(Article Courtesy Martin Martinson/BattlefordsNow.com)
It will be a milestone game Friday (Feb 10th) night for the longest-tenured player on the Battlefords North Stars, Steven Kesslering.
A fan-favorite, and the Stars’ motor from his earliest days with the club, Kesslering will play game number 150 of his SJHL career, all spent with the North Stars, when the team head to Notre Dame to bring in the weekend.
When @SJHL_NorthStars forward, Steven Kesslering takes to the ice Friday night in Wilcox, he will do so for his 150th career game in @theSJHL! ⭐️🔥
Kesslering’s teammates had this to say for #24 heading into game #150!
(🎥: @MartyMartyPxP1) pic.twitter.com/hD7fp29NuO
— North Stars (@SJHL_NorthStars) February 10, 2023
Kesslering will be the lone Stars’ player to reach 150 career games this season, and just the second to hit the milestone in the last two years, joining former linemate Dylan Esau in 2021-22.
Even more impressive, if not for the lost 2020-21 campaign due to the pandemic, the product of Viceroy, SK., would now be primed to eclipse the 200-game plateau.
Kesslering said heading into game 150, now in his fifth year with the team, what stands out most is just how fast the time has flown.
“I wouldn’t have expected it to come up this quick,” Kesslering said with a smile. “It’s kind of snuck up on me, but it’s been a great four years here and a great time with those 150 games.”
After making his SJHL debut playing a single game with the Stars back in the 2018-19 season, Kesslering broke in full-time as a 17-year-old in 2019-20.
Hitting the ground running with a goal in just his second game and three points through his first four, Kesslering fit in immediately, thriving within the Stars’ fast-paced system.
As the youngest player on the roster, Kesslering finished his first year leading the team in rookie scoring with 15 points (7G, 8A) in 43 games. For his efforts, he was also named to the SJHL’s U18 team for the SJHL/MJHL Showcase, and selected as the Stars’ Rookie of the Year at the team’s year-end awards banquet.
Following the canceled ’20-21 season, Kesslering didn’t break stride in 2022, finishing third in team points (46) and tied for first in goals (23), while being the lone Stars’ player to play all 58 games.
Now, with 11 games still to go in the ’22-23 regular season, and career game number 150 straight ahead, Kesslering has already set a new career-high with 25 goals for fourth in the league this season, while his 45 points are 10th overall and just a single back of his high-water mark set last year.
Perhaps best symbolizing Kesslering’s continued growth as a player was his dominant showing at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase last week, this time as a veteran with Sask’s U-20 Team Gold.
Kesslering scored two goals (including this one) and three points in two games at the event, while also looking at times like a man amongst boys with his explosive stride and brash physical play. That, combined with his offensive production, earned him Player of the Game honours on opening day.
As he looks back on the last 149 games, with number 150 in the crosshairs, Kesslering said he can’t help but also look ahead to what he hopes to be a lengthy playoff run, competing for a league championship to cap the junior career.
“The team’s always been really good and we’ve seen a lot of success up here, so hopefully we can see the team finish strong and be playing our best as we head into the playoffs and go for a long playoff run,” he said.
Friday’s game at Notre Dame will be available on 1050 CJNB.