight.

Who's in Goal:

A very difficult decision has to be made, and I'm glad that I don't have to make it. Whoever gets the call tonight will be charged with 'stealing a game' in La Ronge. Does the fact that Graham Hildebrand won two games in Melfort way into this equation at all? I guess we'll see.


My x-factor is unchanged from yesterday. Special teams cost the Star's in Game Three. If the Stars can bounce back and find a way to win the Special Team's battle tonight, it will be a 2-2 series heading back to North Battleford.


It's easy to look at a situation like this and think negatively about where the Stars stand after three games. But I urge all of you to 'stay the course.' No team has ever won a championship without facing some tremendous adversity. A victory from the Stars in tonight's game and they've regained home ice advantage with the series now becoming a best-of-three.

Ken Pearson put it best last night: "If we play desperate, we'll win."

Here's hoping for a desperate effort from the Stars tonight.

The broadcast starts at 7:15 tonight with the Sask-Tel Pregame Show, and the puck drops at 7:30. Bill Burfoot and I will once again have the call for you on CJNB/CJNS and

Stars Drop a Heartbreaker in Game Three 5-4.

So close, and yet so far. The Battlefords North Stars had their chances to win Game Three, but the La Ronge Ice Wolves stood their ground when it mattered most, and earned a 5-4 victory over the Stars in Game Three.

The Wolves went 3-5 on the power-play, and used it to their strength early on. Taylor Piller opened the scoring for the Wolves when Dan Conacher's initial shot was stopped by Kyle Birch, but the puck remained visible between Birch's feet. Piller poked it home for a 1-0 lead.

Chad Filteau got the Stars back even with a great wrap-around effort at 14:59 of the first period. Filteau's fourth of the playoffs was assisted by Brett Miller and Mitch Wall.

Early in the second, the Wolves power-play clicked again. The Stars had a chance to clear the puck up the left side of the ice, but Mike Alexander held the line, made one move to dance by a defender, and then slid a perfect pass to Marc-Andre Carre at the side of the net for an easy 2-1 goal. Moments later Travis Eggum scored off his own rebound, and the Stars were quickly down 3-1.

The Wolves dominated the second period for the most part. Kyle Birch made some impressive saves off of Leo Lecourciere and Doug Lindensmith, and the Stars were pinned in their own zone until the mid-way point of the period.

Halfway through the period, the Star's luck appeared to change. On a delayed penalty, the Star's scored to make it 3-2. But the referees (Keith Macintosh and Regan Vetter) had a conference, and dissallowed the goal.

The reasoning: On the delayed penalty, Kyle Birch left his net to come to the bench, but apparently wasn't close enough to the Star's bench to warrant Tony Oak heading onto the ice as the extra-attacker. The goaltender must be within 10 feet of the bench in order for a player to head onto the ice. The refs told Pearson that Kyle was only at his own blueline (not true) and that is why the goal didn't count.

The Stars were however given a 5-3 power-play for 25 seconds, and were unable to take advantage of it. The Stars would finish the game 0-7.

Early in the third, the Ice Wolves took a 4-1 lead thanks to their power-play (again). Doug Lindensmith put home a Ben Findlay rebound, and the Stars trailed 4-3.

But the Stars didn't quit. Halfway through the period, Ward Szucki (3) scored on a two-on-one wih Blake Tatchell to make it 4-2. Then Brody Malek made it 4-3, after a terrific shift by the Watt, Tomac, Oak line as they cycled the puck around down low and Malek brought the puck out from the corner and deked Bartko.

A minute later, the Stars came in on a three-on-two. Szucki skated across the blue-line a long the right side of the ice, and rifled a wrist-shot stick-side on Bartko.

DING! Goalpost.

Marc-Andre Carre picked up the puck and skated it back in the other direction, made a one-on-one move to the middle, and then launched a wrister over the shoulder of Kyle Birch to give the Wolves a 5-3 lead.

The Star's weren't done.

Jesse Lebreton scored his first of the playoffs with 19 seconds left and the Star's net empty to make it 5-4.

Then the Star's forced a faceoff in the offensive zone with eight seconds remaining. Off the faceoff, the puck went into the corner of the Wolves end. Blake Peake forced hte puck free, threw it out in front to Mitch Wall, who was denied by the right pad of Adam Bartko. Game over, Wolves win.

Afterwards, Ken Pearson said that he had a "sour taste" in his mouth due to the disallowed goal. However he was also quick to bring up 'special teams' as the ultimate difference in the game.

The Wolves finished 3-5 on their power-play while the Stars went 0-7.

Wednesday's Game Four by default becomes the most important game of the Star's season.

The game preview will be posted shortly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stars - Wolves Preview (Game Three)

Who's Up Front:

The last time these two teams met in La Ronge(Jan 23 and 24), Liam Brennan was the best forward for the Ice Wolves. Brennan brings size, skill and strong skating into the equation and can also win faceoffs. He's been quiet offensively so far through two games and could be poised to breakout tonight.

Who's on D:

Given the uncertainty surrounding the health of Kirk Moore, the Wolves will need to work by committee to take advantage of those extra minutes. Dustin Stevenson and Dayton Fossum (in my opinion) have been the two best Ice Wolves d-men in the series thus far and will need to continue that type of play in order to win Game Three.

