Monday, January 31, 2011

Stars - Terriers Preview.

Tuesday night, the Battlefords North Stars head to Farrell Agencies Arena for their final meeting of the (regular) season with the Yorkton Terriers. These team's met last Wednesday with Yorkton taking the game 4-1.



Record: 29-15-2-4

Overview:

The Yorkton Terriers are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games, both those victories have come with a price. The Terriers are decimated with injuries right now. Blaine Tendler, Robbie Ciolfi and Zach Majkowski are all nursing injuries, and likely will not be back until playoffs. The Terriers head into Tuesday's game with a two-point lead on second place Kindersley. The Terriers do hold a game in hand.

Who's Up Front:

Last week the Battlefords North Stars did a fine job at keeping Jeremy Boyer and Justin Buzzeo in check. The same cannot be said for Brent Struble. Struble has 48 points in 46 games, and he led the Terriers with two goals against the Stars last week. Keeping him in check, along with the likes of Boyer and Buzzeo and Clark Breitkruez will be objective one for the Stars defensively.

Who's on D:

The injury to Tendler opens up some opportunity for others to step forward and log a lot of minutes. One of those players is the newcomer Brant Remenda. Remenda was acquired on January 10th to add some veteran stability and depth. Not only has Remenda added that, but he provides Trent Cassan with physicality, and strong character for a team that is expected to perform well in the playoffs.

Who's in Goal:

Devin Peters was awesome Wednesday night in the Battlefords, and depending on Trent Cassan's choice, he may very well get the call again. Peters is 21-10-2 with a goals-against average of 2.95 and a save percentage of .906. Trent Cassan may opt to give Warren Shymko a start. He is 7-7-2 with a wicked save percentage of .918.

X-Factor:

Given the additions of Jeremy Boyer and Justin Buzzeo, it may be easier for the casual fan to shrug of 19-year-old forward Clark Breitkruez. DON'T. He is THAT good. Breitkruez is extremely patient, shifty and has a ton of smarts in the offensive zone. Breitkreuz has 55 points in 43 games.



Record: 23-24-1-1

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars are coming off a 4-1 victory in Melfort Saturday night, and are once again staring third place right in the eye. Ken Pearson's team is 6-4 in their last 10 games and with a victory the Stars will be back at .500.

Who's Up Front:

Prior to the Melfort game, Ken Pearson juggled his lines. The results could not have been any better, particularly for the trio of Kyle Hall, Keith Grondin and Braedon Johnson. Those three were responsible for two of the Star's four goals on Saturday, and seemed dangerous whenver they were on the ice together.

Who's on D:

Heading into this road trip, the Battlefords North Stars have three defenceman that are tied for the team lead in scoring. Cody Folstad, Cris Neurauter and Woody Klassen all have 33 points, and all continue to provide big minutes for the Stars. Defensively these three are going to have to be at their best tomorrow night given the offensive potential that the Terrier's possess.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch gets the call tomorrow night against the Terriers. He is 13-11 on the year, and is coming off a 36 save performance Saturday in Melfort. Of all his start's this season, I'd call Saturday night his best performance.

X-Factor:

Star's forward Colin Phaneuf is on the verge of breaking out. Phaneuf continues to get a ton of chances, and is bound to have a multi-goal game sooner than later. Phaneuf only has one goal since Christmas, but is still producing at a strong rate. Phaneuf leads the team with 62 points, and will likely see time again with Blake Tatchell and Tanner Schwab on a line.


Tuesday night's game goes live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Stars- Mustangs Audio Recap.

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Stars - Terriers Audio Recap.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stars Climb Into Third With a Win in Melfort.

The Battlefords North Stars once again find themselves on the verge of .500 after a 4-1 win in Melfort Saturday night. Kyle Birch made 36 saves, and the Star's took advantage on the power-play to earn their third straight win over Melfort.

After killing off three penalties in a row in the first, the Stars went up 1-0 on Keith Grondin's 28th of the season. Grondin converted on a tic-tac-toe passing play that Kyle Hall and Braedon Johnson set up.

Late in the first, Kyle Birch made his first of several big stops off of Melfort sniper Jesse Mireau.

The Stars made it 2-0 in the second period on a five-on-three when Tanner Schwab re-directed a puck past Charles Corsi for his 12th of the year. More solid saves from Birch would follow and the visitors led 2-0 after two.

Cody Folstad would increase the lead at the 2:00 mark of the third. His goal also came on the power-play.

Kyle Birch's shutout bid was foiled mid-way through when Spencer Mault buried on a pin-point wrist-shot from the left-side.

64 seconds later Kyle Hall finished off another nice passing play from Grondin and Johnson, and the Stars sealed their 4-1 win.

The Star's penalty-kill was a big difference as Melfort was held 0-6 on the man advantage.

Granted the Mustang's were missing some important bodies: Wall, Metz, Nabseth and Wihak, but the Star's strong effort was commended by coach Ken Pearson post-game.

The win moves the Stars to 23-24-1-1 on the year and for now they sit in third place in the Bauer Conference.

The Stars are back in action Tuesday in Yorkton.

Stars - Mustang's Preview.

Blogger Note:

I had completed my entire preview for the game, only to have it erase itself due to some mish-mash of buttons. Here is TAKE TWO of tonight's preview between the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs.

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If at first you don't succeed - Dust yourself off and try again. Tonight in Melfort, the Battlefords North Stars once again try 29=to become a third place hockey team. They can do so with two points against Darrell Mann's club tonight.

The Stars haven't faced Melfort since the 17th of November, and both tames have undergone much change since that time.

MELFORT MUSTANGS:

Record: 29-11-3-4

Overview:

No team is hotter than the Melfort Mustangs. Darrell Mann's team is 8-1-0-1 in their past 10 games, and are now just three points back of La Ronge for first in the Bauer Conference.

Who's Up Front:

The Melfort Mustangs went 'all-in' at the January 10th trading deadline when they added both Cody Hanson and Braydon Metz to their lineup. Metz comes into tonight leading the Mustangs with 65 points on the season. Metz has 15 points in 11 games since joining the Mustangs. Keeping Metz off the score-sheet will be key for the Stars tonight.

Who's on D:

Darrell Mann said Monday on the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix that he doesn't have a quote, "number one defenceman." Instead he has a consistent group of blueliners that can all contribute at both ends. The top point-producer is 19-year-old Lee Christensen who has really blossomed this season into one of the top defencemen in the league. Add the likes of Brenden Wall, Mitch Berg, Carter Berg and Scott Brkich and Darrell Mann has no shortage of weapons on his blueline.

Who's in Goal:

The Melfort Mustangs also boast the top goaltender in the SJHL in Charles Corsi. Corsi has a save percentage of .922 and a goals against of 2.53. His record? A modest 23-8-3.

X-Factor:

Statistically speaking, Brody Haygarth is on fire. After a three-goal outing against Weyburn last week, Haygarth followed that up with another hat-trick earlier this week. His 39 points in 36 games may seem lower than expected, but when you consider the injuries and you consider how Haygarth has been used in a lot of different scenarios this season, he'll take it, and so will the Mustangs. Keeping Haygarth quiet will be a difficult task for the Stars.

BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS

Record: 22-24-1-1

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Yorkton Terriers. Be that as it may, the Stars are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are starting to perform a little more consistently. A win tonight would put the Stars into third place in the Bauer Conference.

Who's Up Front:

Former Melfort Mustang's forward Cole Gibson gets a crack at his former team tonight. For the Melfort Mustangs it could mean bad news. Gibson has goals in four straight games, and has proven to be a solid addition to the Star's lineup. If Gibson can have a big night against his former team, it could go a long way to help the Stars to third.

Who's on D:

Star's captain Cris Neurauter is quietly playing some of his best hockey as of late. Neurauter is second only to Woody Klassen for the team's scoring lead for defenceman. Neurauter has 32 points and will likely see some key minutes tonight against some of the top guns of the Melfort Mustangs.

