Monday, February 28, 2011

Bombers - Stars Preview (Game Three).

Tonight the Battlefords North Stars become road-warriors as they get set for a game-three matchup with the Flin Flon Bombers at the Whitney Forum. Flin Flon are coming off a 3-0 win over the Stars on Saturday, and now hold home-ice advantage for the remainder of this series. It's simple, the Stars must win once over the next two nights or their season is over.



The Flin Flon Bombers brought a strong physical effort to the Civic Center Saturday, and got off to a great start. Mike Reagan's team got the split that they so desperately wanted, and now it's up to them to get the job done on home ice.

Who's Up Front:

So far no one particular forward has established himself as 'the guy' for Flin Flon, but that's not exactly a problem. The Bombers have been getting balanced scoring, and are showing that they're depth is an area to be reckoned with. Deven Stillar, Andrew Johnston and Ryan Fox all found the score-sheet Saturday, while the likes of Brett Penner, Jesse Mychan and Corey Tyrell all showed strong consistency as well.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Flin Flon Bombers were solid in Game Two. They let P.J. Musico see most shots, and they were definitely the more physical bunch. David Roper, Tyler Mah and James McNulty all played really strong games, and those three in particular will need to stay strong tonight.

Who's in Goal:

P.J. Musico has had a solid start to the post-season, and after a 'decent' game one - He was LIGHTS OUT in Game Two. Musico has no doubt found some confidence after Game Two, which could be a dangerous thing for the Stars.


I have really liked the play of Brett Penner so far in this series. So far Penner has supplied a spark with offense, speed and grit. Heading into this series, there was was some doubt as to who would step up offensively for Flin Flon after the top three. So far Penner has answered the call and has been been a solid weapon for Mike Reagan's team.



No panic from Ken Pearson's team. They come to Flin Flon having won their last meeting with the Bombers at the Whitney Forum, and by now they surely know what to expect from an atmopshere prespective.

Who's Up Front:

After scoring six times in Game One, the Battlefords North Stars came up empty offensively in Game Two. Tonight the big three of Blake Tatchell, Colin Phaneuf and Cole Gibson will need to re-discover their finish, and supply the Stars with some solid minutes. Depth-wise, the Stars are going to need more help as well. Kyle Hall, Braedon Johnson, Tanner Schwab, Tim Rollins and Mitch Galbraith are all kids that need to find another gear on he road.

Who's on D:

Defensively the Stars need to be a little tougher. It was clear from the get-go of Game Two that the Bombers were trying to intimidate the Stars physically, and given the end-result it seemed to have worked. Defensively the likes of Cris Neurauter, Cody Folstad, Woody Klassen and Travis Sparrow in particular need to elevate their aggressiveness just a little bit. If each defenceman can bring just a 'little more fire' I think they'll be set.

Who's in Goal:

No word yet on who goes in goal. I know that Ken Pearson had his 'win and you stay in' mentality in the regular season, but can you really fault Kyle Birch for surrendering four goals in two games? My money is on Kyle getting another crack at the Bombers tonight.


Collectively the North Stars need to get dirty. It starts with from the top down. All Star's forwards need to be willing to pay the physical price in front of P.J. Musico. Flin Flon's defence is tough, mean, but have also shown spurts of bad discipline. The Stars need to get back to their Game One approach of making life tougher on P.J. Musico.

Tonight's games goes at 7:30 from the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon. You can hear the live broadcast on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Musixo Blanks Stars.

The Flin Flon Bombers have scooped home-ice advantage away from the Battlefords North Stars. Saturday in the Battlefords, Flin Flon goaltender P.J. Musico stopped all 38 shots he faced, and led his team to a 3-0 victory.

Overall a much better performance by the Flin Flon Bombers. They initiated the physical play right off the hop, and played like a desperate team. Ryan Fox opened the scoring on a first-period power-play. Deven Stillar did a great job at the side of the Star's goal to elude the defense, and he slid a pass back-door to Fox who made no mistake.

The Stars managed 15 shots in the first, but P.J. Musico stood his ground and made some big stops.

The second period was no better for the Stars, who were blanked offensively. The Bombers made it 2-0 off a nice back-hand goal from Brett Penner. Penner converted from Jesse Mychan at 1:31, and the Stars trailed by two.

The third period was a back-and-forth affair with plenty of scoring chances at both ends. A weird moment early in the period as Star's defenceman Brody Luhning was kicked out of the game for using illegal equipment.

At 8:26, Braedon Johnson was hauled down on a short-handed breakaway, and received a penalty-shot opportunity. Johnson made a good move, and aimed for the five-hole, but Musico shut the door and kept his team on top 2-0.

Musico upped the anti even further in the final five minutes. He made save after save as the Stars really came on in waves. In the end, Musico was too much for the Stars who missed a lot of open nets, and were simply unable to score.

Andrew Johnston added an empty-netter at 18:39 to put the game away.

The Bombers went 1-5 on the powerplay while the Stars went 0-3.

After the game, Ken Pearson characterized his team' effort as "good" but not "great."

With the victory, the Flin Flon Bombers return home with the split that they so desperately needed, and now the pressure is on the Battlefords North Stars to win at least once on the road.

Game three goes Monday night from the Whitney Forum at 7:30. You can hear the live broadcast on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Stars - Bombers Photos (Game Two)

© All Rights Reserved.
Please contact Julie at if you wish to use these photos for anything.

Johnson looks up ice

Hall before a nice pass

Captain Cris takes a look

Galbraith battles for the puck

Rollins turns on the jets

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stars - Bombers Preview (Game Two)

After a 6-2 victory on home-ice Friday, the North Stars are back in action tonight looking to grab a 2-0 strangle-hold on the best-of-five series.


Record: 0-1


Regardless of the outcome of Game One, Mike Reagan's team showed some positives, and will look to build off of those in Game Two. The Bombers got secondary scoring, good goaltending, and they did not shy away from the physical side of things. The obvious concern from Game One (aside from Korchinski's status) was the offensive silence from Ryan Fox, Deven Stillar and Andrew Johnston.

Who's Up Front:

The top-three from Flin Flon were held pointless on Friday night. Unfamiliar territory I'm sure for those three, who have previously feasted on the North Star's this season. It wasn't for a lack of chances, as both Andrew Johnston and Deven Stillar had their moments in Game One. If these three can get back on track and contribute a goal or two tonight, Flin Flon should be right there. Before the series, Mike Reagan said that "It may ultimately come down to which team's top line is better." It's time for the Flin Flon three to get going.

Who's on D:

With Korchinksi's status up in the air for Game Two, it'll be important for the remaining defencemen to rise up and bring a better showing in Game Two. David Roper put forth a strong effort in Game One, and will likely see even more ice-time should Korchinski not be able to go. Roper had an assist, and was also solid defensively for the Bombers. David Roper is the defenceman that I am going to single-out and highlight as a 'big-game guy' for Game Two.

Who's in Goal:

P.J, Musico has nothing to feel bad about. He did everything he could to give the Bombers a chance in Game One, and he will get another opportunity tonight in the Battlefords. Musico stopped 36 of the 42 shots he faced, many of which were strong saves. If Musico can get some more offensively heli REA'll be in good shape.


Discipline. I realize that the Bomber players, coaching staff and fans are upset regarding some of the calls and non-calls of Game One, but it's important for them harness that frustration and use it positively. The aggression and physicality is a good thing for Flin Flon, but only if it's used to draw penalties instead of taking them.


Record: 1-0


Goaltending, A shappy penalty-kill and defensive-lapses were all common concerns for the North Stars during the regular season, yet all of those were considered 'positives' after Game One. Add the fact that they scored six goals, and you've got a great recipe for success.

Who's Up Front:

Last night's game (in my opinion) was the best game of 2011 for Colin Phaneuf. Not only was he crafty, gritty and productive offensively, but he was solid defensively as well. He blocked shots on the penalty-kill, and was able to keep his frustrations in check. Colin Phaneuf can be a real game-breaker when he wants to be, and last night he certainly was. Can he do it again in Game Two?

Who's on D:

With Brody Luhning it has always been high-risk, and high-reward. Last night Luhning was money. He scored the game-winning goal, was defensively responsible, and he did not back down from the physical play. The tandem of Brody Luhning and Travis Sparrow was excellent for Ken Pearson's team in Game One, and they will be looking for a repeat performance tonight.

Who's in Goal:

If not for Kyle Birch, maybe the Bombers take a 3-1 or 4-1 lead in the second period and win Game One. Birch was focused, locked in, and also did a great job of keeping his frustrations in check. We've seen it before from Kyle in the playoffs - When he's locked in, there are few goalies in the SJHL that can equal his ability.


Tonight it could be Keith Grondin's turn. Grondin had a fairly quiet Game One, and I'm sure he'll want to contribute a little more offensively. If Keith Grondin and his linemates can bring a solid effort at both ends of the ice, the Stars could very well be off to Flin Flon tomorrow with a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game Two starts at 7:30. If you can't make it to the rink, you can hear the call live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Four Goal Third Leads Stars Over Bombers.

The Battlefords North Stars have drawn first blood in the Bauer Conference Survivor Series with the Flin Flon Bombers. Blake Tatchell scored twice, Colin Phaneuf added three assists and Kyle Birch rose to the occasion in goal as the Stars defeated Flin Flon 6-2 in front of 876 at the Civic Center.

The Battlefords North Stars struck first on the power-play. Colin Phaneuf's shot was stopped by P.J. Musico, but Cris Neurauter finessed the puck free to the stick of Blake Tatchell, who took advantage of Musico's positioning and buried his first of the playoffs.

Less than a minute later, Robbie Newton and David Roper dropped the gloves for the first fight of the evening.

26 seconds later, the first major turning point of the series. Flin Flon defenceman Tanner Korchinski and North Star's forward Tony Oak were involved in a collision in the Flin Flon zone behind the play. Korchinski went down, and stayed down for quite some time. Oak was assessed a double-minor penalty for high-sticking and Korchinski didn't take another shift. *Korchinski's status for game-two is up in the air due to a rumored concussion.