Who's in Goal:

This all depends. If Bob Beatty pulled Bartko out of frustration, then maybe we see Joel Danyluk. But if Beatty simply wanted to give Adam a rest in Game Two, then I'd say that it'll be Batko's turn again.


After a strong outing in Game One, the pairing of Doug Lindensmith and Ben Findlay were silenced in Game Two. If they can return to form tonight, the Stars will definitely been in tough.

Who's Up Front:

Brett Miller has goals in three consecutive games and is has had a knack for scoring Game Winners. The Wolves are going to have to find a way to keep him off the score sheet tonight because more often than not, when Miller scores,the Stars win games.

Who's on D:

The Stars may very well use seven defenceman again tonight. Ken Pearson sat Ward Szucki in favor of Dominic Perrault in Game Two and it may have been the best overall defensive effort I've seen from the Stars since November.. It is going to take another collective defensive effort to win Game Three.

Who's in Goal:

Not known for certain, but after a 32 save shutout, my money is on Kyle Birch.


Special teams. If the Stars can get one or two on the man-advantage and keep the Wolves playinf five-on-five for a majority of the game - They'll be just fine.


Many fans I've spoken too are hoping for a split this week. A split would be 'okay' but don't kid yourself - These men have the goal of winning two in La Ronge. We'll soon see what this team is made of. La Ronge isn't always a friendly place, but we'll find out at 7:30 tonight whether the Stars are up to the challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stars Seeking New Logo.

Are you artistic?

The Battlefords North Star's Hockey Club is encouraging their fans to help design a new logo for the team. All interested participants can send their work to the North Star's Office through one of the following ways:

FAX - 445-8406


SNAIL MAIL - Box 1247 North Battleford, SK. S9A-3K2.

A winning entry will receive a great prize courtesy of the Battlefords North Stars.

As of right now there is no deadline.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Miller and Birch Win Weekly Awards.

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has announced their Players of the Week, and two Battlefords North Stars were recognized for their efforts.

Forward Brett Miller was named Player of the Week after a solid start to the Bauer Conference Final. Miller scored the game winner in Saturday's 4-0 win, and tallied a goal and an assist in a losing cause on Friday. Miller had a breakout season for the Stars in 09-10, and his regular season success is definitely carrying into the post-season. Miller has five goals in seven playoff games.

Kyle Birch shut the door completely on the Ice Wolves on Saturday night with a 32-save shutout. Birch hadn't played in two weeks because of the stellar play of Graham Hildebrand in the Melfort series, but Birch answered the bell big time in Game Two.

Weekend Photos

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

Game Two:

Brett Miller Opens the Scoring.

Look Closely. Can you Find the puck?

Peake Makes it 2-0.

Grant Fahnhorst Makes it 3-0.

Oak Doing What He Does Best.


Game One:

Watt Battling for a Loose Puck.

Graham Hildebrand Gloves Down a Shot.

Who Wants It?

Brodbin Battling in the Corner.

Again, if any parents, billets, or fans are interested in obtaining prints of any photos taken by Julie throughout the season, e-mail her at

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stars Square the Series at One.

Two weeks ago Kyle Birch started Game One of the Melfort series and lost. For the next two weeks he watched his counterpart Graham Hildebrand find success and win a series.

Birch could have sulked, pouted and been a distraction. Instead he stayed the course. He worked hard in practice, stayed positive while supported his fellow netminder, and when Ken Pearson needed Birch to win him a game, he delivered.

Kyle Birch made up for lost time on Saturday night with a 32 save shutout, and the Battlefords North Stars defeated La Ronge 4-0 in front of 1750 fans at the N.B. Civic Center.

The Stars were tested early when Chad Filteau took a double-minor penalty for high-sticking. The Ice Wolves had full pressure in the Star's zone, when Mike Alexander coughed up a puck to Brett Miller. Miller raced in on a short-handed breakaway and made no mistake, beating Bartko with a backhand. 1-0 home team.

The Stars were outshot 14-12 in the first period, and Kyle Birch made several key stops.

The Stars rewarded their goaltender with a goal early in the second period. Josh Daley won a battle by the boards, and forced the puck back to Woody Klassen. Klassen ripped a shot towards the net which was blocked, but the puck careened off a skate and right to the stick of Blake Peake who wired it past Bartko for a 2-0 Stars lead.

Daley would be a factor on the Star's third goal at 12:24. Shay Neufeld kept a puck in along the boards, and then fired it behind the Wolves net where it came to Josh Daley. Daley crept in from the boards, but then dropped the puck back to Grant Fahnhorst. 'Fonzy' took two strides and then shelved one on Bartko for a 3-0 Star's lead.

After Fahnhorst's goal, the Stars kept the pressure on, and Bartko made several major saves. The Stars outshot La Ronge 17-7 in period two.

Boyd Wakelin added a fourth late in the third period and the game was sealed.

Kyle Birch was named first star for his 32 save performance. Blake Peake got second star for his goal and solid play. Josh Daley was named third star on the broadcast due to his efforts.

After the game, Star's assistant coach Blair Atcheynum praised the collective effort of the Star's defence, and admitted that there was not a single passenger on the Star's bench during the game.

Now the Stars head North to La Ronge tied 1-1 in the best of seven series. The Wolves still have home-ice advantage in the series, and will no doubt be looking forward to their two home games. It'll be up to the Stars to continue their solid road play and steal one or two from the Mel Heglund Arena.

Game three goes Tuesday night at 7:30 with the Sask-Tel Pregame Show starting at 7:15.