Who's in Goal:

Given that Graham Hildebrand was the hard-luck loser Wednesday night, the Battlefords North Stars will likely have Kyle Birch getting the start tonight. Birch is 12-11 on the year, and has a save percentage of .884. His goals against of 4.11 is high, and I think it's safe to say that Birch will have to keep Melfort's total below that to ensure success. It could be a great goaltending battle tonight between 20-year-olds Kyle Birch and Charles Corsi.

X-Factor:

Blake Tatchell has had a quiet two weeks by his standards, and is due to breakout in a big way. Tatchell has been so consistent and dependable for the Star's this season, and tonight he'll have a great opportunity to shine in Melfort. Tatchell always seems to play well in Melfort, and tonight he'll need to be one of the best if the Stars want to beat Melfort for a third straight time.

Tonight's game goes at 7:30 and you can hear it live on CJNB/CJNS.

Stars - Terriers Photos (Jan 26th)




Hildebrand Makes the Save.



Hildebrand Rises Up Again.



Galbraigh Tangles With Tendler.



Rollins Escapes Paterson.

Stars - Hawks Photos (Tue Jan, 18th.)

*All Photos Taken By Julie Larson



Cris Neurauter Looks Up Ice.



Woody Klassen Moves the Puck.



Blaket Tatchell Goes for a Skate.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stars - Hawks Game Postponed.

Due to issues with the rink-chiller in Nipawin and a related gas-leak, the Battlefords North Stars and Nipawin Hawks have postponed their game until Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30.

The same issue caused Tuesday's Flin-Flon - Nipawin game to be rescheduled for February 14th.

The Star's next game is now Saturday night in Melfort.

Terriers Top The North Stars 4-1.

The Yorkton Terriers showed why they are considered a premier team in the SJHL. After a humbling 9-6 loss Tuesday in Kindersley, the Terriers bounced back with a 4-1 victory on the road in the Battlefords.

Brent Struble scored twice, and goaltender Devin Peters made 32 saves (according to the shot-total at the rink) in the victory.

The Battlefords North Stars certainly did not lack effort or scoring chances, but great goaltending and some botched execution were key factors in the Terrier victory.

The Terrier's opened the scoring 61 seconds in when Brent Struble converted on a two-on-one pass from Rob Ciolfi. Struble would quickly add his second of the game on the power-play. It was the only power-play Yorkton would receive all night, and Struble made it count.

The Star's looked tentative in the first eight minutes, but definitely picked it up towards the end of the first period. However the Stars were unable to convert on two powerplay chances and skated into the locker room down 2-0 after one period.

The Terriers added to their lead mid-way through the second period when Craig Eisenhut out-waited Graham Hildebrand on a point-blank chance. The play was created due to some hard-work from Jeremy Boyer behind the Star's goal.

The Stars finally converted offensively on an unlikely sequence at 12:38 of the second. The defense- tandem of Woody Klassen and Cody Folstad were exhausted from a lengthy shift, but a resilient Folstad was still able to win a battle in his own zone, and throw a pass to Cole Gibson who did the rest. Gibson skated in by himself and roofed a back-hand over Peters. For Gibson it was his fourth goal in the span of four games.

Early in the third period, Graham Hildebrand made some big saves to keep his team close, but the under-manned Terriers did a fine job at defending the North Stars down the stretch. The Terriers were already missing several bodies due to injury and suspension, and they lost the services of captain Blaine Tendler, and Rob Ciolfi in the third-period due to injury as well.

Devon McMullen added an empty-netter for Yorkton with 46 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

The rink shot-clock had the final shot tally at 41-33 favoring Yorkton. The Stars went 0-3 on the man-advantage while Yorkton finished 1-1.

The win gives Yorkton a four-point cushion on the Kindersley Klippers in the Sherwood Conference, while the Stars remain four points ahead of Flin Flon in the Bauer Conference, but they still trail Humboldt by one point.

The Stars will practice Thursday before heading to Nipawin Friday, and Melfort Saturday. Both games can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS.

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I'll have the audio recap of the game posted later this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The plot has thickened for both the Battlefords North Stars and Yorkton Terriers. The Melfort Mustangs did their part yesterday by defeating Humboldt 5-4, and now the Stars are one win away from third place in the Bauer Conference. On the other side, the Yorkton Terriers hold just a two-point lead on Kindersley for top spot in the Sherwood Division. A win tonight is of essence for Trent Cassan's club. Either way you slice it, this means that fans, players and broadcasters are all in store for an exciting showdown tonight at the Civic Center.




Record: 27-15-2-4

Overview:

The Terriers are 3-5-1-1 in their last 10 games, and are coming off a 9-6 loss to the Kindersley Klippers. The Terriers were down 6-0 before making a game of it. The last time the Terrier's faced the North Stars, they beat them 7-4 in Yorkton back in late November.

Who's Up Front:

This will be the first time that the Battlefords North Stars have faced the Killer B's of Yorkton. Justin Buzzeo (73 points), Jeremy Boyer (72 points) and Clark Breitkreuz (52 points) are three of the most dynamic forwards in the entire league. Buzzeo can beat you with vision and speed, Boyer with his skill and finish, and Breitkreuz with the combined package of size, speed and finish. If these three are given time and space they will make life miserable for the Stars in their own-zone. Stopping those three will be of the utmost importance for Ken Pearson's team.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Terriers are led both on and off the ice by 20-year-old Blaine Tendler. The Terrier's captain has 11-goals and 27 points, leading the team in scoring from the back-end. Tendler can certainly hold his own defensively as well. He provides coach Trent Cassan with dependable minutes, and can mix it up physically when needed.

Who's in Goal:

Devin Peters did not finish last night's game in Kindersley, and was pulled in favor of Warren Shymko. Shymko is the 18-year-old backup that has proven to be extremely dependable for the Terriers. Heading into tonight he boasts a record of 7-7-2 with a great save percentage of .918 and a goals against average under three. The 20-year-old Peters is 20-10-2 with a percentage of .903 and a goals against average of 3.08. Which one gets the start? Time will tell.

X-Factor:

19-year-old Robbie Ciolfi may not receive the same type of league-wide attention that Breitkreuz, Boyer and Buzzeo do, but Ciolfi is certainly worthy of similar praise. Ciolfi has 20 goals, 25 assists and really stood out when these teams last met in November in Yorkton. Ciolfi is one of the many great examples of strong depth up front for Yorkton. Trent Cassan must love the fact that if his top three are kept in check, his depth up front is strong enough to counter most defensive units.




Record: 22-23-1-1

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars have won two straight games and are staring a .500 record in the eye tonight. The Stars are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and are starting to establish themselves as a 'dark-horse' in the Bauer Conference. A win tonight against Yorkton would go a long way to help the team's confidence moving forward.

Who's Up Front:

Star's forward Cole Gibson has scored in his each of his past three games, and is starting to develop some chemistry with Blake Tatchell and Braedon Johnson. Gibson was acquired on January 10th in exchange for prospect Dayton Picard. So far this season Gibson has recorded 32 points in 38 games.

Who's on D:

Brody Luhning returned to the Star's lineup on Saturday and chipped in with two goals, including the game winner. Luhning has 28 points on the year and leads all Star's d-men with 10 goals. Luhning has shown this season that he scores in bunches, and the Stars are obviously hoping that he can continue to supply offense tonight.

Who's in Goal:


Barring injury, Graham Hildebrand will get his third consecutive start for the Stars. "If you win, you stay in," has been the MO of Ken Pearson throughout his tenure in the Battlefords, and he drilled that point home again on the pre-game show Saturday. Hildebrand is 8-11 on the season and has improved his save percentage to .885 and holds a goals-against average of 4.26.

X-Factor:

The North Star's 'big-three' need to rise up and out-duel the big three of Yorkton. Though they dont' play together, Colin Phaneuf, Blake Tatchell and Keith Grondin need to establish a presence tonight at home. Grondin needs to shoot the puck, Tatchell needs to create plays, and Phaneuf needs to pester the opposition, and convert on his opportunities. If these three can outwork the opposition, they could be in store for a successful night.

