Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stars - Klippers Preview

It's about darn time!

After a full week between games, the Battleford North Stars are back in action tonight, kicking off the month of November against the Kindersley Klippers. It's the third meeting of the season between these two rivals, with Kindersley taking both games. Kindersley beat the Stars 7-6 on September 18th, and 6-2 on October 2nd. There's plenty of intrigue surrounding this game, so let's get to it.


Record: 8-8-1-1 (Fourth in the Sherwood Conference.)


The Klippers are coming off a three game southern road -swing which saw them earn two of a possible six points. They've scored three goals in their past three games, and are looking to rejuvenate a struggling offense. Luckily their opponents tonight have surrendered more goals than any other team in the SJHL this year, and anybody who's ever watch a Kindersley/ Battlefords game knows full well that these games tend to be high-scoring.

Who's Up Front:

Kindersley captain Andrew Dommett is still on the shelf until December with a broken jaw, but the Klippers still have no shotage of offensive weapons. Braedon Adamyk, John Calkins and Sanfred King are three 20-year-old forwards that have found lots of scoring success this season. All three are coming into tonight's game with 21 points on the year.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Klippers will be led by two 20-year-olds in Jonothan Sonntag and Kurt Leedahl. Sonntag leads the Klipper's 'D' in scoring with 11 points and also adds a strong element of size and physicality. Leedahl is extremely poised and has proven to be a very responsible player over the years for Larry Wintoneak. Leedahl scored twice against the Stars on September 18th, so his offensive abilities cannot go ignored. It'll be key for these two to make up for the absense of Sean Flanagan who is in Penticton for the World Junior A Challenge.

Who's in Goal:

The Battlefords North Stars may very well get their first look at newcomer Alexandre Peck tonight at the WCEC. Peck was acquired in late October from the BCHL in exchange for the rights to Scott Hellyer. Scott Hellyer left the Klippers in late October due to an apparent 'lack of passion.' So far the 20-year-old Peck has played four games for Kindersley and has posted a record of 1-3, a GAA of 3.84 and a save percentage of .886.


Assistant coach Rocky Zinger will be at the helm of this team until at least the 14th of November. Kindersley coach Larry Wintoneak is also in Penticton trying to lead Team Canada West to a gold medal, so Zinger will be the one responsible for getting Kindersley back on track. Zinger needs to make sure that his team is prepared for battle, and that they don't take the Stars lightly with their record being what it is.


Record: 5-9-1-1 (Fifth in the Bauer Conference)


After staring the season with zero wins in seven games, the North Stars are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Those 10 games have seen several peaks and valleys. Ken Pearson's team has shown that they can be brilliant and scattered within five minutes of each other. The M.O. for November for the Stars will be to improve on their goals against and their penalty -kill.

Who's Up Front:

The youth of the Battlefords North Stars is starting to find some offensive confidence. Shayne Morrissey scored three times a week ago against La Ronge, and in the games prior, Kyle Hall was one of the 'go-to guys' offensively. If the North Stars are going to climb the standings they'll need this type of continued production from their skilled rookie forwards. Blake Tatchell, Keith Grondin and Colin Phaneuf can't do it alone.

Who's on D:

Offensively, the North Stars may have the most potent defensive core in the league. Four of the top eight scorers on the Stars are defenceman. Woody Klassen leads the way with 16 points in 16 games. Cris Neurauter
is still out with a suspension but he's got 11 points in 11 games. Brody Luhning has 10 points in 12, and Zack MacLellan has nine in 16. If the Star's blueliners can keep up this kind of production the Stars will win games, so long as they can keep pucks out of their own net.

Who's in Goal:

Ken Pearson has options heading into tonight's game. Graham Hildebrand is coming off a 6-5 loss to La Ronge, but his numbers are the best of the three remaining goaltenders. He's 4-3 with a save percentage of .888 and a Goals Against of 3.72. Kyle Birch could get the nod for his past success against Kindersley, or maybe Sirard gets the call based on the rotation. Either way, the goaltender will have his hands full with some dangerous Kindersley shooters.


If the Stars want to earn a road victory in Kindersley they are going to have to take away the time and space of Kindersley's top forwards. Wingers like Samuel Fortier, Tony Oak, Boyd Wakelin and Travis Cech will have to bring their lunch-buckets and sacrifice their bodies to make plays at both ends. These energy-type players can often be the difference (especially on the road). If the Stars are willing to pay the price, block shots and take hits to make plays, they'll have a great chance to win.

Tonight's game gets going at 7:15. You can here the call on CJNB/CJNS.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with what you said about, "if the defense can keep scoring goals, the Stars will win games". If the Stars have the highest goals against then the defense need to leave the scoring to the forwards and concentrate on actually playing defense. There have been way too many breakaways and 2 or 3 on 1's in the last few games. The defense need to keep their heads in their own zone and stop playing so selfishly.

Anonymous said...

Is the Play by Play guy for teh Klippers going to be on the broadcast with you tonight??

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the comments made about the defense. Good point. We need stay at home defense who can move the puck.

Dan O'Connor said...

Re: Anonymous 1

It's a double-edged sword because strong offensive contributions from the back-end are integral to this team's success. They have so much skill on their blue-line that it would be a shame to not take advantage of it. However you're bang on when you say that there have been far too many odd-man rushes against. Perhaps the D need to choose pick their battles a little better?