*Quick Broadcaster Note* (I cannot confirm or deny a concussion. Out of respect to both the Bombers and Korchinski, I refuse to speculate on the injury until I hear his official status from their coaching/training staff. Also, I did not see the hit directly, so I am unable to comment on whether it was indeed a high-stick or a hit to the head.)

Flin Flon was unable to convert on their double-minor power-play, and the Stars skateed into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. The lead could have been greater had it not been for a solid succession of saves from P.J. Musico in the late portion of the period.

The second period was easily Flin Flon's best. Corey Tyrell got Flin Flon on the board after he put-home a David Roper point-shot over the shoulder of Kyle Birch. 62 seconds later, Jesse Mychan put home a Dillan McCombie rebound, and the Bombers quickly led 2-1, and the Civic Center was hushed.

Moments later both Riley Storzuk and Andrew Johnston both had point-blank chances to score, but Kyle Birch made some big saves, and kept the Stars within one.

In the final three minutes of the second, the Stars tied it. Blake Tatchell weaved his way through the Flin Flon defence, had Musico out of position, but was unable to tuck it into the goal due to some heady defence from David Roper. Seconds later, the Stars had a similar opportunity on the right-wing, and Cole Gibson did not miss. Gibson's first of the playoffs from Colin Phaneuf and Woody Klassen had the Stars tied at two heading into the third.

The Bombers and Stars started the third period four-on-four, and once Colin Phaneuf's penalty ended, he joined the play and the Stars struck on the power-play. Brody Luhning's shot from the right-point seemingly re-directed off of a Flin Flon defenceman and past P.J. Musico. 3-2 Stars.

58 seconds later, a strange one. P.J. Musico was again caught out of position due to an apparent collision with a North Star in front of him. With Musico down and out, Dillon Forbes fired a low shot on goal which Boyd Wakelin redirected home.

Blake Tatchell notched his second of the game off a tip-in from Brody Luhning, and then Tanner Schwab iced the game with a give-and-go finish with Cole Gibson.

Some rough-stuff towards the end, as Travis Sparrow got into a fight with Tyler Mah. After the fight, Sparrow started chirping with the Flin Flon bench. Ashton Bernard did not take too kindly to this, and he did his best to get at Sparrow before he left the ice surface. Once Sparrow had gone, Bernard then spotted Tony Oak on the bench, and made an attempt to get at him. Star's coach Ken Pearson got between the two of them, and the linesmen promptly removed Bernard from the game and assessed him a 10-minute misconduct.

In the end, the Stars finished 2-11 on the power-play and outshot the Flin Flon Bombers 42-29.

The 3 Stars from the CJNB/CJNS broadcast were:

1) Colin Phaneuf (three assists)
2) Blake Tatchell (two goals)
3) Brody Luhning (one goal, one assist)

Warrior of the Game: Cris Neurauter

The Stars and Bombers take the ice for game two of the Survivor Series Saturday night at the North Battleford Civic Center. The puck drops at 7:30.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hart 1 - O'Connor 0

We all know that the Stars and Bombers have a bitter rivalry on the ice.. But what you may not know is that the Flin Flon radio guy and the Battlefords radio guy... ME... have a rivalry too.

We decided to have a little fun and settle a score on the ice this morning with a shootout. We each took turns shooting on Flin Flon netminder Randy Graham, and let's just say that it's obvious why I call hockey and don't play it professionally.

The shootout went seven rounds, with Rob Hart scoring on a sweet back-hand deke to take the lead. I tried going forehand upstairs, and was denied by Randy Graham. "He
protected his net really well. I thought I had him beat a couple of times fore-hand, but he came up big. Rob beat him with a nice move," I said after the shootout.

10 disappointed North Star players went home for their lunch, and nap after watching the voice of the North Stars fall in the shootout.

In the end, it was all in fun. And truth be told.. There is no REAL rivalry between the radio guys. And I've got a newsflash for Flin Flon - There are no shootouts in the playoffs! Haha.

Congrats Rob on a great shootout! Thanks to Randy Graham for making me look bad!
Enjoy the game tonight, and the series.

Stars - Bombers (Game One) Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers kick off their Bauer Conference Survivor Series matchup tonight at the North Battleford Civic Center. These teams split their season series, and are both heading into the post-season with a point to prove. Both teams feel they are better than their regular season record would indicate, and starting tonight, we get to see which team is more 'for real' than the other.


Who's Up Front:

Andrew Johnston torched the Battlefords North Stars during the regular season, and he will be called upon to do so again come playoff time. Johnston provides Mike Reagan's team with a consistent degree of speed, skill and smarts. Johnston is particularly dangerous on the power-play. If Flin Flon wins the special-teams war, they may very well likely win the series. Andrew Johnston will be the offensive focal point, one way or another.

Who's on D:

20-year-old defenceman Tanner Korchinski heads into the post-season as the 20-year-old stalwart on the Bomber's blueline. Korchinski can get the job done at both ends. He's a smooth skater with great vision, and has recorde 37 points for Mike Reagan this season. When Korchinski wants too, he can be one of the best defencemen in the league.

Who's in Goal:

P.J. Musico. Does anything else need to be said? He's the Flin Flon Bomber's number one netminder for a reason. Even amidst a relatively average record, his key saves at key times have helped him establish himself as one of the top goalies in the SJHL.


Bomber's forward Deven Stillar made it no secret last week that he and Kyle Birch have a mutual rivalry going. The winner of that rivalry could very well determine the series. Stillar has a ton of offensive upside, and will need to bring it consistently if Flin Flon wants to find success. The ultimate key for Stillar is to stay calm when things get out of thand.


Who's Up Front:

Stars forward Blake Tatchell was recently named SJHL Player of the Week. He recorded eight points in three games last week, and could be peaking at the right time for hte Stars. Tatchell really upped his game for the post-season last year, and now he is a year older and a year wiser, and I'm sure he expects the same type of performance this year.

Who's on D:

Woody Klassen and Cody Folstad will be two key d-men this series. Both are likely to see plenty of minutes against the top trio of Flin Flon. If they let them shoot, and don't do their part to block shots and take away traffic, it could be a long night for Flin Flon.

Who's in Goal:

Nothing confirmed as of yet, but given the fact that Hildebrand lost Tuesday in Kindersley, Kyle Birch seems like the likely candidate.


The collective defense as a whole needs to rise up and be an X-Factor. The ultimate key for the defense is to keep it simple. The last thing the Stars need to do is to get 'cute' with the puck in their own zone. If the D can do their part, and eliminate the front of the net from some physicality, they should be in great shape to take game one.

Tonight's game goes at 7:30 from the Civic Center. If you want to listen online, you can listen on CJNB/CJNS or on

Thursday, February 24, 2011

SJHL Broadcaster Poll.

*The SJHL Broadcasters all recently participated in a friendly poll. Here are the results. A big thanks to Craig Stein for tabulating the results.

(For questions where everyone voted, a player could get a maximum of 24 points (8 1st place votes).

Best Forward

1) Marc-Andre Carre, LAR (21/24)
T2) Travis Eggum, LAR (7/24)
T2) Jeremy Boyer, YOR (7/24)
4) Andrew Dommett, KIN (4/24)

*Carre had 7 of 8 1st place votes

2-Way Forward

1) Doug Lindensmith, LAR (6/24)
T2) Ryan Fox, FF (5/24)
T2) Nolan Souchotte, LAR (5/24)
4) Jesse Mireau, MFT (4/24)
*Lindensmith had 2 1st place votes

*No one player had more than 2 votes. 19 different players were picked out of 24 votes!

Best Shot

1) Travis Eggum, LAR (15/24)
2) Jeremy Boyer, YOR (8/24)
3) Andrew Dommet, KIN (7/24)


1) Johnny Calkins, KIN (15/24)
2) Marc-Andre Carre, LAR (12/24)
3) Justin Buzzeo, YOR (11/24)

Offensive Defenseman

1) Josh Roach, HUM (22/24)
2) Brody Luhning, BAT (8/24)
3) Blaine Tendler, YOR (5/24)

*Roach had 6 of 8 1st place votes, and was in 7 of 8 top-three picks

Stay-at-Home Defenseman

1) James Howden, ND (8/24)
2) Lee Christensen, MFT (6/24)
3) Craig Karius, MVL (5/24)
4) Jonathan Sonntag, KIN (4/24)

Top Goalie

1) Charles Corsi, MFT (18/24)
2) Russell Abbott, ND (14/24)
3) P.J. Musico, FF (5/24)
T4) Devin Peters, YOR (4/24)
T4) Mitch Kilgore, WEY (4/24)

*7 of 8 1st place votes went to either Corsi or Abbott

Top Rookie

1) Eli Litchenwald, NIP (17/24)
2) Kyle Hall, BAT (9/24)
3) Jesse Ross, WEY (6/24)
4) Keegan Bruce, WEY (5/24)

*Litchenwald had 5 1st place votes

Picks For a Shootout

T1) Justin Buzzeo, YOR (6/24)
T1) Andrew Johnston, FF (6/24)
T1) Jonathan Ceci, EST (6/24)
T1) Drew George, WEY (6/24)
5) Logan Herauf, LAR (4/24)

*Buzzeo led with two 1st place votes. The other three had 3 votes, including one 1st place.

Best Fighter

1) Tony Oak, BAT (12/24)
2) Brett Pisio, HUM (9/24)
3) John Sonntag, KIN (6/24)
4) Tyler Mah, FF (4/24)

*Oak picked up 3/8 1st place votes

Toughest to Play Against

1) Taylor Duzan, KIN (8/24)
T2) Tony Oak, BAT (5/24)
T2) Lucas Ulmer, WEY (5/24)

Most Under-Rated

1) Taylor Duzan, KIN (5/24)
T2) Cole Gibson, BAT (4/24)
T2) Brent Struble, YOR (4/24)
T2) Braeden Adamyk, KIN (4/24)

*No one had more than 2 votes. Top 4 each had one 1st place, and one other vote.
*Like 2-way forward, 24 selections went to 19 different guys!