Tonight's game goes at 7:30 from the Civic Center. Don't miss the broadcast tonight which starts at 7:15 on CJNB/CJNS.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grondin To Be on a Busy Sports Fix Tonight.

Today was one of those glorious days in radio where EVERYBODY calls you back. Because of that, I actually had TOO MUCH content for my radio show tonight.

Battlefords North Stars 20-year-old forward Keith Grondin will make his Sports Fix debut tonight. Grondin leads the team with 27 goals and has established himself as one of the 'go-too guys' offensively for the North Stars. Grondin's path in Junior A has definitely been an interesting one, and I for one am excited to air the interview. He is very well-spoken.

Also on the show tonight: Melfort Mustang's coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Darrell Mann. Mann's Mustangs host the Stars on Saturday night, and are heading into this week just five points back of La Ronge for first in the Bauer Conference. It is a 'make or break' type of season for Mann's club, and they are positioned well in the Bauer. He has never once turned down an invite onto the show, and I'm excited to air it.

Saskatoon Blade's color-man Cody Nickolet is also on the program tonight. Cody and I will discuss the Saskatoon Blades, and their recent acquisition of Brayden Schenn. Schenn made his Blade's debut on Saturday in front of over 7700 fans at the Credit Union Center. The Blades are the team to beat in the WHL, and we'll get tons of insight from an individual that knows the organization better than anybody else I know.

Finally I'm going to run an interview that I conducted earlier this morning with Doug Fehr. Fehr is the chair of the Sasktel Men's Provincial Tankard which is taking place in the Battlefords February 2-6 at the Civic Center.

Catch the show RIGHT NOW on CJNB/CJNS.

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Add the fact that both Yorkton Terrier's coach Trent Cassan, and North Battleford Comp Viking's Sr. Boys basketball coach Jamey Sommerfeld called me back to provide excellent interviews, it was a busy day at work.

My interview with Cassan went for about seven minutes, and I am going to run that interview in it's entirety during the noon-hour Wednesday in lew of the Stars/Terrier's game at the Civic Center that night. I will do the same with my Sommerfeld interview tomorrow at the end of my noon sports.

Nothing beats a productive day at the office, and after the Sports Fix I'm going to watch the Vancouver Canuck's hopefully snap out of their losing streak.

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My Nipawin/Battleford's audio recap is finished, and will be posted tomorrow afternoon. So far so good I think with those. Are you listening to them? Do you like the idea? I'm happy to keep mashing them together so long as people are finding them useful.

I can't wait for the broadcast Wednesday. Matt Ryan and I will again have the call for you starting at 7:15.

Enjoy the show, and enjoy the warmer weather. We'll chat again tomorrow.


DO

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stars Return The Favor in Nipawin.

Tuesday night the Nipawin Hawks came to the Battlefords and beat the North Stars 4-2. Saturday in Nipawin the Stars returned the favor by beating the Hawks 5-2. Brody Luhning scored twice and Graham Hildebrand put forth another solid effort in goal for his second straight victory.

Hildebrand was strong early. His toughest test came off a point-blank shot from Nipawin newcomer Jeremy Peeke. Moments later Tim Rollins buried his ninth of the year to put the Stars up 1-0.

Later on in the first, Brody Luhning beat Brody Hoffman with a slapper from just above the circle. The Stats killed off two Nipawin powerplays in the first and led 2-0 after one.

Luhning notched his second of the night just 28 seconds into the second period on a powerplay. Good thing too because it was the last man-advantage the Stars would get all night.

Cole Gibson continued his steady production when he stole the puck from Hawks goalie Brody Hoffman and wrapped the puck into an empty net. That goal made it 4-0 Stars and also spelt the end for Brody Hoffman. He was pulled after making 17 saves on 21 shots faced.

The Nipawin Hawks seemed to rally behind backup Stephen Klein. The Hawks scored on back-to-back powerplays (Peeke and Tash) and came awfully close at the end of the second to making it 4-3. Luckily for the Stars, Graham Hildebrand rose to the occasion, and he also got help (twice) from the goalpost.

Early in the third just 53 seconds in, Keith Grondin put the game away when he converted a Colin Phaneuf pass by Klein. For Grondin it was his team leading 27th goal.

With the win, the Stars remain one point behind Humboldt for third in the Bauer Conference. The Stars did get help from La Ronge who beat Flin Flon 5-1.

The Stars improve to 22-23-1-1 and again (for a fourth time this season) have a chance to reach the .500 mark with a win Wednesday. Their opponent? The Sherwood Conference leading Yorkton Terriers.

Stars - Hawks Preview.

Tonight the Battlefords North Stars battle the Nipawin Hawks in Nipawin for the second time this season. The Stars beat the Hawks 4-2 at the Cage back in late October and hold a 3-1 record against Doug Johnson's team to this point of the year. Earlier this week though, Nipawin came into the Battlefords and humbled the Stars with a 4-2 victory of their own. Points are at a premium for both of these clubs, and I'm expecting a fierce atmosphere at the Cage tonight.



Record: 16-24-3-1

Overview:

The Hawks are currently on the outside looking in on the Bauer Conference playoff picture. They trail the Flin Flon Bombers by six points, and have played one more game then they have this year. After a victory in the Battlefords Tuesday, the Hawks were beaten in Kindersley the next night.

Who's Up Front:

Rookie forward Eli Lichtenwald has my vote to be a Rookie of the Year Finalist. The towering forward now leads Nipawin in scoring with 19 goals and 36 points. For a big-bodied forward he skates well, and has a pretty good shot as well. Lichtenwald had a goal and an assist for the Hawks in their 4-2 win in the Battlefords Tuesday.

Who's on D:

The Nipawin Hawks have gone through a TON of defenceman this season. Now that Brant Remenda has departed, a good chunk of the big minutes will fall onto the lap of Scott Bollefor. Bollefor is probably the most seasoned defenceman on Nipawin's blueline at this time. Add the likes of Dallas Jorgenson and Jeff Datoff to the fold and Doug Johnson has some young, albeit inexperienced blueliners that will make you pay at both ends if you take them lightly.

Who's in Goal:

Brody Hoffman beat the Battlefords on Tuesday, and would be my choice to get the call tonight at home. None the less, Doug Johnson may decide to go with Stephen Klein instead. Hoffman is 12-18-1 with a save percentage of .893 and a goals against average of 3.86. Klein is 4-9 with a percentage of .873 and a goals against of 4.16.

X-Factor:

When Mathew Spafford was dealt to Dauphin one of the returning pieces was forward Jeremy Peeke. Peeke has four points in six games since joining the Hawks and has speed and skill to burn. The Stars need to be aware of when Peeke is on the ice, because one would think he'll be given every opportunity tonight to lead his team offensively.



Record: 21-23-1-1

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars are coming off a 5-4 victory at home over Estevan. Offensively the Stars got contributions from numerous different sources, and after two periods of inconsistent defence, they pulled it together in the third and played well with a one-goal lead. Tonight they hope for a measure of revenge against Nipawin who beat them 4-2 at home Tuesday.

Who's Up Front:

Cole Gibson has goals in two straight games for the Stars and really seemed to thrive on a line with Tim Rollins and Tanner Schwab. Gibson's speed, skill and smarts were all on display Thursday against Estevan, and the Stars are hoping for a similar performance tonight at the Cage.

Who's on D:

Boyd Wakelin is starting to look more and more comfortable on the back-end for the Stars. Given the absense of Brody Luhning and Lance Tabin, Wakelin has stepped in admirably on the blueline and earned a third-star selection Thursday for his goal and strong defensive play. Wakelin provides Ken Pearson with an honest effort every night, and tonight will be no exception.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand beat Estevan, which means he'll likely get a crack at Nipawin tonight.

