I always have a tough time sitting down and writing these blog posts after the season comes to an end. There is so much to remember and so many things to say that I end up not being able to get it all down right away.
This past season the North Stars were never able to get their entire roster on the ice at the same time. Starting with Jake McMillen in fall camp, and followed by Igor Leonenko during the first game of pre-season, the North Stars never had a fully healthy roster. Brock Weston missed time. Reed Delainey, Matt Saharchuk, Brady O’Sullivan, Jake Erickson, Logan Nachtegaele and others all missed time with injuries.
So we never truly got to see what the North Stars could have been had they been healthy.
But we know what they were with the injuries and that is a team with heart. All season long and through the playoffs I never heard a player make an excuse. Blame the injuries. Or feel bad about the circumstances. They simply put their heads down and went to work.
The team was ranked pretty high early in the season thanks in part to a hot start. They were battling with Kindersley for top spot in the division. Then they hit a tough patch and really struggled through some adversity. But again no excuses were ever made.
I think that the Stars did well to go as far as they did in the post-season with the injuries that they faced although they maybe should have finished off the Bruins sooner. I also think that if they had won game 2 versus Kindersley that would have been a different series.
The performances of Nick Fountain, Brenden Heinrich, Michael Statchuk and Spencer Tremblay were tremendous down the stretch and into the post-season. Jake Erickson as well but he wasn’t on the ice as much in playoffs as the Stars needed. That was a key loss.
What a wild season it was too. Taurean White left to take over as a head coach. The Stars ended up brining on Braeden Johnson and he did a tremendous job to help the Stars right the ship late in the season.
The North Stars young players that are eligible to return give hope for a great season starting in September with fall camp. Weston, Connor Vermeulen, Jake Calverley and the pair of Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych give the Stars a solid base. Another year of Ryan Rewerts will give the Stars a stable presence in goal. And they return a bunch of offense. The top line of Saharchuk, O’Sullivan and Delainey could be joined by Jake McMillen, Igor Leonenko, Bryce Hall, Matt Havens, and Jordan Townsend. Jackson Bond could also return. Plus energy guys like Baxter Kanter, Otto Mitchell and Logan Nachtegaele.
Then there are guys who could join from the midget AAA ranks and we saw some of those guys this season when they were ‘APs’. Guys like Troy Gerein and Layne Young. Cody Spagrud and Levi Kleiboer. There are more as well. I think this team could be set up to be flat out dominant next season.
They may want to get a little bigger and maybe a little more veteran presence on the back end. But they could be scary good.
And if they are that good next year it will be in part because of the lessons learned this season.
But if I am thinking back on this season for the North Stars I can’t help but think about Logan Nachtegaele and what he, and his family, went through. The way Logan and his mom handled everything was amazing. I don’t think I will ever stop being impressed by that young man.
The way the community rallied around them was remarkable. The way the team came together in support as well. It tells me so much about the North Stars family, the people they recruit and develop and this community as a whole. I’m proud to be affiliated with this community and this team. It’s board, staff, volunteers and fans as well as the players are all first rate.
I’d rather lose as a North Star fan than win with anyone else.