Coach of the Year

1) Bob Beatty, LAR (17/24)
2) Trent Cassan, YOR (11/24)
3) Dean Brockman, HUM (9/24)
*7 of 8 guys had Beatty in Top 3, including 4 1st place votes. Cassan and Brockman each had 6 votes.

Easiest Interview, Coach

1) Jamie Fiesel, MVL (16/24)
2) Trent Cassan, YOR (11/24)
3) Darrell Mann, MFT (8/24)
4) Mike Reagan, FF (4/24)
*Fiesel was in the top three in 7 of 8 polls.

Most Quotable Coach

1) Jamie Fiesel, MVL (23/24)
2) Darrell Mann, MFT (7/24)
3) Bob Beatty, LAR (4/24)

*Fiesel had 6 1st place votes. One respondant gave him their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes! And it wasn't even me!

Favourite Rink to Broadcast In

1) Crescent Point Place, Weyburn (15/24)
2) Northern Lights Ice Palace, Melfort (12/24)
3) Whitney Forum, Flin Flon (8/24)
4) Elgar Peterson Arena, Humboldt (4/24)

*4 1st place votes to Weyburn

Least Favourite Rink

1) Civic Auditorium, Estevan (16/24)
2) Mel Hegland Uniplex, La Ronge (12/24)
3) Duncan McNeil Arena, Notre Dame (9/24)
4) Centennial Arena, Nipawin (6/24)

*4 first (or last) place votes to Estevan.

Loudest Rink

1) Whitney Forum, FF (23/24)
2) Mel Hegland, LAR (10/24)
3) CPP, WEY (9/24)

*Flin Flon had 7 1st, and 1 2nd place vote. Most decisive pick in the entire poll.

Best Rink Food/Coffee (18 votes submitted)

1) Weyburn (14/18)
T2) Estevan (5/18)
T2) Yorkton (5/18)

*Well done Weyburn! Best Broadcast location, 3rd Loudest fans, Best Food!

Favourite Hotel (18 votes)

1) Evergreen, Nipawin (9/18)
2) Elk Ridge (6/18) * not located in an SJ centre, but still a destination, 2 1st place votes.
T3) Gold Eagle, Battlefords (5/18)
T3) Victoria Inn, Flin Flon (5/18)
5) La Ronge Inn & Suites (4/18)

Favourite Out of Town City

1) Flin Flon (8/24)
2) Yorkton (7/24)
3) Weyburn (6/24)
4) The Battlefords (5/24)

AND... Who Will Be in the Credit Union Cup Final?

La Ronge & Kindersley (6/8)
La Ronge & Yorkton (1/8)
Melfort & Yorkton (1/8)

La Ronge (7/8)
Kindersley (6/8)
Yorkton (2/8)
Melfort (1/8)

Tatchell Named SJHL Player of The Week.

Some good news for the Battlefords North Stars as they head into the post-season.

North Star's forward Blake Tatchell has been named SJHL Player of the Week.

Tatchell recorded eight points in three games last week, including three goals.

The 19-year-old product of the Battlefords finished tied for the team-lead in scoring with 74 points.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stars On Wrong Side Of Rout in Kindersley.

The Battlefords North Stars wrapped up their regular season in the same way it started with a loss to the Kindersley Klippers. Only this time there was little intrigue. Kindersley scored three times in each period and beat the North Stars 9-2. Spencer Braaten, Sanfred King and Braedon Adamyk each scored twice for Kindersley.

It's a good thing the game meant nothing because it's exactly how the Stars treated it.
Nothing was clicking. Missed nets, bad coverage, bad passes and a total lack of physicality were all huge factors in the game. That and I'm sure there were at least three goals that Graham Hildebrand would want back.

On the bright side, the regular season is over. For everyone involved, I'm sure there is quite a bit of relief. Even after all of the ups and downs and frustration that this season has caused, the Stars can throw 26-29-2-1 out the window.

They are now 0-0 heading into Friday. A bad save percentage? Who cares! 75 points? Damn impressive, but that is a thing of the past. The Stars can officially start over on Friday night.

Ken Pearson said post-game that he expects a much more focused, determined and emotional team Friday. I have no reason to disagree. These kids have shown authentic passion, skill and dedication in spurts throughout the season. If they want to be playing hockey still come March and April, they'll need to bring it on a more consistent basis.

Tonight was not a good night, but EVERYTHING changes Friday night. Even after a terrible Tuesday night, I can't help but smile at the thought of a 0-0 record. I'm sure I'm sure I'm not alone.

Stars-Klippers Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars wrap up their regular season tonight at the West Central Events Center in Kindersley. The Stars have not fared well in this building in recent years, and will look to win in Kindersley for the first time since February, 2009.


Record: 34-20-3-0


Rockie Zinger's team is 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games, and are coming off a 5-3 win Friday in the Battlefords. The Klippers are healthy, and excited for the post-season. They finished second in the Sherwood Conference and will face the Weyburn Red Wings in the first-round.

Who's Up Front:

Friday night, the Kindersley Klippers were led by former Brandon Wheat King forward Wheaton King. King scored twice for Kindersley, including the game-winner. Since joining the Klippers on January 10th, King has supplied a ton of depth and secondary scoring. He enters tonight's game with six goals and 14 points in 15 games.

Who's on D:

During Rockie Zinger's interview on the CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix on Monday, Rockie Zinger highlighted defenceman David Haaf as his most "pleasant surprise" of the season. Haaf has only registered four points in 37 games, but Zinger really likes the way he has developed. Haaf is considered to be one of the more dependable defencemen on the team and his play has been steadily improving.

Who's in Goal:

Friday night we saw Justin McDonald get the call for Kindersley and he did not disappoint. McDonald stopped 40 of the 43 shots he faced, and earned the victory for the Klippers. Does that warrant another start? Or does Sean Cahill get the call for Kindersley in their final tune-up before playoffs?


The obvious X-Factors for tonight's game are Kindersley's top three forwards: Braedon Adamyk, John Calkins and Andrew Dommett. Adamyk also scored twice on Friday night and has now reached 40 goals on the season. Calkins enters tonight's game with 91 points, and Andrew Dommett always seems to have the North Star's number.


Record: 26-28-2-1


The Battlefords North Stars are 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games, and are hoping to end their season on a high note. The Stars are just 1-5 this season against Kindersley with their only victory coming at the SJHL Showcase in Weyburn. Friday's result was not due to a lack of effort, but Kindersley was able to capitalize off of some mistakes and that ultimately sealed the North Star's fate.

Who's Up Front:

In a 'nothing' game as far as the standings go, tonight all comes down to the little things. Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf head into tonight's game tied for the team-lead in points with 74. I'm sure both would love to end up as the sole leader in points, so tonight's game could be interesting in that regard. Either way, both have seemingly regained some confidence after a slow start to February.

Who's on D:

Battlefords North Star's captain Cris Neurauter has really come on as of late both offensively and defensively. The 20-year-old leads the team in offense from the blue-line with 39 points on the year. You know that he'll be gunning to hit 40 tonight.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand likely gets the call tonight for the Stars, and a win tonight for Graham makes things very interesting heading into the playoffs. Ken Pearson has used the "Win and you stay in" philosophy all year, and assuming that holds true, Graham Hildebrand will start Game One against Flin Flon if he wins in Kindersley.


Heart. Tonight's game means nothing, yet everything in a sense. If the Stars come out tonight flat, and uninspired, it could mean disaster for them come Friday night. If they compete, avoid bad habits, and play for pride tonight in Kindersley, I really like their chances not only tonight, but Friday as well. It's crucial that the Stars don't look ahead to Friday, when two points are up for grabs against another heated rival tonight.

Tonight's game goes tonight at 7:30. You can hear the call live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Sports Fix Recap, and More.

Today is going to be a good day!

It's not often that I wake up at 4:55 A.M. and feel refreshed and fired up, but this morning was one of those times. Admittedly yesterday was a pretty long day, but as I reflect on yesterday, it was certainly worth-while, and a lot of that has to do with the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix.

Kindersley head-coach and G.M. Rockie Zinger made his first appearance on the show, and in my opinion he nailed it. Not only did Zinger speak very candidly about his own group, but I appreciated his compliments towards the Battlefords North Stars and the existing rivalry between the two clubs.

Zinger is welcome on the program anytime.

Some have scoffed at the Klipper's/North Star's rivalry in recent years saying, "The two teams aren't even in the same division! How can you call it a rivalry?"

My response, "Watch these two teams play against each other. There is a rivalry and a very good one at that." It's not necessarily a rivalry built off of bitterness from playoff battles, but more one of geography and mutual respect.

Even though tonight's game is technically a 'nothing game' I still expect both teams to be competitive, and ready to compete. Kindersley is 5-1 against the Battlefords this season, and I'm sure the Stars will want to add another 'W' to that column before their season ends. The only Star's win against Kindersley came in December at the SJHL Showcase in Weyburn.


Guest two on the program was the play-by-play voice of the Prince Albert Raiders, Drew Wilson. Wilson has covered the Raiders now for seven years, and always speaks professionally and with great knowledge of the Western Hockey League.

Right now the Prince Albert Raiders sit in the eighth playoff spot in the WHL's Eastern Conference, and if the playoffs were to start today, the Raiders would square off with the Saskatoon Blades.

Wilson made it no secret that he considers the Blades "The team to beat" in the league. I don't think you'll find too many who disagree with that notion.


I admit that I haven't thought 'too much' about the Flin Flon Bombers so far this week. Trust me, by the end of tonight things will be different.

I truly think that the North Stars will benefit greatly from a clean slate, especially the goaltenders. I've never been a huge stat guy. I've always held the belief that stats do tell most of the story, but certainly not all of it. That being said, statistically this season has not been kind to either Kyle Birch or Graham Hildebrand. I'm sure both may gain back some confidence just knowing full well that their records
will all read: 0-0-0-0 come Friday night.