X-Factor:

The Battlefords North Stars need to out-muscle the Nipawin Hawks. The road has not been too friendly to the Stars this season, and if they want to find success they'll need to take the body, and dictate the play rather than answering the call. Mitch Galbraith, Tony Oak and Robbie Newton played very well together Thursday against Estevan, and these three are the guys I'm looking too tonight to set the tone physically, and if they can start cycling the puck and wearing down the Hawk's D, it could be a long night for Doug Johnson's club.

Puck drop: 7:30 from the Cage in Nipawin. I'll have the call for you starting at 7:15 with the Sasktel Pregame Show.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stars - Bruins Audio Recap.

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Stars Outlast Estevan 5-4.

No lead was safe at the North Battleford Civic Center.

There were five lead changes in the span of 60 minutes, but the Battlefords North Stars defeated the Estevan Bruins 5-4, and are now one point behind Humboldt for third place in the Bauer Conference.

The score was tied 4-4 after forty minutes, but early in the third the Stars notched the game-winner. With a delayed-penalty on the way, Kyle Hall converted on a shot from the high-slot to give his team a lead that they would not relinquish.

The Estevan Bruins drew first blood at 3:57 of the first when former Star's defenceman Dominic Perrault fired a wrister towards the goal. The puck re-directed off of Travis Sparrow and behind Graham Hildebrand to put the visitors up 1-0. Seconds earlier Graham Hildebrand made the first of several big saves off of former Star Calder Neufeld.

The Stars countered when former Estevan Bruin's forward Cole Gibson beat Bruin's goaltender Shea Cooper through a screen at 6:07. Then at 14:33 Braedon Johnson recorded his first as a North Star on a dandy individual effort that saw him deke his way through an Estevan defender and then fire a shot over the blocker of Shea Cooper.

The lead was short-lived though as another former North Star Ryan Andersen was the recipient of a defensive-miscue beside the Star's goal. A botched pass went right to Andersen in front, who had all day and then some to beat Hildebrand for his 25th of the year. The teams skated into the first intermission with a 2-2 tie on their hands.

The Estevan Bruin's power-play sparked them to a 3-2 lead early in the second frame. Lucas Stubel one-timed home a Jonothan Ceci pass at the left-point to give his team a brief 3-2 lead. The lead would last all of 74 seconds.

Boyd Wakelin's fouth of the year tied the game at three. Wakelin (playing defence again) received a pass from Mitch Galbraith in the high-slot and placed a wrist-shot perfectly under the bar to tie the score at three. Less than two minutes later, Tanner Schwab converted on a two-on-one with Cole Gibson to make it 4-3 Stars.

You can imagine how long that lasted.

Josh Jelinski tied it on a partial breakaway after receiving a nice pass from former Star's forward Justin Waskewitch. It was 2-2 after one, then 4-4 after two.

Earlier in the day, Kyle Hall was named the Star's nominee for Rookie of the Year, and he wrapped up the day with a game-winning goal, his 18th of the season.

Star's netminder Graham Hildebrand battled consistency through the first two periods, but managed to elevate his game in the third period to earn his seventh victory. Afterwards Blair Atcheynum said it was a well-deserved victory for Hildebrand.

"His game has come around and it's great to see him get a win tonight. It's what he was shooting for. He was playing well enough, and tonight was a nice little feather in his cap for his efforts," said Atcheynum on the Valley Ford post-game show.

Robbie Newton was named the Warrior of the Game for his hard-work in the faceoff circle while Boyd Wakelin (3), Kyle Hall (2) and Cole Gibson (1) were named the three-stars of the game.

Next up, the Nipawin Hawks, Saturday night on the road. That game goes at 7:30 and you can hear it right here on CJNB/CJNS.

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I hope to have an audio recap (from the second-period onwards) posted sometime this afternoon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stars - Bruins Preview.

Tonight at the Civic Center, the Battlefords North Stars welcome the Estevan Bruins for the final time this (regular) season. The Stars are 1-2 against Estevan this year with their only victory coming at home in a 6-5 overtime thriller. Woody Klassen scored with .08 seconds remaining on the clock to force overtime, and Blake Tatchell ended the game with a two-on-one finish. Both teams are ranked fourth in their respective divisions, and both teams could really use two points tonight to breathe a little easier.



Record: 20-17-3-2

Overview:

The Estevan Bruins are 4-5-1-0 in their last ten games. They are a team that have seen some peaks and valleys throughout the season, and lately have been searching for more consistency. The Bruins were billed as a championship contender at the start of the season, and similar to their opponents tonight have underachieved so far. Tonight the Bruins look to take the season series with the Stars with a victory on the road.

Who's Up Front:

North Star fans will certainly be familiar with Estevan forward Jonothan Ceci. Ceci was acquired by the Bruins on January 10th at the deadline and so far has fit in nicely. He leads Estevan in scoring with 49 points, and will see a lot of marquee minutes. Ceci has great vision, but can also score in bunches. He has 18 goals this season which pits him third on the Bruins behind only Dylan Smith and Ryan Andersen.

Who's on D:

The Estevan Bruins have a tough, rugged core of defencemen that can burn you in a number of different ways. Offensively guys like Joel Kott and Ty Arris will be counted upon to provide offense, while Tyler Spencer and Dominic Perrault can make you pay physically if you aren't aware. Statistically Ty Ariss leads the way with 28 points for the Bruins.

Who's in Goal:

Shea Cooper got the call in goal the last time these teams met, and did not win. Joel Danyluk faced the Stars in both prior meetings and beat them. Danyluk has a record of 14-13-1-0 while Cooper is 6-7-1.

X-Factor:

Dylan Smith has been a North Star sniper so far this season. Smith has recorded points in each meeting so far with the Stars this season, and provides Chad Leslie with dependable minutes up front. He's fast, he's smart and he knows how to bury the puck. Smith is particularly effective on the power-play. If the Stars given Smith open looks, it could be a long night for whichever goaltender Ken Pearson decides to go with.



Record: 20-23-1-1

Overview:

Ken Pearson's team is 6-4 in their last ten games, but similar to their counterparts, the North Stars have battled consistency issues all season. The Stars are feeling the heat beneath them in the standings. Flin Flon are currently two points back with three games in hand, and Nipawin are six points back with only a game in hand. The Stars can breathe a little easier with two points tonight.

Who's Up Front:

Earlier today Blake Tatchell was named the team's MVP nominee and for good reason. Tatchell has been Mr. Everything for the Stars this season, and it seems that when he's clicking, the rest of the team follows suit. Tatchell is tied for the team lead in scoring with 59 points, and scored the O.T. winner against Estevan the last time these teams met.

Who's on D:

Woody Klassen has had a terrific season as a 19-year-old in this league, and will once agian be looked upon to come up big tonight. Klassen leads the Stars in scoring from the back-end with 34 points and wa named the team's Top Defenceman nominee earlier today. Klassen is physical, smart, and has a great shot. The Bruins will need to be aware of Klassen's presence on the ice.


Who's in Goal:

If the rotation holds true, it should be Graham Hildebrand's turn.

X-Factor:

Rookie forward Kyle Hall has been one of the 'feel good stories' for the North Stars this season. The 18-year-old was named the team's Top Rookie nominee earlier today, and has earned that honor with 17 goals so far this season. Kyle Hall has shown tremendous two-way skill and is one of only two North Stars (the other being Woody Klassen) who have played in all 45 games this season. A big night from Hall would go along way for the Stars inching back towards that .500 mark, especially with a trip to Nipawin looming this weekend.


Tonight's game can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15. Matt Ryan and I will have the call for you starting then. Tonight's game is also being shown live on Access 7 around the province so feel free to check that out too if you can't make it to the Battlefords for tonight's game.


As always your thoughts and predictions are welcome.

President's Tour Comes to N.B. And More.

The SJHL President's Tour is making it's way to the Battlefords for tonight's game, but the festivities will begin sooner than that.