Stars - Wolves Preview (Game Two)

Who's Up Front:

Doug Lindensmith is off to a great start in the series. Three goals in Game One for the 19-year-old forward, and Lindensmith continues to torch the North Stars. Over the past two years, you can probably count the games on one-hand where Lindensmith HAS NOT scored against the North Stars. Shutting him down will be objective number one for the Stars defensively.

Who's on D:

Dayton Fossum was thrust into some additional ice time when Kirk Moore left the game in the first period, and he did not dissapoint. Fossum used his speed and size to make plays, and he nearly beat Graham Hildebrand on a back-hand deke in the late stages of the second period. Depending on the future status of Kirk Moore, Fossum could be seeing a lot more ice-time as this series progresses.

Who's in Goal:

Adam Bartko has finally won a game at the North Battleford Civic Center. He did so in fine fashion, making some enormous saves in the second and third periods. Bartko fought the puck a little bit, and didn't seem 'as calm' as he has in the past. Yet getting the first win in this series will be huge for his confidence, and we'll see if he's up to the task again this evening.


The Ice Wolves proved last night that their depth is a force to be reckoned with. Dan Conacher scored the OT winner by simply going to the net, and making a play. Travis Eggum, Nolan Souchotte, Richard Cameron and Taylor Pillar all played very well for La Ronge, and if they can continue to get offense from their muckers and grinders, the Wolves may be heading home up 2-0 on the Stars.

Who's Up Front:

Blake Tatchell and Brett Miller are both enjoying a fine second season. Tatchell's goal last night may be one of the prettiest we've seen all season. Tatchell is getting better with each passing game, and could once again be a real factor tonight. Brett Miller did what he's done all year, and that is score crucial goals. Miller's fourth of the playoffs tied the game late, and his play has gotten noticably better since the start of the Melfort series.

Who's on D:

The Stars are going with seven defenceman tonight. Ken Pearson is sitting Ward Szucki in favor of Dominic Perrault. Rather than putting Brody Malek up front, Pearson will rotate his defenceman (likely Perrault and Fahnhorst) and will likely be double-shifting a couple of his top forwards. Defensively the Stars need to avoid making clumsy plays at their own blue-line, and they need to keep Doug Lindensmith away from the front of the net.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch gets the call tonight, and you can bet that 'Birchy' will be ready. One can't help but ponder the similarities between Game One of the Melfort series, and Game One of this one. Birch plays well in Game one, but loses - Then Graham plays Game two and wins. Graham plays well last night and doesn't win, Birch gets the call tonight. It's time for Kyle to answer some of his critics who feel that statistics tell the full story. Birch doesn't have the stats, but he has the wins, confidence and experience under his belt. If Kyle Birch can return to 09 Playoff Form, the La Ronge Ice Wolves are in for a frustrating night. By default, this becomes the biggest start of Kyle's career.


Josh Daley - One Goal in six games.
Shay Neufeld - One Assist in six games.

These two NEED to get going. Every other forward has tallied more points than Daley and Neuf and given the fact that Daley finished third in team scoring while Neufeld finished fifth, that is simply not acceptable. It pains me to be so blunt, because I hold both individuals in the highest regard. Both are great hockey players with an enormous upside, and the time has come for them to show it off.

In Daley's case, he's simply got to get his hands dirty and it starts in his own end. He needs to use his size to keep the opposition away from the front of the net. Great offense starts with smart defense. In the offensive zone, he just needs to simplify. Get shots on the net and use his speed to find the open ice. Sooner than later his skill is going to do the rest.


If you can't make it to the rink tonight, you can catch the broadcast live on CJNB/CJNS or

Matt Ryan and I will have the call for you tonight.

Wolves Take Game One in Overtime.

The La Ronge Ice Wolves have drawn first blood in the Bauer Conference Final. Dan Conacher redirected a point-shot home 15 seconds into overtime to give the Wolves the 5-4 victory.

Over 1800 fans were in attendance for Game One of the series, and they were treated to a rather entertaining game.

The Ice Wolves jumped out to a 2-0 by the 12:00 minute of the first period. Brody Malek got booted for checking from behind just over five minutes in, and the Ice Wolves made them pay.

The Stars failed to clear the puck out of their own zone on a penalty-kill and Doug Lindensmith made them pay by scoring his fourth of the playoffs. Taylor Pillar scored off another turnover at 11:55 and the North Star fans were silenced early by the Ice Wolves.

The Stars inched back within one 1:14 seconds later when Mitch Wall (4) put home a rebound off a Brett Miller shot. Woody Klassen (1) tied the game at 15:34 after a nifty setup from Blake Peake behind the La Ronge net.

The Ice Wolves outshot the Battlefords 15-12 in period one.

Star's captain Mitch Wall missed the second period after he was high-sticked in the face. The high-stick went un-detected. However Tony Oak got dinged with a double-minor for high sticking moments later, and again Doug Lindemsith went to work.

Dustin Stevenson fed the puck to Marc-Andre Carre at the half-wall. Carre quickly sent the puck to Lindensmith in the slot, and somehow he had all day in front to grab his second of the night.

Late in the second, the Stars would tie it thanks to the give-and-go combination of Blake Tatchell and Boyd Wakelin. After the passing play, Tatchell skated in one-on-one with Dustin Stevenson, and made a great move to get by him. One stride later, the puck was behind Adam Bartko and Tatchell had his third of the playoffs.

