Written by: Martin Martinson
The Battlefords North Stars have been recognized for their sizzling start to the preseason, in the first Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) Top 20 Rankings of the year.
The Stars were ranked second to only the Spruce Grove Saints (5-2 through seven preseason games) of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) on the list, which features just one other team from Saskatchewan – The Notre Dame Hounds, at the 12th spot.
The Brooks Bandits of the AJHL, Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), and Navan Grads of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) round out the top five in the rankings released Tuesday.
The North Stars are currently 4-0-1 with their lone preseason defeat coming via a shootout to La Ronge, Sunday.
Through their first five exhibition games, the Stars have outscored their opposition by a combined 29–18 margin for a 5.8 goal-per-game average.
More impressive yet, however, has been the depth of offense the team has shown already with 17 different players to have registered at least a single tally.
Veteran Ryland McNInch leads the team with four goals, followed by rookie phenom, Holden Doell, and defenceman turned forward, Zane Florence with three apiece.
Five other players have scored twice, including forwards Tanner Klimpke, Ryder Kenyon, Bradley Blake, and Colby Bear, as well as blue liner Wilson Steele.
Another nine have one tally apiece, as Dylan Esau, Steven Kesslering, KT Walters, Daniel Thiessen, Easton Rask, Ethan Scriven, Emmitt Wurst, Aiden Arnold, and Jace Bymoen have also contributed with a goal on the board.
Head coach of the Stars, Brayden Klimosko said while they won’t put too much stock in the preseason ranking, it also doesn’t hurt to get the team’s name out there early in the year.
“I don’t think we read too much into the preseason rankings, but obviously anytime you’re getting recognition for your team, it’s always good,” Klimosko said. “Hopefully we can keep playing well and keep things rolling from here.”
The North Stars will return to action for their final home game of the preseason on Friday versus the Nipawin Hawks in North Battleford. Puck drop at the ACC will be at 7:30 p.m.
The Stars’ final game of the preseason will be Saturday in Nipawin, also a 7:30 p.m. start.
The Stars will open their regular season schedule at home versus the Kindersley Klippers on Sept. 24.
The CJHL is made up of nine junior leagues across Canada, including the SJHL, AJHL, CCHL, Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Superior International Hockey League (SIJHL), Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL), Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), LHJQ, and Maritime Hockey League (MHL).