A press conference is being held this morning at 11 at Innovation Credit Union, where SJHL President Laury Ryan will be on-hand alongside North Star's personnel to announce three award finalists from the Stars. By this afternoon we will know who the North Star nominees are for Team MVP, Top Defenceman and Top Rookie.

Fans will also have a chance to get up close with the Credit Union Cup and the many other trophies that will be displayed at tonight's game. Fans can also enter to win a number of big prizes including a trip to Europe.

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From here on out, it is safe to say that there are no meaningless games in the SJHL anymore.

It's nice to know that heading down the home stretch there is not a single team in the league that is 'out of it' as far as playoffs are concerned.

Heading into tonight's action, only nine points separate third from sixth in the Bauer Conference, while down south only 10 points separate fourth from sixth. A winning streak here, or a losing-streak there could drastically effect a team's chances and positioning.

Take tonight's game for example:

The Battlefords North Stars host the Estevan Bruins in a non-divisional matchup where seemingly the points are not necessarily at a premium right? WRONG.

A win for the North Stars puts them one point back of Humboldt for third, and a comfortable (for the moment) four points ahead of Flin Flon for fourth place.

A loss for the Stars keeps them just two points ahead of Flin Flon. Add the fact that Flin Flon would have four games in hand and the Star's situation becomes much more difficult.

On the other side, Estevan is in a similar predicament. A victory tonight keeps them within striking distance of Weyburn for third-place in the Sherwood, but a loss keeps the Melville Millionaires within striking distance of them.

We have a four-pointer on our hands tonight and I for one hope that fans take full advantage of the opportunity to watch two desperate teams strut their stuff.

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A full preview of tonight's game will be posted this afternoon along with the North Star's award nominees.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heading Home.

I touch down in Saskatoon tonight at around 9:45, and then it'll be back to work on Thursday. This trip to Phoenix has been excellent, and has definitely helped to recharge my batteries for the stretch run of the SJHL season. If memory serves correclty I think that every single Battlefords North Stars game (starting Thursday) is a broadcast!

Tonight the Stars welcome the Nipawin Hawks for the final time this season. The Stars are 3-0 against Nipawin so far this season, they head into tonight's battle with an eight-point edge on the Hawks in the Bauer Conference standings.

A win tonight for the Stars coupled with a Humboldt loss to Notre Dame would put the Stars into third place in the Bauer Conference. Flin Flon is also in action tonight, which makes things very interesting.

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My highlights of Phoenix include:

- Three rounds of golf and a grip-change. Those who golf lots know the importance of a good grip. Apparently mine was bogus, and spent the past three rounds trying to get used to the new change. Overall it was a humbling, and frustrating couple of rounds, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Some golf lessons are certainly in order for me in the not-too-distant future.

- Three Phoenix Coyotes hockey games. They beat Toronto 5-1, Anaheim 6-2 but lost yesterday 4-2 t0 San Jose. There is something really unique about going to an afternoon hockey-game while the sun is still shining, leaving the rink and then going to have a drink on a patio somewhere. I am also now the proud owner of a Shane Doan third jersey.

- A Phoenix Sun's basketball game where they beat Portland by four points. Steve Nash is a thrill to watch live, and even though they are having a bad season - The Sun's fans were out in full force. I met three people from a nearby military academy at the game, and they ended up buying my Dad and I a couple of beers. I heard some great stories, and I really got a true taste of American military service.


Again, I'm looking forward to my return to the radio. Hopefully the weather is getting warmer!

See you at the rink Thursday!

- DO

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stars Drop Another Squeaker to Ice Wolves.

Ignoring the Stanley Mission debacle, every other matchup this season between the Battlefords North Stars and La Ronge Ice Wolves has been a 'one goal game'

Last night, the La Ronge Ice Wolves notched two powerplay goals and edged the Stars 2-1. The Wolves went two-for-eight on the powerplay while the Stars went one of six.

Obviously I wasn't there due to my Phoenix trip, but I saw that there were 1005 fans at the game? Would anybody like to share a little more as to what kind of a game it was? How was the goaltending on both sides?

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Tonight the Stars are off to Waldeim for a neutral site affair with the Notre Dame Hounds. The Stars are 1-2 on the year against N.D.

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So far so good for me in Phoenix. Two nights ago I went to see the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes play. The Coyotes won 5-1, but the game was closer than you think. It was 1-0 for the home team heading into the third period and then Phoenix took over after that.

Last night I went to downtown Phoenix and caught the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trailblazers. The Suns won by four points.

Tonight we're going to watch the Coyotes play the Anaheim Ducks, and then Monday afternoon the Sharks are in town and we're heading to that game too. The NHL situation in Phoenix is certainly in some peril. The Leafs/Yotes game had plenty of empty seats. I felt bad for the players.

Right now I'm off to the golf-course for another round. Yesterday didn't go so well on the course, so today I'm bound and determined to score better.

Best of luck to the Stars tonight in Waldeim, and I'll keep you posted as time goes by. Hope everybody has a great weekend!

Take care,


DO

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vacation.

Due to a gap in my North Star's broadcasting schedule, I am taking the next week off.

My Dad and I will be heading to Phoenix together for some golf, some NHL hockey, and some fun in the sun. I will still be keeping on top of things from the States, but updates for the next week won't be nearly as detailed.

I wish nothing but the best for the Stars on Friday (La Ronge), Saturday (Notre Dame) and Tuesday (Nipawin).

I'll be back in time for Thursday's broadcast against Estevan.

Take care, and stay warm.

Dan

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wolves Outlast Stars 4-3.

A playoff feel at the Mel, and once again the North Stars and Ice Wolves treated fans (and listeners) to a tremendous affair. Lots of hits, saves and drama, and in the end La Ronge skated away with a gutsy 4-3 victory.

The Stars trailed 2-0 early as Logan Herauf and Doug Lindensmith scored in the first nine minutes to put the Wolves up 2-0.

Keith Grondin helped turn the tide with two goals of his own, and after one period it was 2-2. Each team managed a powerplay goal in the first.

Early in the second, the Stars struck again, this time short-habded. Keith Grondin connected for his third of the game at 3:24 of the second to give the Stars a brief 3-2 lead. The lead lasted all of 22 seconds.

Doug Lindensmith notched his second of the game on the next shift and things were all squared again.

Midway through the period, tempers started flaring. Cris Neurauter threw a massive (and clean) open-ice check on Marc-Andre Carre. Seconds later, Travis Eggum went after Neurauter and the two 20-year-olds went at it. Eggum was given a two, a five and a ten and didn't return until the 11-minute mark of the final period.

The only goal of the third came 9:27 in off the stick of Graham Smerek. Smerek made a nice fake-move behind Kyle Birch's net, forced him one-way and then wrapped around to the other to give La Ronge the lead and ultimsately the victory.

The Stars went one-for-five on the powerplay while La Ronge finished two of eight. The Stars outshot the Wolves 41-39.

Fans won't have to wait long for a rematch as these two meet again on Friday night at the Civic Center.

Stars - Wolves Preview.

Tonight, the Battlefords North Stars take to the road for their final road meeting of the regular season with La Ronge. The Stars are 1-1 away from home against Bob Beatty's team. Their victory was a 6-5 thriller. Their loss was an 8-1 laugher. Overall these teams have combined for some pretty entertaining hockey this season, and the rivalry remains one of the strongest in the Bauer Conference.




Record: 27-11-0-2

Overview:

The La Ronge Ice Wolves have little to complain about. They have the top record in the SJHL, have the top three scorers in the league, and seem poised for another run at the SJHL's Credit Union Cup. The Wolves are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over the Estevan Bruins.

Who's Up Front:


The La Ronge Ice Wolves have the best line in all of Junior A Hockey. The trio of Doug Lindensmith, Travis Eggum and Marc-Andre Carre have combined for an astounding 220 points so far this season. Travis Eggum has scored 40 goals in 40 games, and is running away with the SJHL's goal-scoring lead. The great thing about these three is that they all bring something uniquely different to the table. Lindensmith is gritty, Carre is so talented, and Eggum is a pure sniper. Keeping these three in check will be objective number one for the Stars tonight.