Early in the third period, Doug Lindensmith completed his hat-trick. Lindensmith won the faceoff cleanly in the offensive zone and then blew by his defender and went straight to the front of the net. Todd Fiddler put a back-hand on net, and the rebound came right to Lindensmith who was un-touched en-route to his third goal of the game.

The Wolves kept their 4-3 lead until the late stages of the third period, when Liam Brennan took a holding penalty which gave the Stars their fourth power-play of the game. An off-balance Mitch Wall managed to slip a pass across the crease to Brett Miller (4) who one-timed it in to force a 4-4 score.

THe Stars had a glorious chance to score in the final five minutes, but Shay Neufeld was unable to convert on a two-on-one pass from Blake Peake. The Ice Wolve's Lindensmith had another chance late in the game, but Graham Hildebrand did his part to keep the game tied.

Right off the overtime faceoff, Dustin Stevenson had the puck had his own blueline and passed the puck up the left-wing side. The puck appeared to miss the stick of the Ice Wolve winger, and went the length of the ice. Hildebrand had his arm up signalling icing, but the linesman let the play continue. Taylor Pillar battled the puck free from Cody Folstad in the corner of the Star's zone, and sent the pack back to the blueline. The point-shot found it's way through, and deflected off Dan Conacher and in.

Game Over.

The Ice Wolves now have a 1-0 lead, and have temporarily stolen home-ice advantage in this series. Game Two goes tonight at 7:30 from the North Battleford Civic Center.


A bad non-call? Certainly! Can anything really be gained from dissecting the play to death? No.

Either way you slice it, the Stars are down 1-0, and must now put this game to rest and move forward. The importance of Game Two tonight has now been magnified by quite a bit. Nobody in North Star Nation wants to head to La Ronge down 2-0 in the series.

The Stars were in this exact situation last round against the Mustangs and it worked out just fine. One game does not define a series, and I know deep down that we've got a ton of hockey left this season.

Be loud tonight North Star Nation.

My Game Two Preview will be posted in the afternoon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stars - Ice Wolves Preview (Game One)

Game One is officially upon us. The Stars will welcome the Ice Wolves tomorrow night for Game One of the Bauer Conference Final. Lets tee up the matchup shall we?

Playoff Record: 7-0-2

How They Got Here:

First they swept the Humboldt Broncos in three games. Then they defeated Flin Flon in six games. They won the first three, lost two in overtime and then won 3-1 at home in Game Six.

Who's Up Front:

The La Ronge Ice Wolves have a ton of talent up front, and it is very well spread throughout their lineup. Doug Lindensmith is a pure goal scorer, and he has tallied 11 points in nine games for the Wolves. Rookie of the year finalist Marc-Andre Carre has nine points in nine games, and Ben Findlay has scored five goals and has eight points so far in nine games played. The Stars will have to find a way to neutralize the above three if they want to get off to a good start in the series.

Who's On D:

Even when the La Ronge forwards aren't clicking offensively, Bob Beatty has a number of offensive weapons on the back-end. Mike Alexander has tallied 10 points so far in the playoffs for the Wolves and finished the SJHL regular season as the leading scorer for defenceman. Wolve's captain Dustin Stevenson is no slouch offensively, and former North Star defender Kirk Moore has shown some offensive flair so far in the playoffs. What's even more impressive about the above three is the fact that they are all reliable in their own zone too. The Stars need to find a way to take them out of the game. You do that one of two ways: You hit them and force them to take penalties.

Who's in Goal:

One of the many interesting storylines surrounding this series is La Ronge goaltender Adam Bartko. Bartko is a North Battleford product, and started last season in the Battlefords. A tough decision had to be made, and Bartko was the odd man out with both Graham Hildebrand and Kyle Birch in the fold as well. Bartko was released, and ended up in Notre Dame. After a brief stint in Wilcox, Bartko ended up in La Ronge prior to the regular season this year, and hasn't looked back since. Bartko has been the epitome of consistent for the Wolves. He boasts an impressive GAA of 2.00 and has an astounding save percentage of .942%. Is the best yet to come? We'll soon find out. If Bartko falters, he's got a capable guy behind him in Joel Danyluk.


Two former Humboldt Broncos have the chance to show their experience leadership tomorrow night. Taylor Pillar and Leo Lacourciere will be in charge of keeping the Ice Wolves calm. They've played in front of big crowds before during previous Royal Bank Cups, and both are the type of gritty player who can thrive in the playoffs. A strong outing from either of these two could go along way in giving the Wolves a 1-0 series lead.

Playoff Record: 4-1

How They Got Here:

After losing Game One against the Melfort Mustangs, the Stars rattled off four consecutive victories and defeated the Melfort Mustangs in five games.

Who's Up Front:

The Star's biggest strength during the regular season was their depth, and so far through five post-season games nothing has changed. How good is their depth? The only forward without a playoff point is Dane Muench, and Dane has played since the 7 minute mark of the third period of Game One. Chad Filteau and Blake Peake averaged a point-per-game during Round One, and both will be relied upon to get the crowd going tomorrow night. With the pressure mounting with each passing game, it's up to the veteran forwards like Filteau, Peake, Wall, and Watt to create energy and offense.

