Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yorkton and La Ronge Photos.

*All Photos Taken By Julie Larson*

Folstad Blasts One Home.

Chris Neurauter Tallies on the Powerplay.

Tim Rollins Goes for a Skate.

Shayne Morrissey Scores His First of Three.

Hildebrand Denies Lindensmith.

Wakelin Finishes His Check.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stars Add Veteran Cech From Dauphin.

The Battlefords North Stars have acquired 20-year-old forward Travis Cech from the Dauphin Kings in exchange for the playing rights of 20-year-old forward Louis Labbe.

Last season Cech split time with Humboldt and Dauphin. He recorded seven goals and 11helpers in 35 games played with the Kings last year.

Cech will start practicing with his new team at the start of next week, and will likely dress Wednesday when the Stars head to Kindersley.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wolves Return the Favor in N.B.

The La Ronge Ice Wolves scored four third period goals, and came back to defeat the Battlefords North Stars 6-5 in front of 600-plus at the Civic Center Wednesday. The Wolves got goals from six different goal scorers, and the Stars fell just short against their Bauer Conference rivals.

It was 1-1 after one. La Ronge opened the scoring on the power-play when Travis Eggum put home a nifty pass from Doug Lindensmith. The Stars quickly countered with Shayne Morrissey's first of three on the night.

Early in the second, the Stars took a 2-1 lead when Keith Grondin notched his seventh of the season. It was a power-play marker, which gives Grondin five power-play goals so far this season.

La Ronge tied it at the mid-way point of the game when Marc-Andre Carre centered a pass to Logan Herauf who shelved one on Graham Hildebrand.

40 seconds later the Stars grabbed a 3-2 lead on a power-play. Brody Luhning one-timed a Keith Grondin pass by Adam Bartko, and after 40 minutes the Stars led by one, and would start the third period on the power-play.

Early in the third the tide turned. Taylor Pillar stole the puck from Woody Klassen at the point, and skated in alone and deked Hildebrand to tie the score at three. 91 seconds later the Stars grabbed a 4-3 lead when Shayne Morrissey tipped home a Colin Phaneuf shot.

Less than a minute later Marc-Andre Carre one-timed a Phil Belanger pass by Hildebrand to tie the score at four. Richard Cameron then tipped home a point-shot from Dusty Iron, and with 3:56 gone in the third period the Ice Wolves led 5-4.

Aaron Enns gave the Wolves a 6-4 lead with a late power-play goal, and from there Adam Bartko rose to the occasion and made some quality stops to give La Ronge the victory.

Shayne Morrissey scored his third of the game to pull the Stars within one, but Bartko denied Keith Grondin with one second left on the clock and the Wolves head home with two consecutive road victories.

The Stars finished the game two-for-six on the power-play while the Ice Wolves were two-for-three. The Stars outshot the Wolves 42-34.

Now the Stars have a week off between games. Many of the players will head home for a few days to recharge the batteries. Blair Atcheynum hinted after the game that some important roster decisions are coming soon for the Stars, and some players that are heading home for a break could very well not be coming back.

The Stars head off to Kindersley next Wednesday.


I'll be posting some personal reaction and some game photos over the next few days. So make sure you keep checking back, and as always I want to read your thoughts on the team!

Stars - Ice Wolves Preview.

Tonight the Battlefords North Stars welcome the defending champion La Ronge Ice Wolves to the Civic Center. These teams have met twice already this year, with the Stars winning both games by one goal. Tuesday, October 19th the Stars beat the Ice Wolves 6-5. That game featured the infamous comeback where the Stars scored four goals in a span of 2:44 to win the game. You'd better believe that Bob Beatty's Ice Wolves will be ready for battle tonight.


Who's Up Front:

Offensively the Ice Wolves have no shortage of weapons. Marc-Andre Carre, Doug Lindensmith and Logan Herauf may be three of the most talented forwards in the entire league. Lindensmith leads the Wolves with 23 points through 12 games. Carre has notched 20 points in 11 games and Herauf has seven points in nine games since joining La Ronge at the start of the month.

Who's on D:

Dayton Fossum and Phil Belanger are two veteran rear-guards that provide Bob Beatty with solid minutes. Fossum has really come into his own as a 20-year-old and is making the most of his added minutes. Fossum has seven points on the year, leading the Wolves d-men in scoring.

Who's in Goal:

North Battleford's Adam Bartko has a record of 6-4 and has seen a large bulk of the playing time for Bob Beatty's team. But, he did play last night in Kindersley which could provoke Bob Beatty to start Myles Hovdebo who is 2-0 on the year.


Travis Eggum leads the SJHL in goal-scoring with 13. He has 20 points and has also now officially established himself as a legitimate offensive threat in the SJHL. Eggum has torched the North Stars in recent years, and will no doubt be front and center for the Wolves tonight. If Eggum is able to break-free and score a goal or two tonight - The Ice Wolves will put themselves in great position to win in the Battlefords.

Record: 5-8-1-1

Who's Up Front:

Keith Grondin has become one of the Star's most consistent forwards. He's now at a point-a-game pace and has provided the Stars with some much needed grit and depth since he arrived from Dauphin. Grondin has also made his presence felt on the power-play. Four of his six goals have been on the man-advantage.

Who's on D:

With no Cody Folstad or Chris Neurauter the Stars will have a younger look on the back-end tonight. Expect Woody Klassen and Brody Luhning to see lots of action against the Ice Wolve's top forwards. The Stars have received lots of offense from the defense so far this year, and tonight it will be key for some offense from the back-end.

Who's in Goal:

No official word yet on who is going to get the call tonight. I'd imagine that Graham Hildebrand would be favored given the fact that he beat Yorkton 8-3 on Thursday. But perhaps they'll choose Alex Sirard based on his 6-5 win in La Ronge on the 19th.


The three newbies will be under the microscope tonight. Defensively both Travis Sparrow and Samuel Houle will get a chance to make a solid impression. Both are expected to add physicality and size to the back-end. Up front Samuel Fortier will get a chance to showcase some skill and toughness. If all three can make a positive impact with their new club, the Stars have a great shot at winning their third game of the year against La Ronge.

If you can't make it to the rink, you can catch tonight's game live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15. Hope to see you there!

- DO

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Busy Monday in North Star Nation.

Ken Pearson has had a busy start to the week. There will be at least three new faces in the lineup for the Stars Wednesday when they host the defending champs from La Ronge.

First of all, the Battlefords North Stars are pleased to announce that they have added former Regina Pat's defenceman Travis Sparrow. Sparrow is 19-years-old and from Vanscoy, Saskatchewan. Sparrow is 6'3, 190lbs and played in 39 games last season with the Pats. Ken Pearson says that Sparrow (a left-handed shot) will add some size, and experience to the North Star's blueline.

The Stars have also acquired two players from the St. Agathe Montagnards of the LHJAAAQ league in Quebec in exchange for future considerations:

- Samuel Fortier (5'8, 187) is a right-winger from Irland, Quebec. He has experience from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (08-09) and had 10 Goals, and 24 assists last year with the Montagnards. Fortier is a strong play-maker who plays with a pretty vicious edge.

- Samuel Houle (Hool) is an 18-year-old defenceman from Victoriaville, Quebec. He's a right-handed shot who tallied 2 Goals, and 5 assists and 79 Penalty Minutes for St. Agathe. Houle is 5'11 and 195lbs. Ken Pearson says that he's a tough, rugged, 'stay-at-home' type who will add further depth to the Star's blueline.

I spoke with Pearson tonight and he said that all three would be good to go for Wednesday night.


Some suspensions have been handed out by the SJHL after some fights during the third period of Saturday's game in Humboldt.

Defencemen Chris Neurauter and Cody Folstad have each been suspended two games for participating in multiple fights. North Star's coach Ken Pearson has been suspended one game and the team has been fined $1000.

