Friday, December 10, 2010

Stars - Hounds Preview

After six days without a game, the Battlefords North Stars will welcome the Notre Dame Hounds to the Civic Center tonight at 7:30. It'll be the second meeting of the season between these teams, with the Hounds taking the first one back in October at home.

The Stars haven't played since Saturday's 5-4 loss to La Ronge. They have five games remaining, four of which are at home. Here is a preview for tonight's game:

NOTRE DAME HOUNDS

Record: 10-17-1-3

Overview:

Kevin White's team are winless in their last six games and 2-7-1-0 in their last 10. They are coming off a 5-2 loss last night against the Kindersley Klippers. The Hounds have solid goaltending, and an underrated core of d men. Their big problem has been finding consistent offense. Only the Nipawin Hawks have scored less than Notre Dame.

Who's Up Front:

The Hounds do have some weapons up front that can make you pay for being lazy. Trevor Cameron leads the Hounds with 27 points in 30 games. He's shifty, quick and plays with an edge. Teammate Todd Christian leads the team with 15 goals and forwards David Lerner and Patrick Thompson Gale can also bury the puck when they get the chance.

Who's on D:

The Hounds may have the best kept secret in the SJHL on their blueline. James Howden is a gamer. He has 22 points in 30 games, and brings the total package to the blueline. He's big, a solid puck-mover, and he can quarterback a power-play. If I had to pick my favourite non-North Star defenceman in the league, it would likely be Howden.

Who's in Goal:

Russell Abbott got the start last night in Kindersley and lost, meaning Matthew Smidt will likely get the call tonight for the Hounds. Goaltending is arguably the greatest strength of the Hounds, though Abbott's numbers are better than Smidt's at this point. Smidt is 4-9-0-1 with a save percentage of .852 and a GAA of 3.96. Abbott is 6-8-0-2 with a .900 save percentage and a 2.91 GAA.

X-Factor:

Former Midget AAA Star Cody Ito has 12 points in 17 games for the Hounds. He's another player who's talents often go overlooked. If Ito can find some time and space, he will be awfully difficult for the North Star defenders to contain.


BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS

Record: 14-18-1-1

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and continue to hover in the fifth spot in the Bauer Conference. With the Hawks playing well beneath them (with five games in hand), victories are crucial at this point for Ken Pearson's team.

Who's Up Front:

The Battlefords North Star's forwards definitely impressed at the SJHL Showcase last weekend. They forwards managed nine goals in two games, and have regained some of their swagger which may have eluded them earlier last week against Yorkton and Melville. Keith Grondin reached the 20-goal mark at the Showcase, and continues to be a big time power-play threat. If not for Marc-Andre Carre in La Ronge, Grondin would lead the SJHL in power-play goals.

Who's on D:

Offensively, the Star's defensive-core continues to put up numbers. Woody Klassen, Brody Luhning, Cris Neurauter and Cody Folstad are ranked four through eight respectively in team scoring, and while the stats don't neccessarily show it -The overall defensive play has improved in the past three games. If the Stars can continue to put up numbers from the back end while keeping pucks out of their own zone, the victories will start coming in bunches.

Who's in Goal:

Tough call for Ken Pearson tonight. Both Graham Hildebrand and Kyle Birch had a strong showing at the SJHL Showcase. Hildebrand deserved better against the Ice Wolves, and maybe made the save of the season off of Marc-Andre Carre in the third period. That being said, Kyle Birch beat Kindersley on the Friday and it may be his turn in the rotation.

X-Factor:

Luke Hannas and Mitch Galbraith will be playing their first home games as members of the North Stars. Both have size and skill, and have the ability to contribute in a number of ways. I look for both of these guys to throw their weight around, get the crowd going, and possibly contribute offensively to some degree. If they do, then the Stars have a great shot at victory.

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With five games remaining for the Stars in 2010, is it unrealistic to think that they could win four or five of them? Their only road game goes Sunday in Humboldt, and then they'll play home games against Kindersley, Flin Flon and Nipawin. It may be a tall order, but I certainly think it's a realistic possibility for the Stars, and if they could somehow start 2011 with a record that is flirting with .500 I'm sure that would bode well for them moving forward.

What do you think?

9 comments:

Josh Lewis said...

Totally agree on James Howden. I thought he was one of the most underrated guys last year, and seeing him last night for the first time this season only confirmed it. A force at both ends for sure.

Anonymous said...

Another loss, Lets see 1)Tatchell line on for 1:38 seconds draws a penalty and stays on for the power play, Comes off at the end of the power play for thirty seconds and pearson puts them back on, N.D. goes down and scores, this has happened most of the season. 2) We are short handed pearson puts on the two new guys neither of them play centre loses the draw neither know who to take N.D. scores. 3) The team has had no time for practices they finally get a week off to work on things and Pearson is no where to be found, I have heard this has happened many times this year. No more needs to be said. I feel sorry for the kids.

Anonymous said...

1. I don't see a shorthanded goal given up.

2. The Howden goal was 4 on 4.

3. How do you know Ken was not away for family reasons you heartless prick?

My kid played in NB for 2 years, Ken was away lots during that time and nobody complained, he has 2 kids that live with their mother in mb he goes to see.

Anonymous said...

Read his comment,He never said there was a shorthanded goal. And I agree you should always have a center man out on the ice, as for Ken being away I have heard it before on this blog that he was gone for a long period of time, and yes maybe it is family commitments, but a week is a long time.

Anonymous said...

I never said their was a shorthanded goal and when your team is losing games you do not go away for a week.

Anonymous said...

All the lines stay out for too long of shifts. The glaring problem is the goals against. Neither goalie has given the stars a chance to win. Need #1 is a goaltender, not one person in their right mind can disagree with this, if you have seen the games. Birch is 20 and the logical choice to go. There are some good offensive dmen on the team, but not too many concerned with there own end. Need #2, stay at home dmen, there are only have a couple of them that dont constantly get cought up ice and it is hurting the stars. Defense wins hockey and especially playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I think stay at home dmen are more important than a new goalie. Birch has struggled but all goalies go through a rough patch every once and a while (for example Bartko right now). It's better that he struggle now and peak later in the season like during playoffs. Hildy has played solid for the most part. The high goals against isn't due to poor goal tending, it's because of the D. Look at the shots on goal. You can't expect these goalies to stand on their heads every night when they're constantly facing 30 shots or more.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous#1: If you knew anything about the SJHL and the league in general you would know why Ken wasnt at practice for most of the week. If you have to know, Ken went to Dauphin with the 2 players that made the propects team. That is Kens old stomping grounds and that is where his kids are. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I know his kids, I know his family and I know his address. When your team is not winning you stay with them and try to work things out. You have a really long break at the end of the week. and what the hell are you talking about if I know the sjhl?