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.

North Stars losing a key piece

The Battlefords North Stars are now searching for a key piece of their staff. Athletic Therapist Michelle Beatty has decided to move on after 2 seasons with the team.

Michelle is a highly qualified and hard working A.T. who will be missed. Replacing the legendary Dale Jackson was never going to be easy but Michelle fit right in with the team and helped usher in a new era. Having a full time athletic therapist helped make the North Stars a more professional organization. It was just another piece in the puzzle that has helped make the Stars one of the top teams in the SJHL.

I wish Michelle the best in the future as she progresses in her field.

So now the team will have to replace Beatty. A job posting is up on the North Stars website if you would like more information.

http://www.northstars.ca/news_article/show/385524?referrer_id=618157

It is a demanding but ultimately very rewarding position with a first class organization. I am sure the North Stars will receive an avalanche of applications.

 

Gudmandson up for National MVP Award

The CJHL announced the finalists for the National MVP award over the weekend. Amongst the six names on the list is North Stars goalie Michael Gudmandson. Goody has already claimed several MVP honours so far after his extraordinary 2013-14 season.

The North Stars started the season 4-12-0-1 before getting rolling with a couple wins down south early in November. Gudmandson then showed up and posted a 20-3-0-1 record the rest of the way to help the Stars grab the Kramer Division title. In terms of the value part of the MVP award it is tough to argue with the Stars tender. He has already claimed team, Kramer Division and SJHL most valuable player honours.

So now Gudmandson will take his sparkling stats and numerous awards to the national level. There are six finalists for the award including Landon Smith of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, his team didn’t make the playoffs in BC, and Try Phillips of the Canmore Eagles. Gudmadson is the only goalie on the list of finalists and Phillips is the only D man. The rest are forwards. Andy Sturtz of the Carleton Place Canadians is the only finalist that is still playing. His team has qualified for the RBC Cup.

And so Sturtz will be there when the award is handed out this week just prior to the RBC Cup in Vernon which gets underway on Saturday.

Congratulations to all the finalists and best of luck to Gudmandson as he looks to wrap up his junior career with one more MVP award!

2014 Season Wraps Up

The 2014 Kramer Division champions wrapped up their season last night at the Civic Center with a bbq and awards presentation. Graduating players were presented with their jerseys and some other keep sakes. Kyle Scmidt, Cam Blair, Blake Young, Ben Greenaway, Michael Gudmandson, Taylor Reich, Tanner Quinn and Dillon Forbes are all moving on. They are leaving the program in a better place than it was when they found it.

The Stars also awarded Cam Blair and Blake Young for finishing the season tied in the points race. So we had co-winners of the top scorer award. Blair and Dillon Forbes shared the playoff MVP award. Blair topped the scoring charts for the Stars in the post season and Forbes played most of the playoffs with a serious injury but you wouldn’t no it based on the way he played.

So that wrapped up the season. The players are now heading home for the summer. And to wrap up the season I thought I would share my favourite memory of each player that helped the Stars to the Kramer Division title. From a 4-12 start to a banner in the rafters. It was a season full of drama and twists and turns. And it will always be remembered.

1 – Michael Gudmandson

The first game he played with the Stars. I got to the Civic Center and had no idea the Stars had picked up a goalie. He was known to me from his time with the Stars the season before. So I knew Michael a little bit. I also knew how much he had bounced around. I didn’t know he was going to go on and claim the MVP award for the entire league, another favourite moment was seeing him get his award, but I knew he was a guy who hadn’t found a home in his career. The self proclaimed suitcase came in was given a chance and he grabbed it with a 42 save win in his first game. I am so glad he found a home in his 20 year old season.

2 – Robin Yew

Another player who joined the Stars mid-season and another one that I had some knowledge of from his time as a AAA Star. His first goal stands out as it was a big one. The Stars scored three times in the final period against Melfort with Robin tying the game less than two minutes from the end of regulation. The Stars went on to win the game in the shootout. Robin scored his first North Stars goal in his first game. And it helped the Stars gain a couple points on their road to winning the Kramer Division title.

3 – Tanner Quinn

It’s a strange one but one of my favourite memories of Quinn was from that game in Estevan that really stands out in the mind. November 1st and Quinn absolutely battled his ass off in the final minute. But the Bruins tied it with 3 seconds left. It was looking at Quinn after that goal that made me think the Stars wouldn’t be able to bonce back the next night. He was almost distraught. But he and his team rallied and got the win the next day in Notre Dame which is a testament to the mental strength of Quinn and his team mates. In the playoffs I know Quinn was one of the guys calming everyone down after the Bruins tied it late helping lead to the Kendall Fransoo OT winner. Quinn wore an ‘A’ this season and deserved it for helping turn around the season.

