Night 2 at Rookie Camp

I didn’t get a chance to see this morning’s sessions but tonight at the Civic Center I did take in some more of the scrimmages.

The Stars put a few vets on each team in part to see how some of the younger guys would do in battles and encounters with experienced players.

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The first game saw team Black beat Gold 5-3 and Black controlled a lot of the play. A few guys stood out offensively but for me I enjoyed the physical battles. Adam Smith should be a fun player to watch this year and the 20 year old, despite playing out of position on defense, got into it physically several times. Brant Saretsky was one of the players he got into it with. D-man Josh Odelein for team Gold battled with Chris Woods a few times as well.

The second game saw team Gold stay out and take on Team White. Veterans on Gold were Smith as well as Igor Leonenko who looks good so far. He appears to have come into camp in great shape and ready to go for year 2 in the SJHL. Team White had Ryne Keller and Jack McMillen.

White jumped out to an early 3-0 lead but it was pretty even after that. A late Igor Leonenko break away goal made it a 7-6 final with team White picking up the win.

In game #3 it was a 1-1 game with team Black beating White 2-1 after a shootout. Kevin Bendall scored for White and Logan Nachtegaele replied late for Black.

Overall I thought tonight had a pretty good pace considering there must have been some really tired legs out there. And I liked the showing from a lot of the young local players. Bendall, both Jaeden and Logan Nachtegaele, Blake Oborowsky, Quinton Cubbon, Rett Taggart, Connor Sych, Layne Young, Owen Lamb, Troy Gerein and both Ryan Rewerts and Taryn Kotchorek in goal. Some of those guys look like they will be big parts of the North Stars future.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with the Stars coaching staff about what they thought so this is just speculation but I think Logan Nachtegaele has a decent chance to make the team in a 4th line role. Guys like Taggart, Young, Lamb and Gerein will in all likelihood play with the AAA Stars this year and continue to develop. I am not sure what will happen in goal at this point. It’s still early and the rookie game will play a role in some decisions I am sure.

The Stars will play a rookie game in Kindersley tomorrow which I can’t attend. Then they will send some kids back to their midget teams and trim down for the start of preseason on Tuesday when about 30 or so players will get a chance to be part of the 2014-15 North Stars roster. And I have to say after such a busy offseason I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s early but there is a lot of talent to choose from for the North Stars this season.

Night One of Rookie Camp in the Books

The first day and night of North Stars rookie camp has come and gone with three scrimmages wrapping things up this evening down at the Civic Center.

Scores:
Gold 5 – White 4
Black 3 – White 3
Black 1 – Gold 0

First of all whoever made the teams did a great job as the games were all very even. There was a good pace to the action even though at times there were clearly some tired legs. And I made plenty of notes involving guys being physical and throwing nice hits.

I loved the mix of players as well. There was some serious size on display as well as some shifty smaller guys with speed to burn. Not to mention a lot of skill on display throughout the 3 teams. Carson Boehm scored maybe the nicest goal of Day 1 when he dangled around a D man off an attacking zone faceoff. Once he was free in the slot he was able to slide around the goalie and finish nicely.

Matthew Havens was one of several forwards on Team Gold that looked good and Havens had the biggest hit that I saw when he caught a team Black D man in open ice in the final game.

Team Black had some guys who are likely going to suit up in the Midget AAA league’s this season including Bryce Hall, Troy Gerein and Owen Lamb. A strong American contingent on that team looked very good as well. Plus team Black’s Taryn Kotchorek and Ryan Rewerts combined on the shutout in the final game. Hall set up the winner and hit the crossbar in that final session.

Scrimmages resume tomorrow morning on Day 2 of camp. Check NorthStars.ca for more.

Rookie Camp set to begin

North Stars rookie camp begins tomorrow and runs through to Monday afternoon’s game in Kindersley. Then on Tuesday the vets get involved in the action. It’s going to be an exciting long weekend to be around the Civic Center.