Tonight the spotlight will certainly be on North Star's goalie Graham Hildebrand, who could earn a Game One start on Friday should he beat Kindersley tonight.

Ken Pearson's "win and you stay in" mentality is likely not about to change anytime soon.


Health-wise I think the Stars are in decent shape. Zach MacLellan is still out with an injury to his hand, and the status of Luke Hannas remains unclear. Other than that, the Stars appear to be in good shape in that regard.


Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf head into tonight's game tied with the team-lead in points with 74. Which one will prevail over the other?

Last season Chad Filteau led the team with 66 points, while Blake Peake finished with 65. Again, those stats are a tad misleading given the fact that Filteau only spent three months with the team.

Overall, it has been a much different season in the SJHL from a points perspective. Last season, Travis Janke (Notre Dame) led the league with 83 points and 36 goals. This season Janke would have been SIXTH. 36 goals would have put Janke fifth this season.


A Kindersley-Battlefords preview will be posted sometime later today. Hope you're able to catch the game tonight.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning.

Good morning,I just thought I'd post a few thoughts on the blog before I kick-start my interviews for the Sports Fix. This weekend seemed to just fly by. I did not attend the fishing derby on Saturday due in large part to the fact that I've been battling a chest-cold for a full week now. I wish I could say that I'm feeling better, but judging from the title of this post, things seem to be stagnant in that regard.


Here is a Fishing Derby summary from Rawlco Radio's Chris Mangatal:

Jackfish Lake was a busy place Saturday as thousands of people showed up for the annual fishing derby.

Temperatures sat around minus 30 degrees for the day, but the fishermen were toughing it out and had a good time.

Nathan Eckel and Spencer Sack were both junior winners of the event. Stuart Toevs (tayves) won the over 11 and a half thousand dollar 50/50 and Mike Busse of Warman won the quad.

Out of the 164 fish caught on the day, Scott Kozar of Kindersley came out with the biggest catch to take 1st place.


The complete SJHL Playoff picture is set.

The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers will square off in the Bauer Conference Survivor Series starting Friday, February 25th in the Battlefords. Game two goes Saturday (Feb 26th) and game three goes Monday night from the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon.

Game four (if neccessary) would take place on the Tuesday, and game five would go Thursday if required.

Down South, the Estevan Bruins and Melville Millionaires will face off in the other Survivor Series. Melville clinched fifth with Notre Dame's 5-3 loss to Weyburn yesterday.

Weyburn will face Kindersley in the 2-3 matchup in the Sherwood. Melfort battles Humboldt in the 2-3 series in the North.

The La Ronge Ice Wolves await the winner of the Stars/Bombers series.


Only one regular season game remains for the North Stars, and it goes tomorrow night in Kindersley. The Stars dropped a 5-3 decision to Kindersley on Friday night. Overall not a bad effort, but some mistakes ended up costing them.

Tonight on the CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix, I am supposed to be speaking with Kindersley head-coach Rockie Zinger.

It will be Zinger's first appearance on the show. I'm excited.


Another guest tonight will be the play-by-play voice of the Prince Albert Raiders, Drew Wilson. Wilson works for our Rawlco affiliate in Prince Albert and has made several appearances on the program over the years. Together we'll talk about the WHL's Eastern Conference playoff picture. Right now the Raiders are in, with a five-point edge on the ninth seeded squad.

You can catch the show tonight at 8 on CJNB/CJNS.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Klippers Solve the Stars 5-3.

The effort was there, but the end result left something to be desired. Friday in the Battlefords, the North Stars dropped a 5-3 decision to the Kindersley Klippers. Braedon Adamyk and Wheaton King both scored twice for Kindersley, and goaltender Justing McDonald made 40 saves in the victory.

The Klippers opened the scoring at 6:46 of the first when John Calkins beat Kyle Birch from the left-wing. For Calkins it was his 25th of the year and 91st point on the season.

The Stars waisted little time in coming back. Blake Tatchell converted off a two-on-one with Colin Phaneuf. Tatchell's 26th of the year tied the score at one.

Both Kyle Birch and Justin McDonald were really impressive in the first period, making highlight real saves at both ends.

Early in the second, the Stars took the lead when Kyle Hall beat McDonald on a low wrister from the high-slot. Hall had McDonald cheating to his right, before beating him low to the left side.

Then at 4:24, Tanner Schwab scooped a puck over McDonald's shoulder from close-in. Prior to Schwab's goal, both Mitch Galbraith and Tim Rollins had chances, but couldn't settle the puck down.

The Klippers kicked off their comeback at 11:27 when Wheaton King directed a pass from Sanfred King past Kyle Birch. Sanfred won a battle in the corner, centered the puck in front, and though Wheaton King was covered, he found a way to put the puck in.

The score was 3-2 after two.

Early in the third, Kindersley tied it when Andrew Dommett found Braedon Adamyk in front of the net. Adamyk's 39th of the year forced the 3-3 score, and then the teams went back and forth.

Overtime was looming until the final three minutes, and that's when Kindersley's Wheaton King rose to the occasion. Off a failed clear up the right wing, King stole the puck, skated in on Kyle Birch, and then lifted a back-hand over Birch's glove to give Kindersley the 4-3 lead.

Adamyk would then add an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the deal.

The Stars finished 0-4 on the powerplay, and were outshot 46-43. The Stars will spend the rest of their weekend helping with the Jackfish Lake Ice Fishing Derby before they wrap up their regular season Tuesday in Kindersley.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stars - Klippers Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars search for their fourth consecutive victory tonight when they welcome Rockie Zinger and the Kindersley Klippers to town. Neither team can move up or down in the standings, so on the surface it's a 'nothing' game. Yeah right. These two teams always seem to bring out the best in each other. It's no secret that these teams don't like each other, and the rivalry alone will make these last two games worth while from a fan's perspective.


Record: 33-20-3-0


The Kindersley Klippers are 6-3-1-0 in their last 10 games and have solidified second place in the Sherwood Conference standings. The Klippers are a legit contender for the SJHL's Credit Union Cup, and have had strong success against the Battlefords this season winning four of the five meetings so far this season.

Who's Up Front:

The trio of Andrew Dommett, John Calkins and Braedon Adamyk are as good as it gets in the SJHL. These three have represented the Klippers well for the past three seasons, and this year has been no exception. Calkins leads the pack with 90 points, Adamyk follows with 76, and Andrew Dommett has 43. Bear in mind that Dommett missed significant time with injury earlier this season. When these three are clicking, they are very difficult to stop.

Who's on D:

Offensively the Klippers are led by 20-year-old d-man Kurt Leedahl. Leedahl has tallied seven goals and 31 points so far this season, and logs a fair chunk of ice-time on the back-end. Other weapons on Kindersley's defensive-core include: Sean Flanagan (29 points) and Jonothan Sonntag (19 points, and 150 PIMS).

Who's in Goal:

Sean Cahill is the undisputed number one goaltender for Kindersley. He heads into tonight's game with a record of 16-8-0-1 and has a 3.01 GAA and a save percentage of .906. His backup is Justin McDonald who is 5-6 with a goals against of 3.13 and a save percentage of .889. With two games remaining, perhaps it's likely that both will get a start down the stretch.


The now healthy Spencer Braaten was always a thorn in the side of the Battlefords North Stars while playing for Humboldt, and now he is a Kindersley Klipper. Braaten has 33 points in 34 games this season, and is as dangerous as anybody when he wants to be.


Record: 26-27-2-1


Tonight the Battlefords North Stars try to match their longest winning streak of the season as they seek their fourth in a row. The Stars are coming off a 6-4 win Wednesday in Nipawin. The Stars will finish fourth in the Bauer Conference standings, and will host Flin Flon in the Bauer Conference Survivor Series.

Who's Up Front:

Cole Gibson is off to a great start this week. The 20-year-old forward has scored five goals in two games this week, and could be poised for another big night alongside Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf.

Who's on D:

It will be important for the North Star's defense as a whole to come up big tonight. Cris Neurauter played really well in Nipawin alongside his new partner Dillon Forbes. Heading into the post-season these are two defenceman that will be looked upon to make a solid impact for the Stars. Forbes has fit right in to the Star's blueline, and a lot of credit goes to Neurauter for providing some solid leadership on the

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch likely gets the call tonight given the fact that he has won his last three starts. Birch now holds a record of 15-13 and has a goals against average of 3.98 and a save percentage of .889. Graham Hildebrand could also draw in. He is 8-14 with a 4.32 Goals Against and a save percentage of .883.


The trio of Mitch Galbraith, Tim Rollins and Tanner Schwab have not been wowing anybody with their statistics, but these three have found some good chemistry playing alongside each other. Rollins scored his 10th of the year earlier this week against Flin Flon, and Galbraith put the game away Wednesday in Nipawin. If these three can find the score-sheet and stay responsible defensively, the Stars will be in good shape.

Tonight's game goes at 7:30. You can hear the call live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stars Clinch Fourth With Win in Nipawin.

When Cole Gibson was acquired by the Battlefords North Stars, he was supposed to add some skill and depth. Consider it done. Cole Gibson continued his consistent play Wednesday with three goals which helped pave the way to a 6-4 Stars victory over the Nipawin Hawks. With the win, the Stars officially clinched fourth place in the Bauer Conference, and will have home-ice advantage with Flin Flon in the Survivor Series.

It wasn't a great start though for the Stars who trailed 2-1 after one. Tyler Paselawski and Dan Szerlip scored for Nipawin while Cole Gibson scored on a powerplay to keep the Stars within one. Kyle Birch was impressive in goal, stopping 13 of 15 that he faced. The Stars were outshot 15-6 after one.

46 seconds into the second, the Stars tied it. Brody Luhning converted a Colin Phaneuf pass through Stephen Klein and the game was tied.

Cole Gibson notched his second of the game roughly five minutes later to give the Stars their first lead. Keith Grondin then scored his 34th of the year to double the lead, anf then Gibson's third of the night spelt the end of the night for Stephen Klein. Lein was yanked after facing 18 shots.

