(Article submitted by Martin Martinson/BattlefordsNow.com)
The Battlefords North Stars made headlines across the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Tuesday, with the announcement of the return of 2023 SJHL MVP, Top Scorer, and Player of the Year, Kian Bell.
Bell led all players with 54 goals and 102 points in just 51 games last season and added a playoff-high 16 goals and 25 points in 13 post-season games to lead the North Stars in scoring on their run to the SJHL championship.
Bell, who started the season with Charlottetown of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, before being picked up by the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League in mid-September, said he’s looking forward to the opportunity ahead to return to the Battlefords to cap off his junior hockey career as a 20-year-old this season.
“I’m super pumped and it was a really good feeling to get back in the rink and see some of the new faces and get to be around the guys from the championship team last year, so I think it’s a great mix and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Among his standout milestones from a season ago saw Bell become the first North Stars’ player in over 30 years to hit the 50-goal plateau, and just the sixth player in franchise history to eclipse the mark. He not only swept the SJHL awards but was also a finalist for CJHL MVP as well.
Head coach and general manager of the North Stars, Brayden Klimosko couldn’t help but let out a smile when asked about getting the dynamic winger back in the lineup.
“I think we can squeeze him in on our power play,” Klimosko said with a nudge and a wink. “He should help the 12 per cent [effectiveness] it’s at now, and he’s going to be a huge boost all around and the guys are excited to have him, so we’re definitely welcoming him in with open arms.”
Bell will don his familiar #27 jersey from a season ago, the same number as his uncle: North Stars alumni and all-time leading scorer, Martin Smith.
Bell is expected to be in the lineup for the North Stars’ next game, Thursday night in Weyburn against the Weyburn Red Wings. The game will kick off the Battlefords’ first three-in-three road swing through southern Saskatchewan this season.