Yesterday I had a chance to chat with both coach Hasselberg and coach White and you could tell right away that they were fired up and ready to go. Coach Hasselberg said that this year there are a lot of good young players coming to camp and they have a very open mind in regards to the rookies. Just about any of these young players could make the North Stars if they are ready to play at this level. A couple years ago it was Jake McMillen. Last year? Reed Delainey. There have been others as well. This rookie camp can be the launching pad for young players to make a real impact. It’s also a great chance for the Stars to seel their organization to good young hockey talent.

With the Stars having a new look staff it will be interesting to see how the new dynamic works. Kevin was clearly excited about the addition of Taurean as well as trainer Sean Marcellus. With coach Atcheynum and goalie coach Travis Harrington both still involved the Stars have a lot of great coaches to work with these players.

As for coach White, he said he has settled into the Battlefords nicely and is already impressed with the support the North Stars get from their fans. White has experience with his howe town Nepean Raiders and the Brockville Braves. Last year he was the head coach in Brockville. So this is a relatively young guy with a lot of good experience as a player and a coach. Kevin also talked about his, as well as Sean’s, passion for the game.

Maybe that’s the theme of this year’s team developing already? Passion. Something North Stars teams almost always have in spades.

Coach White is a hard worker and I know he will fit right in as he mentioned to me about how hard Kevin works as well. Together they should make a great tandem.

If you want to head down to see the new additions to the coaching staff as well as the young players who make up the North Stars future the camp schedule is posted here: http://www.northstars.ca/news_article/show/414371?referrer_id=618157

5:00pm is when I will be headed down to watch some scrimmages. I hope to see plenty of Stars fans eager to get their first look at some of this year’s team. A team that will be looking to repeat as Kramer Division champions. It’s going to be fun and it starts tomorrow morning!

North Stars preseason schedule

Today the Battlefords North Stars confirmed their pre-season schedule. They open camp on August 30th and play their first preseason game on September 1st. That game is in Kindersley at 2pm.

The Stars then play a home and home with Kindersley on the 5th and 6th. Friday night in Kindersley and the next night at the Civic Center. Both games are at 7:30pm.

The Stars wrap up with a home and home against Humboldt. September 9th at the Civic Center at 7:30. The 10th at the EPA in Humboldt at 7.

Want to know what I love about this schedule? Short bus trips/car rides to watch the away games. Obviously. And even better divisional rivals! The Stars, Klippers and Broncos are going to get tired of facing each other all season long. May as well build up the rivalry and the dislike in the preseason as well. Plus divisional rivals ensure preseason games that will be as competitive and hard fought as possible. Great preparation for the Kramer Division teams leading into the regular season.

For more on the schedule check out NorthStars.ca

And go buy your season tickets already. It’s less than a month until hockey season.

North Stars news and notes

Today is my first day back at work after a two week holiday and there was plenty of news while I was away.

The North Stars hosted their Annual General Meeting a couple weeks ago. I was just looking over the financial details of the club and they look strong. The Stars did end up with a loss this season in part because of slightly decreased ticket sales and corporate advertising. Last year’s early playoff exit likely had an impact on those numbers as well as this season’s slow start potentially as well.

The North Stars playoff run helped offset some of those costs but all told the team did lose a little money. During the AGM head coach Kevin Hasselberg gave his report. He welcomed the new assistant coach and GM Taurean Whitewhile noting that Blair Atcheynum will continue to be part of the North Stars staff.

The home opener for the North Stars will be September 19th against Kindersley. That will kick off a season opening home and home with the Stars biggest rivals. I haven’t had a chance to look at the schedule yet so I will get a separate post up later this week and analyze the schedule.

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I also haven’t had a chance to congratulate Cam Blair on his commitment to the U of S. It was a pleasure getting to know Cam and his family after his trade to the Stars. And it was nice not having to face the former Flin Flon Bomber star on the ice. Having a player like Cam Blair on your team is so much nicer than having to try and stop him.

