2012-2013 North Stars Roster:
#1 – Michael Gudmandson
– Gudmanson is from Sherwood Park, Alberta and played last season in the KIJHL with the Oceanside Generals amongst some other stops. Gudmandson is listed at 5’10 and 181 pounds. The North Stars were looking for someone to backup Connor Creech and ultimately to push him as well. Gudmandson could be that guy. At times in camp he has looked very good. Positionally he seems similar to Creech in that he makes a lot of saves look routine because he plays the angles well. His numbers in midget AA were outstanding and his older brother was a VERY good Junior A goalie. At 19 perhaps Gudmandson is a bit of a late bloomer.
#1 – Casey Parker
– Parker played last season with his hometown team, the Regina Pat Canadians of the SMAAAHL, and posted solid numbers. He is listed on Elite Hockey Prospects at 5’8 and 134 pounds. I imagine he is a little bigger than that now. But he is a smaller goalie right now. The Regina Saskatchewan native is 17 years old and due to injury we saw very little of him in camp. The Stars began last season with 3 goalies. Creech beat out Jared Knott and ended up starting a bunch of playoff games. Anything can happen for one of these two goalies.
#39 – Connor Creech
– Creech is a returning player. The Lloydminster native is the starter for this team and will be relied on heavily at times. I think both Creech himself and the coaching staff are expecting him to have a very good season. Coach Hasselberg has mentioned that Creech should challenge to be the top goalie in the league. In camp he looked good. In fact I was a little surprised how sharp he looked when I saw him for the first time in a preseason game. For a big goalie who plays a positional game and makes spectacular saves look routine I thought maybe he’s would take some time to settle in and get back into the groove. It didn’t look like that was the case. Creech could be a big factor in this team’s success and I agree with the coaches. He is going to have a very good year. As a 20 year old he is also looking for a scholarship. I believe he should, and will, get one.
#10 – Matt Sheeran
– Sheeran was with the team last season although due to injury, and arriving on the team later in the season, he didn’t play a lot. From Victoria, BC and listed at 6’4 180lbs, Sheeran is a big D man. But he is also pretty mobile and handles the puck well. At times his passing seems off but I think he is a player who still tried to do too much at times. But as a 19 year old with just 17 games of Junior A experience he still has some learning to do. Sheeran though has a lot of ability and I like what he brings to the table.
#5 – Brody Luhning
– Luhning is a Lumsden native who has 73 points in 103 games as a North Star. At 20 years old Luhning will be a strong contender to lead the league in points by a D man and will be a large part of the North Stars at both ends of the ice and on the power play. The 6’1 170 pounder will also be a big part of the leadership core. So pretty much Luhning will be doing it all this season. I would bet a large amount of money that if healthy he wins the SJHL defense scoring race.
#25 – Evan Ripley
– Ripley is a 20 year old D man with 93 games of Junior A experience. A native of Kitimat, BC he is listed at a massive 6’5 210 pounds. And that may be on the light side. He is a big body, right hand shot, D man who likes to hit and levels players regularly. If he picks his spots well he will be an imposing figure on the Stars rearguard who will make forwards dread going into the corners. When paired with Dillon Forbes in camp there was a nice balance and physicality on the ice when they were out there. I think fans are going to really like with Ripley brings.
#6 – Cody Bird
– Bird is a Lloydminster native who played midget AAA last year for the Bobcats of the AMHL. He had 15 points in 30 games played. Bird may have surprised a few people in camp with his ability. At times he has been a little shaky in his own zone. But other times he has looked good. He skates well and so can get back to the puck and make a play quickly before the pressure gets to him. On offense he showed poise with the puck and sick hands. He sniped more than one beauty on offense during preseason. He’s young and may be in and out of the lineup because of the Stars depth on D now. When he is in the lineup expect to see him on the point on the power play. I know at least one D man on this list who loves the way Bird passes and is looking forward to ripping some one timers on the man advantage.