Humboldt forward's Brett Pinder, and Adam Zbitniff have also been suspended for two games, and coach Dean Brockman will sit out a game too. The Broncos have also been fined $1000.


Time will obviously tell, but it's hard to find fault with these deals. Pearson hasn't given up any roster players, and in return he has added size, skill and toughness.

It also sends the message that Pearson will not tolerate mediocrity. The current players will no doubt be given a wake-up call with these additions, which will hopefully force everybody to work 'that much harder' to keep their spot in the lineup.

Wednesday's battle with the Ice Wolves is going to be epic. You and I both know that La Ronge will have a sour taste in their mouths after letting one get away last Tuesday. Everytime these teams get together it's always entertaining, and Wednesday night should be no exception.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Humbled in Humboldt.

Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for the Battlefords North Stars in an 11-1 defeat Saturday in Humboldt. Justin Buzzeo had five assists, Riley Gillies had a hat-trick and the Stars surrendered two short-handed goals against.

34 seconds into the game, the Broncos got on the board when Jeremy Boyer knocked home a rebound off a point-shot by Josh Roach. Boyer's goal was definitely a sign of things to come. Riley Gillies soon scored his first of three, and Spencer Braaten and Troy Gasper tallied to give Humboldt a 4-0 lead after one,

The onslaught continued in the second period. Riley Gillies scored short-handed just 16 seconds into the second. Nick Keller added two, and Jeremy Boyer and Taylor johnson added two more. The only North Star goal came courtesy of Keith Grondin.

In the third period Ward Szucki scored short-handed, and Riley Gillies finished his hat-trick with an even-strength marker.

The Stars were outshot 47-30 with Kyle Birch in net for all 11 goals against.

It was a tough night for Birch who would certainly want a few goals back, but didn't get a ton of help at either end of the ice from his team. To his credit, he battled hard and made some tough looking saves.

Early in the third period, Neil Landry snow-sprayed Birch as he was chasing after a loose puck. That snow-spray caused a melee beside the Stars goal. Tony Oak, Cris Neurauter and Cody Folstad were all booted from the game a long with Neil Landry, Brett Pinder and Adam Zbitniff. During the post-game show, Ken Pearson hinted that suspensions could be on the way due to Tony Oak 'instigating' the rough-stuff.

Ken Pearson was rather subdued during the post-game show. He mentioned that he saw some good things in spurts from a few guys, but his overall message was that there weren't enough players on the bench ready to compete.

The next few days of practice could be interesting as the Stars prepare for a re-match with the La Ronge Ice Wolves. The Wolves and Stars meet Wednesday night at the Civic Center at 7:30.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stars - Broncos Preview.

Tonight the Battlefords North Stars and Humboldt Broncos will meet for the third time this season. Each team has a victory against the other this season and both games have required overtime. Humboldt beat the Stars 7-6 in September, and the Stars beat Humboldt 4-3 earlier this month. Here is the preview:


Record: 11-1-0-1 (First in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Up Front:

Through 13 games, nobody has more points than Humboldt forward Justin Buzzeo. The 20-year-old has 27 points in 13 games, and has established himself as the early favourite to win the SJHL Scoring Title. But Buzzeo is not alone. Jeremy Boyer has tallied 17 points in only eight games, and Spencer Braaten is always a big scoring threat. The 'Killer B's' will be out in full force tonight, meaning that once again the Stars will have their hands full defensively.

Who's on D:

18-year-old defenceman Josh Roach is on fire. Roach has 16 points in 13 games and has contributed nicely to the Humboldt Powerplay with three goals. Whenever Roach is on the ice, the Stars will have to be careful not to give him too much time and space.

Who's in Goal:

Humboldt coach Dean Brockman has a difficult decision to make. 18-year-old netminder Matt Hrynkiw is 5-0 with the best goals against average and save percentage in the SJHL. On the other hand, Andrew Bodnarchuk is the reigning MVP of the SJHL. Bodnarchuk has played in both games against the Stars so far this year, so one might think that Hrynkiw is due for a shot against the Stars, but the only person who knows for sure is Dean Brockman.


Nick Keller has paid his dues as a Humboldt Bronco and his play has steadily improved over the past three seasons. Keller is tied for second in team scoring, and provides a lot of energy and grit to Dean Brockman's lineup. The Stars need to keep their eye on Keller, and make sure that they don't give him too much room to work with. A strong game from Keller would go a long way in leading Humboldt to their 12th victory of the season.


Record: 5-7-1-1 (Fifth Place in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Up Front:

The Battlefords North Stars are coming off a game where they scored eight times on the Yorkton Terriers. Offensively this team is clicking on all cylinders and perhaps nobody is more confident right now than Kyle Hall. Hall has five goals in his past two games, and is finally being rewarded for all of his hard-work as of late. With the emergence of Hall as a goal-scoring threat, Humboldt will need to make sure that they defend his line well.

Who's on D:

Through the first 14 games, Woody Klassen has proven to be one of the team's most valuable players. He has tallied 15 points in 14 games. Klassen has provided the right mix of offence and physicality on the back-end, and he'll need to be at his best tonight to help the Stars keep Humboldt's high-powered offence in check.

Who's in Goal:

As of 2:00 this afternoon Ken Pearson still had no made up his mind between Graham Hildebrand and Alex Sirard.


Colin Phaneuf and Keith Grondin will have a different line-mate for tonight's game.

Blake Tatchell will not be making the trip to Humboldt tonight because he will be with his family in North Battleford, celebrating the life of his grandmother who recently passed away. Our sincere condolences go out to the entire Tatchell family, and I certainly wish them all of the best during this difficult time.

Tatchell's absence will be tough for the Stars, as he has been one of the most consistent forwards of any team so far this season. Does Ken Pearson move Colin Phaneuf to center and add a winger to the left side? Or does he put Kyle Hall, Nathan Tomac or Shayne Morrissey with those two? It'll be up to the entire crop of forwards to make up for Tatchell's offence. Given how Ken Pearson's team has been able to persevere lately, it shouldn't be a problem.

You can catch tonight's game live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15 with the Sask-Tel pregame show. I'll have the call for you tonight at 7:30.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stars Soar by Yorkton 8-3.

The Battlefords North Stars returned home to the Civic Center last night, and produced an 8-3 victory against the top team in the Sherwood Conference, the Yorkton Terriers.

The Stars took control of the game from the get-go. Blake Tatchell scored short-handed 34 seconds in, and the Stars took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

Kyle Hall led the way offensively with three goals for the Stars while.Keith Grondin, Shayne Morrissey, Chris Neurauter and Cody Folstad also chipped in. Brett Miller returned to the lineup an added four assists.

The Stars finished five-for-12 on the man-advantage and goaltender Graham Hildebrand stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced.

Up next for the Stars, another battle with the Humboldt Broncos. The Stars head to Humboldt tomorrow night for a 7:30 start. You can catch the game on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.


The Stars have made another trade.

Ken Pearson has traded 20 year-old defenceman Jacob Chiblow to Trenton Ontario in exchange for future considerations and the rights to centerman Louie Labbe.

Chiblow's stay in the Battlefords was brief. He recorded two points in. 12 games.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stars - Terriers Preview.

After five straight games on the road, the Stars return home to meet a team that has just started a nine-game road trip themselves. It's the first meeting of the season between the Battlefords North Stars and Yorkton Terriers. Here's is tonight's preview:

Record: 8-4-1-2

Who's Up Front:

The defending Sherwood Conference champions are off to an excellent start offensively. Leading the way so far is 19-year-old forward Clarke Breitkreuz. The former Prince George Cougar has exploded out the gate, recording 19 points through the first 15 games of the season. Fellow 19-year-old Robbie Ciolfi is close behind with 18-points in 15 games.

Who's on D:

The Terriers boast a couple of blue-liners that have the ability to contribute consistently on offense. Leading the way is 20-year-old Blaine Tendler. Tendler has 10 points and four goals so far this year. All of Tendler's goals have been scored on the power-play.