Now he will suit up for the U of S Huskies who are one of the CIS’s top teams. Blair is an all around player with great hands and the ability to grind and play a physical style as well.

The Huskies are getting a top player who will cause head aches for opposing coaches. Congrats to Cam and good luck next year.

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The Stars also announced a couple of moves while I was away. They traded Darren Martin to the BCHL and picked up Adam Smith from the SIJHL. Martin had a fantastic rookie season with the Stars and will now get a chance to battle with former Kindersley Klipper Tyrell King for the #1 role in Langley. The Stars picked up future considerations in that deal.

In Smith, the North Stars pick up a 6’2″ forward who has mostly split time during his career between the BCHL and the WHL. The 20 year old has not put up a lot of offense so far. But the right handed shooter can play some center. He’s physical and did put up 14 assists in 16 games with the VIJHL’s Nanaimo Bucaneers. Smith is a veteran, team first player who should be a leader for the Stars as well.

It has been a busy offseason for the North Stars with Smith added to a series of moves that have been made so far.

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And the final note is a congratulations to Blake Tatchell who is currently in Winnipeg taking part in Jets development camp. After a dominating season as a 20 year old with his home town team, Tatchell went off to the University of Alaska Anchorage where he has been a one of the Seawolves top forwards for 2 seasons.  The Jets camp runs all this week and Tatchell will be on the ice with players like Jets 2014 first round pick Nikolaj Ehlers.

Stars pick up Saharchuk from Vernon

This is a little late in coming and I apologize for the delay. There’s been a lot of North Stars news the last little while and I missed out on getting a post up about this transaction.

The North Stars sent forward Josh Betinol to the Vernon Vipers early last season for future considerations. Those futures turned out to be Matt Saharchuk. A 6’2 forward from Fort St James, BC Saharchuk chipped in with 10 points for the Vipers last season. He played in 56 games last season for Vernon as well as 14 playoff games and 1 RBC Cup contest. (http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=125564)

In 2012/13 the Saharchuk played Junior B in the KIJHL and was the North Okanagan Knights top scorer with 32 goals and 60 points in just 50 games. So it looks like Saharchuk is a guy who can put up some offense as well as contribute in other ways.

The Stars said in the press release that they expect the forward to play in all situations for the team. And we have certainly seen plenty of players come to the Stars that bounced between the KIJHL and BCHL. Recent players that made that leap include Ben Greenaway, Austin Evans and Latrell Charleson. Saharchuk looks to the next in a line of players who have been huge additions for the North Stars.

A guy who showed offensive upside as a 17 year old playing Junior B and then had a strong first season in the BCHL is someone to be excited about. I had been told that the player to be named in the Betinol trade was a good one and this announcement fits that description.

Here are a few YouTube clips I found on Saharchuk. I think that there is enough in these clips to excite North Stars fans.

Greenaway headed to Concordia

The North Stars made it official yesterday announcing that 20 year old former Star forward Ben Greenaway has committed to play Division 3 hockey with the Concordia University Falcons. Greenaway will be competing in the same Northern Collegiate Hockey Association as Michael Gudmandson as the two will get a chance to go head to head. Based in Wisconsin, Concordia recently committed former North Stars forward Travis Marit from the Winkler Flyers who are lead by former North Stars Coach Ken Pearson. Ben will join former SJHL players Brett Penner, Riley Storzuk, and Brandt Weldon all of whom played for the Flin Flon Bombers Organization.

Greenaway came to the North Stars as a pretty raw forward who had never really been given a chance to show what he could do. I can still remember that first pre-season game that I saw him play. He was big, skated well, laid a massive hit, scored a break away goal and got hurt. It was a great introduction to what he could do. The North Stars stuck with Ben as he got healthy and that faith paid off. In two season with the North Stars Greenaway post 21 points and 270 PIMS. Always there to back up and protect his team mates, Ben was also a leader on the team in hits and blocked shots.