#4 – Dillon Forbes
– A native of the Battlefords Forbes is a physical player who tested very well in the fitness portion of camp. He is big and strong and played so very well last season on a pair a lot of the time with Travis Sparrow. With over 50 games under his belt at this level Forbes will likely develop into a top shut down guy in this league this year. The 19 year old is listed at 6’0 185lbs. He is very strong through and plays bigger than that.
#2 – Spencer Gosselin
– Another guy who is from Lloyd and played midget AAA last year for the Bobcats. Gosselin has been battling the injury bug throughout camp. The 18 year old had 18 points last season in the AMHL in 34 games played. Could be a very good two way D man, which would give the Stars a lot of those types, but I can’t give too much of a report since I haven’t seen him play yet.
#8 – Kyle Schmidt
– The newest member of the D is Schmidt. He was an AP with the Stars when he was 16 and practiced with the team but didn’t see any game action. Since then he has been playing in the WHL and played 61 games with the Blades last season. I am sure getting released from the team that is hosting the Memorial Cup in the spring was tough. But when I saw him he seemed to be taking it well and isn’t convinced his time in the WHL is over. He has been described as a two way D man, another one, who likes to jump in the rush at times but take care of his own end first. He was a plus 8 in 61 games last year in the WHL. He could be a very good player for the Stars. Not every player adjusts well to the SJHL but guys like Luhning and Braeden Johnson have done it so Schmidt will have some guidance if he wants it.
#14 – Ben Greenaway
– I wish Ben was healthy because I can’t wait to see what he does in a regular season game. In camp he was big and a decent skater who likes to hit but is smart about how and when he does hit. The Kelowna, BC native has 3 games of experience playing in the BCHL but so far has been at the Junior B level in BC. He will get a chance this year. The Stars like what he can bring. He chipped in with some offense in camp and could be a guy who plays all over the lineup. A net presence will be part of what he brings as well. Greenaway will be a crowd favourite once he gets back in the lineup. Right now he has a lower body injury and may be a few weeks away from playing.
#15 – Blake Young
– North Battleford native and like Dillon Forbes a former captain of the midget AAA Stars. Young is speedy and has decent size. Although he is still a little thin he plays an all around game. He will beat guys wide and power to the net and he forechecks well. He will win battles in the corner and emerge with the puck. Played 1 game last season as an ‘AP’ with the Stars and scored a goal. He also lit up the preseason. In one period alone against Humboldt at the Civic Center he had 3 points. Plays well in his own end as well. Should fill an energy role for the Stars and chip in offensively at times. Also, much like every other guy on the team as far as I have seen so far, Young is a very likeable young man.
#21 – Braeden Johnson
– Returning for his final season of junior is Johnny. The former Saskatoon Blazer played in the WHL for his hometown Blades as well. He has 64 games of WHL experience under his belt. In 70 games with the North Stars he has 65 points. When he is on he is a top offensive guy in the SJHL. But he struggled last season at times. Especially in the second half. I don’t expect that to happen again. He will be relied on to score for the Stars. Look for him to have a big year.
#23 – Brandon Long
– Acquired via trade in the off season Long is a Calgary native who played for Trail of the BCHL last season. In camp he looked electric at times. Uses a long stick and uses it well. He isn’t as fast as some of the guys he played with but he seems to know where to go at all time and that allows him to get there in plenty of time. Seemed to form some instant chemistry with Josh Betinol and Braeden Johnson. Struggled a little as a rookie in BC last year but I am told he had some injury concerns and may have been low on confidence. He should have plenty of confidence coming into this season. Coach Hasselberg has known Long going back to his days coaching in Alberta and he wanted to get Long on this team. That’s a vote of confidence in my eyes. Long has told me he likes it here already. Lets hope he likes scoring on SJHL goalies just as much.