Who's in Goal:

A tough call tonight for coach Trent Cassan. Deven Peters played last night in Kindersley and won 4-3 in O.T. Does this mean we see Warren Shymko tonight? Shymko is 1-2-1 with a save percentage of .902 - Peters is 6-3-1.


18-year-old forward Zak Majkowski is a player who must be neutralized if the Stars want to win. The 18-year-old scored the O.T. winner for Yorkton last night, and leads the team with 10 goals on the year. If the Stars want to win, they'll need to try and silence Majkowski.

Record: 4-7-1-1

Who's Up Front:

The Stars get a big boost tonight with the return of two of their veterans to the lineup. Boyd Wakelin (shoulder) and Brett Miller (knee) will both be back. Wakelin will help provide energy and some offensive spark, while Miller's offensive ability can not be taken lightly.

Who's on D:

18-year-old defenceman Brody Luhning scored two goals on Tuesday night, including the game-tying goal. Luhning continues to get better with each game he plays in the SJHL, and is fast becoming a fan favourite in the Battlefords.

Who's in Goal:

Alex Sirard earned his first win in the SJHL Tuesday, but still surrendered five goals. Graham Hildebrand has been the most consistent goaltender for the Stars to start the year, but is coming off a 5-3 loss in Wilcox Sunday. Either goaltender will have their hands full with Yorkton's potent offense.


Through 13 games, Colin Phaneuf has been the Star's most consistent goal scorer. 'Phanner' has nine goals in 13 games and will be looked upon to contribute offensively again tonight. The trio of Colin Phaneuf, Blake Tatchell and Keith Grondin is red-hot and will no doubt be a thorn in the side of the Yorkton defense all night.

Miller and Wakelin Return.

The Battlefords North Stars will have some added depth up front tonight against Yorkton.

Boyd Wakelin (shoulder) and Brett Miller (knee) have been cleared to play.

Both should help provide some energy and experience to the lineup. For Wakelin it'll be his first game of the season.

Check back at around 6:00 for tonight's preview.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stars Win a Thriller in La Ronge.

You had to see it to believe it.

The Battlefords North Stars scored four goals in the span of 2:44, and came back to win the game 6-5 in La Ronge.

With just over six minutes remaining the Wolves led 5-2 and were all but guaranteed their fourth straight win. The Battlefords North Stars had other ideas.

After a failed power-play, Woody Klassen fed Colin Phaneuf cross-ice who buried to make it 5-3.

21 seconds later, Kyle Hall put home a Tony Oak rebound to make it 5-4.

Richard Cameron then took a tripping penalty and 12 seconds later the Stars tied it.Colin Phaneuf took a shot from the top of the circle that bounced off the back-boards and right onto the stick of Brody Luhning who wired home the game-tying goal

Seconds later, the Ice Wolves iced the puck off the faceoff and the Stars earned an offensive zone faceoff.

Blake Tatchell took a shot from the high-slot that Bartko stopped, but the puck squeezed through his legs and was still visible. Colin Phaneuf crashed hard, and finessed the puck across the line to give the Stars an improbable lead at the 19:00 minute mark.The Ice Wolves pulled their goalie afterwards but were unable to come up with the equalizer.

Phaneuf, Hall and Luhning all scored twice. Luhning also added two assists.

Goaltender Alex Sirard earned his win of the season, and the Stars improve to 4-7-1-1 and now sit fifth in the Bauer Conference.

The Stars are next in action Thursday night at home against the Yorkton Terriers.


All I will say (right now) is that this is the type of victory that could turn a season around.

Tonight this team went to war for each other and were rewarded. Not a flawless game by any stretch, but fans have to be excited about it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Road Trip Reflection.

Through 12 games the Battlefords North Stars sit at 3-7-1-1. They're sixth in the Bauer Conference and are a team still struggling to find an identity. Some nights (like Friday) they're brilliant. Other days their play is riddled with inconsistency and they seemingly find ways to lose instead of win.

This weekend was filled with highs and lows - Lets start with the positives:

- The North Star's power-play has found some life. They scored on the man-advantage in all three games this weekend and looked much more poised in the process. Kieth Grondin in particular had a good weekend on the PP. Grondin has fit in very nicely with both Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf and seems to be fitting in nicely with the North Stars.

- With the exception of yesterday's game, the Stars got lots of secondary scoring. Friday night it was Rob Newton and Tony Oak, and Saturday it was Tim Rollins' time to shine. It's clear that the Stars aren't as offensively potent as they were last year, but to see guys like Rollins, Newton and Oak contributing should leave fans with some optimism.

- Though their results have been mixed, the Star's core of defenceman is solid. Woody Klassen is on pace for a career year while Cody Folstad, Chris Neurauter and Jacob Chiblow have done a nice job in recent games of minimizing their mistakes and providing that veteran stability that was painfully lacking earlier in the season. Zack MacLellan and Brody Luhning are two 18-year-olds that I feel could have lots of success in this league not only this year, but also down the road. The tools are all there, it's just a matter of finding consistency.

- Graham Hildebrand gave his team a chance to win games. That's all you can really ask for at this point.

On the downside, this team has several hurdles that they need to figure out before they can start climbing the standings:

- The Stars surrendered the first goal in each game this weekend. Through the first 12 games of the year, I'd say the Stars have had at least six bad starts. This has to change quickly.

- Right now the North Star's penalty-kill has zero confidence. Heading into yesterday's game, the Notre Dame Hounds had a power-play clicking at only 12.1 percent. They finished three for four on the man-advantage and ultimately it won them the game. The Stars need to do a better job of getting to loose pucks in the goal mouth area, and also they also need to block more shots from the point. I realize that it's not
glamorous, but championship teams are always the ones willing to sacrifice themselves to make plays.

- After the game yesterday Ken Pearson hinted that the Stars need to get tougher and they need to get a little older up front. I agree. It's natural that younger players will take their lumps in this league, but sooner or later the cream rises to the top. The trio of Shayne Morrissey, Tanner Schwab and Tim Rollins definitely had their moments during the first two games, but they definitely struggled yesterday. Kyle Hall, Cody Antos and Rob Newton also showed in spurts that they can bring it at this level, but also struggled to get going yesterday on the big ice surface.

- The struggles for Kyle Birch continue. He allowed three goals on four shots faced in Estevan on Saturday and lasted all of 2:34. Granted he had no help on two of the goals, but even that can't justify a save percentage of .844% and a Goals Against Average of 6.40. It's hard to say how many more chances Kyle is going to get to turn this thing around, especially with Alex Sirard still around, and challenging both Kyle and Graham Hildebrand daily at practice.


Here are some other observations from the weekend:

- The Notre Dame Hounds are easily the best defensive team in the SJHL and they have the stats to back it up. Carson Grolla and James Howden were particularly impressive during yesterday's game. Both skate well and play with an aggressive edge. James Howden reminds me a lot of Austin Krahenbil, a former defenceman for the Melville Millionaires. I think it's save to say that I have a new favorite (non North Star) defenceman in the SJHL and it's Howden.

- Russ Abbott had a great game in net for Notre Dame. The thing I liked the most about Abbott was his aggressiveness. He plays the puck better than any other goalie that I've ever seen at the Junior A level.

- Speaking of great goaltending - Joel Danyluk was on fire Saturday night in Estevan. After a tough first 30 minutes, Danyluk settled in nicely in the second half of the game and was LIGHTS OUT. It's no surprise that he is highly regarded as one of the best netminders in the league.

- Ryan Andersen is a real player for the Estevan Bruins, but then again, we know this already. Andersen was one of the best on the ice Saturday for either team. He's always been a great skater, but this year he looks incredibly confident and his numbers show it. I've always liked Ryan both as a player and a person, and to see him finding success in Estevan is great.