It was a pleasure getting to know Ben over the past two seasons and watching as he matured into an even better hockey player and person. The Stars will have a tough time replacing what Greenaway brought to the team both on and off the ice. As has been the case with almost every player the North Stars have had the last 3 years I also got a chance to get to know Ben’s family a little bit and they will be missed as well.

The Falcons are going to be very pleased with this addition. And no matter what Greenaway does moving forward he will always have a place in North Stars history after this epic fight.

North Stars notes

It’s been too long since I fired up the blog and now with the World Cup on going and the fact that I am taking holidays in a week I realized I needed to get up a post now. There have been several announcements and moves made since my last posting.

Firstly the North Stars have traded Luke McColgan to Chilliwack of the BCHL in exchange for goalie Spencer Tremblay. McColgan is entering his final season of junior eligibility and will be missed. He’s physical, fast, plays in all situations and rarely, if ever, takes a shift off. Luke will be missed on and off the ice and Chilliwack fans are getting a heck of a player.

Tremblay is also entering his final year of junior hockey. He’s bounced around a little and has battled injuries. Hopefully he will settle will here in the Battlefords and provide a steady presence in net. At this point you would imagine that Tremblay will have to battle to get in the net as Darren Martin appears poised for a big season after getting his feet wet this season in the SJHL.

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The North Stars announced that graduating players Tanner Quinn and Michael Gudmandson have both committed to continue playing hockey.

Gudmandson is heading to Marian University. A division 3 program in Wisconsin that plays in a competitive conference. The Sabres are graduating a couple goalies and that will allow Goody to battle for the starters role right away. After his incredible 20 year old MVP season with the North Stars it would be hard to doubt Gudmandson. Marian is getting a very talented and mentally tough goalie.

Tanner Quinn is headed to SAIT to play hockey with Dillon Forbes and the Trojans hockey program. As we noted with Forbes, the Trojans are a top hockey program in the ACAC. Quinn is a hard working, tough and gritty forward. While he may not provide much offence he is capable of potting an important and timely goal. And in the end he did post 49 career points with the North Stars in 158 career games. As a 3 year North Star with that many games under his belt it is great to see Quinn continuing on at the next level.

For more on those announcements check out http://www.northstars.ca

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The SJHL also recently wrapped up their annual general meeting. At that meeting the schedule was completed and it will be announced in July.

The league’s governors have decided to stick with the same set up as last season. 3 divisions, 56 games on the schedule and the same playoff format. The league also announced attendance was up around the SJHL last season.

The playoff format didn’t really work as far as I am concerned and I had been hoping for a change. I’m a little disappointed that the same system is in place. The North Stars playoff run included long trips to Estevan and Melville. Lots of bus travel, plenty of money spent on team meals and hotels. And in the end I don’t think that’s for the best.

Most of these teams need playoff revenue to survive long term. To make money in the playoffs you need big crowds and as little travel as possible. In the current system, that saw Estevan play Flin Flon in the playoffs, teams have to hope for favourable matchups. They need to be lucky to have a playoff run that makes a nice profit.

The BCHL has divisional playoffs followed by a tournament featuring the 3 division winners. That isn’t ideal but imagine a playoff system that saw the North Stars knowing they wouldn’t have to travel anywhere other than Humboldt, Kindersley or at worst Wilcox? A couple divisional series would help teams make money. In my opinion anyway.

But I haven’t seen the North Stars financial records for this season as they haven’t had their team AGM yet. And I haven’t yet spoken to anyone from the team to see how they feel about the playoff format. Obviously some of the teams felt this current playoff system worked. And in the end it is their opinions that matter.

For more on the SJHL AGM check out http://www.sjhl.ca

Forbes commits to SAIT

Great news this morning as Dillon Forbes has officially committed to the SAIT Trojans.