Who's on D:

20-year-old defenceman Dayton Fossum is enjoying a sold season with the Wolves. Fossum has 27 points in 40 games, and provides La Ronge with a solid two-way style of play. Fossum should see a lot of ice tonight a long with the likes of Robert Monfore, Phil Belanger and newcomer Steven Cook.

Who's in Goal:

Tough call here for Bob Beatty.Adam Bartko is the clear number one, but statistically Myles Hovdebo is on quite a roll. He is 9-1 with a better save percentage than Bartko. Either way, Bob Beatty can't go wrong. It's not like Bartko is struggling with his record of 18-10-2.

X-Factor:

Tonight should mark the debut of Nick Keller in an Ice Wolve's uniform. Keller's gritty style fits Bob Beatty's team perfectly. Keller brings championship experience, and great versatility to a Wolve's team already loaded with experience. Keller always seemed to bring his best against the Stars when wearing Humboldt colors, and tonight I'd expect more of the same in his La Ronge debut.




Record: 19-20-1-1

Overview:

A couple of new faces could be in the lineup tonight for the North Stars as they try to even their record to 20-20-1-1. Ken Pearson was busy yesterday making subtle improvements to his team, and tonight we'll get an idea of just how good the Stars really are. A win for the Stars coupled with a Humboldt loss could put the Stars alone in third place in the Bauer Conference.

Who's Up Front:

The phenomenal rookie season for Kyle Hall continued this weekend with two more goals. Hall has 17 on the season, and leads all Star's rookies in scoring. Hall has really blossomed playing alongside Keith Grondin and Blake Tatchell, and it will be interesting to see whether Ken Pearson decides to leave this trio be given the addition of Cole Gibson to the lineup. Luckily for the Stars, Gibson can play either center or the wing.

Who's on D:

If the Stars want to win tonight in La Ronge it will have to be a collective effort defensively that gets it done. The Stars MUST keep the Carre,Lindensmith and Eggum trio in check, and they need to stay disciplined. If the Stars defenders can play a tenacious, physical game without taking penalties, they should find success.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch has made four straight starts and has won them all. He struggled in the third period Friday, but otherwise has looked strong as his record now sits at 11-9. Graham Hildebrand could get the call tonight as he played really well against La Ronge on December 5th at the SJHL Showcase in a losing cause. Hildebrand is 6-10.

X-Factor:

The easy choice here is to pick Cole Gibson, but I'm not going too. Instead I'm choosing the Star's special-teams. The Stars CANNOT take unnecessary penalties against the Wolves. If they do, they'll be in for a long night. The Wolves have the top-ranked power-play which is clicking at close to 25 percent. The Stars have a good power-play in their own right, and if they can get that going, they'll give themselves a shot.

Tonight's game starts at 7:30, but you can tune in and catch the Sasktel Pregame Show at 7:15 on CJNB/CJNS.

Stars Add Two From Kindersley

This deal was completed last night, and is now official:

The Battlefords North Stars have acquired 20-year-old defenceman Lance Tabin (Tay-bin) and the rights to 18-year-old forward Braedon Johnson in exchange for 17-year-old forward Michael Sagen and 17-year-old forward Justin Lund.

Tabin (Regina) is a stay-at-home defenceman who is 6' and 200 pounds. He has seven points in 39 games with Kindersley this season.

Johnson had been reassigned to Kindersley via the Saskatoon Blades. In 31 games witg the Blades this year, Johnson tallied three goals and and five assists.

Tabin will not play tonight because of an injury to his shoulder. Johnson is arriving tomorrow and will likely draw in on Friday night. .

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cech Dealt to Selkirk.

The Battlefords North Stars have sent 20-year-old forward Travis Cech to the Selkirk Steelers of the MJHL in exchange for future considerations.

Muench Dealt to Vernon.

Dane Muench has been traded to the Vernon Vipers for Future Considerations.

I just asked Ken Pearson if anything else was "on the go?"

I won't quote his response verbatim, but Star's fans can anticipate more action before midnight.

Keep checking here for the latest.

Stars Acquire Gibson from Estevan.

The Battlefords North Stars have acquired 1990-born forward Cole Gibson from the Estevan Bruins in exchange for 1994-born forward Dayton Picard.

Gibson has 28 points in 32 games this season. He started the season in Melfort but was dealt to Estevan on December 1st.

"He's a great skater who can score," says Stars Coach and GM Ken Pearson.

Pichard is currently playing Midget AAA with Moose Jaw and has 17 points in 23 games as a 16-year-old.

Ken Pearson might not be done. They released 1991-born defenceman Cade Kimery, and are possibly looking to add another blueliner before the deadline.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stars Extend Streak to Four.

Friday night in the Battlefords, the North Stars led 6-0 after two periods of play. Though the defensive walls crumbled somewhat in the third, the Stars held on for a convincing 7-4 victory over Melville.

Scoring for the Stars: Kyle Hall (2), Mitch Galbraith, Tanner Schwab, Samuel Fortier, Cody Folstad and Cris Neurauter.

I'm not going to give you a game summary, simply because I wasn't there. Instead of watching the Stars extend their streak, I was in Paradise Hill calling a 15-3 senior hockey game. I will spare you my personal frustration but you can imagine that it wasn't the most fun night of my broadcasting life.

The Stars are next in action Tuesday night in La Ronge. It's the final time the Stars play in La Ronge during the regular season. So far they are 1-1. Their victory was a 6-5 come-from-behind game in early October. Their loss was the 8-1 decision in Stanley Mission. A win for the Stars at the Mel would put them at .500 again. What an accomplishment considering the topsy-turvy season up to date.

Tonight (weather permitting) I'm off to Meadow Lake to call another Senior game. Of course if anything breaking occurs on behalf of the North Stars and Jan. 10th I will let you know.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Stars - Millionaires Preview.

Tonight a battle of fifth-place teams. The Battlefords North Stars will put their three-game winning streak on the line against Jamie Fiesel's Melville Millionaires. The Stars are 1-1 so far this year against the 'Mils and have put forth two quality efforts against them. Barring a matchup in the league final, this will mark Melville last visit to the Civic Center this season.




Record: 16-18-0-2 (Fifth Place Sherwood Conference)

Overview:

The Melville Millionaires have set their sights on next season. Head-coach and GM Jamie Fiesel recently announced that the Millionaires would be 'sellers' during this year's deadline, and earlier this week he made good on that promise. He sent his top-scorer Braydon Metz to the Melfort Mustangs in exchange for future considerations. The Millionaires have some other 20-year-olds that could be on the move. That being said, at this point the Mils are a playoff team, and we saw last season that all a team needs to do is 'get in' and then anything goes from there.

Who's Up Front:

With the departure of Metz, a lot of pressure now falls onto the shoulders of 18-year-old forward Lucas Froese to lead Melville's offence. Froese's natural talent is obvious. He's got an extremely bright future, and has put up 28 points in 25 games so far. The departure of Metz should provide even more of an opportunity for Froese to showcase his ability. The Stars can't afford to give him time to make plays, because if they do, he'll make them pay.

Who's on D:

The Millionaires don't have one specific defenceman who will wow you statistically, but they do have some play-makers back there. 1991-born d-man Tyson Newell really stood out to me the last time I saw these teams play. Newell is physical, moves the puck well and leads all Millionaire's defencemen in scoring. He'll see time on the power-play and penalty-kill and will likely be matched up against the Star's top lines.

Who's in Goal:

A tough decision for Jamie Fiesel to make tonight. Does he start the reigning SJHL Goaltender of the Week Zach Rakochy? Or does he elect to start former North Star's goaltender Alex Sirard. Sirard beat the Stars in early December, and played very well in doing so. Rakochy is 10-8-1 with a .901 save percentage while Sirard is 4-4-2 with a save percentage of .888.