Who's On D:

So much of the talk heading into this series has been about how strong the La Ronge defense is and how tough they are. But the Star's are no slouch defensively either. The Stars only surrendered 13 goals in five games which averages out to 2.6 goals a game. If the Stars can keep the Ice Wolves to a similar total they'll be in good shape. Jesse Lebreton and Cody Folstad were probably the most dependable twosome defnsively in Round One, but towards the end of the series we saw tremendous outings from the likes of Coleman Brodbin and Brody Malek. Similar to the forwards, it will be up to the veteran defencemen like Lebreton, Brodbin, Malek and Fahnhorst to calm things down for the Stars.

Who's in Goal:

We won't know for sure until after the morning skate tomorrow but Graham Hildebrand is the likely favourite to get the call. Having won his last four starts in a row, it would make the most sense for 'Hildy' to get the call. But then again, I'm no coach, and I have no reason to doubt the thought process of Ken Pearson. I don't think we've seen the last of Kyle Birch in these playoffs, and maybe Pearson throws a curve-ball at the Ice Wolves in Game One.


Brett Miller quietly had himself a productive first-round series. He scored three goals in the last four games of the series and really seemed to get better as the series progressed. A strong Game One from Brett Miller could go along way in allowing the Stars to get an early lead in the series.


A quick photography note. If there are any fans, players or parents interested in purchasing specific photo prints from the 09-10 regular season and post-season, you can e-mail Julie at

Her rate is reasonable, and her photos are outstanding. She'll do all of the work, you just need to let her know what you'd like and when you'd like it by. She'll even mail them if need be.

Remember to wear your black and white with pride tomorrow. We'll see you at the rink.


A Black and White Weekend.

The Battlefords North Stars have deemed tomorrow "Black and White Day" in the Battlefords. If you are a North Star supporter you are encouraged to dawn your team colors tomorrow and all throughout the weekend. If you're going to class, wear black and white. If you're heading to the office, wear black pants, a black tie and a white shirt. If you've got the day off, make sure you're wearing your black sweats around the house.

Most importantly, when you head to the Civic Center for Game One, wear your white and black with pride.

How cool would it be if the first thing the Ice Wolves see tomorrow night is a 'sea of black and white' when they take the ice for warm-ups? The Winnipeg Jets mastered this in the NHL with the "White Noise." (Pictured Above)

I know that fans don't need to be told, but I sincerely hope that the many fans in North Star Nation really 'bring it' tomorrow night. Not in an obnoxious way, and not in a, "Honey, lets get the kids out of here" kind of way either. Cheer the hits, the saves, and goals and give these players the added boost that will put them over the edge.

You ask any player in any sport what 'fan support' does for their confidence. They'll tell you that it makes all of the difference in the world.

The players and coaching staff have taken the team this far already, and hopefully the best is yet to come. Fans, it's now time to do your thing. Wear your black and white with pride and prove to the SJHL once again that the Civic Center is the toughest place to play in the league.

A Game One preview will be posted tonight.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sports Fix Tonight.

First year North Star's forward Nathan Tomac makes his first appearance on the program. Tomac tallied three goals in the division semi-final series against the Mustangs, and will shed some light on his first season in the Battlefords.

My second guest tonight will be the head coach and GM of the La Ronge Ice Wolves, Bob Beatty. Beatty has led the Ice Wolves to the North Final, and is widely respected by his players and peers alike.

Finally, I'm talking Blue Jay's baseball with Toronto Blue Jay's baseball writer Morgan Campbell. Campbell is a daily contributor to the Toronto Star and is in Dunedin right now covering the Blue Jays during their Spring Training. We'll dissect the Blue Jay's pitching staff, and talk about which Jays are poised to lead the team through their rebuild.

Don't miss the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix, tonight at 8 on CJNB/CJNS or on


A quick note regarding the Stars/Ice Wolves Series.

Initially I reported that Game Seven (if neccessary) would be played on Wednesday, March 31st in North Battleford. Well now that date has been switched to Tuesday, March 30th.

You can find the full schedule on the North Star's website.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Peake Named Player of the Week.


Blake Peake, Battlefords North Stars

1989 F Blake Peake (Lethbridge AB) scored a goal and added four assists in four games played as Peake and the North Stars dispatched the Melfort Mustangs in five games to advance to the Bauer Conference finals. Peake had 2-assists in game three, 1-assist in game four, and a goal and an assist in game five (all three Battlefords victories).

Runners-up: Taylor Duzan, Kindersley; Troy Smukowich, Yorkton; Chad Filteau, Battlefords; Doug Lindensmith, La Ronge.

Round One Reflections.

***All Photos By Julie Larson***

The buzz is back in the Battlefords community.

Over 1400 screaming fans filled the Civic Center last night on a Sunday for Game Five, and certainly made their presence known. After two years of struggle, this team has come full circle, and the rebuild is complete. The fans that have withstood the rebuild and have stayed loyal throughout - This one's got to feel especially sweet for you.

I'll admit that I did not expect this series to be over in five games, but momentum seemed to stay with the Stars throughout the series, and they won a pile of close games. They weren't pretty, but playoff hockey is not supposed to be. Playoff hockey is about goaltending, physicality and resiliency, and the North Stars were the poster-child for all three of those things in Round One.


Game One:

It wasn't the start that Star's fans had in mind. The Melfort Mustangs came into the Civic Center, and stole Game One of the series. Chris Ward was the story, stopping Blake Peake on a breakaway two minutes in, and then denied Josh Daley with two seconds left. The Mustangs won 3-2, and had gained a temporary hold on home-ice advantage.


