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