The Roster

Forwards: (Returning) Tanner Quinn, Austin Evans, Luke McColgan, Ben Greenaway, Blake Young, Robbie Newton, Ryne Keller, Josh Betinol, Jake McMillen
(New) Jack Petrino, Robin Carlson, Brenden Heinrich, Igor Leonenko, Reed Delainey, Nick Fountain (sort of), Troy Petrick

Defense: (Returning) Matt Sheeran, Kyle Schmidt, Dillon Forbes, Spencer Gosselin, Kendall Fransoo, Joren Johnson
(New) Jake Erickson, Braden Lacoursiere, Latrell Charleson

Goalies: (Returning) Casey Parker
(New) Luke Lee-Knight, Darren Martin

The North Stars are incredibly deep up front with almost all of the 15 forwards having Junior A experience. Youngster Reed Delainey won a spot on the team with his strong play this season. The Edam native will be fun to watch. The other player without Junior A experience is Igor. All-in-all this is a deep, big, and fast forward group. Returning players like McMillen, McColgan, Evans, Young and Betinol should all take a nice step forward this season. With Petrino and Carlson added to the mix with the Reed and Igor this looks on paper to be a lineup that can score at any time no matter which line is on the ice.

The D is BIG. Jake Erickson is the only player under 6 feet tall. And Erickson is solid, skates well and is very strong on the puck. Latrell Charleson is new but has size and has played in the BCHL so has experience at this level. Led by Forbes and Schmidt this group will be very tough to play against. Youth comes from Lacoursiere (who saw some time last season as an AP) and Fransoo. Gosselin and Johnson are capable of providing offense from the point. A healthy and confident Matt Sheeran will make this one of the most well rounded groups in the league.

Goaltending looks to be a real strength. Casey Parker is back and a year older and more confident. He looked very good in preseason when I saw him which admittedly wasn’t much. But looked confident and with his ability and technique it is shaping up to be a good year. Darren Martin is new but showed well enough that he is still with the team and the youngster has plenty of talent. Luke Lee-Knight had sparkling numbers last season in limited action with Humboldt. Spent most of the past couple season in the WHL.

The SJHL preseason power rankings (which no offense to anyone really are meaningless) have the North Stars at number 2. Just behind Yorkton the defending champs. That means I’m not the only one who has noticed the group that has been put together here. As always with a Kevin Hasselberg coached team, with help from throughout the organization and from assistant coach Blair Atcheynum, this is a good group of young men who already seem to be coming together well. I have no doubt this is a group of players that has a chance to be a contender. Now it’s time to go out and put in the work. No one’s going to give the Stars anything. They will have to go out and take it.

Storylines:

1) Redemption – Last season did not end the way the Stars would have wanted. That early playoff exit was a shock and something that the Stars have worked hard all off season to try and bounce back from. Hasselberg, Atch, the board, Michelle Beatty and everyone else in the organization always puts in an incredible amount of work. But this offseason there seems to have been an extra level of determination. Coach Hasselberg wants redemption and has gone out and put together a very good team to try and get it.

2) The Schedule – The North Stars early schedule is tough Plenty of road games. A couple early trips to Yorkton and Melville. Something like 9 of their first 12 on the road. That will test this team and I am sure that early schedule had something to do with the North Stars preseason preparations. Plenty of travel and road games was a chance to help this team come together as quickly as possible and to prepare for the road trips. The Stars get a couple early looks at the Yorkton Terriers as well. Those will be good early tests to see where this team is at. The Stars will also get a couple of lengthy home stands including one leading up to Christmas which will hopefully see the team reel off home wins and huge home holiday crowds.

3) The Americans – Luke McColgan, Jack Petrino, Jake Erickson and even Igor Leonenko (dual citizen) give the Stars 4 Americans on this year’s team. I am excited to see what the 3 new comers do this season as well as what McColgan will get up to in his second year in the SJHL. He could be primed for a big year as perhaps the top two way forward in the league. The North Stars also have 6 players from BC as well. Which is always fine with me.

4) The Kramer Division – New divisions in the SJHL this season. The North Stars with Kindersley, Humboldt and Notre Dame. It will be interesting to track the new league set up and playoff scenarios. And of course the North Stars rivalry with Kindersley is going to be a beauty all season long.

 

Once again this season all regular season and playoff games will be broadcast live on CJNB/CJNS. Myself, along with Matty Ryan, will be on hand to bring all the action. You can tune in online at http://www.cjnb.com and I encourage everyone to get involved during the games. If you have a question or comment send them along here at the blog or on Twitter.

I’ve made a new intro for this season. There are new sponsors on board (and a big thank you to all the local sponsors who allow us to broadcast these games) and it’s going to be a great season. It’s like Christmas eve and I can’t wait to open my presents! The season opens tomorrow night in Kindersley starting with the Battlefords Co-op Pregame show. NorSask Farm Equipment North Stars hockey is on the air waves starting at 7:15.

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