4 – Dillon Forbes

My favourite memory of Dillon Forbes is a tough one to narrow down. I have been following the North Stars for three seasons and Dillon has been on the team for all three. Just like Quinner. Forbes was named playoff MVP and what stands out to me is the bruise on his leg that he showed me one night at Lifetime Fitness. He never missed a game and never missed a beat. His leadership helped the Stars grab two wins in Estevan, when the injury was fresh, and his status as an all time great North Star was cemented. What a warrior. I will also remember his new found one-timer blasting past goalies on the power play.

5 – Braden Lacoursiere

It was a tough season at times for Braden as he was in and out of the lineup. That’s never easy especially for a young player who is itching to make his mark. Both Braden and Robin Yew were great down the stretch and made it very difficult for the Stars to pick a lineup. On October 30th the Stars won what was the 6th of an 8 game winning streak. Lacoursiere scored the game winner. His second goal of that month and he ended up with 2 on the season.

6 – Kendall Fransoo

Another midget aged defenseman making his mark on the North Stars. His OT winner against Estevan and his first ever SJHL goal earlier in the season were both memorable. But nothing stands out more than a classic Fransoo shift against Melville in the playoffs. A couple of blocked shots, a big hit, a good clearance and then some rough stuff after the whistle in front. He just blocked so many shots this season.

7 – Latrell Charleson

I didn’t know much about Latrell until early in the season. I can’t remember which game it was or what the situation was but my favourite memory of Latty was early in the year. We thought he was a stay at home guy. Big and physical and of course mean. But then a moment happened when he was skating out of his own zone at the civic center and right at his blue line he toe dragged around a fore checking forward. There was a lot more to Latrell than met the eye. And what a great season he ended up having as an 18 year old with a very bright future.

8 – Kyle Schmidt

One of my favourite memories of Kyle Schmidt was off the ice. At the kick off breakfast I sat with Kyle and we had a pretty good time. He’s always got a joke and a smile. On the ice though I would have to say that open ice hit he landed at the Civic Center that was the talk of the town for a few days. His steady presence helped get the best out of Jake Erickson and as captain he was a big part of the team not falling apart after that 4-12 start.

9 – Cam Blair

His could also a hit. I mean, how can I not think back fondly on a perfectly executed open ice hit. One of the biggest I have ever seen. But my favourite memory is his two game game against Estevan in the clinching game 5 as the Stars won their opening round series.

11 – Nick Fountain

His goal against Estevan in game #2 which turned out to be a game winner could be the winner. But I love a moment in a game in Humboldt. I think Jack Petrino ended up scoring the goal. But it was a massive open ice hit from Founts in the attacking zone that freed up the puck. Nick didn’t get an assist on the play but it was a great hit in the face off circle that led to a goal and was typical Fountain.

12 – Luke McColgan

Early in 2014 the North Stars won a pair of games in Flin Flon and it was McColgan who helped carry his team to those two wins. His play in January and February was a big reason the North Stars were able to win so many hockey games and claim the division title. His game winner in the second game was perfection. A Bomber player had taunted the Stars bench after a tying goal. McColgan obviously didn’t take kindly to that as the Stars killed of a late power play and once they were back to 5-on-5 McColgan weaved around 4 Bombers before sniping a beauty past Simon Hofley.

14 – Ben Greenaway

Tough to over look his goal against Kindersley. But my favourite Greenaway memories are fights. Last year’s with Bryden Serafini was epic. This season it was a fight against Kailum Gervais in Yorkton that stands out. It may have been a draw but the fight sparked the North Stars who went on to win the game 4-0. That was before the long losing streak but they won the division by a point so those 2 early on the road in Yorkton, a very tough place to win, helped the Stars win the Kramer title. Greener is another guy who I will miss and I am glad he found his home as a North Star.

15 – Blake Young

November 19th. Deflection goal with less than a second left to tie a wild game with Kindersley that the Stars eventually won. Without that deflection they wouldn’t have had the points to win the division. The maturity that Young showed this season was noticeably higher than the previous season. His speed and strength and those bursts up the wing before powering to the net will always be remembered. The game he had in Melfort the night he committed to UMD was also a stand out game. The Stars won 4-2 with Young putting up an assist in an all around solid game.

16 – Jake Erickson

After Luke McColgan’s slick deke on a short handed rush against Melville in game 4 it was Erickson following up to score the goal that helped the Stars on the road to a 5-1 win avoiding elimination for one game at least. It was a great read and my favourite part was Erickson’s celebration. He started to celly then paused to make sure the goal was awarded and then broke out into celebration again. A good memory to go with plenty of others including his go to move of spinning away from pressure at the last second in his own zone before firing a pass out to a streaking forward.