In came Brody Hoffman and the Hawks picked up their play. Jamie Johnson batted one out of the air and beat Kyle Birch, and the Stars took a 5-3 lead into the lockerroom after 40 minutes.

Early in the third, Mitch Galbraith increased the Stars lead to three with his fourth of the year. Nipawin got a late powerplay goal from Brendan Tash, and that was it for scoring.

Nipawin finished one for three on the man-advantage while the Stars went three-for-three. The final shots on goal were: 40-35 favoring Nipawin.

Next up for the Stars, a battle with Kindersley, at home tomorrow night at 7:30.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stars - Hawks Preview.

After an 8-3 win Tuesday against Flin Flon, the Battlefords North Stars head to the Cage for one last battle with the Nipawin Hawks. On the surface, it could be a possible 'trap game' for the North Stars who might be tempted to coast after an emotional victory against Flin Flon. But with the magic number at 'one' the Stars should have no trouble getting up for this one.


Record: 16-33-3-2


Life after January 10th has not been too friendly for the Nipawin Hawks. Doug Johnson made the difficult choice to deal his 20-year-olds, which has left a young, gritty hockey team that is high on character, but low on raw skill. The Hawks are 0-9-0-1 in their last ten games. They lost 8-4 at home to La Ronge last night.

Who's Up Front:

Eli Lichtenwald has fast become one of my favourite players in the SJHL. The 1992-born forward has great size, and has the skill to match. Lichtenwald has 21 goals and 22 assists and leads the Hawks in scoring. It would be a real shocker if Lichtenwald is not in the final-three for Rookie of the Year voting.The Stars will need to be wary of his presence on the ice.

Who's on D:

Second-year d-man Scott Bollefor was recently named Nipawin's 'Defenceman of the Year' nominee for the SJHL awards. While his stats are underwhelming, his presence is not. Bollefor logs a lot of minutes, and is a key contributor defensively for Nipawin. Bollefor will likely see lots of ice-time tonight against the Stars top forwards.

Who's in Goal:

Both Brody Hoffman and Stephan Klein saw time in last night's game against La Ronge, so who gets the call tonight is anybody's guess. My hunch tells me Hoffman, who has been the more consistent of the two goalies.


One of the most underrated players on Nipawin's team is 19-year-old forward Darius Cole. Cole has quietly put together a decent freshman campaign in the SJHL, and has 12 goals heading into tonight's game. Cole can skate, pass, and compete physically. Again, his stats may not tell you the real story as to how good he really is.


Record: 25-27-2-1


The Battlefords North Stars have won two straight games, and are now two points away from officially clinching fourth place in the SJHL's Bauer Conference Survivor Series. They are coming off a spirited 8-3 victory over the Flin Flon Bombers.

Who's Up Front:

When it rains, it pours for Battlefords North Stars forwards Blake Tatchell, Colin Phaneuf and Cole Gibson. Those three combined six goals and 13 points in last night's victory against Flin Flon. It seems like both Phaneuf and Tatchell have regained some lost confidence, and could be poised for another big night tonight at the Cage.

Who's on D:

Brody Luhning played a great game against Flin Flon yesterday, and will be expected to provide more of the same tonight. Luhning tallied two assists and displayed a ton of patience and poise with the puck. Luhning has also seemed to elevate his play against the Hawks. The last time the Stars played in Nipawin, Luhning scored twice, including the game-winning goal.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch likely gets the call again tonight for the Stars after 42 saves on 45 shots faced. Birch now holds a record of 15-13. His goals against now sits below 4.00, and his save percentage is flirting with .890.


Tonight the bottom six energy/role players need to lead by example. In a potential 'trap game' it'll be important for the grinders to grind, the speedsters to skate and for the goal-scoreres to score. If the Stars expect an easy game tonight, they are sadly mistaken.

Tonight's game goes live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15. Game time is 7:30

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stars - Bombers Photos (Feb. 15)

© All Rights Reserved.
Please contact Julie Larson for Any personal use.

Colin Phaneuf Makes it 2-0.

Cole Gibson Notches Goal Number Two on the Night.

Tatchell Does the Fly-By.

Sparrow and McNulty Go At It.

The Aftermath.

Gibson, Phaneuf, Tatchell Lead Stars in 8-3 Win.

The Battlefords North Stars scored 13 seconds in, and never really looked back. Cole Gibson, Colin Phaneuf and Blake Tatchell combined for six goals and 13 points, as the North Stars beat the Flin Flon Bombers 8-3. The win puts the Stars back into forth, and in control of their own destiny heading into tomorrow night's tilt with Nipawin.

Cole Gibson grabbed his 21st of the season just 13 seconds into the game. Woody Klassen and Blake Tatchell did the dirty-work and Gibson converted on a wide-open net in P.J. Musico.

Colin Phaneuf then broke out of his goal-scoring slump with his 20th. Phaneuf had the third or forth wack at a loose puck in front of P.J. Musico. Musico made a series of tremendous stops before Phaneuf was finally able to lift one over his sprawling body.

The Bombers moved within one when Andrew Johnston converted on a power-play. He was first stopped on a one-timer but grabbed his own rebound and beat Kyle Birch.

Shortly thereafter Tim Rollins notchedh is 10th on a great no-look pass from Tanner Schwab, and the Stars took a 3-1 lead into the first period.

Period two yielded more of the same. At the 4:26 mark, Colin Phaneuf buried his second of the game. This one came short-handed, and was created off a skillful rush from Brody Luhning.

Luhning wasn't done. He grabbed the first assist on the North Star's next goal which came from Cole Gibson on a power-play. Luhning was able to catch Musico leaning to one side, and he then centered to Gibson who had nothing but net to shoot at.

The Bombers got a late period goal from Brett Penner on a power-play, but trailed 5-2 heading into the third period.

35 seconds into the third, the Bombers crept a little closer. After a Blake Tatchell miss on one end, the Bombers came back the other direction and buried one on a breakaway. Andrew Johnston has now scored seven goals in his past three games.

The next time Blake Tatchell got an opportunity, he did not miss. At 12:12 on another power-play, Colin Phaneuf alertly kicked the puck to a wide-open Tatchell who then beat P.J. Musico for his 24th of the year.

66 seconds later, Tatchell converted again. This time it came off a breakaway, and spelt the end of the night for P.J. Musico after 41 shots faced.

In came Randy Graham who surrendered one goal to Keith Grondin, but stopped seven of eights hots faced.

Another third period highlight came from a fight between Flin Flon's James McNulty and Travis Sparrow of the Battlefords. Both participants landed their share of blows with McNulty scoring the take-down. McNulty appeared to get the worst of it though, as he was leaking afterwards.

It also appeared as though Randy Graham wanted to fight Kyle Birch. Birch resisted the temptation and finished the game with 42 saves on 45 shots faced.

The victory gives the Stars a season-split with the Flin Flon Bombers, and puts their magic number at one in order to clinch home-ice advantage in the Survivor Series.

Put simply, the Stars need to win just one of their next three games in order to have home-ice advantage with Flin Flon come February 25th. The Stars have a chance to clinch with a win tomorrow night in Nipawin.

Stars - Bombers Preview.

For a third time in five nights, the Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers square off. This time the Battlefords North Stars have home-ice on their side. These teams recently split a weekend series up North in Flin Flon, and I think it's safe to say that we have only scratched the surface of this great rivalry.


Record: 25-29-2-0


Mike Reagan's team is currently ranked fourth in the Bauer Conference. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 4-3 win in Nipawin Monday night.

Who's Up Front:

This should come as no surprise, but 19-year-old Bomber's forward Andrew Johnston was named the SJHL Player of the Week after recording eight points in three games. Seven of those points came against the North Stars in the span of two games. Johnston had three goals in a losing cause Saturday against the Stars and will be back in the lineup tonight after a one-game suspension for goaltender interference.

Who's on D:

17-year-old defenceman Tanner Clark looks like he's fitting in very nicely in Flin Flon. Clark saw lots of power-play time this past weekend, and has quietly put together an impressive 16 point season for Mike Reagan's club.

Who's in Goal:

P.J. Musico is the likely candidate for another start against the Battlefords North Stars tonight. Musico did play last night in Nipawin and earned the 4-3 win, but he is the undisputed number one goalie in Flin Flon, and certainly played well in the two games against the Battlefords over the course of the weekend. He heads into tonight with a 23-23 record. His backup is Randy Graham.


Deven Stillar continues to get better. Not only has he established himself as one of the league's top offensive players, but Stillar has also become a thorn in the side of the Battlefords North Stars. Stillar always seems to bring his best offensive efforts against the Stars, and when he's not scoring, he's usually a great cause of frustration on the Star's bench. Deven Stillar is one of those players that you hate to play against, but you love to have on your own team.


Record: 24-27-2-1


Ken Pearson's Battlefords North Stars are 4-5-1-0 in their last 10. They are coming off a 5-4 road victory against the Flin Flon Bombers. A win for the Stars tonight and they would regain fourth spot in the Bauer Conference while still holding onto two games in hand.

Who's Up Front:

With two goals Saturday in Flin Flon, Cole Gibson joined the 20-goal club on the Battlefords North Stars. Gibson looked right at home with Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf, and it looked like those three had turned a corner during Saturday's game. All three will need to be at their best tonight going up against Flin Flon's top trio of Andrew Johnston, Ryan Fox and Deven Stillar.

Who's on D:

Woody Klassen is coming off one of his best games in recent memory. Klassen threw three or four notable body-checks, and moved the puck extremely well. When Woody Klassen is on his game, there are few (if any) that are better in the SJHL.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch heads into tonight as the starting goalie for the Battlefords North Stars. Birch led the Stars to victory Saturday, and did so making several highlight real saves, including a breakaway stop on Brett Penner in the final minute. Stars fans will no doubt be hoping for a similar effort this time around.


