North Stars make some trades

The countdown is on to hockey season. It’s roughly one month until North Stars training camp will open and the Stars have made a few trades.

Stars head coach and GM Kevin Hasselberg has re-acquired forward Nick Fountain from Abitibi of the NOHJL. Fountain played two games for the Stars last season before being traded to Winkler. Hasselberg says Fountain will help the team in numerous ways including in the locker room. Fountain is a great kid who I enjoyed meeting last season and I look forward to seeing him again here at the end of August. He’s also a player who really wants to be a part of the Stars organization and is well liked by his team mates. Fountain is going to do whatever it takes to be a part of the North Stars. He will do whatever it takes to make his team better. And he is the type of player and person that every team needs.

The Stars also picked up 6’3″ 18 year old forward Robin Carlson from the Lloydminster Bobcats. Carlson battled injuries in his rookie season but does have offensive upside and is a player the Stars have been following for some time. Hasselberg told me he likes Carlson’s size and that the young player’s challenge is to use that size effectively. He put up really good offensive numbers in Midget and is a player who could come to the team and provide some scoring. The Stars recruited Carlson before he decided to stay in Alberta. This is a player that Hasselberg has watched a lot. The Stars head coach and GM told me that Carlson comes highly recommended and they are very happy to have added him to the fold.

Both trades were for future considerations.

The Stars also traded 20 year old forward Brandon Long to Drayton Valley of the AJHL for futures. Hasselberg says Long was caught up in a numbers game as the team is carrying too many 20 year olds. Long had 10-goals and 17-assists in 48-games for the Stars last season. This is the tough part of this time of year. Long is a very intelligent young man. He also scored some of the nicest goals last season using that great wrist shot. I had several really good chats with his dad who was at a lot of games. Long is from the Calgary area so he will be closer to home and his family will have more of a chance to see him play in his final season but he will be missed. It was nice getting to know Brandon and we all wish him the best in DV. Hopefully he rips it up in the AJHL. The Stars picked up futures from Drayton Valley in that trade.

Carlson and Fountain will now face the task of having to make the North Stars. No player is guaranteed a spot on this team and I know the Stars have done a lot of recruiting. After last season’s playoff exit, the players and staff are hungry to have a bounce back season. It’s going to be competitive, intense and extremely fun to watch. But more on that later.

Training camp opens the final week of August. I will have a preview later this week.

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North Stars Release Schedule

One of the best days of the year is the day that the North Stars new schedule is sent to my email and i get to plan for the upcoming season. That happened on Friday but due to the long weekend I wasn’t able to dive into the schedule until this morning. And it’s an interesting one to look over.

First of all I have to say how exciting it is to once again be broadcasting all the North Stars games this season. All 56 games home and away will be live on CJNB/CJNS. It’s a great honour to be the voice of this team in this great community and I can’t wait to get started on the new season. It says a lot about this team and this area that we are able to broadcast every game. Other teams may start copying us but because of the fan support, the board of the Stars and the staff here at the radio stations I will get to broadcast every single regular season and playoff game this season. Very few teams in Junior ‘A’ hockey in this country can say that. Very few. And we are doing it for a second straight year. Thank you to everyone who has made that possible.

The North Stars will play Kindersley 8 times this season as those teams are rivals. The Stars other divisional rivals, thanks to re-alignment, will be Humboldt and Notre Dame. The Stars will face those two teams 6 times each. Flin Flon and La Ronge were chosen as the Stars “close” rivals and so the Stars will face those two teams 6 times each as well. That leaves 4 games against Nipawin, Melfort, Yorkton, Melville, Estevan and Weyburn. In total a 56 games schedule.

The season opens in Kindersley on September 20th with the Stars home opener at the Civic Center coming the next night, Saturday September 21st. Those two teams will also play a home and home to end the season on February 28th and March 1st.

The season gets off to an interesting start for the North Stars this season. They will begin with 8 of their first 10 games on the road. And they face Melville and Yorkton 5 times in their first 7 games.In fact the Stars make their two trips south to face Yorkton and Melville in the first couple weeks of the season. That will be a great chance for the team to build chemistry and do some bonding.

The Stars first game against Humboldt comes on October 20th and their first game against Notre Dame is on Saturday November 2nd.

As we know the Battlefords to Flin Flon is one of the longer bus rides of the season. The Stars first meeting with the Bombers is on November 23rd at the Civic Center. The Stars head to Flin Flon a few nights later when they make a mid-week trip North. Tuesday November 26th the Stars are in Flin Flon and they face La Ronge the next night at the Mel.

Probable the game that I am most excited about right now is on Saturday January 18th. That’s Hockey Day in Saskatchewan. The days events will be hosted by St Walburg, a town that is about 130 kms North East of the Battlefords. The main event of the day will be when the Stars take on Notre Dame at St Walburg Arena at 7:30.

Overall there are a few interesting quirks to the schedule, as there are every season, and I would imagine there is no team in the league that is 100% happy with how things turned out. That’s the way it goes. 56 games for each team with factors like arena availability, travel, a new divisional set up and more. It’s an incredibly tough job and I wouldn’t want to have to do it.

The Stars get off to a tough start with a lot of games on the road against good teams. And due to geography there are long bus trips to Flin Flon and La Ronge. That’s the nature of junior hockey though and every team faces difficulties with travel.

The most important thing is that the schedule is now made and excitement can build for the coming season.