17 – Regan Yew

The Stars blew a lead late in Estevan just after Yew was picked up. He then came into the lineup the next night and scored the tying goal in the third period versus Notre Dame. That was a goal that really helped turn the Stars season around. Moving forward he will play more center and has a great ability in the faceoff circle. His two goal game against Humboldt early in the new year also stands out.

18 – Brenden Heinrich

The night after Yew tied the game against Notre Dame it was Heinrich’s turn. He poked the puck off the stick of Weyburn goalie Rylan Parenteau’s stick and into the net. Heinrich’s first of the year wasn’t his nicest but it was huge as it helped the Stars get rolling in the right direction.

19 – Ryne Keller

The Stars had three really long winning streaks this season. One of them started just before January and began a 13 game win streak. Keller had a 6 game point streak in the midst of that win streak including 7 points overall in that stretch. He had a great game in La Ronge in a 5-3 win putting up 2 assists. He also had 7 points in January. What stands out though is that he was sick and didn’t make the trip to Kindersley. That was the only game of the season, the final one, that he missed. To play the style he does and only miss one game was incredible. I wish he had been on the bus home to celebrate that win and the Kramer Division title.

20 – Reed Delainey

This one is an obvious one. That goal in Notre Dame. After a heart breaking loss the night before against Estevan the Stars some how rebounded with an OT win in Notre Dame. Regan Yew tied the game in the third, as we mentioned earlier, and Dillon Forbes was able to set up Reed Delainey who scored the winner in OT. There must have been something in my eye that night or maybe some allergies because I had a tear in my eye after that goal. Delainey is going to be very good for the Stars in the long term.

21 – Jack Petrino

Petrino was a great addition for the North Stars with his penalty killing and face off prowess alone. He had a tough time getting going offensively this season but he did score some memorable goals. Until the final two games of the regular season the Stars only beat Kindersley once. It was Petrino who opened the scoring in that game on November 19th. A short handed break away and it was a beauty deke finish.

23 – Taylor Reich

The game winner against Kindersley that clinched the division title. Reich was a great pick up as a center with similar credentials to Petrino. He ended up with 10 goals as well. I was glad Reich became a North Star and that goal against the Klippers will never be forgotten.

24 – Jake McMillen

A two goal game late in the season versus Nipawin. The Stars pulled away in the third and McMillen scored on a deflection and then just a sick dangle coming out to the slot before firing home. It was all the things that McMillen is capable of and will bring more of next season. He scored a couple deflections in the playoffs as well. For a smaller guy he battles so well and goes to dirty areas. And as that goal against the Hawks showed he has unreal hands.

25 – Igor Leonenko

Igor came out of the gates quickly scoring 5 goals in his first 8 games including a 4 game goal streak when he found success against Melville and Yorkton. My favourite though was a beauty of a game winner in Nipawin as the Stars rolled to one of their biggest wins of the year. At the time it helped the Stars to a 4-5 record right before a long losing streak. But it was a great goal and a fun game to call in the Cage.

27 – Josh LaFramboise

LaFramboise came in as an ‘AP’ and had a two assist game against Humboldt. It’s always good beating the Broncos and Boisey along with Reed Delainey and Regan Yew have an unreal game as the Stars picked up 2 big points early in the new year. He is going to be a good player for the Stars moving forward and showed signs of being ready now when he got chances.

35 – Darren Martin

Came so close to getting his first career SJHL shutout against Notre Dame late in the season but let in a goal late on a dump in. You know he was upset about that. But about a week later the Stars needed to go 3 for 3 on a southern road trip and it was Martin stepping up in Notre Dame to pick up the third win of that weekend. He was huge that night and especially in the third period in a tight game with his mates looking tired. Getting that shutout, in his final start of the season, was a memorable moment.

There are so many others worth mentioning. Austin Evans’ goals and shootout winners. Casey Parker with his shutout in Yorkton. Robin Carlson’s big goal in Notre Dame. Matt Sheeran, Spencer Gosselin, Joren Johnson Alex Bechtold, Luke Lee Knight and Robbie Newton as well. All players who were with the Stars and played a role in their division title in their own different ways. Plus ‘AP’ goalie Ryan Rewerts. All players who were part of a great 2014.

Finally I want to thank all the players, coaches, staff, board members and fans of the North Stars for another wonderful season. Next year I will call a North Stars game for the first time without Dillon Forbes and Tanner Quinn on the team and it will be weird. Those guys are warriors. All the graduating players will be missed but never forgotten after a magical season.

Thanks to Matty Ryan for everything he does and everyone at the radio station. I had the best seat in the house to sit and watch the 2013-14 Kramer Division Champions!

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