Training Camp Day 1

The Battlefords North Stars first day of training camp is in the books. I had a chance to get down to the rink for some of the on ice sessions as there were two practices. The players have been split up into two teams, white and black, and each team skated this afternoon. They will play a couple of scrimmages tomorrow.

First thing I should mention is the news regarding Tanner Schwab. Schwab has decided not to return for his 20 year old season and for lack of a better way of putting it has retired from junior hockey. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Tanner about the decision. Coach Hasselberg said that the North Stars wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He also said they will have to move on and try to fill that spot in the lineup.

For me personally it’s too bad because Schwab is a good kid and a guy who could have had a big season. He’s also a local kid and it is always nice having players from the Battlefords representing the North Stars. After losing Brett Miller, Blake Tatchell and Boyd Wakelin from last season’s squad the North Stars now lose another local product. And of course Jared Samborski retired due to injury. So that’s 5 local players from last years team, 2 of whom were eligible to return, who won’t be back this season.

The North Stars may miss Tanner’s offense this season. But junior hockey is a grind. A lot of bus travel. A lot of work with practices and everything else. I think you need a lot of passion to play junior hockey and if that passion goes away it’s tough. So I would like to echo the North Stars and wish Schwabby the best moving forward. Hopefully this works out well for both the North Stars and Schwab.

And the North Stars will have to move forward. One guy who could benefit is Brandon Long. He was acquired via trade earlier this offseason. He looked sharp on the ice today and I am looking forward to seeing more of him as the weekend moves along. In fact all of the returning guys looked sharp today. Which isn’t a shock. They knew what to expect and what was expected of them and they didn’t disappoint. It was good to see Roger Tagoona, Braeden Johnson, Kyle Hall, Tanner Quinn, Robbie Newton and Ryne Keller up front. And on the back end Dillon Forbes and Matt Sheeran. It was also good to see Grayden Turner. He was in and out of the lineup last season for the Stars and finished the season playing Junior ‘B’. Turner is back again this season to try and cement a place on the team full time.

It’s VERY early but everyone of the returning players I spoke with, and the coaching staff as well, liked what they saw on the ice today.

Two returning players who were not on the ice were Connor Creech and Brody Luhning. Both guys had some personal matters to attend to and will be here in the next few days. Creech will be in town Sunday and Luhning sometimes in the middle of next week. Of course last season the North Stars started the season without Luhning who was with the Pats. I believe Robbie Newton was another guy who was in a WHL camp at the start of last season. There are some guys who could come to the North Stars if they don’t make their WHL teams. But I don’t have any names on that front at this point.

Tomorrow is a big day. There are spots available on this team. And with a couple of scrimmages there are players out there who will be looking to impress. I will have more sometime tomorrow and I will do my best to get a little more info on some of the new faces in camp.

North Stars camp begins today

I certainly don’t envy hockey players on the first day of training camps. The North Stars will undergo fitness testing this morning before a couple of practices later on today. Scrimmages, more testing and practice will follow tomorrow and Sunday. The full training camp schedule is up at http://www.northstars.ca

When I spoke with Coach Hasselberg last week he spoke about how important the next few days are for the North Stars. A lot of work will be done on and off the ice to try and put together the best roster possible for the upcoming season. The midget AAA Stars will run camp in conjunction with the North Stars. Coach Martin Smith and his program will see benefits from practicing and being around the older players. For the North Stars it’s a chance to see some of the player who might make up their roster in the future. Coach Hasselberg said he likes the energy that having the AAAs there will bring.

Obviously for me personally I am looking forward to seeing some of the guys from last year’s team. I want to see who really steps up offensively. Tanner Schwab, Braeden Johnson, Kyle Hall and Roger Tagoona are all guys I am going to watch closely.

On D Matt Sheeran and Dillon Forbes will be looking to step up. And then there’s the leadership roles. Robbie Newton could be in line for a big year.

Plus there are new guys like Brandon Long and former Stars like Blake Young to watch as well.

The battle to backup Connor Creech will be interesting as well. And let’s face it whoever gets the job will be looking to do what Creech did last season. That’s make the team and then challenge for the starting spot. Creech comes in as the number 1 but he knows better than anyone that Coach Hasselberg isn’t adverse to goalies sharing the load.

Will there be a young guy step up and make this team like Ryne Keller did last season? Someone that isn’t expected to crack the lineup this year but is just too good in camp to not get a look once the regular season starts? There are a lot of questions heading into any hockey season and I can’t wait to get down to the rink and see if some of them start to get answered.

