Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

SJHL set for Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2024

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is set for its 2024 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the evening of Jun. 22, 2024 in North Battleford, SK.

Please see here for the inductees, and some information on them, or read below!

George Family – William (Moe), Albert (Jeep), David, & Micheal George

The first generation of the George family to be recognized are brothers William and Albert George. Better known as “Moe” and “Jeep”. They founded, managed, and coached the Beaver Bruins Junior Hockey Club for players 15 to 18 years old. This was the first junior hockey program in the Battlefords. In 1961, the Beaver Bruins were converted to a Junior B hockey club. Through tireless lobby efforts by Jeep and Moe and others in the community, The North Battleford Civic Centre was opened in 1962. These efforts laid the groundwork for Junior A Hockey to be later established here in the Battlefords. Jeep’s dedication would not have been possible without the support of his wife, Joyce. Not only did she raise their 4 children, but she was at the rink taking tickets, washing laundry, feeding the team, and much more. The second generation of the George family we want to recognize is Jeep’s son, David George. David grew up at the rink following his father and uncle’s footsteps. These endless hours spent at the rink translated into a successful junior hockey career in the AJHL, WHL, and SJHL where he played his final season of junior hockey in 1974-75 with the North Battleford Barons. That season, David led the league in scoring with 66 goals & 95 assists for 161 total points. This is still the single-season points record for the Barons/North Stars franchise to this day. David would later coach/manage the North Stars three times and serve as a board member. He was the one responsible for changing the team colours to red, white, and blue to replicate the New York Rangers; the team his dad Jeep served as a scout for from 1969-1975. The third generation of the George family to be inducted is David’s son, Michael. Michael played all his minor hockey in the Battlefords, except his final year where he went to play in Saskatoon for the Midget AAA Contacts. In the 2003-04 season, he returned home to start his junior career with his hometown team, the Battlefords North Stars. Michael was an impact player right from his rookie season. In the 2004-05 season, Michael led the team in scoring and helped the North Stars reach the SJHL Finals. In his third and final season, Michael once again led the North Stars in scoring and made another trip to the SJHL finals. Michael was a fan favourite due to his physical play and scoring efforts ending his SJHL career with 167 GP-74G-109A-183PTS.

Smith Family

The first generation of the Smith family to be recognized is Dr. Ian Smith (Doc). Doc was the North Stars President, SJHL Governor, and team doctor from 1989 to 1999. Doc helped lead the North Stars to success through many moves, including helping save the team from being sold to the City of Saskatoon in April 1990, assisting in the hiring of Todd McLellan in 1993 who went on to be an NHL coach, and building for the team’s first SJHL Championship coming at the end of his tenure. Doc’s success with the North Stars was made possible by great support from his wife Gloria who was a billet mom for the team and a bingo volunteer to help raise funds for the team. The second generation of the Smith family to be recognized is Doc’s children, Martin Smith & Fiona Smith-Bell. Martin joined the North Stars in the 1987-88 season. The following 2 years, he split play between the North Stars and the WHL. In 1990-91, Martin returned home to finish out his final 2 seasons with the North Stars, where he became the second North Star player to reach 50 goals in a season, the franchise leader in goals and sits second in points and games played. Martin finished his SJHL career with 229GP-142G-207A-349PTS. Martin went on to play in the ECHL, BHL & WCHL before returning home to the Battlefords. He has since worn many different hats for the North Stars Hockey Club including Assistant Coach, play-by-play, colour commentator, and fan. Fiona Smith-Bell’s hockey resume is a long one as well; growing up she was involved in figure skating before she found her love for hockey. At that time, women’s hockey was just gathering momentum. She went on to be named captain of the first-ever Saskatchewan women’s hockey team to compete at the Canada West Winter Games. Fiona’s career highlight came in 1998 when women’s hockey was added as an event to the Winter Olympics for the first time. Fiona’s team battled their way to win a silver medal. While Fiona spent a lot of time watching her brother wear the North Star colours, she was recently able to see her son wear not only the same colours but the same #27 too. The third generation of the Smith family to be recognized is Kian Bell, son of Fiona Smith-Bell. Kian joined the North Stars in the 2022-23 season which became a record-breaking year, not only for himself but also the franchise. Kian was able to become only the 3rd North Star in history to score 50 goals in a season, with the last one being his Uncle Martin. He also put up a 100-point season, won an SJHL championship, and won a silver medal at the National Junior A Championship. He achieved all these milestones while donning the same #27 that his Uncle Martin Smith wore 35 years earlier. Kian finished his junior career with back-to-back SJHL MVP, leading scorer, and top forward awards with a final career total of 92GP-91G-105A-196 PTS. With that, he moves up to 4th in the franchise’s all-time scoring leaders.