Graham Hildebrand got the call for Game Two of the series. It was not because of poor play from Kyle Birch, but Ken Pearson was simply sticking with his usual rotation.

Hildebrand made the most of his opportunity, and was a real difference-maker in a 3-2 North Star victory in Game Two in Melfort.

Hildebrand stopped Jesse Mireau on a penalty-shot, and Chad Filteau broke a 2-2 tie late in the third with his first of three clutch goals throughout the series.

The Stars won 4-2, and regained home-ice advantage in the series.

Had they lost Game Two, the series may have played out a lot differently.


Game Three saw the series return to North Battleford, and the Stars played their best period of the series in the first of Game Three. The Stars got three goals in the first 12 minutes (Wall, Tomac, Miller), and got the crowd of nearly 1200 fans into the game early.

Graham Hildebrand stood his ground early, and for a second straight game played strongly.

The Mustangs crept back in, and forced the game to 3-2. However a lack of finish on the power-play was the undoing for the Melfort Mustangs for a third straight night.

Blake Tatchell scored a beauty mid-way through the third to give the Stars a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.

The Stars had a 2-1 series lead.


Game Four returned to Melfort, and on a Friday night in front of nearly 1000 fans in Melfort and 80 plus watching on the Hot Stove Lounge television, the Stars prevailed 3-2 in overtime.

Chad Filteau and Troy Watt scored in regulation for the Stars and Graham Hildebrand continued his series dominance.

He stopped Brant Harris on a penalty-shot, and kept his team afloat during some stressful moments.

Early in overtime, the Mustangs skated in on a two-on-one. Instead of shooting, Brant Harris tried to slide a pass across to Kevin Knopp. Woody Klassen intercepted the pass, threw the puck forward to Brett Miller. A pass from Miller sent Mitch Wall off to the races.

Wall split the defence, took three more strides and roofed one on Chris Ward to give the Stars a 3-2 overtime victory, and a strangle-hold on the series.


Game Five yielded the best Civic Center atmosphere that I have seen to date in my three years calling games for the Stars. Even when the Stars were facing adversity, the fans were a constant source of support and energy for the players, the coaches, and yes even the broadcasters!

Nathan Tomac's second goal of the series tied was a real difference-maker in Game Five, as he broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period thanks to great hustle and patience from linemates Tony Oak and Troy Watt.

Mitch Wall received a game-misconduct for a boarding penalty mid-way through the third period, and instead of folding, the Stars rallied with two short-handed goals. One from Chad Filteau, the other from Nathan Tomac.

Though the Mustangs rallied to make the score 5-4, a gaff by Chris Ward at the side of his net brought momentum back to the North Stars, and Brett Miller slid the puck into an empty net to give his team a two-goal lead again. Blake Peake ended the series with an empty-netter.


And then there were four.

Since Day One of training camp, the belief has been there. The Battlefords North Stars thought they had something special heading into this season. Now, after a five-game series victory over the Melfort Mustangs, and a couple of first-round upsets, the Stars find themselves as the top remaining seed in the SJHL Playoff picture.

Any added pressure? None. Don't be fooled by the La Ronge Ice Wolve's fourth place finish. This is a team who just defeated the first place Flin Flon Bombers, and prior to that the defending league champion Humboldt Broncos.

If you're expecting a short series between these two rivals - You're kidding yourself. If you're expecting a classic series featuring two great coaches and two great organizations - You're right on the money.

I'm of the minset that there truely is no 'under-dog' in this series. The Stars and Ice Wolves played to four one-goal finishes during the regular season. One game finished in overtime, while another went to a six-round shootout.

Goaltending, special-teams, coaching, officiating,team chemistry and character are all going to be factors throughout this North Final. A battle of wills between two of the best coaches in Junior A hockey.

I know it's only Monday, but Friday can't come fast enough.

Playoff tickets are available from 9 - 5 at the service center for Scott Campbell Dodge, and will also be sold at the Civic Center souvenir booth tomorrow and Wendesday night from 7:30 - 8:30.

1400 fans is impressive, but this is the North Final. It's back to the glory days at the Civic Center, and I can't wait to see that building packed to the rafters for Games One and Two.

March 14 Photos (Game Five)

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

MVP Of the Series?

Malek Moves the Puck to Center.

Wall Finishing His Check.

Nathan Tomac Gives the Stars a 3-2 Lead.

Filteau Scores a Shorty.

Series Over.

Stars - Ice Wolves Bauer Conference Final Dates.

The dates for the Stars/Ice Wolves Bauer Conference Final have been announced.

Game 1 Friday, March 19th La Ronge @ Battlefords

Game 2 Saturday, March 20th La Ronge @ Battlefords

Game 3 Tuesday, March 23rd Battlefords @ La Ronge

Game 4 Wednesday, March 24th Battlefords @ La Ronge

***If neccessary***

Game 5 Friday March 26th La Ronge @ Battlefords
Game 6 Sunday Mar 28th Battlefords @ La Ronge

Game 7 Tuesday March 30th La Ronge @ Battlefords

All games will start at 7:30 PM

*** Home Game tickets for Games One and Two are available through Scott Campbell Dodge from 9 AM - 5 PM. Tickets will also be sold Tuesday (16th) and Wednesday (17th) evening from 7:30 - 8:30 at the N.B. Civic Center Souvenir booth.