- Justin Waskewitch scored his first two goals of the season Saturday. When Justin wants to, he can be a dominate offensive option in this league. If he gets a chance from in close, he's not going to miss. He's that accurate.

- In closing, I want to share with you an exchange that I had with a player of the Estevan Bruins:

Before the game, I was approached by a Bruin who I was unfamiliar with. The player told me that he was a loyal reader of the blog, and that he wanted to give me his condolences for the loss of my Mom. He then went on to explain how he and his family have had to deal with the loss of a loved one due to cancer. We shook hands, exchanged some pleasantries and then we parted ways. I foolishly did not ask him what his name was. We broadcasters have a tendency to recognize players by their numbers and not faces - And I feel extremely bad that I didn't ask him. I greatly appreciated his kind words, and I want him to know that he left a great impression with me.

If you are reading this, and you'd like to share who you are - Fire me an e-mail at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stars End Trip With A Loss in Wilcox.

The Notre Dame Hounds beat the Stars 5-3 this afternoon. Notre Dame went three for four on the powerplay and never trailed in the game.

Keith Grondin scored twice, and Blake Tatchell added one for the Stars who get two of six possible points from the weekend.

The Stars are off to La Ronge Tuesday for a 7:30 showdown with the Ice Wolves.


I'll post a more detailed reflection of the weekend either later tonight or tomorrow morning. Its been an up and down weekend, but certainly lots to discuss. Thanks for listening today and during the weekend!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stars - Bruins Preview.

Lots of familiar faces on both sides of the ice tonight as the Battlefords North Stars continue their road trip against the Estevan Bruins. The Stars are winners of their last three games, the latest coming last night in Weyburn (6-5). Tonight's meeting between the Stars and Bruins is the first of the season. Last season the Stars went 3-1 against Estevan.


Record: 6-4 (Third in the Sherwood Conference)

Who's Up Front:

At the top of Estevan's stat sheet is a player that the Stars and their fans are familiar with. Ryan Andersen is off to a fine start in his 20-year-old season with Estevan. Through 10 games, Andersen has potted seven goals and leads the team outright with 13 points. Andersen has had some help though. Ben Findlay, Kyle Johnson and captain Troy Hunter have all recorded 10 or more points so far this season.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Bruins are led by 20-year-olds Joel Kott and Ty Arris. Kott was acquired earlier in the season from the Estevan Bruins and has provided Kerry Biette with some quality minutes. Kott's numbers aren't exactly stunning with only a goal and two assists, but anybody who's seen Joel Kott play before knows what he can do. Ariss can do it all. He's tough, he's smart, and he's got an offensive edge. Ariss leads Estevan's blueline with seven points.

Who's In Goal:

Shea Cooper started last night, meaning Joel Danyluk will likely get teh call in net tonight for the Bruins. Danyluk is 4-2 with a 3.31 Goals Against and has a save percentage of .903. Danyluk is a savvy veteran who has provided Kerry Biette with a reliable option between the pipes. The Stars shooters will be in tough tonight against Danyluk should he be given the start.


18-year-old forward Dylan Smith has recorded seven points in eight games. He's shifty, has great vision, and is only going to get better. Defensively the Stars are going to have to be on their toes when Smith and his linemates are on the ice.


Record: 3-5-1-1 (Eight Points. Sixth in the Bauer Conference.)

Who's Up Front:

The Stars forwards are starting to regain some confidence. The trio of Blake Tatchell, Keith Grondin and Colin Phaneuf were big factors in last night's win against Weyburn, but it also helped that Rob Newton scored twice, and Tony Oak notched his third of the season. Tonight it's the same story. Secondary scoring helps you win on the road.

Who's on D:

Since his arrival in the Battlefords, Ken Pearson has never been shy about making trades. One of his recent acquisitions could prove to be one of the best. It's no coincidence (in my opinion) that since Chris Neurauter arrived the Stars are 3-0. Neurauter has contributed at both ends of the ice, and has earned rave reviews from the coaching staff for his attitude in the dressing room. Neurauter will be jacked up to face his former team tonight, and I can see him being a big factor.

Who's in Goal:

At this point, I haven't yet been told who's starting. Graham Hildebrand has won three in a row, and continues to have the hot hand. Does Ken Pearson give him another go tonight and perhaps play Birch or Sirard tomorrow in Wilcox? Or does he give Birch or Sirard the chance tonight and give Hildebrand a breather? Stay tuned for the latest.


Shayne Morrissey is due. Now that Keith Grondin is off the schnide offensively, Morrissey now becomes the 'next one' to try and break loose offensively. Morrissey has had a ton of chances in recent games, and has been playing well with linemates Tanner Schwab and Tim Rollins. On a smaller ice surface, these three will be able to use their speed and vision to find one and other. A goal from Morrissey could go along way to help not only his own confidence, but it would also greatly assist the Stars who are in search of their fourth victory in a row.

Tonight's game starts at 7:30. The Sask-Tel Pregame Show fires up at 7:15. Hope you can catch some of the broadcast. We'll chat tonight!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stars Hang on In Weyburn.

Friday night in Weyburn, the Battlefords North Stars won their third consecutive game - A 6-5 decision over Weyburn. Colin Phaneuf led the way with two goals and an assist.

Coltyn Sanderson opened the scoring for Weyburn, but the Stars quickly countered with an equalizer. Rob Newton redirected a Woody Klassen point-shot through traffic to tie the game. Weyburn outshot the Stars 15-7.

Early in the second, Weyburn took a 2-1 lead thanks to another one from Sanderson. Colin Phaneuf countered with his first of the game moments later. Phaneuf received a Blake Tatchell pass and beat Mitch Kilgore blocker-side to tie the score.

The Stars grabbed their first lead mid-way through the second when Rob Newton tallied for a second time.

Rhys Thomas notched a power-play marker for Weyburn to even it up. From then on, the Stars took control.

Keith Grondin scored his first of a North Star on a power-play, and then Tony Oak scored his third of the year with 10 seconds left in the second to give the visitors a 5-3 lead.

Early in the third, Colin Phaneuf made a fancy toe-drag move, beat two defenders and buried another by Kilgore to give the Stars a 6-3.

From there, things got a little chippy. There were lots of penalties, a couple of short fights but the Stars held their command of the game.

Weyburn made it interesting in the final three minutes when the Stars seemingly eased up a bit. Keegan Bruce and Jesse Ross each scored goals to force the 6-5 score. The Stars weathered a late storm and pulled away with the win.

Graham Hildebrand stopped 29 of 34 shots in victory and improves his record to 3-0 on the year.

The Stars finished one for seven on the powet-play, but were able to kill off all but one of Weyburn's five chances.

Next up, the Estevan Bruins, Saturday night at the Civic Auditorium in Estevan.

Stars - Red Wings Preview

Tonight the Battlefords North Stars begin their road-trip in Weyburn against the Red Wings. Back on October 1st, the Red Wings defeated the Battlefords 7-1. Ken Pearson's team will no doubt be seeking some measure of revenge. Here's tonight's preview:


Record: 5-5

Who's Up Front:

The Red Wings boast two players that are in the top 10 in league scoring. 20-year-old forward Brock Appleyard is in a four-way tie for first in the league with 17 points. He's followed closely by 19-year-old forward Drew George. George has six goals and 15 points so far through 10 games. Appleyard has natural finish but also some tremendous play-making ability. Drew George is a pure goal scorer.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Red Wings are led offensively by 18-year-old forward Ryan Whitell. The Calgary product leads Weyburn in defensive scoring with six points in nine games. 20-year-old blueliner TJ Wees is second with five points.

Who's in Goal:

At this time Weyburn has three active goaltenders on their website roster. 19-year-old Mitch Kilgore has played six games which is the most of the three listed netminders. So far through six games, Kilgore has a record of 2-3 with a goals against average of 3.93.