Tonight I look to the trio of Kyle Hall, Keith Grondin and Braedon Johnson to make a statement. They got involved in the offense on Saturday, and played a strong game at both ends of the ice. If they can play with a similar intensity and passion, the Stars could be a fourth-place team when all is said and done tonight.

Puck drops at 7:30 from the North Battleford Civic Center. You can hear tonight's game live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stars - Broncos Photos (Feb. 9)

Please contact Julie at if you wish to use these photos for anything.

© All Rights Reserved.

Captain Cris Neurauter Shoots It In.

Boyd Wakelin With a Backhand Clear.

Tatchell Goes For a Skate.

Pisio Draws a Crowd at the Stars Bench.

Monday Morning.

Good morning,

As I mentioned in my last entry, I have plenty that I want to say in regards to this past weekend, and after a restful Sunday I'm back in the swing of things today.

First off, I'll say that I am excited as can be knowing full-well that the Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers are now 'official' playoff opponents for the upcoming SJHL Bauer Conference Survivor Series. I've covered this league for four years now, and can officially say that I will have seen the Battlefords North Stars face each team in the Bauer Conference at least once in a playoff series.

This rivalry really intensified this weekend, and I'm excited to see what lies ahead.


I confess that right now I'm feeling a lot of frustration and anger regarding Saturday's broadcast. I know I probably shouldn't dwell on the negatives, but I feel terrible about the fact that broadcast kit conked out before the game. Every effort was made (by yours truly and CFAR 590 in Flin Flon) to fix the issue, but unfortunately at 7:10 PM on Saturday the only way the broadcast was going to get on the air was through my cell-phone.

I owe color-man and operator Matt Ryan a tremendous amount of thanks for all of the extra-work he had to do in lew of the situation. Matt is an enormously valuable part of the North Star's broadcast team, and I hope people appreciate his work and passion like I do. Matt, I owe you a beer or two pal. Cheers.

The same goes for CFAR's Rob Hart for his efforts. Rob, thank you. I look forward to several visits with you over the next few weeks.

I'm aware of the fact that it wasn't my fault, and that sometimes these things happen. But for the moment I feel guilty, and disappointed for not being able to deliver a broadcast worthy of the game itself. They say that a performer is only "as good as his last performance" or that an athlete is "only as good as his last game." Well this broadcaster feels pretty low right now. The only way that I will truly feel better about all of this is after tomorrow night's broadcast is completed on a working-kit.

Even though the circumstances were truly out of my control I still humbly apologize.


A quick take on the Flin Flon fans.

I can say with 100 percent sincerity that I love going to Flin Flon to call games. Their fans are incredibly passionate, and they know the league just as well as anybody. I definitely appreciated how kind and welcoming the fans were to me as a broadcaster, and I look forward to more enjoyable interaction with the Flin Flon faithful in the weeks to come.

As the playoff rivalry heats up, I can only hope that the fans on both sides continue to get involved and cheer their hearts out.

I love the fact that Flin Flon Bomber fans are posting on this blog, and I encourage them to do some more as the playoffs draw nearer. That being said, I want the dialogue to be kept clean and respectful. I will not tolerate personal jabs at players, coaches, fellow fans, or broadcasters that are not directly related to on-ice incidents.


I want to make something abundantly clear. I considered Tony Oak's fight with Ashton Bernard to be extremely even. That being said, I considered Tony the winner of the fight for for these reasons:

- I saw Oak land more direct punches.
- Bernard was bleeding, Oak was not.
- The Stars seemed to gain more of a boost from the tilt than the Bombers did.

Was the blood caused by a visor and not a fist? Probably. Did Bernard score the take-down? Yes.

One thing is for certain, I don't think we've seen the last of Tony Oak and Ashton Bernard.


Speaking of Tony Oak - He has agreed to be a guest on tonight's edition of the Co-Op Leisure Time Sports Fix. I'll ask him about the fight, about the winning goal, and we'll dive even further into the Flin Flon/Battlefords rivalry.

I've had the pleasure of watching Oak play in the Battlefords for the past four seasons, and not only is he a great competitor on the ice, but a great guy off the ice too. To me it would be shame if Oak was not playing hockey at a high level next season.

I'm also supposed to be joined by Flin Flon Bomber's head-coach and GM Mike Reagan. As I was leaving the broadcast booth Saturday night, not only did Reagan kindly help me with my gear (which I'm grateful for), but he also said, "Should be heck of a playoff series."

No kidding.

I am looking forward to tonight's show more than you know.

I am also grateful for the fact that Mike Reagan is extremely easy to deal with. It's always comforting for a broadcaster knowing that the coaching-staff from the opposition is courteous, and easily accessible. It also helps that Bomber's assistant-coach Michael George is from North Battleford.

I recorded an interview with George that was supposed to run on Saturday's broadcast. I will make sure that it runs tomorrow night instead.


A couple of brief scattered thoughts before I sign off:

- It was great to see Blake Tatchell, Cole Gibson and Colin Phaneuf breakout offensively.

- Woody Klassen played his best game in recent memory. Boy is he fun to watch when he's at his best.

- Speaking of fun to watch - The Battlefords North Stars need to find a way to shut-down Andrew Johnston, because he killed them this weekend.

- Flin Flon goalie P.J. Musico is 'that good.' But both Kyle Birch and Graham Hildebrand have won a playoff series in the past two years, and one will need to rise up to match Musico. Birch did a great job Saturday at doing so.

- It's so much easier to respect the opinions of blog-posters when they
attach a name to their comment.

Have a great Monday, and I hope you can catch the show tonight. It goes at 8:00 on CJNB/CJNS.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stars Earn A Dramatic Split With a 5-4 Win.

All weekend, Tony Oak and Ashton Bernard were the talk of the town in Flin Flon, but after Saturday, Oak is now the toast of the town. The 20-year-old forward answered the bell in every aspect and then some, and his team came away victorious.

Late in the first period, Oak dropped the gloves with the highly-touted Bernard. Both combatants seemed to land their share of punches and both fell to the ice together. But when the returned to their feet, it was obvious who won the fight. A bloodied Bernard returned to the lockerroom to get stitched up, while Oak saluted the fans and got everybody warmed up for what turned into an absolute classic battle from a North Star's perspective.

Cole Gibson got the Stars up 1-0 on the power-play when he re-directed a Cris Neurauter point shot past PJ Musico. It was the first lead for the Stars all weekend.

The Bombers found their answer on the power-play as well. Who else but Andrew Johnston, fresh off a three-point game Friday, put away his first of three goals on the night. The two teams were tied 1-1 after one. The Stars lost the services of Mitch Galbraith for the next two periods due to a hit-from-behind on Cameron Blair and a game-misconduct.

Early in the second, Flin Flon took a 2-1 lead when Deven Stillar converted on a power-play.

The Stars bounced back moments later with Cole Gibson's second of the night. Collectively the trio of Cole Gibson, Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf were a lot better, and all three were directly involved in Gibson's tally.

Just over two minutes later Kyle Hall put-home a Braedon Johnson pass to help the Stars regain their lead 3-2. Brody Luhning then added a power-play marker and the Stars were in control. The game was far from over.

Andrew Johnston's second of the night (four-on-four) helped dwindle the Star's lead to one, and after 40 minutes the Stars led 4-3.

The third period did not start well for the Stars who quickly found themselves on the penalty-kill. After a successful kill, they ended up short-handed again a few minutes later and Johnston once again made them pay.

Enter Tony Oak. Every shift this weekend, Oak was verbally pestered by the fans, and quite often the players. Oak started his shift with a hit on Deven Stillar. The fans wanted a penalty, and maybe they even had a case. But there was no call and play continued. Oak then stunned the Whitney Forum crowd with a one-timer from the high-slot that fooled Musico, and the Stars once again held the lead. Out of pure frustration, Deven Stillar snapped, said some things to the officials that were not well received, and was booted from the game.

Making matters worse was the fact that Tanner Korchinski had a goal-disallowed due to goaltender interference from Andrew Johnston. Johnston was kicked out, and will likely be suspended due to the fact that it was Flin Flon's second goalie-interference penalty of the night, which automatically garners a suspension through the Junior A Supplement.
Even in the final minute, Flin Flon made it interesting. Down a skater due to a 'too-many men on the ice,' Bomber's forward Brett Penner grabbed a defensive turnover and raced in on Kyle Birch. Birch put the stamp on a great outing with a right-pad save.

With the win, the Battlefords North Stars leap-frog the Bombers and are once again seeded fourth in the Bauer Conference. They finished two-for-eight on the powerplay, while outshooting the Bombers 46-29 (according to the rink).

The Stars and Bombers meet again on Tuesday night at the North Battleford Civic Center. If this weekend was any indication, fans are going to be in for a heck of a game, and ultimately a heck of a Bauer Conference playoff matchup.


This was a broadcast that I won't soon forget. I truly hope that my cell-phone was able to do it justice. I have a lot more that I want to say, but my cell has had a busy night, and deserves a little TLC.

Bombers 5 - Stars 0

The Battlefords North Stars fell to fifth place in the Bauer Conference Friday after a 5-0 loss to the Flin Flon Bombers at the Whitney Forum. Andrew Johnston and Tanner Kochinski each had three points, and P.J. Musico stopped all 33 shots that he faced.

Flin Flon capitalized early when Andrew Johnston skated down the right-wing and flicked a wrist-shot by Graham Hildebrand. It was Flin Flon's first shot of the game and it was also a power-play marker.

The rest of the first period went back and forth. There was lots of physicality and intensity. The Stars outshot Flin Flon 14-11 in the first period, and definitely had their chances. But P.J. Musico stood his ground.

Early in the second, Johnston struck again. It was an eerily similar play to his first goal, but Johnston led a two-on-one rush down the right-wing, and beat Hildebrand.

Tanner Korchinski increased the Flin Flon lead on another power-play goal. And Ryan Fox got in on the act late in the period to make it 4-0.

The Bombers got one more in the third period off a point-shot from Tanner Clark.

The Stars finished the night 0-6 on the man-advantage while Flin Flon finished three for five.