***All Playoff Games can also be heard on 1050 CJNB/102.3 FM CJNS or at***

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stars Advance to the Final Four!

The Battlefords North Stars and La Ronge Ice Wolves will duke it out for the Bauer Conference Championship.

Sunday night at the North Battleford Civic Center, the Stars prevailed 7-4 over the Melfort Mustangs. They grabbed two short-handed goals in the third period, and rode a wave of depth and resiliency to a series victory in five games over Melfort.

The Stars received goals from Nathan Tomac (2), Chad Filteau, Brett Miller, Blake Peake, Cody Folstad and Ward Szucki while for a forth straight game Graham Hildebrand made the stops he had to get the win.

The Mustangs responded with two goals each from Todd Chinova and Cole Gibson.

The highlight of the game came mid-way through the third period when Mitch Wall was booted for boarding. The Mustangs were handed a five-minute powerplay, yet surrendered two short-handed goals.

The Mustangs forced the game to 5-4 late, but Chris Ward coughed up the puck to Brett Miller with less than three minutes to go, and that ultimately sealed the series for the North Stars.

Now the Stars have a date with the La Ronge Ice Wolves, who ousted the first-place Flin Flon Bombers in six games. Game One of the series will start in North Battleford, and will 'probably' take place Friday night.


Congratulations to the Melfort Mustangs for a hard-fought series, and to Mustang's coach Darrell Mann for rallying his team and finishing third in the Bauer Conference during the regular season. My dealings with the Mustang's staff and players were 100 percent positive, and I wish NOTHING but the best of wishes to the Mustang's and their graduating players.

Lots more to come on the blog over the next few days so keep checking back. I'll have photos and a more detailed reflection of the first-round series tomorrow.

Great job North Star Nation. Over 1400 fans filled the Civic Center tonight, and those crowds are only going to get bigger and better once the playoffs continue. You earned it guys. Thank you.


Stars - Mustangs Preview (Game Five)

Before we tee up tonight's game, I'll quickly mention that advanced tickets for tonight's Game Five are on sale at the Civic Center souvenir booth this afternoon from 3:30 - 5:00 pm. Over 1200 fans are expected to be in attendance tonight, so I would reccommend getting your tickets early.

Who's Up Front:

In order to keep this series going, the Melfort Mustangs must find a way to score more than two goals in a hockey game. The 'Stangs have six goals in their last three games and given how close these games have been - Another goal here or there by Melfort would likely mean a different outlook on the series. The veteran forwards for the Mustangs will be relied upon heavily tonight. Todd Chinova, Gary Childerhose, Blake Hietela, Brant Harris, and Kevin Knopp will need to be at their best. A goal from Todd Chinova would likely go along way in order to keep the Mustangs alive in the series.

Who's on D:

Collectively, the Mustang's defence-core will have to play a steady, simple game tonight. Offensively the Mustang's 'D' has struggled to put up points. Harris Tribble and Mitch Berg are the lone rear-guards who have points in this series. A guy like Lee Christensen or Carter Berg could really help their team if they can play well in their own zone, and contribute with a goal or an assist.

Who's in Goal:

Chris Ward needs to steal another one for his team. The Mustang's won Game One because of Chris Ward, and now with the series on the line he'll need to elevate his game tonight. Chris Ward has played well through throughout this series, but simply not well enough as his counter-part at the other end seems to be making that 'one, extra save' per game. The Mustang's success tonight will largely depend on Chris Ward.


Melfort captain Kevin Knopp. Knopp has two assists in the series but no goals. At the other end, Star's captain Mitch Wall has goals in three straight games. I look for Kevin Knopp to play a very spirited game tonight, and if he can score a goal or two, than we may be headed back to Melfort for Game Six tomorrow night.

Who's Up Front:

North Star's captain Mitch Wall has goals in three straight games. Wall showed last year that he was a playoff performer, and this year he's been 'as good' or better. Not only that, but Chad Filteau has a three-game point streak, Brett Miller is playing with a lot of confidence and you know that sooner or later that Josh Daley and Shay Neufeld will start contributing as well.

Who's on D:

All season Woody Klassen has quietly gone about his business, and has made 'big-play after big-play' down the stretch. Mitch Wall's OT winner occured thanks to a stellar defensive play by Klassen. Klassen broke up a two-on-one and Wall was sent back the other direction. No Klassen, no OT winner. It's just that simple.

Who's in Goal:

I don't know yet. It could be Kyle (Birch), or it could be Graham (Hildebrand).

But in saying that, Graham Hildebrand is on fire. He's stopped two penalty-shots in the series and has won three games in a row. At only 18 years of age, Hildebrand has played with a profound maturity and has always made that 'one extra save' which has allowed the Stars to win the hockey game.


My X-Factor stays the same for tonight's game. If Josh Daley and Shay Neufeld can make an impact offensively in this game, the Stars have a GREAT chance to win. Daley had a few chances on Friday, and Neufeld nearly won the game in overtime as well. They're close, and maybe tonight they catch fire.

Tonight's game kicks off at 7:30 from the North Battleford Civic Center. We've had over 1100 fans at both home game so far, and I anticipate that we'll reach 1200 tonight.

See you at the rink!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Stars Soar in Melfort.

The Captain Delivers!

Mitch Wall ended a thrilling game at 3:10 of overtime with a brilliant individual effort and the Stars have a 3-1 series lead on the Melfort Mustangs.