19-year-old rookie Coltyn Sanderson has been excellent so far for Dwight McMillan's club. Through nine games, Sanderson has recorded 10 points - Six of which are goals. The Red Wings boast quite a few offensive threats, and the Stars will have to be very responsible defensively if they want to win.


Record: 2-5-1-1

Who's Up Front:

Tonight is another big night for the trio of Blake Tatchell, Keith Grondin and Colin Phaneuf. These three have been remarkable during the past two games, and if the Stars want to deliver some payback - These three need to be front and center offensively.

Who's on D:

Offensively the Stars have no shortage of offense on their back-end. Woody Klassen leads the way with 11 points, but Zack MacLellan, Chris Neurater, and Brody Luhning have all shown spurts of offense recently. If one or two defenceman can chip in with some offense, the Stars will put themselves in a great position to win.

Who's in Goal:

Given the fact that the Stars are playing three games in three nights, I'm sure we'll see two if not all three Star's goaltenders get a shot this weekend. Graham Hildebrand would be the favourite to start tonight given his two game winning streak and strong play.


If the Stars are going to win tonight they'll need some secondary scoring. Tanner Schwab, Tim Rollins and Shayne Morrissey will be the ones responsible for providing it. These three continue to get better together, and were finally rewarded offensively on Tuesday. If this line can chip in a goal or two, the Stars could very well earn their third straight win, and some retribution against Weyburn.

Tonight's game can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15 with the Sasktel Pregame Show. The puck drops at 7:30.

Feel free to share your predictions.

Egan Traded to Trenton.

The Battlefords North Stars have traded defenceman Taylor Egan to the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL in exchange for future considerations.

S. Neufeld Dealt to BC.

To some, this is old news, but the deal has now been made official by the league.

The Stars have dealt 20-year-old forward Shay Neufeld to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL in exchange for future considerations.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bring on the Weekend.

Things are seemingly starting to turn around for the Battlefords North Stars. After two straight victories against La Ronge and Humboldt they'll begin a difficult stretch of road games this weekend, starting in Weyburn tomorrow night. The last time the Stars and Red Wings faced one-and other, it was ugly. The Wings beat the Stars 7-1 at the Civic Center back on October 1st.

"We know it wasn't exactly a high-point in our season thus far, and it was a pretty embarrassing loss at home. And we need to redeem ourselves down there firstly for ourselves, and secondly for the people who were at the game here in North Battleford and show them that that's not the type of team we are," said Pearson yesterday morning.

The Stars are in Weyburn tomorrow followed by a Saturday showdown in Estevan. Sunday the Stars play an afternoon game against Notre Dame. A quick note regarding the start time - It has been changed. The game now starts at 1:30 instead of 2:00. The SJHL announced that change via e-mail on Tuesday afternoon.


Brett Miller was my first intermission guest during Tuesday's win in Humboldt. Miller says that he could have played then, but didn't feel 100 percent ready. Here's hoping Miller can draw back into the lineup sometime this weekend. I'm of the opinion that the Stars would become exponentially better with Miller back in the fold.

My question is: What do you do with him? Do you put him back on a line with Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf? Or do you keep Keith Grondin with those two, and put Miller elsewhere to help spread out the offense?


Boyd Wakelin is still roughly two weeks away from returning from his shoulder injury. Getting Wakelin back will be a big boost for the team, who could use his grit. Wakelin also has a nose for the net. Lets not forget that he did score seven goals last year as a rookie.


So much of the focus recently has been on the play of Graham Hildebrand, and rightfully so. But lost in all of the recent success has been the defensive improvements. I know he's only played two games with the Stars, but I feel that Chris Neurauter has been a tremendous addition. He's calm, confident and scored a huge goal for the Stars Tuesday to get the ball rolling. The addition of Neurauter has also seemed to help Cody Folstad. Folstad's play over the past two games has greatly improved since he's started playing alongside Neurauter.

Brody Luhning is another player that continues to get better by the day. Not only did he contribute in the shootout, but he did a fine job killing penalties on Tuesday, and plays with a maturity beyond his years. The Stars have a real keeper in Luhning.

The tandem of Woody Klassen and Zach MacLellan continues to play well. So far through the first nine games, MacLellan continues to contribute at both ends of the ice and his counterpart Woody Klassen has taken his play to an even higher level than in years past.


Graham Hildebrand has been nothing short of outstanding during the past two games. It's obvious that Hildebrand's return to the lineup has given the Stars a boost, and the sky is the limit for what Hildebrand can accomplish this season statistically. I like Graham both as a player and a person, and it's great to see him achieving some early season success. It's definitely well deserved. That being said, I want to weigh in on some of the recent comments suggesting that Kyle Birch should be dealt. Before the season started, we had a lot of debate on this blog as to what the future of North Star's goaltending would look like? Would both Birch and Hildebrand start the season in the Battlefords? Would both be willing to platoon again? If not, which way would the Stars go?

Given Kyle's early struggles(statistically speaking) and Graham's early success, I can see why fans are siding with Hildebrand. But let me take a minute to remind you of what type of player and what kind of person Kyle Birch is.

Last season the playoffs, Graham Hildebrand won four straight games against Melfort and helped lead the Stars to round two of the playoffs. Kyle Birch never sulked, never whined, and remained a positive teammate and a supporter of Hildebrand and his success. After a Game one loss to La Ronge, Kyle Birch started in game two, and promptly shut-out the Ice Wolves 4-0.

For fans to place blame squarely on Birch for the bad start is unfair. Admittedly Birch did not play his best, but neither did the forwards, defense and special teams. Collectively the Stars were bad, and I think more than anything Birch was a victim of circumstance.

You watch. I can all but promise you that Kyle Birch will be stronger, faster and better when called upon next. Birch has shown over the years
that he responds well to competition, and has the ability to raise his game - Especially on the road.

The Stars have three games in days coming up, and it's almost a certainty that(barring injury) Birch will start in at least one of those games. Fans need to stop demanding and expecting trade and instead they need to enjoy this goaltending tandem while it's here. Numbers aside, we all know that the duo of Graham Hildebrand Kyle Birch is one of the top tandems in the SJHL. You need two great goalies to win a championship, and right now the Stars have that.

The wild-card in this scenario is Alex Sirard. The next few weeks will be very important for Sirard. Ken Pearson does have the option of giving all three goalies a game this weekend to prove themselves. Either way, it's nice to have options.


As always, your comments and feedback are appreciated. What do you expect from the Stars this weekend? Do you think they can win all three? What would you classify as a success?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stars Win a Thriller in Humboldt.

Tuesday in Humboldt the Battlefords North Stars defeated the Humboldt Broncos 4-3 in a shootout. Brody Luhning scored the winner in the fifth round of the shootout and Graham Hildebrand stopped 45 of the 48 shots he faced - Many of which were of the highlight variety.

Mid-way through the game, the Stars trailed 2-0 (Buzzeo and Gillies) and were being badly outshot.At one point Humboldt was outshooting the visitors 31-13 and were in total control except for Hildebrand.

Late in the second, the Stars caught some life. The Stars went on a five-on-three power-play and took advantage. Cris Neurauter notched his first as a North Star off a one-timer from Cody Folstad.

Early in the third, the Stars tied it when Blake Tatchell tipped home a Woody Klassen point-shot.

The Stars continued to press, and were soon rewarded for their efforts. Tanner Schwab scored his first ever SJHL goal after converting off a Shayne Morrissey tip.

The Stars surrendered their lead late in the third when Brendan Kotyk scored off a rush from the right wing.

The Stars were unable to convert on a late power-play and overtime was needed.

From there, it was all Graham Hildebrand. Hildebrand robbed Jeremy Boyer on a breakaway in the final seconds, and forced a shootout.

Justin Buzzeo, Spencer Braaten, Nick Keller, Ward Szucki and Jeremy Boyer were all denied on their attempts.