#19 – Ryne Keller
– Ryno is returning for another season with the Stars after playing 55 games last season and putting up 7 goals and 7 assists. He is small at 5’7 and listed at 150 pounds. But he is from a hockey family. He has the instincts of a much older player. He thinks the game at a high level and plays a great center ice. Wins face-offs and takes care of his own zone. Keller also hits with abandon. He would like to add more offense this season to round out his game. At 17 Keller is still young for this league and this guy is a future captain of the North Stars. The Wilkie native gets lots of support at the rink for home games.
#3 – Tanner Quinn
– Winnipeg native who is similar to Keller in a lot of ways. A little bigger but still somewhat undersized Quinn is strong on his skates and plays a grinding role very well. He will go in the corners and win battles. He hits as well. Quinn had 16 points last season in 54 games and since he plays on a line with Keller a lot of the time he will also be looking to up the offensive output. Listed at 5’9 and 190 pounds. At times hem Keller and Newton dominated the puck in the offensive zone in camp. They will grind teams down leading to penalties and tiring out the D for when the more skilled lines hit the ice.
#24 – Jake McMillen
– McMillen was with the Yorkton Harvest last season but missed a large chuck of the season through injury. He hardly played in the second half of the season. The Stars picked him up in a trade that sent goalie Dawson MacAuley the other way. McMillen was nearly a point a game player in Midget and showed some good offensive flair when playing with Young and Carter Danzcak in preseason. Skates well but maybe needs to add some bulk and strength to reach his peak.
#7 – Josh Betinol
– Betinol has been a real out of nowhere player. At least for me. He is from Chestermere, Alberta (or Okotoks depending on the source) and played for the UFA Bisons last season. He also played 2 games in the AJHL as an affiliate player. Listed at 5’7 and 141lbs Betinol has speed to burn and may be the fastest player on the team and one of the fastest in the league. He linked up well with Brandon Long and put up a lot of points in preseason. I hadn’t heard of him until camp and I would think that most people around the SJHL who haven’t heard of him will be as blown away as I was when I first saw him. Another small guy but from what I have seen that doesn’t seem to limit his game. Some guys have to learn how to play at this level as a smaller player. He seems to have a natural ability for that aspect.
#27 – Nick Fountain
– Fountain is another Lloydminster AAA Bobcat who has joined the Stars. At 6’2 and 200lbs he is a Wainwright native. Put up 18 points in 31 games in midget last year while racking up 118 pims. He is a pest. He will get under people’s skin and he does it amazingly quickly. He also loves to go to the dirty areas and makes life hell for goalies. In other words a guy you would hate unless he’s on your team in which case you love the guy. Fans will take to him I think. The kind of player the Stars maybe didn’t have last season. Nice kid off the ice but on the ice it’s a different story.
#16 – Carter Danczak
– Danczak is a local kid who played for the AAA Stars last season. Danczak had 48 points in 44 games last season for the ‘trips’ and 1 assist in his lone game as an ‘AP’ with the North Stars. Has great hands and innate offensive instincts. I mean he put up a lot of points on a team last year that at times struggled to get out of it’s own zone. He needs to continue to learn to play in his own end. And he has to be stronger on the puck and cut out the blind passes. But I believe he has WHL level offensive ability. It remains to be seen if that translates to the SJHL. North Stars fans will be hoping it does. Played a lot with Young and McMillen in camp and that line at times looked outstanding.
#22 – Kyle Hall
– Another of the returning players Hallzy is another speed demon. The 20 year old from Assiniboia had 37 points last year in 57 games. Showed great durability last season despite being 5’10 and around 160. But he would tell you he wasn’t consistent enough offensively. Did add a lot to his game though. He wins face-offs and plays great in his own end. But he will be relied on to score for this team. Has the ability to be among the league leaders in goals and maybe even points. He’s also looking for a scholarship. A big year for Hall will be a big year for the North Stars. Will help out big time on the PP, and PK if needed, this season.