Afterwards, Blair Atcheynum praised the efforts of the Star's energy forwards, but again hinted that the top six need to be better.

It's no secret that times are tough for some of the North Star's top forwards, and confidence is wavering. That being said, they have another shot at it, tonight at 7:30 at the Whitney Forum.

A preview will be posted later this afternoon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stars - Bombers Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers are hours away from kicking-starting what should be a very telling and entertaining weekend of hockey. One point separates the two teams in the standings, and barring any significant changes in the standings - It will be the North Stars and Bombers facing off in the Bauer Conference Survivor Series. You know darn-well that both teams want to finish in the four-spot, and the intensity of this weekend should be second to none.


Record: 23-28-2-0


Mike Reagan's Flin Flon Bombers are coming off an 8-1 loss to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Wednesday. Overall the Bombers are 3-7 in their last ten games. Heading into tonight the Bombers have played one more game than the Stars have, and trail them by a single point in the Bauer Conference.

Who's Up Front:

The Flin Flon Bombers are led by 20-year-old Creighton product Ryan Fox. Fox has 60 points in 46 games, and is highly regarded as a great leader and a big part of Flin Flon's team. Fox has a lot of great help with the likes of Devin Stillar and Andrew Johnston, all of whom have tallied over 50 points this season.

Who's on D:

Tanner Korchinski has really picked up his game as of late. The 20-year-old defenceman has 31 points and leads the taem in scoring from the back-end. He is a smooth-skating defenceman that makes a great first-pass, and moves the puck really well on the powerplay.

Who's in Goal:

The Flin Flon Bomber's MVP nominee this season is 20-year-old netminder P.J. Musico. Musico is 21-22 on the year and comes into tonight with a great save percentage of .914. Musico is one of those goaltenders that has been known to steal games for his team, and he'll certainly have that chance this weekend should he get the call.


The crowd. Like it or not, the fans in Flin Flon have made their presence felt in a big way over the last three meetings between these teams at the Whitney Forum. For my money it's the most hostile environment in the SJHL and I'd expect nothing less tonight.


Record: 23-26-2-1


Ken Pearson's Battlefords North Stars have dropped three in a row, and are looking for their first victory at the Whitney Forum in over a year. The Stars will be without Luke Hannas, Samuel Fortier and Zach MacLellan this weekend who are all back in the Battlefords nursing injuries.

Who's Up Front:

In this type of playoff environment, it's up to the Battlefords North Star's top players to be at their best. Colin Phaneuf, Blake Tatchell and Keith Grondin need to out-work the top three forwards of Flin Flon. If so, they should find success.

Who's on D:

This is the type of environment that players like Travis Sparrow and Cody Folstad should thrive in. Both play a physical style of game, and they'll need to make sure that they protect the front of the net, and make a physical statement early against the Bombers.

Who's in Goal:

Graham Hildebrand gets the tonight based on the rotation. Hildebrand is 8-13 and brings a goals-against average of 4.29 into tonight's game. Hildebrand will need to be in top form. Given the ability of both Hildebrand and Musico, it's possible that we could be in for a low-scoring game tonight.


Collective discipline will be essential for the Star's success tonight. All the Stars need to concern themselves with is the play between the glass. The second that they get distracted by other factors, is when they flirt with trouble. If the Stars can stay mentally sharp tonight, they'll have a great shot at taking game one of this two-game weekend series.

Tonight's game is at 7:30, and can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS starting at 7:15. I'll talk to you later tonight, it should be a gooder.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Szucki Leads Broncos Over Stars.

Ward Szucki joked before the game that he wanted to get three against his former team. He may want to buy a lottery ticket, because he did indeed score three and the Humboldt Broncos beat the Battlefords North Stars 4-2.

The Stars got off to a terrific start as Cole Gibson buried his 18th of the season off a Travis Sparrow point shot, and the Stars quickly took a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn't last too long as Ward Szucki soon converted off an Adam Antkowiak pass on a delayed-penalty to tie the score at one. 20 seconds later, Szucki scored again. Only this time he let a slapper go from the Star's blueline. The shot seemed to confuse Kyle Birch who looked like he never saw it.

From there, the Stars regained control. They peppered Humboldt netminder Andrew Bodnarchuk with 22 first period shots, but only came away with the one goal, and they trailed 2-1 after one.

Early in the second, the Stars tied the score when Robbie Newton converted on a Kyle Hall pass from behind the goal. Hall was forced into double-shifting dutie when Luke Hannas left the game after only a few first-period shifts. Newton's third of the season tied the score at two.

Humboldt quickly bounced back though. Off a failed end-zone clearing attempt, Cameron Ballas skated in and threw a shot on goal. Humboldt forward Taylor Johnson tipped it past Kyle Birch to give the Broncos a 3-2 lead. The Stars managed just six shots in the second, and were largely out-played by the Broncos.

The Stars got several power-play chances in the third period, but ended up unsuccessful. The most bizzare moment of the third came when Brent Pisio got into a physical exchange with the Battlefords North Star's bench. Pisio was kicked out of the game, but the Stars were unable to capitalize on the power-play.

With less than two minutes to go, Star's defenceman Cris Neurauter took an accidental high-sticking penalty which put Humboldt on a late man-advantage, and with the net empty, Szucki scored his third of the game off a neutral-zone turnover.

The win gives Humboldt their 28th of the year, and more importantly puts them eight points ahead of the North Stars for third in the Bauer Conference. The Stars did manage 41 shots on goal, but Andrew Bodnarchuk stood his ground, and put forth one of his best performances of the season against the Stars.

Neither team was able to score on the powerplay.

After the game, a frustrated Ken Pearson continued to stress that his top six forwards needed to be better and needed to be more opportunistic. The trio of Blake Tatchell, Cole Gibson and Colin Phaneuf had many chances early in the game, as did Keith Grondin, Kyle Hall and Braedon Johnson.

Thankfully for the Stars, the La Ronge Ice Wolves beat Flin Flon, meaning that Flin Flon remains a single point behind the Battlefords North Stars for fourth place in the Bauer Conference. The Stars head North a day early tomorrow in lew of the Friday-Saturday weekend series at the Whitney Forum this weekend.

Stars - Broncos Preview.

The Battlefords North Stars and Humboldt Broncos meet for the final time this season tonight in the Battlefords at 7:30. These two teams last met on December 12th, when the Stars beat Humboldt 7-2. The race for third place has been a hot-topic of late around here, and it's simple: A Star's win gives them a realistic shot. A Star's loss and they'll have a much tougher challenge ahead of them as far as third place is concerned.

Record: 27-24-0-1


The Humboldt Broncos had a four-game winning streak snapped last night in Kindersley. Prior to that, the Broncos had been playing some really inspired hockey. Dean Brockman was quoted late last week saying, " The guys are all learning and working hard. We're all enjoying it." The 2012 Royal Bank Cup hosts are going to be a force to be reckoned with next season, and they are still managing to turn this season into a success.

Who's Up Front:

19-year-old forward Ward Szucki (Suss-key) is in the midst of a breakout season for Humboldt. After being bounced around from Estevan and Neepawa earlier this season, Szucki has settled nicely in Humboldt and leads all forwards with 32 points in 45 games. North Star fans are no stranger to Szucki's skill. He's got a great shot, lots of size, and he had no trouble elevating his game in the playoffs. Keeping Szucki contained will be key for the Stars tonight.

Who's on D:

18-year-old defenceman Josh Roach should be one of the defensive focal-points for this team for the next two seasons and why not? He leads the team in scoring with 45 points in 48 games. Roach and Szucki are tied for the team lead in goals with 14. A defenceman of the year candidate? No question. The Stars need to take away his time and space and perhaps even more importantly they need to stay disciplined. If they give Josh Roach open ice on the man-advantage he can really make you pay.

Who's in Goal:

So far this season through five meetings, the Stars have faced Andrew Bodnarchuk five times. Given the fact that Matt Hrynkiw played in Kindersley last night, I would assume (cautiously) that once again Bodnarchuk will get the call in goal tonight. Bodnarchuk is 18-13-1 with a save percentage of .887. His goals against of 3.45.


19-year-old forward Matt Glowa has flown under the radar for a large part of this season for several reasons, mainly due to injury. Glowa is now healthy and is contributing regularly. Glowa scored twice for Humboldt last night in Kindersley and now has 10 goals on the year. Glowa has demonstrated good vision, speed and smarts in the times I've seen him, and he could be poised for similar success tonight if the North Star's don't take note of his presence on the ice.

Record: 23-25-2-1


Ken Pearson's team hasn't played at home since January 26th. Tonight they'll look to turn the tide and snap a two-game losing streak. Ken Pearson says that his best players need to be better, and tonight they get a great opportunity on home-ice to make a statement.

Who's Up Front:

Colin Phaneuf is one goal away from 20 on the season. The team leader in scoring heads into tonight with 64 points in 49 games. Phaneuf continues to put up points via assists, but has scored just once since Christmas (in overtime against Notre Dame). Is tonight the night?

Who's on D:

Though the stats may not show it as much as he'd like, Woody Klassen continues to be a key contributor for the Battlefords North Stars at both ends of the ice. Klassen has 33 points on the season, but has been blocking shots, and making plays defensively which has allowed his team to find success.

Who's in Goal:

Kyle Birch gets the call tonight against Humboldt. It'll be key for Birch to stay relaxed and square. Fans have been waiting all season for one of the two netminders to get hot. Maybe tonight's the night when Birch can kick-off a lengthy streak of wins.


Call it a hunch, but tonight may very well be the night for Blake Tatchell to break out. Tatchell had a quiet January by his standards, and so far February hasn't gotten off to the start that he'd like. In saying that, he did get a goal a week ago in Melville, and showed signs that he's getting back to his usual self. The 19-year-old has 63 points in 50 games, and IF the Stars can claw their way to third, I guarantee Tatchell will have lots to do with it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Make or Break Week.

Is it really Monday morning already?

This past weekend was productive, yet by no means was it relaxing.

I expect more of the same this week. So lets get started.