Blake Tatchell, Colin Phaneuf, Keith Grondin and Shayne Morrissey were all stopped by Bodnarchuk before Brody Luhning ended the game with the winning goal.

The Stars finished 1-5 on the power-play, and were outshot 48-34 when all was said and done. The victory improves the Star's record to 2-5-1-1.

Graham Hildebrand was named the game's first star and improves is personal record to 2-0.

The Stars are off to Weyburn, Estevan and Notre Dame this weekend for three in three.


Alright North Star Nation. Time to sound off - What do you think?

Stars - Broncos Preview.

Record: 8-1

Who's Up Front:

Humboldt boasts three of the top forwards in the entire league, and could be poised for a big game tonight. The 'Killer B' trio of Justin Buzzeo (Player of the Week), Spencer Braaten, and Jeremy Boyer are all capable of taking over a game. The Stars defence will have their hands full if they get the necessary time and space.

Who's on D:

Only one defenceman has more points than the Star's Woody Klassen and that's Humboldt's Josh Roach. Roach has 11 points in nine games and will need to be silenced if the Stars want to win. Roach will no doubt see lots of power-play time. Humboldt's powerplay is ranked fifth with a 25% success rate.

Who's in Goal:

Pick your poison. Matt Hyrnkiw has the best numbers in the SJHL (4-0 1.96 GAA and a .%93), and Andrew Bodnarchuk (4-1, 3.76 GAA and %.877) is the reigning league MVP. Tough call for Dean Brockman to make.


Former North Star Ward Szucki will be facing his team for the first time since he was dealt to Estevan this past summer. Since joining the Broncos, Szucki has scored twice, and has added two assists in his first four games.

Record: 1-5-1-1

Who's up Front:

If the Stars are going to win, they'll need to be physical and use their size to their advantage. Tony Oak and Brandon Esposito are two forwards that the Stars may lean on heavily tonight to make an impact. Tony Oak scored the first goal of the game for the Stars on Friday and had his best game of the season.

Who's on D:

Chris Neurauter had a solid debut with the Stars. He made safe plays, good passes, and used his strength when neccessary. The Stars need Neurauter to help keep the younger defencemen calm under pressure. I bet he's up to the task. He's also recorded four assists so far this year.

Who's in Goal:

My money is on Graham Hildebrand, but that's because he beat La Ronge on Friday. Maybe Ken Pearson is going to play a hunch, but I doubt it.


Special teams, plain and simple. The Stars will need to score at least once on the power-play and keep Humboldt in check when they get their opportunities. If the Stars win the special-teams battle, they could very well win the game. Heading into tonight's game the Stars have a %15.9 powerplay (11th) and a %64 penalty-kill (12th).

Moving Forward.

Good morning,

I sincerely hope that all of you enjoyed the Thanksgiving long-weekend. I spent some time in Regina, Saskatoon, the gym and on the couch over the past few days, and needless to say I'm refreshed and looking forward to the next few months leading up to Christmas.


Speaking of refreshed - The Battlefords North Stars earned their first victory of the season Friday night against La Ronge. They did so with heart, grit and timely offense and goaltending. North Star fans should be weary of planning a parade-route, but it was certainly fun to see the Stars play like their capable of playing.

So what now?

The Stars will take to the road for their next four games. The first of which goes tonight at the Elgar Petersen Arena against Humboldt. The Broncos are 8-1 with the best record in the SJHL, not to mention they are ranked #1 in the country by the CJHL. To say that the North Star's will be in tough is a definite understatement.

But with great challenge comes great opportunity. The Stars are positioned to make another strong statement tonight against the Broncos. If they get similar goaltending, and can stay disciplined, we're going have a real scorcher on our hands tonight! Ken Pearson said before the La Ronge game that both Humboldt and La Ronge seem to bring the best out of the Stars. We'll see what happens.

Make sure you check the blog later this afternoon for a preview of tonight's game. The bus leaves at around 2:30 PM so I'll have it posted before then.


A quick update regarding the injury to Brett Miller:

I spoke with Brett after Saturday's game, and he says he's hoping to play tonight. I should have an update for you about his status after 10:00 this morning.


That's all for now. Enjoy your Tuesday and I hope you can catch the broadcast tonight. The Sask-Tel Pregame Show starts at 7:15.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stars 3 - Wolves 2

Friday night in the Battlefords the North Stars pieced a full 60-minute effort together and defeated the defending league champions from La Ronge 3-2.

Graham Hildebrand got his first start of the season and did not dissapoint. He stopped 30 of 32 shots and looked calm and poised throughout the game.

Offensively the Stars received goals from Tony Oak(2), Colin Phaneuf(5), and Woody Klassen (3). Klassen's goal would stick as the game winner. It was scored late in the second on the power-play.

La Ronge countered with goals from Phil Belanger and Taylor Piller.

The Stars outshot the Wolves 36-32 and finished one-for-five on the powerplay.

Up next for the Stars, a trip to Humboldt to face the Broncos on Tuesday.


Well? What did you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stars - Wolves Preview.


Who's Up Front:

20-year-old forward Travis Eggum is on a tear. Eggam has six goals through the first three games of the season and has provided Bob Beatty's team with some consistent offense through the first three games of the season. Add the likes of Doug Lindensmith and Marc-Andre Carre and the Wolves have a number of veterans who can make opposing teams pay.

Who's on D:

Phil Belanger and Ben Bula both have three points in three games. Both will be expected to contribute at both ends of the ice tonight in the Battlefords.

Who's in Goal:

North Battleford's Adam Bartko is the likely candidate to get the start tonight. Bartko has two wins already this year, even though his numbers are not great. Bartko has a Goals Against Average of 5.83 and a save percentage of %.813. Numbers aside, we all know that Bartko will have some added motivation for tonight's game. The former North Star always plays well against his former team, and tonight should be no exception providing he does get the start.


Another former North Star Richard Cameron will be under the microscope tonight. The 20-year-old from North Battleford has two goals in his first three games, and it seems as though Cameron could be on the brink of a breakout year in his final SJHL season.

Record: 0-5-1-1

Who's Up Front:

New forward Keith Grondin will likely skate with Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf for a second straight game. Grondin showed glimpses of strength and skill last Tuesday against Melfort, and had several chances to score. I'm sure Grondin would love to score his first goal as a North Star sooner than later to get it out of the way.

Who's on D:

Woody Klassen has more points than any other SJHL defenceman. The 19-year-old from Watrous has nine points through seven games. If he can continue to contribute offensively as well as in his own end, the Stars will be in position to snap this skid sooner than later.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand will get his first start of the 2010-2011 season tonight against the Ice Wolves.


Call it a hunch, but I think Shayne Morrissey is due for a breakout game. He and his linemates (Tanner Schwab and Tim Rollins) had a solid game last Tuesday, and could be ripe for a breakout game against the Ice Wolves.

Friday Morning Thoughts

It's another game-day for the Battlefords North Stars. Tonight they'll welcome the defending SJHL Champion La Ronge Ice Wolves. It'll be the first time these rivals have played each other since the Wolves eliminated the North Star's from the Bauer Conference Final in late March of 2010.

The Stars have dropped seven in a row to start the season while La Ronge has only played three times. Would a victory against the defending champions be enough of a confidence booster to help turn this ship around?


As a writer it is always gratifying to receive feedback and comments on the blog. Some are positive, some the polar opposite - Either way I'm thrilled with the traffic that this blog is receiving, and I appreciate all of your comments and insight. Without you, there is no blog.

A lot of folks lately have asked me for my direct opinions surrounding the Star's struggles. I've received lots of e-mails, text messages, and even phone calls from people requesting my thoughts on the Daley trade, special teams, and goaltending. I've responded with as much honesty, optimism and integrity as possible. I'm always happy to talk about the team with anybody interested win or lose, I am the voice of the Battlefords North Stars and I take a lot of pride in that.