2016-2017 Battlefords North Stars

Our next SJHL Hall of Fame Inductee is the 2016-17 Battlefords North Stars. This team ended the regular season with a 48-9-1 record posting 223 goals for and only 103 goals against, the SJHL record for fewest goals against in a season! This had them finish first in the league heading into the playoffs, where they put up a 12-0 record to sweep all rounds against Weyburn, Estevan & Flin Flon; this had only been done 2 times prior in SJHL history, with the most recent being over 30 years ago! This brought the North Stars their 2nd championship in history. The team was led offensively by Coby Downs and Layne Young who finished 4th and 5th in points in the league and defensively by veteran duo Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych, as well as rookie pairing Levi Kleiboer & Cody Spagrud. Goaltending was a key factor in their success with Taryn Kotchorek leading the league with a 1.61 GAA in 32 games and Joel Grzybowski posting a 1.66 GAA in 26 games. The duo finished 1st and 2nd in every goaltending statistic in the league. This team boasted a record-breaking 17 players from the Battlefords and surrounding area. Leading the team were Head Coach Nate Bedford and Assistant Coach Braeden Johnson, who were supported by Athletic Therapist Robert Tanner and Office/Marketing Manager Caitlyn Gray.

Travis Clayton

Travis Clayton was born on March 9, 1976, in Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan. Travis joined the North Stars in 1992 as a 16-year-old and played with them until 1997. During his 308 SJHL games played, Travis put up 139 goals and 258 assists for 397 points with 374 penalty minutes. In his 1994-95 and 1996-97 seasons, he hit 102 and 122 points respectively to join an exclusive club of 100-point season SJHL players. Travis then went on to play a pro career within the CHL and IHL from 1997-2011 where he amassed 1013 points in 913 games for the Wichita Thunder, Detroit Vipers, Kansas City Blades, and Bossier-Shreveport Mudgbugs. In the 2011-12 season, Travis moved to the Chinook Hockey League to play 21 games with the Lloydminster Border Kings where he would officially hang up the skates as a player. He would conclude his career as a player with 1,221 games played, 528 goals and 882 assists for 1,410 total points. Travis then transitioned to being a coach in multiple different leagues including the WSHL, AMHL, AJHL, AMBHL, and AEHL U18 with his most recent job in the AJHL as an Assistant Coach for the Whitecourt Wolverines.

Blake Tatchell

Blake Tatchell was born May 23, 1991, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Blake played hockey in the Battlefords almost his entire career. Blake got his first taste of the SJHL in 2007-08 where he suited up for one game as an AP with his hometown North Stars. He then played for the Midget AAA Stars the following year, where his talent showed, putting up 51 points in only 43 games, before returning to the North Stars full-time in 2009. Blake then played 169 games as a North Star, scoring 78 goals and 112 assists for 190 points. As a hometown boy, Blake was a fan favourite of many during his time wearing black and silver and was an Assistant Captain during his final season. In his 20-year-old season, Blake was signed by the University of Alaska-Anchorage NCAA Division 1 where he played for 4 seasons totaling 142 games, 31 goals and 72 assists for 103 points. He finished his NCAA career as an assistant captain before suiting up for 5 games with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL in 2015-16. In the following season, Blake played for the Wichita Thunder in the ECHL where during 56 games he put up 29 points. Since returning home, Blake has played a handful of games with his 2 brothers on the Meota Combines senior team. He is now a part of Trach Power Skating and holds many clinics in the Battlefords. Blake also helps run the John Paul ll hockey school, helping to shape the skills of future players.

Drew Bagnall

Drew Bagnall was born October 26, 1983 in Oakbank, Manitoba. Drew joined the North Stars in the 2000-01 season and played until 2003 as a defenseman. In his final season, he was named the SJHL Defenseman of the Year, the first ever in franchise history. He also recorded the first 50+ point season as a defenseman ending that year with 17 goals and 47 assists for a total of 64 points. Drew signed with St. Lawrence University in New York NCAA Division 1 where he played for four seasons totaling 137 games with 19 goals and 53 assists for 72 points. In his final season of NCAA, he wore the “C” for St. Lawrence. In 2007, Drew joined the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL where he remained until the 2009-10 season (aside from a brief stint with the Reading Royal of the ECHL), once again finishing out with the “C” on his jersey. With the Monarchs, Drew played 201 games, putting up 4 goals and 29 assists for 33 points. In 2010-11, he suited up for two games in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild, before returning to the AHL for another five seasons; 3 of which were played with the Houston Aeros where Drew once again was the captain in his final season there, and his final 2 with the Rochester Americans as Captain in both. During those 5 seasons, Drew played 283 games with 6 goals and 34 assists for 40 total points. He retired from his career as a player after 5 games in the Chinook Hockey League for the Bentley Generals in the 2015-16 season. As a player, Drew Bagnall played 803 games and put up 67 goals and 208 assists for 275 career points. Some of his career accolades include winning the 2002-03 SJHL Defenseman of the Year award and being named to the SJHL’s first All-Star Team. In the 2006-07 season in the NCAA, Drew was named to the NCAA (East) First All-American Team, All-Tournament Team, and First All-Star Team; he also won Player of the Year, Best Defensive Defenseman and was a Top Collegiate Player (Hobey Baker Award) Finalist.

