By Mike Stackhouse
BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
Key Returnees: G Taryn Kotchorek, D Levi Kleiboer, D Cody Spagrud, D Conor Jensen, D Connor Manegre, F Layne Young, F Owen Lamb, F Troy Gerein, F Jayden Nachtegaele, F Macgregor Sinclair.
Potential Newcomers: Matthew Fletcher is a first year eligible junior player who moved the puck well on the blueline with the Saskatoon Blazers Midget AAA last season. He had 25-points in 41-games.
Connor McIntosh made it into 19 games with the Stars last season and is a big two-way forward with some untapped offense. He’s a decent skater with good hands for a big man.
20-year-old Keith Anderson played 7 games with Everett (WHL) last year and compiled 19 penalty minutes. He’s known for two things: a former teammate of Auston Matthews and fights. If you know how to use Google, he’s easy to find.
19-year-old Tre Doyon was picked up from Lloydminster (AJHL) in the offseason. He had 4-points in 47-games and projects as a depth forward who can help win key face-offs.
Elijah Loon-Stewardson is a rookie from Sioux Lookout ON who has made some noise in training camp with his two-way game. There’s potential for him to put up some numbers and make an immediate impact on the scoresheet.
19-year-old Josh Sielsky played on three teams last year as a rookie, starting in Nipawin before a cup of coffee in Portage and then Neepawa (MJHL), where he had 8-goals and 15-points in 32-games. The year previous, he had big numbers with Beardy’s Midget AAA.
Key grads: Kendall Fransoo, Zach Nedelec, Jared Blaquiere, Coby Downs, Connor Logan, Reed Delainey, Logan Nachtegaele, Keaton Holinaty.
Eligible but not returning: Joel Gryzbowski (WHL), Connor Sych, Ryan Rosenberg, Ben Allen, Bryce Hall.
Overall outlook: The North Stars destroyed the league a season ago, but it doesn’t look like it will be as nearly an easy ride as they try to repeat with a new Head Coach/General Manager in Brandon Heck and with some key departures. Nevertheless, the culture has been established with this team and they’ll be in the thick of things.
Key returning players: D Xavier Labelle, D Logan Boulet, D Stephen Wack, D Antonio DiPaolo, F Tristen Elder, F Logan Schatz, F Cole Young, F Matthieu Gomercic, F Brayden Camrud
Possible newcomers: G Sam Jaxon-Visscher looked good in limited action with Nipawin last year, but was blocked by Kristian Stead and, later, Declan Hobbs. He also had good numbers in the AJHL and should be a steady addition.
Local underaged goalie product Jacob Wassermann was a regular with the Saskatoon Blazers and could be ready for Junior A duty.
19-year-old Isaac Labelle is back in Saskatchewan after a year south. He’s a former Contacts goalie who played a couple of seasons ago when they went to the Telus Cup.
20-year-old Connor Lukan is a three year Junior A veteran acquired from Alberta. The Broncos are very high on him as he’s well regarded as smart and an ultimate team guy. He plays in all situations and the Broncos actually feel he is a better player than the one they dealt him for (Van Os Shaw).
Kaleb Dahlgren was acquired from Notre Dame. He has experience, having been to the league finals as a rookie. He had 17-points in 49-games a season ago and should see a bit of a spike in production.
Derek Patter is a 19-year-old added from La Ronge as a complementary piece. He has veteran presence and the Broncos feel he may have some untapped offensive upside after 13-goals and 10-assists last year.
Rookie 18-year-old Logan Hunter had 27-points in 31-games with St. Albert AAA in Alberta last season. He got hurt in training camp and will start the year late.
Ditto for Graysen Cameron, a rookie who had 26-points in 31-games in Red Deer AAA last season. He also got injured in the preseason.
Eligible but not returning: Chris Van Os Shaw, Dawson Atamanchuk, Josh Roberts, Laramie Kostelansky, Carter Seminuk, Michael Korol (NCAA), Wyatt Riendeau, Trent Huitema.
Grads: Luke Kempf, Trevor Posch, Garrett Mason, Brett Horn, Connor Swystun, Parker Wakaruk.
Overall outlook: Broncos should be able to generate offense with goal scorers like Elder, Lukan, and Schatz leading the way. The blueline could be a little thin, but they have built up some depth between the pipes. Once a franchise other teams tried to model their own teams after, the Broncos have been a middle of the pack team in recent years and are looking to take that next step.