Training Camp Begins on Friday

The Battlefords North Stars season ended on Sunday March 25th when Kameron Ballas scored early in the first OT of game 6 between the North Stars and the Humboldt Broncos. Training camp will begin on Friday August 31st at 11am when players will be put through fitness testing to see how well their offseason training programs went. That’s 152 days, by my count, between when the 2011-12 season ended and when the new 2012-13 season begins. I wish I new where that time went.

But with the exciting news that I will be broadcasting ever single game this season I have recently found myself very energized about the coming season. I can’t wait to get down to the rink to see what this year’s team might look like.

I spoke with Coach Hasselberg on the phone yesterday and if you caught the sports at noon yesterday on CJNB/CJNS you will have heard some of the comments. For those that didn’t I will quickly recap what coach had to say. Coach said he was happy with the recruits that are coming to camp and that he thinks they will have a lot of competition to make this team. When I asked him what a kid would have to do to stand out and to show they have what it takes to be a North Stars he said it would take three things. They have to be in shape and ready to compete. They have to show they can pick up new systems quickly and they have to be a good fit within the locker room and the community. Knowing Coach Hasselberg I am sure he will be evaluating a lot of things about every player but those are the three main aspects that he highlighted.

Other notes about training camp this year:

The first couple days will feature the AAA Stars and I believe some members of the Female AAA Sharks as well. The North Stars like the dynamic that brings early in camp plus it’s a chance to have a good strong relationship with the AAA teams in town. And of course it is in the North Stars best interests to know that the midget team is developing good local players who can help the North Stars in the future.

Players have already begun arriving in town and plenty more are on their way. Of course guys like Tanner Schwab and Dillon Forbes were here all along. And Connor Creech doesn’t have far to come. But others like Matt Sheeran, Roger Tagoona and Tanner Quinn have to come from pretty far away. Plus I am willing to bet any money that there will be a couple guys at camp from further afield.

Coach Hasselberg told me the billet situation for the coming season is pretty good. But he also said the Stars can always use another couple beds. If you are interested in helping out contact the Stars office. http://www.northstars.ca will have contact info.

The new athletic therapist, a new position that is just another sign of the strong place this organization is currently in, will be here by the time camp begins. Michelle Beatty will be a big addition to the staff of the North Stars. I am looking forward to meeting her and to catching up with Coach Atcheynum as well.

2012-13 North Stars Broadcast Schedule

This is the most excited I have ever been to write a blog post. I’m very happy to announce this season’s Broadcast Schedule for the North Stars on CJNB 1050AM in the Battlefords and CJNS 102.3 in Meadow Lake. The games will also be streaming at http://www.cjnb.com.

So here is the broadcast schedule: Every single game this season will be live on the radio.

That’s right. All 54 games, 27 home and 27 away, will be live with me in the booth and Matty Ryan back in the studio. We are working on some new contests and features as well to make this year’s broadcast even better than last year.

For the 2012-13 season if the North Stars are playing a regular season game you will be able to hear it on the radio. I may be biased but I think this is great news for the community and the North Stars. I doubt there are many, if any, Junior A teams in the country who are on the radio for every single home and away game. Lots of them are never on the radio when they are at home and some are preempted by bingo. (that’s not a joke it happens)

I can’t think the North Stars enough for this opportunity. They had to be on board to make this happen. Also all of the sponsors and fans of the North Stars. Packing 2,200+ people into the Civic Center for the playoffs last season has put the North Stars in a very strong position in many ways and I can’t help but think that strength has helped make this announcement possible.

To everyone at CJNB/CJNS who is helping make this happen as well, and especially Matty Ryan who will be a huge part of this season’s games, I can’t thank them enough. Carl, Betty and the sales team here are a big part of me being able to do this job that I love so much.

Training camp beings in one week and the season starts on September 21st in Kindersley. I can’t wait. And I will have more on training camp later today or early tomorrow.

Almost time

I hope you’ve all been enjoying your summer so far. I know I have. It’s been nice to be away from the rink and away from the blog. I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach and at the golf course as well as making some trips to Oregon, BC and Alberta. But it’s just about time to get things going again and get back into hockey full time.

There are some exciting things to come this season. In the next week or two we will be finalizing the North Stars broadcast schedule and releasing that information. I’m 99% sure about how many games I will be doing this season and as soon as I am 100% sure and given the go ahead I will release that info. I think you will be excited about this year’s schedule. I know I am. We are also working on some new features, formats, and contests for the games on CJNB/CJNS. Again some changes I am very excited to be bringing to North Stars fans this season.

Of course the North Stars open up training camp on August 31st at the Civic Center. They will then play 5 pre-season games before getting back into regular season SJHL action. That means I will be firing up the blog here again soon. Check here for lots of content throughout training camp and of course the regular season.

I hope you all enjoyed your summer and are enjoying what is left of it. Hockey season starts in less than two weeks.