The Battlefords North Stars made relatively short work in capturing their first Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship in 17 years outscoring their opponents 63-25 in winning all 12 games they played in the post-season.
The North Stars’ top two offensive players from the regular season – Coby Downs and Layne Young – were front and center in the playoffs amassing impressive 25 and 23-point totals, respectively, but it was Keaton Holinaty who lead the way in goal production as the overage forward potted 10 goals in the 12-game sweep enroute to claiming the championship.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Holinaty certainly found a home in the Battlefords this year as the just-turned 21-year-old had career bests in every category in his final year of junior hockey.
The Hardisty, Alta., product played in 56 regular-season games with the North Stars netting 20 goals and setting up 15 others. In 98 games with the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League during the previous two seasons, Holinaty managed just seven goals and 16 helpers offering moderate expectations when he first arrived in the Battlefords last fall.
Being on one of the most explosive teams in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League, Holinaty was given opportunities in every situation and he answered the call admirably scoring 12 goals while playing with the man advantage in the regular season and adding four more on the power play in the playoffs.
Prior to embarking on his junior career, Holinaty spent two seasons at the Midget AA level in Wainwright, Alta., where he more than held his own scoring 53 goals and assisting on 30 more in just 55 regular-season games. Holinaty also spent one season with the Camrose Midget Kodiaks where again he showed his offensive capabilities collecting 33 points in 38 games.
The North Stars continue their quest for an RBC championship this weekend when they begin play at the Western Canada Cup in Penticton and they will need continued secondary scoring from players like Holinaty to secure one of the two berths available for the national tournament in Cobourg, Ont., early next month.
The last time the Battlefords North Stars won a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship Logan Nachtegaele was just three years old, but now 17 years later the homegrown forward is playing a key role in helping the club continue its quest for a national title.
The 6-foot, 180-pound winger played in 46 games with the North Stars during the regular season, his third with the team, and while his numbers paled to those of others on the club Nachtegaele had three game-winning tallies and provided plenty of support for a team that was by far the best defensively in the entire league.
Nachtegaele finished the regular campaign with seven goals and eight assists, but in the playoffs he has upped his level of play by registering seven points in 12 post-season tilts.
Nachtegaele has been a mainstay in his hometown for his entire career having played 129 games over the last three years with the North Stars and prior to that there was one season with the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League preceded by a campaign with the Battlefords Barons of the Centre-Four Hockey League Midget AA loop.
Always a role player, Nachtegaele has performed his duties very admirably at every level and the North Stars will be relying on him to continue doing what he does best as they prepare to take the next step towards a national championship when they open the Western Canada Cup in Penticton on Saturday against the host British Columbia Hockey League champions.