Key returning players: G Justen Close, D Tate Page, D Josh Patrician, D Brody Ryberg, F Cody Hodgson, F Cole Plotnikoff, F Cameron Shorrock, F Josh Fletcher, F Nikolas Malenica, F Mason Fischer, F Kyle Bosch, F Jordan Funk.
Possible newcomers: D Taylor Derynck was picked up from OCN in the offseason and the 20-year-old could end up being the Klippers’ top dman this season. He had 7-points in 53-games in the MJHL last year.
D Brendon Borbely is an acquisition from Lloydminster (AJHL), who played 38-games as a 17-year-old last year.
20-year-old Curtis Peck was the captain in La Ronge last year and added 26-points on offense. The Klippers are excited to have him and the intangibles he will bring to the rink.
Tanner Thompson was the first player Geoff Grimwood recruited a couple of years ago and then he had to give him up in a trade last year to Nipawin, where he proceeded to score 24-goals and 42-points for the Hawks. But, now Thompson is back in Kindersley and slated to play on their top line.
Forward Will Vandersloot played three games in Drumheller (AJHL) last year before suffering a season ending injury. He’s the younger brother of former Klipper Matt Vandersloot.
Devon Cyr is a rookie forward who picked up 5-goals and 11-asssists in 34-games with Fort Saskatchewan Midget AAA last year. He figures to fill a depth role up front.
Eligible but not returning: Dayton Thunderchief, Sam Binfet, Jake Gerbner (NCAA), Kyle Donaldson, Keegan Tiringer, Andrew McCann, Kyle Sargent, Matt Krawiec.
Grads: G Nick Trenciansky, D Clive Rozdeba, D Holden Daley, F Branden Wagner, F Carson Pickett.
Overall outlook: The Klippers feel they have a strong returning group and a solid enough cast of newcomers to move into the upper half of the league. It’s the deepest team in Geoff Grimwood’s tenure to be sure. Plotnikoff should be one of the better captains in the league, but it’s a tough division with the defending champs and a Humboldt squad that’s in a similar situation as the Klippers.
NOTRE DAME HOUNDS
Key returnees: D Riley Perka, D Egan Wolford, D Burke Johnstone, F Marshall Wilton, F Colby Brandt, F Chaz Smedsrud, F Chance Longjohn
Potential newcomers: G Jack Ryan graduates from Notre Dame AAA and is a mature, high character goalie. He’s an athlete (plays other sports) and brings a solid work ethic. He’s willing to learn and is good in school. A player to watch.
20-year-old Alberta product Jacob Standen was brought in to partner with Ryan. He played last year with Hawkesbury in the CCHL, posting a 3.02-GAA and .908-SPCT.
Max Salpeter was picked up in a trade from Alberta for Brayden Richards. He had 18-points in 58-games. He has good size and moves the puck well. He does have some grit and will play with a bit of toughness.
Alex Desgagnes is a 20-year-old added from Quebec that should help provide valuable minutes. He also is expected to shoulder some of the offensive load.
Tim Gould had 23-points in Midget AAA last year and still has a year remaining, but he’s also already graduated from high school. He’s back from Gatineau QMJHL camp and committed to the Hounds. He’s a good skater and projects as an offensive contributor.
Jared Hamm scored 20-goals and 61-points with Beardy’s AAA and then came up at the end of the season and played in seven playoff games for the Hounds.
Curtis Wiebe scored 11-goals and 29-points for the Hounds AAA team and also got a taste of the SJHL. He should be a regular this season.
Ahmed Ally scored 13-points in 25-games in Moose Jaw AAA. He’ll start out as a bottom six forward with potential to move up.
Zack Kosteniuk contributed close to a point per game with the Hounds AAA team as a 16-year-old last year. He’s making the jump to Junior A a year early.
Eligible but not returning: Adam Dawe (Sioux Falls USHL), Riley Higdon, Riley Mohr, Jacob Arsenault (QMJHL), Brayden Richards, Alex Hanson, Cole Kirkup, James Piller, Conor MacLean, Kaleb Dahlgren.
Graduates: Ben Duperreault, Brandon Sookro, Nick Rein, Kobe Kindrachuk, Craig Berube, Benjamin Patt.
Overall outlook: It’s always a bit of a crapshoot when trying to project where the Hounds will finish because, often times, their players are a bit of an unknown when compared to the rest of the teams. One thing Clint Mylymok has tried to do is ensure he always has a number of key veterans to aid in bringing along young players, and it looks like he’s accomplished that in offseason recruiting. The Hounds also have a new assistant coach as Chris Robertson joins the program after a lengthy professional playing career.