#11 – Roger Tagoona
– Tagoona was picked up via trade early last season and ended up playing 38 games for the Stars in the regular season and put up 19 points. He is also a legend in these parts after his OT winner in game 7 against Nipawin in front of 2,500 plus fans at the Civic Center. Tagoona is 20 years old and a native of Rankin Island. He is listed at 6’0 and 181 pounds but came into camp this season in much better shape. I have heard that he has been a new man on and off the ice this season. He is vocal and will be a part of the leadership of this team. Tagoona has great hands and a very good shot. He wasn’t happy with his offensive production last season and he wants to fix that this season. I wouldn’t bet against him. When he is on his game he does things most players wouldn’t even think to try. He is very fun to watch.
#9 – Austin Evans
– Evans is a Whistler, BC born player. I have never hid the fact that I love BC, it is my homeland afterall, and Whistler is a particular favourite. Evans is another smallish guy with great speed and good hands. He played in the BCHL two seasons ago as a 16 year old getting into 47 games with the Cowichan Valley Capital on Vancouver Island. He spent most of last season in Fernie, BC playing Junior B and scoring near a point a game clip. Having that Junior A experience in BC will help Evans and will likely motivate him as well. He wanted to come here after a recruiting visit last season. He is a guy who could help carry the load offensively. He ‘fought’ in Humboldt in preseason because he wanted the coaches to know he wouldn’t back down from a challenge. His challenge is to get in the lineup consistently and score points consistently. As a fellow BC boy I hope he does it.
#17 – Rob Newton
– Newts is a Saskatoon native and another veteran coming back to the team as a 19 year old. He is listed at 6’2 and 175 but maybe a little bigger than that. Newton had 1 goal last season, and it was memorable, and will score more this season. He has decent hands but at times has seemed to be snake bit offensively. But that’s also not his role. He is part of what will likely be an energy/checking type line that will hopefully chip in offensively. Tomorrow will be his 100th regular season game with the North Stars already. So he could get to 200 by the end of his career if he stays healthy. Was near a point a game player in midget AAA in Saskatoon. Will he be an unlikely break out star this season? Or one of the league’s elite defensive forwards? I would bet on the latter. Another of a strong contingent of good young men from a good family.
#12 – Luke McColgan
– Came to the Stars from Manhattan Beach, California by way of the Saskatoon Blades. He was invited to Blades camp kind of late in the process and didn’t get into a game. His brother Shane is a Blades player which is likely how he was noticed by the Blades. But when he was released he came to the Stars and has impressed so far. Fast and with good hands, where have you heard that before, McColgan showed flashes of having elite scoring ability. That’s a best case scenario for McColgan and the Stars. Likely he will adjust to this level of hockey and at times show flashes of that scoring touch. The 17 year old doesn’t have flashy numbers from his days with the LA Kings U17 team. But wasn’t always healthy from what I have been told. Has a little bit of pest in him as well.
– I wish I could tell you more about Serafini on the ice. But I haven’t seen him much as he has been hurt. An 18 year old from Baldwinton Saskatchewan he had 17 points in Junior B last season along with over 100PIMS. A former Battleford Star he also has 1 game of WHL experience on his resume as an AP when he was with the Pat Canadians. More of a 4th line grinder/physical guy Serafini seems like a great kid off the ice. Hopefully he is now, or will soon be, healthy enough to play.
The Stars lost a lot of players from last year’s team including the league’s MVP. There has been a lot of work done behind the scenes to replace those players. And this year’s team looks pretty strong. I like the depth and the speed in particular. Will they struggle to score? I am less worried about that than I was at the start of camp. I don’t know a lot about the teams in the SJHL at this point as it’s early on in the process. And I am basing a lot of this on preseason games which don’t always reveal everything about a player. So I guess what I am saying is I am trying to be balanced and fair and not get overly excited about this year’s team. But I think they have looked good so far. I think they have some great pieces in place.
I am cautiously optimistic that the North Stars this season will be one of the top teams in the Bauer and in the SJHL in general.
I will have more on tomorrow’s game against Kindersley tomorrow.