The first period had no scoring. Both teams seemed a little tentative out of the gate, and there weren't any real quality chances through 20 minutes.

Early in the second, Melfort forward Brant Harris was awarded a penalty-shot after he was hooked up by Dominic Perrault.

Harris deked to the backhand and had a lot of net to shoot at, but Graham Hildebrand denied him.

A scary moment after that. Boyd Wakelin one-timed a pass towards the net and Mustang's defenceman Josh Martin took a puck in the face. Martin would stay down with little movement for a good two minutes before he skated off with help from his teammates.

Moments later Chad Filteau (2) opened the scoring after he dodged through three checks and wired one through Chris Ward.

Brant Henry-Norton tied the game at one when he converted on a power-play by firing a low point-shot through some feet and through Graham Hildebrand.

The North Stars grabbed a 2-1 lead when Troy Watt (1) banged home a rebound with 35 seconds remaining in the period.

The third period was filled with chances. The Stars were awarded two powerplays early in the period but were unable to take advantage.

The Mustangs tied it at the nine minute mark of the third when Brant Harris out-waited everybody and slid a pass across to Cole Gibson who converted.

The final 10 minutes were filled with chances but yielded no goals. Overtime would be needed for the first time in the series.

Though it seemed like the Stars were 'treading water' through the first 60 minutes, they came out with great jump in overtime.

Shay Neufeld nearly ended it early but just missed converting on a Josh Daley rebound.

Shortly after that, Brant Harris skated in on a two-on-one but decided to pass instead of shoot. Woody Klassen sprawled across and blocked the pass and back the other direction came the Stars.

Mitch Wall grabbed the puck at center, split the D and then roofed one on Chris Ward to win the game.

The Stars finished 0-4 on the power-play while Melfort went 1-5.

For a third straight game, Graham Hildebrand was the difference. He made several key stops and is enjoying a 'coming out party' of sorts during the playoffs. He's won all three games he's played and has not surrendered more than two goals in a game.

The Stars have a chance to wrap up the series with the Mustangs on Sunday night at the Civic Center. The puck drops at 7:30.


Also, a big thanks to all of the folks who watched from the Civic Center 'Hot Stove Lounge.' It was great knowing that you wete watching and cheering.

We'll see you Sunday.

Hot Stove Reminder

If you can't make it to Melfort tonight, don't fret. The Battlefords North Star's Board of Directors are holding a "Game Four Get-Together" in the Hot Stove Lounge.

Admission is free and those in attendance can watch Game Four on the big-screen.

Tonight's game is being shown as the SJHL Game of the Week and the Board will be hooking up a lap-top to the TV so that you'll be able to watch the game LIVE.

The bar will be open for business and food will be available for purchase. You can also get your Sunday playoff tickets tonight.

Bring the family, have some drinks and cheer loud.

Just make sure they put the radio on during intermissions!

Stars - Mustangs Preview (Game Four)

Record: 1-2

Who's Up Front:

The Melfort Mustangs need their big-guns to get going. So far it seems as if injuries have had a big impact on the success of the Melfort forwards Todd Chinova and Blake Hietela. Hietela has gone two games without a point, while Chinova has managed one assist in the first three games of the series. We've seen consistent strong play from Brant Harris who's averaging a point-per-game, but he's going to need some help tonight of Melfort wants to even the series.

Who's on D:

Aside from Harrison Tribble, only one other defenceman has recorded a point for Melfort. Mitch Berg has one assist to his credit, and has been one of the stronger defenders for Melfort this year. Berg has proven to be a reliable defender for Darrell Mann's club, and displayed strong speed and grit in Game Three. If Berg can continue to play well, and contribute some more offensively, the Mustang's will be in good shape.

Who's in Goal:

The most consistent member of the Melfort Mustangs so far this post-season has been goaltender Chris Ward. Ward has played well in all three games so far in the series, but only has one win to show for it. In Game One, Ward made several saves that maybe he had no business making. In Game's two and three, it was Graham Hildebrand who made those type of saves. It's safe to say that Chris Ward needs to have his best game of the series tonight.


The Powerplay. Yes Melfort is 3-24 (13.6%) but at this point in the series it's not good enough. Even if the power-play had clicked 'once more' in both Game Two or Game Three, chances are that Melfort would be leading the series.

Record: 2-1

Who's Up Front:

The North Stars are winning playoff games in the same fashion that they won during the regular season: Depth. The Stars got a goal from all four lines in Game Four, and will look for a similar accomplishment tonight in Melfort. Ward Szucki leads the team with three points in the playoffs, and he's showing that his 19-goal regular season was no fluke.

Who's on D:

Defensively, the duo of Brody Malek and Coleman Brodbin were outstanding in Game Three. Both were physical, and both made plays. The Brodbin/Malek tandem will likely get another chance to play together tonight again, and if they can play a similar game, it will be a tough night for Mustang forwards.

Who's in Goal:

Nothing confirmed as of yet, but it's hard to not immediately default to Graham Hildebrand. Two games played - Two wins.


Josh Daley. After a strong Game One, Daley has struggled to get going in Games Two and Three. It seems he's fighting the puck a little bit, and credit the Mustang's defense for limiting his time and space. Daley is too good a player to be kept quiet for long. If Josh Daley can have a 'breakout' game tonight in Melfort, the Star's are in good shape.