X-Factor:

One of coach Fiesel's best bargaining chips right now is 20-year-old forward Cody Hanson. Hanson has 37 points in 36 games, and is undoubtedly the top player on Melville's roster right now. It's no secret that several teams around the Junior Hockey world are likely coveting the services of Hanson around deadline day, but for now he's a Millionaire, and he's a player that the Stars need to be aware of or they'll get burned.




Record: 18-20-1-1 (Fifth Place in Bauer Conference)

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars are coming off a 4-3 shootout victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday. After a sluggish start, the Stars regrouped and managed to tie the score with 60 seconds remaining and then prevailed in the shootout. The Stars are winners of three straight, and hold a six point edge on the Nipawin Hawks in the Bauer Conference.

Who's Up Front:

Keith Grondin has officially bumped his slump. 2011 has started well for Grondin. He scored against the Swedes on Monday, and scored in both regulation and the shootout on Wednesday against Notre Dame. Grondin now leads the team outright in goals with 22, and continues to find success playing with Kyle Hall and Colin Phaneuf.

Who's on D:

Cris Neurauter quietly had himself a whale of a game Wednesday against the Hounds. The Star's captain had two assists, and logged a lot of key minutes, particularly in the third when the Stars were down to only four defenceman. Neurauter continues to contribute at both ends of the ice, and is ranked fourth overall in team scoring, and his second amonst defenceman with 28 points.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch has won his last three games, and it wouldn't surprise me if we see him get the call again tonight. That being said, maybe it's Graham Hildebrand's turn. Kyle Birch was the hard-luck losing goaltender against Melville back in early December.

X-Factor:

Some may disagree, but I believe that once the Stars split up Blake Tatchell, Colin Phaneuf and Keith Grondin they became a more well-rounded team. Sure it was fun watching those three together, but now that the talent has been more spread out - Players like Kyle Hall, Tanner Schwab and Samuel Fortier have benefited heavily. Tonight could be a big night for the likes of Blake Tatchell, Tanner Schwab and Samuel Fortier. Schwab scored a big goal Wednesday to bring his team within one, and Fortier made some nice plays and came close on a couple of occasions. A big night from those three would go a long way in helping the Stars beat Melville and increase their streak to four games.

No radio broadcast tonight because I am off to Paradise Hill to call an NSRHL game. But you can catch the game live, or if you need the game on the radio, you can listen to my pal Craig Stein call the game for GX 94.

Stars Odds and Ends.

Three quick North Star notes for you in the wake of a major trade between Yorkton and Humboldt:

1) Brody Luhning is on his way back to the Stars. Luhning has left the Calgary Hitmen and could very well be in the lineup tonight for the North Stars. Great news in my opinion.

2) A deal that the Stars had in place with Bonnyville is dead. The Stars were close to acquiring a 20-year-old defenceman. The deal fell through. This friends is why I don't report things on the blog until I know for certain that they are official.

3) Still no word yet fwhether Dane Muench is coming back or not. My guess is he is taking a few days to contemplate his immediate playing future.

I will have a Melville-Stars feature posted later this afternoon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stars - Hounds Audio Recap.

video

Pats Send Muench to SJHL and More.

From the Regina Leader-Post:

The Regina Pats made a move with little-used winger Dane Muench on Wednesday, sending him to the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars.

Muench was the Pats' leading scorer in the pre-season and got off to a quick start in the regular season before he was derailed with knee problems that forced him to miss seven games. The 5-foot-6, 160-pounder was unable to get back on track and has been a healthy scratch on several occasions while compiling two goals and five assists in 24 games.

Muench, 18, spent the previous two seasons with Battlefords.

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By the end of today I hope to have my first Audio recap posted to the blog. I ask for a little patience, as I'm still working out some kinks. The audio from last night's game is also a little choppy-sounding, but a promise is a promise and I will post a summary regardless.

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I want to commend the fans who made it out to the Civic Center for last night's game. The Gold Medal game at the World Juniors took center-stage in the minds of many, and the attendance last night showed that. However the fans that did show up were treated to an entertaining hockey game, and probably went to bed feeling a lot better about the night compared to the many heart-broken fans of Canada's World Junior team who watched
Canada become un-glued.

I don't work for the team and can't speak on their behalf, but I'm certain that the players, coaches, Board of Directors and marketing manager appreciate the fact that you made it to the game. The hockey fans in the Battlefords continue to amaze.

Well done.

Grondin Leads Stars By Hounds.

Keith Grondin picked the perfect time to break out of a slump.

Grondin hadn't scored since the SJHL Showcase in early December, but with 60 seconds remaining in regulation, he one-timed a Cade Kimery pass by Matt Smidt to tie the score at three. He wasn't done. Grondin scored the first goal in the shootout for the Stars who managed a 4-3 victory on home-ice against Notre Dame. It was the first time the Stars have beaten Notre Dame this season.

The game did not start well for the North Stars. Trevor Milner opened the scoring 1:42 into the contest after he converted on a Ben Morgan pass.

The Stars tied it at 7:53 when Mitch Galbraith raced down the right-wing and lifted a back-hand over the shoulder of Smidt. Colin Phaneuf and Cris Neurauter picked up assists on Galbraith's second of the year.

The Hounds then went to their only power-play of the game, and made the Stars pay. Richard Cameron banged home a rebound from a Todd Christian shot, and the former North Star gave his team their second lead. It's the third time Cameron has scored against his old team this season.

Christian then padded the Hound's lead with his 17th of the year. It was scored unassisted at 15:15. The first period ended with the Hounds up 3-1.

The Stars appeared sluggish to start the second as well. Passes weren't connecting and the Hounds really clamped down defensively. Fortunately the Stars improved as the period progressed. Tanner Schwab bridged the gap for the Stars at the 15:03 mark with his ninth of the year. Blake Tatchell made a nice-play through the neutral-zone, flipping the puck off the glass brilliantly to the stick of Schwab, who made no mistake
through the legs of Smidt.

Late in the second period Matt Smidt made a tremendous save off of Mitch Galbraith to keep the lead at 3-2 after 40 minutes.

The Matt Smidt show continued in the third period. The Stars threw everything at him, and he kept making saves. The Stars had 16 shots in the third period, and finally converted on their final shot of the period.

With the net empty, Cris Neurauter held the puck in at the left point, slid it across to Cade Kimery who made a dandy back-door pass to Keith Grondin who made no mistake on the game-tying-goal.

Overtime solved nothing and for a third-time this season a shootout was needed.

Keith Grondin converted on his opportunity, while Todd Christian was denied.

Blake Tatchell raced in and fired a wrister over the blocker of Smidt to give the Stars a 2-0 shootout lead, and when Birch stopped Ben Morgan the game was over.

With the win, the Stars improve to 18-20-1-1 and increase their lead on Nipawin to six points in the Bauer Conference. The Stars are next in action Friday night, at home against Melville. The puck drops at 7:30 at the Civic Center.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stars - Hounds Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars kick of 2011 with a challenge. On paper the Notre Dame Hounds don't pose much of a threat with a record of 11-20-1-3, but they are 2-0 against the Stars this season, and frankly the Stars have not looked very good in either contest. I'm sure that the Stars will look for some form of revenge tonight against Kevin White's team.




Record: 11-20-1-3 (Sixth in Sherwood Conference)

Overview:

The Hounds are coming off a 4-0 loss in Kindersley last night. The Hounds are 1-8-1-0 in their last 10 games. They are eight points back of Melville for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Sherwood conference. If they want to get back into the hunt, the wins need to start coming fast. Could tonight be the night?

Who's Up Front:

The Hounds don't score a lot of goals, but they definitely have enough talent to keep opposing teams guessing. Todd Christian leads the team with 16 goals, and is now their leader in points as well with Trevor Cameron no longer with the team. Christian will need to get some offensive help from the likes of Patrick Thompson-Gale and David Lerner for the Hounds to be successful.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Hounds are solid. They are proud of their defensive identity, and can really frustrate teams with their tenaciousness on the back-end. They are led by 19-year-old defenceman James Howden. Howden is second in team scoring with 25 points, and is considered by many (myself included) to be one of the top defenceman in the entire SJHL. Howden will quarterback the Hound's power-play and will provide Kevin White with quality minutes.