If fans want to use this blog to voice their displeasure over coaching, specific players and decisions - That's fine. I certainly don't want to condone negative comments, but it's inevitable that life will not always be 'peachy' and that certain players and decisions will come into question as time goes on. As long as your comments have some substance, they will not get deleted. What I will not tolerate are those who are simply using this website to insult members of the organization or fellow posters. So far, so good - But I'm just saying.

For those who want me to publish my opinions and frustrations - Please understand why I often refrain from doing so. I deal with the players and coaching staff of the Stars on a day-to-day basis and I greatly enjoy doing so. I have no intention of jeopardizing my relationship with the organization or the players over a blog-post written out of angst and spite.

I am here to observe, report and hopefully provide a source of entertainment for Star's fans, parents, volunteers and players who read the blog. I'm not a GM, and I won't be the one demanding that 'so-and-so gets traded' or that 'so-and so gets cut.'


I'll post my game preview later on this afternoon. There may be some more Stars news to add as well.

Have a great Friday, and we'll see you at the rink tonight. If not, don't miss the broadcast. I'm on the air starting at 7:15 on CJNB/CJNS

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oct 1st and Oct 5th Pictures.

*All Photos by Julie Larson

Dakota Johnson Shrugs Off Drew George.

Cody Folstad Lands a Solid Right.

Blake Tatchell Tries to Make a Play.

Oak and Bardarson Get Set for a Tilt.

Kyle Birch was Brilliant. Even in Defeat.

Mustangs 3 - Stars 1

Kyle Birch played brilliantly, but the Star's offensive went cold and the Melfort Mustangs earned a 3-1 win Tuesday night at the Civic Center.

The Melfort Mustangs fired 47 shots on Birch, who positioned himself well and made several difficult saves look easy. It was a true bounce-back effort after three bad games prior.

The Mustangs received their offence from Jesse Mireau (3), Sean Aschim (1), and Stef Harrington(3). Cole Gibson added two assists for Melfort who snapped a two-game losing streak with their victory over the Stars.

Cody Antos scored the lone goal for the Stars early in the third period. For Antos, it was his first SJHL goal.

After the game, Star's coach Ken Pearson praised the efforts of his younger players. He said that the trio of Tanner Schwab, Shayne Morrissey and Tim Rollins were probably the best line for the Stars. Kyle Hall, Cody Antos and Robbie Newton weren't too ar behind.

Pearson also liked what he saw from both Keith Grondin and Brandon Esposito.

With the loss the Stars fall to 0-5-1-1. They'll continue to strive for that first victory Friday night when they welcome the defending league champion La Ronge Ice Wolves to town.

Stars - Mustangs Preview (Oct. 5)

The Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs meet for the third time this season tonight at the Civic Center. Here is a preview for tonight's matchup:

3-3-0-1 (Seven Points)

Who's Up Front:

Melfort forward Regan Nabseth has blossomed into a legit offensive threat in the SJHL. For the past two years, Nabseth has watched the likes of Blake Hietela, Todd Chinova and Deven Stillar log a ton of ice-time and a ton of offensive credit and now it's his turn. The 20-year-old has tallied 10 points in the first seven games of the year, and has proven to be more than just a gritty, depth-type player for Melfort coach Darrell Mann. Nabseth scored three goals against the North Star's two weekends ago.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Mustangs are strong collectively, but perhaps the blessing (and curse) with this blueline is the fact that no one player in particular can be classified as the legit number one guy. Both Mitch Berg and Lee Christensen are tied for the team-lead in scoring for defencemen with four points each. It may be up to one of these two to elevate their game even further and help contribute a little more offensively.

Who's in Goal:

Charles Corsi has three wins so far in his SJHL Career, two of which have come against the North Stars. Odds are he'll start again tonight, and he'll look to improve upon his solid GAA (2.83) and a less than stellar save percentage of .889.


The Melfort Mustang's powerplay will be under the microscope tonight. Right now the Stars are clearly vulernable on the Penalty-Kill and the Mustangs will need to take advantage. So far this year the Stangs have scored 12 goals on 40 attempts.

Record: 0-4-1-1

Who's Up Front:

Two new forwards could be making their Star's debut tonight against Melfort. Both Keith Grondin and Brandon Esposito are in the Battlefords and will no doubt be looking to make a strong early impression with their new team. Josh Daley's offense will no doubt be missed, but if Grondin and Esposito can make the North Stars a tougher team to play against, then they could be on their way to a victory at home.

Who's on D:

North Star's D-Man Woody Klassen has eight points through six games. He leads the SJHL in scoring for defenceman. Klassen's defensive play has been 'up-and-down' to star the year though. If Klassen can combine strong offensive with steadiness in his own zone, he'll be a candidate for Defenceman of the Year, no question.

Who's in Goal:

Ken Pearson hinted that Graham Hildebrand was close to being ready. He even said that he'd start one of the next two games. Hildebrand has had a ton of recent and career success against the Mustangs. Maybe tonight's the night. If not, I'd anticipate that Kyle Birch would get the start given that Sirard took the loss on Saturday in Kindersley.


If the Stars don't stay disciplined it could be another long night, and another high scoring game against. Special teams will be a key thing for the Stars to address if they want to snap this losing skid and find the win column.

Stars - Kings Trade. (Daley Dealt to Dauphin)

The Battlefords North Stars have dealt 20-year-old forward Josh Daley to the Dauphin Kings (MJHL) in exchange or 20-year-old forward Keith
Grondin and 18-year-old forward Brandon Esposito.

Daley scored 23 goals last season for the Stars and was named to the SJHL's Bauer Conference All-Star team.

Both Grondin and Esposito are expected to slide into the lineup immediately. Coach Ken Pearson says that both will add some skill and size to the lineup.

The Stars battle the Melfort Mustangs tonight at the Civic Center. Game time is 7:30.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back At It

It feels great to back on the radio. Hearing my alarm ring at 4:30 AM is not always glamorous, and my coffee is uncharacteristically cold this morning, but regardless of that - I'm back at work, and life is grand. I've got a ton on my mind, and I thank you in advance for hanging in there, and allowing me to get back up to speed with what's been going on.

Times are obviously tough right now in North Star Nation. Expectations were so high heading in, and to be winless through six games this season is a shocker to say the least. Fans are weary, the players are frustrated and everything is always magnified when the losses keep piling up.

I am still of the opinion that the season is far too young to really get true gauge of what this team is about - But I will say that a victory needs to come soon and change is definitely in order, because right now for a variety of reasons, this current group is simply not cutting it.

It's weird, because in all honesty - I'm not worried. If these struggles are still here in December - Yes, it'll be time to re-assess - But I've always believed in the Star's coaching staff, and a rocky start is certainly not enough to change that.

Some fans have brought up the 2007-2008 'five-win' season and have started making comparisons already. To me, that comparison is ludacris. Back in 2007-2008, it was clear that there was a drastic shortage of talent on the team, whereas this year there almost seems to be an abundance of skill with a shortage of grit and toughness. I'm no GM, but to me it seems like it would be easier to find and add grit than it would be to acquire talent. Leading me to the conclusion that even with a record of 0-4-1-1, Ken Pearson is still dealing from a position of strength when it comes to improving this team. As always, your thoughts and input are appreciated.


Help could be on the way for the Stars, at least in goal. Last I heard from Graham Hildebrand, he said was on the verge of being ready to play. I'll touch base with Graham at some point today to provide some better information, but boy it would be nice to see Hildebrand back between the pipes. Nothing against either Kyle Birch or Alex Sirard, but right now the team could use a boost and maybe Hildebrand is "it."

It's strange to think that this knee injury has actually really helped Graham Hildebrand's stock with the team.