It truly is a make-or-break week for the Battlefords North Stars. By this time next week, the Star's playoff fate could ultimately be sealed. Seven games remain on their schedule - Five of which are against divisional opponents.

This week the Stars face third-place Humboldt on Wednesday, and are then in Flin Flon for a Friday, Saturday weekend series.

The Humboldt Broncos are in town Wednesday, and by default this one becomes the most important game yet for the Stars.

The Broncos have won four games in a row, and are now six points ahead of the Stars for third place in the Bauer Conference. If the Stars want to finish third and avoid the Survivor Series, a victory against Humboldt on Wednesday is a must. They would then need a ton of help from some southern teams, plus they'd need to help themselves.

Following that, the Stars have the Flin Flon Bombers in their rear-view mirror. The Bombers no longer hold any games in hand on the Stars, and trail them by three points heading into this week. The Bombers are in Nipawin tomorrow night, and will face La Ronge on Wednesday when the Stars host Humboldt.

All three Star's games this week can be heard live on CJNB/CJNS.


Humboldt, Flin Flon and the Battlefords each have seven games remaining on their schedule. Below I have posted the opponents (in order) for all three teams down the stretch:

Humboldt: KIN - BAT - NIP - YOR - MVL - ND - LAR

Flin Flon - NIP - LAR - BAT - BAT -NIP - BAT - NIP

Battlefords - HUM - FF - FF - FF - NIP - KIN - KIN

Statistically speaking, the Stars and Broncos have the toughest stretch of seven games. Three of their opponents have plus .500 records while Flin Flon faces only one. Humboldt also gets the advantage of facing five Sherwood Conference teams. Even if they lose some games, it won't be at the expense of surrendering points to divisional foes.


Considering the above information, I am really looking forward to tonight's edition of the CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix where I'll be speaking with Flin Flon Bomber's Coach and GM Mike Reagan.

EDIT: CFAR 590's Rob Hart will join me instead of Reagan.

My other confirmed guest for the program is North Battleford Comp Viking's Sr. Boys basketball coach Jamey Sommerfeld.

I have a call out to another SJHL Coach. Hopefully it works out, if not I assure you that the show will be packed anyway.

The CO-OP Leisure Time Sports Fix runs tonight at 8:00 on CJNB/CJNS.


Did you catch the Superbowl?

All-in-all I enjoyed the game. I don't cheer for either team regularly, so the result didn't mean very much to me. In the end I'm happy for Green Bay and more specifically for Aaron Rodgers who played a great game.

I don't think the half-time show was as bad as a majority of fans thought, The National Anthem on the other hand? Christina Aguilera was brutal. I personally hate when the musicians try to turn a country's anthem into a major ordeal. I think it sounds way better when it's sung properly and quickly.

Oh, and remembering the lyrics also helps.


Hats off to the Battlefords a great job at hosting the 2011 Sasktel Provincial Men's Curling Championship. The Civic Center was hopping this week, and the curlers did not disappoint. If you missed it, Pat Simmons defeated Carl deConinck Smiith 8-6. It is the fifth provincial title for Simmons, and now his rink will head to London, ONT for the Tim Horton's Brier on March 6th.

Having grown up in B.C. and never really experiencing the sport until I moved here - I admit that my overall knowledge of curling still leaves much to be desired. But I have a strong appreciation for the athleticism and skill involved in the sport, and I'm starting to understand it better.


As always your comments and feedback are welcome. I would love to hear your thoughts about the upcoming stretch of games.

Have a great week,


Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Road-Trip Chornicles (Part Seven).

*Continued from Wednesday afternoon*

4:00 - We hop aboard the bus and we begin our voyage to Melville. I was unable to sleep at all in the afternoon due to the fact that Man vs. Food was on TV. I don't go out of my way to watch too many shows that aren't sports related, but MVF is one of them. Adam Richman has a pretty sweet gig.

4:15 - We leave the Farrell Agencies Arena after the boys have loaded their gear. Quite often the team will leave their equipment in a vacant dressing room until it's time to take off the next day. Most the fellas are already dressed in their suits and ties, while others are still in their street clothes, and will change on the bus before we arrive in Melville. Quite a few players have their head-phones in, and are already getting focused for the task at hand.

4:50 - We arrive in Melville, and immediately I leave the bus and I head behind the Star's bench to set up my equipment. In Melville a broadcaster has two options:

1) A corner broadcast booth.
2) Directly behind the player's benches.

I have never met a broadcaster that prefers a corner booth to anything, so the obvious choice here is to go behind the player's bench. I couldn't the last time I was in Melville because Craig Stein was also calling a game that night. The general rule (in my opinion) is that the home-team broadcaster gets first dibs on broadcast location. It's only fair.

5:11 - I have just completed my interview with Dale Jackson. The interview will during the first intermission of the broadcast. Dale and I spoke for nearly six full minutes which is a solid chunk of time. Again, I deeply admire his passion for the work that he does. Not all of us are wired for that type of thing, but Dale certainly is, and the Stars are lucky to have him.

5:30 - I have now completed interviews with both Ken Pearson and Keith Grondin. Pearson's attitude has not changed since our post-game conversation the night before. He stresses the importance of the two points at hand, and he specifically mentions Blake Tatchell and Colin Phaneuf as two players that need to be better in tonight's game. My interview with Grondin was about three-minutes long, and went smoothly as well. Grondin scored four goals the night before, but as usual was very humble and more team-driven than anything else.

5:35 - I knock on Melville Coach/GM Jamie Fiesel's door. No answer. He has yet to arrive.

6:00 - I am almost done my large black coffee, and I debate going to give coach Fiesel another try. I have spent the past 20 minutes or so in the Melville lobby, looking at old team photos and trophies, and I also spend some time talking with Tanner Schwab and Samuel Fortier. Schwab is scratched for tonight's game while Fortier is also sipping a pre-game coffee. Together we make small-talk about travel. It's moments like this that allow me to get a better idea of who these players are off the ice. Stars fans can take comfort in the fact that these kids are (for the most part) genuine, kind-hearted individuals off the ice who care deeply for their teammates and their community. Fortier is originally from Victoriaville which is an hour away from both Montreal and Quebec. He's almost always got a smile on his face, and he admits that he's enjoying life in the Battlefords.

I'd like to think that the players consider me a part of their team and family. I always make sure I'm friendly and encouraging to them. Off the top of my head I can't think of any particular player over the past four years that I haven't gotten along with. They realize that I have a job to do, and they are receptive to that. Part of the fun for me is making these kids sound good, and building them up through the radio and through the blog.

I've gone for the occasional meal with players throughout the years, but I'd confidently say that a majority of my dealings with the players are all hockey-related. I'll happily chat with a player about their life and my own, but I sure as hell won't be the one to critique their play, or give them life advice. Often during the summer I'll see some of the kids around town or on the golf-course, and we'll chat for a few minutes here or there, but I learned a long time ago that it's important to keep things professional. Players an coaches come and go, so it's important not to become 'too attached or dependant' on something or somebody in the Junior Hockey World.

6:15 - I have just finished an interview with Melville Coach/GM Jamie Fiesel. Fiesel is very easy to deal with. He's very approachable, and forthcoming, and he has a genuine love for coaching and for the town of Melville.

I take a lot of pride and put a lot of emphasis on my rapport with SJHL Coaches. I do my best to ask fair and educated questions, and I make sure to thank them for making time.

I don't have too many horror stories involving other team's coaches. I did have one coach refuse an interview with me last year because of some things that I alledgedly said about his team on a prior broadcast. It caught me off guard, and I admit that I was saddened by the fact that I had messed up my rapport with him, but at the same time I completely disagreed with his reasoning, and was able to defend myself and hold my head up high to the point where though I didn't get an interview, he did shake my hand and commend my effort. The Stars won 9-2 that night, so I quickly got over it.

6:45 - It's nearly time for me to head to the booth to watch pre-game warmup. For the past half-hour I've been back in the arena lobby chatting with Tony Oak's Dad and Kyle Hall's Dad and Grandpa. I'm informed that Hall's Grandpa is celebrating his 80th birthday. I mention that, "Hopefully Kyle can score one for you." He did. Happy birthday Grandpa Hall!

One of the greatest parts about my job is getting a chance to meet and get to know the parents of the players. Quite often they will come and find me at the rink and chat with me for a few moments about the team, the upcoming game, and life outside of hockey.

Being a hockey parent surely can't be easy when you're child is away from home in a different city. Hopefully this blog and the radio broadcasts serve as a source of comfort to them knowing they can log on and either read or hear that their kids are doing okay.

When My Mom passed away this past summer, I received some very kind e-mails, and phone calls from several players and parents. To this day, that means more to me than you'll ever truly know.

7:10 - I am now connected to my operator back at master control and all-set to go. Here's to a great game.

*The Stars fall 6-3 to Melville.

10:30 - We have left Melville and are on the bumpy road back home. Each player has a bag of A&W food kindly purchased by the coach and is quietly eating. Most players have already changed out of their suits and into their normal street clothes. No win - No movie. So if we're going to have a quiet bus-ride home, we might as well do so comfortably.

3:15 AM *This morning* - After two tries at successfully typing all of this, I can happily say that the journey is complete. The bus pulls into the Civic Center parking lot, and the kids, coaches and broadcaster unload their gear and they head-home to bed. The 6-3 loss still lingers in the mind of everybody involved. The life of a junior-hockey player/broadcaster is an enjoyable one, but can also be bitterly harsh when the results don't always go as planned.

With that, the Road-Trip Chronicles have come to an end. I hope you have found these pieces entertaining and informative. Again, I am extremely grateful for the positive feedback and comments that I have already received.

Doing the radio broadcasts for the Battlefords North Stars is a rewarding experience that I do not take for granted. All I've ever wanted to do in life is be a hockey broadcaster, and I am blessed to be able to do so for each of the past five winters, and I don't plan on slowing down.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, as much as I enjoy living it.

Don't be a stranger.

- Dan O'Connor
The Voice of the North Stars.