Who's In Goal:

Russell Abbott got the start last night in Kindersley, so that might mean that it's Matthew Smidt's turn. Smidt is 4-9-1 with a save percentage of .852. Abbott is 7-12-2 and has a percentage of .901.

X-Factor:

The Hound's powerplay has been an extremely effective tool for them in two games against the North Stars. If the Hounds can get their powerplay clicking again, the Stars might be in trouble. The Hound's are ranked 11th on the man-advantage firing at a percentage of .171





Record: 17-20-1-1 (Fifth in the Bauer Conference)

Overview:

The Battlefords North Stars have yet to play a game in 2011. They are coming off a 5-2 exhibition loss to the Under 17 Swedish National Team, but prior to that have won their last two games. They beat Flin Flon and Nipawin before their holiday break, and currently hold a four-point cushion for themselves ahead of Nipawin. Heading into tonight's action the Stars are tied with the Flin Flon Bombers for points, but Flin Flon stays in fourth because of their two games in hand.

Who's Up Front:

Samuel Fortier is hoping that 2011 can bring more of the same success that 2010 did. Fortier scored three times against Nipawin during the Star's recent victory, and has found a ton of success playing alongside Blake Tatchell. But then again, who hasn't? If Fortier continues to shoot the puck, he'll continue to get results. It's that simple.

Who's on D:

20-year-old defenceman Cody Folstad was the best North Star on the ice Monday against the Swedes. He was physical, moved the puck well and showed little to no signs of rust. It will be important for Folstad to establish himself physically tonight against a gritty Hounds team. A strong night from Folstad in his own zone would be a blessing for the Stars tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Both Kyle Birch and Graham Hildebrand got some time against the Swedes, and both played well all things considered. As far as tonight is concerned, my assumption would be Kyle Brich given the fact that he's won his last two starts. I don't have any confirmation on this though.

X-Factor:

North Star's forward Kieth Grondin is due for a breakout game. Grondin hasn't scored since the SJHL Showcase, and is now tied for the team-lead in goals with Blake Tatchell. It's not that he's not playing well, in fact Grondin's play away from the puck has greatly improved in recent games, and it's only a matter of time before Grondin starts clicking with Kyle Hall and Colin Phaneuf.

Tonight's game can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stars - Sweden Recap / Tuesday Thoughts.

Monday night in the Battlefords, the U-17 Swedish squad defeated the Battlefords North Stars 5-2. Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists while Lucas Wallmark scored twice. The Stars got goals from Mitch Galbraith and Keith Grondin. With the win, the Swedes completed a sweep of the SJHL with prior wins against La Ronge, Humboldt and Flin Flon.

Those in attendance for last night's North Stars/Sweden showdown did not leave disappointed. Sure some fans were probably hoping for a better result, but considering the fact that the Stars hadn't played a game in two-plus weeks, and had only practiced once as a full team - I was impressed. They were physical, tenacious and genuinely seemed interested in competing with the U-17 Swedes. The Stars could have easily mailed last night's game in, and coasted. They didn't. I commend them for that, I look forward to a strong effort from the Stars tomorrow night at home against Notre Dame.

As for Team Sweden. I commend them for their strong-play and their class. They were extremely fun to watch, and it was a real treat getting a chance to witness such talent. Fans in the Battlefords can proudly say in a few years that they saw the likes of Filip Forsberg, Tobias Tornkvist and Jesper Pettersson before they were household names in the World Juniors and NHL.

Overall a very rewarding experience getting to call the game for Access 7, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

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The Stars now get to shift their focus to the Notre Dame Hounds. Don't let their record fool you. The Hounds have given the North Stars fits this year. In two meetings between the two teams, the Hounds have won both in convincing fashion. They are a team with solid goaltending, a gritty defense-core and can beat you offensively if you take them lightly.

I will post a full preview of the matchup tomorrow afternoon, and a reminder that if you can't make it to the rink, you can catch the broadcast live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

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Trade rumors are all over the place in the SJHL right now. So far the two teams that are the center of attention are the Melville Millionaires and Melfort Mustangs. With January 10th looming, it's no secret that Jamie Fiesel will be "selling" at the deadline. He told GX94's Craig Stein during a weekly Coach's Show that Craig hosts.

Melfort Mustang's coach and D.H.O. Darrell Mann has also been very forthcoming with the fact that he's looking to add a veteran forward. Is there a match there?

Yes. Earlier today a trade became official. Braydon Metz is now a member of the Melfort Mustangs. In exchange, the Mils receive future considerations.

As far as the North Stars are concerned, the only thing I can tell you is that Ken Pearson is waiting to see what happens with a few kids in the WHL before he sets his sights on the 10th of January. Dominic Favreau (Brandon), Dane Muench (Regina) and Brody Luhning (Calgary) are three players to keep an eye on.

The coach has not revealed any other hints or nformation, and for that matter I haven't really asked. My hunch is that the results of the next two games (Notre Dame and Melville) will have some say in his approach.

More tomorrow.

Stars - Sweden Photos

*All Photos Taken By: Julie Larson







Birch Makes the Tough Save.



Sorensen Takes it For a Skate.



Travis Cech.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Odds and Ends.

The Battlefords North Stars will get back at it tomorrow night, but not against a typical SJHL Opponent. Instead, the Stars have a tune-up game against the Under-17 Swedish team, that will wrap up their four-game Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Tour tomorrow night night in the Battlefords.

The Swedes are 3-0 against their SJHL Competition so far. Their recent victory came Saturday in Humboldt by a 4-1 score. The Civic Center should be loud and rocking tomorrow night, and the Stars will hope to use that energy to their advantage as they take the ice for the first time since mid-December in a game situation.

The game starts at 7:30 and tickets are still available through the North Star's office. The game can also be seen live on Access 7. Matt Ryan and I will have the call on TV for those outside of the Battlefords that want to watch on TV.

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The Stars practiced earlier this morning, and had an ice session last night as well. Not everybody was able to make it for yesterday's session due to the dicey weather.

For those who are not aware, the Stars return to regular season action on Wednesday night, at home against the Notre Dame Hounds. The Stars will no doubt have that game circled on their calender. The Hounds are the only team that the Stars have not beaten this season, and the last time these teams met, Notre Dame beat the Stars at home.

The Stars have 19 games total remaining in their regular season. 15 of those games will be radio broadcasts.

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I will be adding a new feature to the blog in 2011. My goal is to post audio recaps of our broadcasted hockey-games. My goal is to provide readers with "A game in a flash" type of thing. A mish-mash of goals, saves and highlights from games in 2011 and beyond. The first one will be posted after the Notre Dame game.

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Defenceman Brody Luhning is currently with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Luhnings igned with Calgary shortly after the CJHL Top Prospects games in Dauphin, and is currently on a four-game tryout with the team. Through two games, Luhning is pointless, a +1 and has five penalty-minutes. Calgary is in action tonight against the Regina Pats.

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I have a game to call in three of the next four nights. Tonight I'm off to Edam to call the 3 Stars/Timberwolves game for the NSRHL. You can catch the call tonight on CJNB at 7:00.

Stars - Hawks Photos.

*All Photos Taken By: Julie Larson*



Oak Squares Off With Jensen.



A Solid Outing for Kyle Birch.



Race for a Loose Puck.



Kimery Takes It For A Skate.

Stars - Bombers Photos.

*All Photos Taken By Julie Larson*



Tanner Schwab Settles the Puck.



Tim Rollins Tips One Home.



Mitch Galbraith Adds to the Lead.



Tatchell Scores a Beauty.



It Seems that When Robbie Newton Fights, the Stars Win.

Stars - Klippers Photos.



Boyd Wakelin Drops the Gloves.



Oak Moves Through the Zone.



A Chippy Affair.