Tonight's edition of the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix will have a football feel to it. Former BC Lion's quarterback/Team 1040 Football analyst Giulio Caravatta will be on the program to talk CFL. I've also got some other irons in the fire with the CFL and SJHL so you can bet that it'll be a full program. I'll keep you posted through twitter once the guests become confirmed. The show starts at 8:00 tonight and runs on CJNB/CJNS.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Klippers 6 - Stars 2

A difficult 'special-teams' weekend for the Battlefords North Stars came to an end Saturday with a 6-2 loss courtesy of the Kindersley Klippers. The Klippers tallied on five of their nine power-play opportunities en route to their third victory of the season.

Beau Taylor opened the scoring for Kindersley in the first. Pierce Gourley then followed with his first of the year to make it 2-0. Blake Tatchell notched his third of the year late in the first, and the teams skated to the locker room with the score 2-1 Kindersley.

Kindersley added two more goals in the second, both of them courtesy of the power-play. Jonothan Sonntag scored at 6:57, and Braedon Adamyk scored with only a second remaining in the period to give Kindersley a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Three minutes into the third, Nathan Tomac scored his second of the season to give the Stars some life, but the Klippers countered with two late ones to seal the game at 6-2.

The Stars record falls to 0-4-1-1. They sit two points back of La Ronge in the Bauer Conference. The Stars are next in action Tuesday night at home against the Melfort Mustangs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stars - Klippers Preview.

Tonight will be a night that residents of Kindersley won't soon forget. The West Central Events Center will be re-opened tonight after a January fire made the rink un-usable. The atmosphere will no doubt be electric as the Klippers and their fans get to enjoy a home opener. The Battlefords North Stars no doubt have a tough challenge ahead of them, but also a great opportunity to spoil a pretty awesome party.

Record: 2-2

Who's Up Front:

Braedon Adamyk is off to a fine start to the season. He's tallied seven points in four games, and has shown strong play-making ability through the first four games of his season. Add the likes of Taylor Duzan (four goals) and Sanfred King (six points) and you've got a potent offense that can come at you in waves. Adamyk and Duzan will need to be silenced if the Stars want to grab their first victory.

Who's on D:

On September 18th, Kurt Leedahl was a one-man wrecking crew against the North Stars. He scored the first two goals of the game and was a strong defensive force. He was solid in his own end, and took care of business offensively when he had the chance. Leedahl log a ton of ice-time tonight against the Star's top forwards.

Who's in Goal:

It's been an up-and-down start to the season for Kindersley goaltender Scott Hellyer. Hellyer has two wins, but he's got a goals against of 5.73 and a save percentage of .873. I've never been a huge numbers guy, but these numbers will have to improve if Hellyer is going to keep his team in games. Larry Wintoneak may decide to give Justin McDonald the start, I would figure Hellyer will get the call for the team's home opener.


John Calkins is off to a decent start statistically for the Klippers. Five points in four games is by no means poor. But the fact that Calkins has yet to crack the goal column is somewhat alarming. Calkins is a gifted offensive player that needs to start scoring more goals, especially in the absense of captain Andrew Dommett. A goal or two from Calkins tonight could be bad news for the Battlefords.

Record: 0-3-1-1

Who's Up Front:

On a night where there were few positives, Josh Daley and Calder Neufeld had their moments. Neufeld had the lone goal for the Stars, and Daley was physical, and showed the offensive skill that landed him in the Battlefords in the first place. Daley is still looking for his first goal of the year, and if he keeps playing like he did last night, it's bound to come soon.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Stars were not very good in last night's game. The Red Wings had way too much time in front of the Star's net to finish their chances, and a major improvement will need to be made if they want to win tonight. That being said,
newcomer Brody Luhning made a decent first impression with the Stars. He fought, showed some offensive poise, and should (with a little seasoning) fit right in on the Star's blueline for the next few seasons.

Who's in Goal:

I'd suspect we'll see Alex Sirard go for the Stars tonight. Very seldom has Ken Pearson ever gone with the same goaltender for two straight nights, especially if the first game has yielded a loss. Sirard played well a week ago during a 4-3 shootout loss to Melfort, and the Calgary native has a great opportunity to help lead the Stars to victory tonight.


The ultimate X-Factor for the Stars tonight will be identity. Through the first five games we've learned a lot about the Stars both good and bad. But one thing that has been lacking with this team is a clear identity. They have talent, youth, toughness, goaltending and experience - Yet they haven't been able to blend all of it together yet for 60 minutes. I have all of the confidence in the world that once they start playing together, finishing their checks and becoming a 'tougher team to play against' that the wins will come in bunches. Restoring their identity has the hardest working team in the SJHL will be the first step in that direction.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weyburn Battles Past the Stars 7-1.

The losses continue to mount for the Battlefords North Stars.

Friday night at home, the Stars dropped a 7-1 decision to the Weyburn Red Wings.

Drew George led the way with two goals for Weyburn who were able to take advantage of four of their 11 power-plays.

The Stars went 0-4 on the man-advantage and were badly outshot 37-22. Calder Neufeld managed the lone goal for the Stars who drop to 0-3-1-1 on the season.

The search for win number one continues for the Stars who are In Kindersley Saturday (tomorrow) for the re-opening of the West Central Event's Center after a fire made the rink unusable earlier in the year. The puck drops at 7:30.

(Check the blog for a preview tomorrow afternoon.)

Stars - Wings Preview

The Battlefords North Stars return to action tonight at the North Battleford Civic Center. Tonight the Weyburn Red Wings are in town for their first meeting of the year between the two clubs. Last season the Stars were 3-0-0-1 against their southern foes. Here's a preview for tonight's game:

Record: 2-2

Who's Up Front:

The Weyburn Red Wings have no shortage of players that can score. Brock Appleyard is off to a great start with seven points in his first four games. The product of Lundar, MB has always shown lots of offensive ability, and so far this year he has been the Red Wing's best play-maker. Add a pure goal scorer like Drew George into the equation and you've got a fantastic one-two punch. Stopping those two in particular will be key for the Stars.

Who's on D:

Newcomer Ryan Whitell is off to a strong start offensively for the Wings. In four games he's totalled four points (two goals) and has also added some size and youth to Weyburn's blue-line. Whitell stands 6'4 and 215lbs. He's only 18.

Who's in Goal:

A tough call for Dwight McMillan tonight. Mitch Kilgore (91) has gotten two starts and has posted a record of 1-1. His numbers aren't overwhelming, but they're not shabby either. On the other hand, rookie Lucas Felbel (91) is 1-0 with a shutout to start the season.


Assuming both are in the lineup, the duo of Shawn and Rodney Cowie could make or break Weyburn's chances in tonight's game. These two 20-year-olds have real talent, and a ton of chemistry on the ice. Granted both have only played in two games, and are off to slow starts - But the last thing the North Stars want to help them break out.

Record: 0-2-1-1

Who's Up Front:

One of the strongest additions to the North Star's lineup so far has been Colin Phaneuf. It's hard to argue with four goals in four games. Phaneuf and linemates Blake Tatchell and Brett Miller have carried ths Stars offensively through the first four games of the year (at least from a forward stand-point) and another strong outing from Phaneuf may be neccessary in order for the Stars to grab their first win.

Who's on D:

Due to unforseen circumstances, I have been able to come on here and wish an official congratulations to defenceman Zach MacLellan for being named SJHL Defenceman of the Week. What an honor considering MacLellan hasn't even been in the province for a month. He seems to have really found some confidence playing alongside Woody Klassen. I look for these two to only get better as the season progresses.

Who's in Goal:

Alex Sirard played well enough to win last Saturday. That being said Kyle Birch is a competitor and has no doubt given Ken Pearson something to think about this week in practice. Your guess is as good as mine.


I've got a hunch that tonight is going to be Josh Daley's night. He's had his chances, and we all know he has the ability. Tonight is his night to grab his first goal(s) of the year. If Daley can step up, and contribute a little more offensively, the Stars could be well on their way to their first of many victories this season.