This announcement certainly is not a surprise as Forbes has plenty to offer at the next level. After a 3 year career with the North Stars Forbes has developed into a well rounded D-man. As an 18 year old he was a stay at home presence on one of Canada’s top teams. The Stars lost in the north final to Humboldt that year and the Broncos went on to win the SJHL title and finish 3rd at the RBC Cup as hosts.

This past season the Stars rallied to win the Kramer Division and the 20 year defenseman was a huge part of that turn around. When he turned his game around and settled in a little bit the Stars took off. Early in the year Dillon took a few too many penalties. The team was also taking too many penalties. As a leader Forbes stepped up to play a more calm and steady game and the team followed suit.

He’s also incredibly tough as well. Seeing the way he played in the playoffs this year when he was injured was inspirational. Coach Atcheynum said he didn’t think any other player in junior hockey would have played through that kind of pain and been that effective.

Never one to shy away from work has made Forbes into a great player. He’s big and strong and has now added offense to his game as well. His work on the power play this past season was built around his effort to improve as a player. That bodes well for his future and for the SAIT Trojans. He’s also a good kid with a great sense of humour.

As for SAIT? It’s a great school that will give Forbes a chance to get a great education. And he will get to play in a very competitive league on one of the ACAC’s top teams. SAIT is the defending champion of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and with Forbes coming on board the Trojans will continue to be a top team.

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The Stars also added a couple of players to their protected list. For more check out http://www.northstars.ca

Futures announced in Blair trade

The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon Bombers announced over the weekend the future considerations from the Cam Blair trade. The North Stars are sending 17 year old defenseman Braden Lacoursiere and 16 year old prospect Brandon Lesko to the Bombers. In exchange the North Stars also pick up Carson and Dawson Boehm.

Lacoursiere is the big piece in this trade outside of the principle at the time it was announced, Blair and Austin Evans. Lacoursiere is a strong and steady young D-man. A right hand shot with some offensive upside Lacoursiere looks poised to be one of the SJHL best all around defensemen in the coming years. He’s also a great kid off the ice and always willing to get involved in the community. It was a little surprising to me that Lacoursiere was involved in the trade. But Cam Blair was the most sought after forward in the league at the trade deadline and the North Stars had to give up a lot to get him. You can see now why the Bombers were willing to do this deal. They also land Lesko a 16 year old forward from Hafford. Lesko had 26 points as a rookie with the AAA Stars this past season. Lesko is a prospect with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

The North Stars also pick up a couple prospects in the deal. Both were at Spring Camp. 15 year old D man Dawson Boehm and 18 year old forward Carson Boehm. Carson had 11 goals in 44 games with Beardey’s this past season.

So the final trade is Austin Evans, Braden Lacoursiere and Brandon Lesko to Flin Flon in exchange for Cam Blair, Carson Boehm and Dawson Boehm.

With the piece they acquired from the Brett Boehm, Devin Buffalo and Dillon McCombie trades this season the Bombers look to be one of the top young teams in the SJHL heading into the up coming season.

As for the North Stars? They obviously feel that defense is a position of strength from which to deal. With returning players like Charleson, Fransoo, Yew and Erickson the North Stars do have depth on the back end. They also have prospects on the horizon including the likes of Saskatoon Contact Connor Sych and potentially former AAA Star Alex Pernitsky.

Lacoursiere will be missed though. The Unity native is a dedicated player with a great attitude and a bright future. He and his family were fantastic to me all season. I wish Lacoursiere all the best in Flin Flon.

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The North Stars also announced over the weekend that they have retained goalie coach Travis Harrington for the 2014-15 season. Harrington is one of the top goalie coaches in Saskatchewan and helped both Michael Gudmandson and Darren Martin this past season. Gudmandson was named the SJHL’s MVP and Martin was one of the league’s top rookies. With Martin entering his 19 year old season and looking to take over as the team’s number 1 goalie his work with Harrington will be important. Harrington and Martin have worked together since Darren was in midget and they have a very good working relationship which should help Martin develop further. Overall the North Stars goalies will be better for having Harrington in the fold.

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