Blair Atcheynum

Blair Atcheynum was born April 20, 1969, in Estevan, Saskatchewan. In 1984-85, he played for the North Battleford U15 AAA Stars before joining the North Stars at the age of 16 for the 1985-86 season where he split his time with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. In 33 games as a North Star, Blair put up 16 goals and 14 assists for 30 total points. From 1985 to 1989 Blair played in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos, and Moose Jaw Warriors. During this time, he put up 108 goals and 89 assists for 197 total points, 138 of which came from his final season as a Moose Jaw Warrior. In 1989, Blair was drafted in round 3, 52nd overall by Hartford Whalers. He then spent the next twelve seasons playing between the AHL, ECHL, IHL and NHL for various teams. In the AHL, Blair played for the Binghamton Whalers, Springfield Indians, New Haven Senators, Portland Pirates, Worcester IceCats, Cape Breton Oilers, Hershey Bears, and Norfolk Admirals. In his time in the AHL, he played 553 games putting up 196 goals and 233 assists for 429 total points. In the ECHL, Blair played for the Colombus Chill for 16 games, scoring 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points. In the IHL, Blair played with the Minnesota Moose & Chicago Wolves for 24 games putting up 16 goals and 14 assists for 30 points. In the NHL, he played for the Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and Chicago Blackhawks, during which Blair played a total of 196 games, scoring 27 goals and 33 assists for a total of 60 points. As a player throughout these leagues, Blair has played 1,010 games with 367 goals and 412 assists for 779 points. In the 1988-89 season, Blair was named to the WHL (East) First All-Star team and won the WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player award. Blair was an AHL Calder Cup Champion in the 1990-91 and 1996-97 seasons. He was also named to the AHL First All-Star Team in 1996-97. After retiring as a player, Blair returned to the Battlefords and took up coaching with the North Stars as an Assistant Coach until 2015.

Wade Belak

Wade Belak was born July 3, 1976, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and moved to Battleford with his family at the age of 6. He grew up playing hockey in the Battlefords, including playing for the North Battleford U15 AAA Stars. Wade became a North Star at 16 in the 1992-93 season; he played 50 games, putting up 20 points, before finishing out his season and junior career with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. In the WHL, Wade played 211 games, putting up 11 goals and 42 assists for 53 points. Wade was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1st round, 12th overall, just 5 days before his 18th birthday in 1994. After finishing his junior career, Wade spent a few seasons bouncing back and forth between the AHL and NHL before landing closer to home for the 1999-00 season with the Calgary Flames. He then went on to be a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators. In the AHL, Wade played for the Cornwall Aces, Hershey Bears, and Saint John Flames where he played 110 games and put up 1 goal and 10 assists for 11 total points and 460 penalty minutes. In the NHL as a defenseman and known enforcer, Wade racked up 1263 penalty minutes and 33 points in 549 games.

Tracy Cook

Tracy Cook’s introduction to the SJHL began early in his life as his father, Bert, was one of the first coaches of the Barons franchise. Before that, Bert assisted Moe and Jeep George with the Bruins franchise. In 1983, Tracy started his career as a linesman for the SJHL. The following season, he became a referee where he remained until 2007. In 2008, Tracy followed in his father’s footsteps, but instead of coaching players, he decided to coach the officials. Tracy became an Officials Supervisor in the league, before becoming the Referee in Chief for the SJHL until 2017.

Todd McLellan

In 1992, Todd McLellan answered a North Stars head coach hiring ad in the newspaper and was hired by Dr. Ian Smith. Todd turned the team around from a 16-39-9 record to a 35-22-11 record in his two seasons as Head Coach of the North Stars. In 1994, McLellan was hired as the head coach and general manager of the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. McLellan was named WHL Executive of the Year in 1997 and Coach of the Year in 2000 for his success with the Broncos. As a result, McLellan was hired by the Minnesota Wild to coach the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL. After the IHL folded in 2001, McLellan and his staff were transferred to the Wild’s new affiliate, the Houston Aeros of the AHL. As coach of the Aeros, McLellan led Houston to the Calder Cup in 2003. In 2005, Mike Babcock hired McLellan to serve as his assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings. Under his watch, the Red Wings had the top-ranked power play in the NHL, finishing first in power play efficiency in 2005–06 and third in 2007–08. As a member of the coaching staff, McLellan won his first Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2007–08. On June 11, 2008, the San Jose Sharks hired McLellan to become their new head coach. He would end up the head coach for the Western Conference All-Star team and lead the Sharks to their first Presidents’ Trophy with an NHL-leading 117 points to finish the regular season and finished third in voting for that season’s Jack Adams Award. McLellan coached the Canadian national team at the 2015 World Championship, where the team won the title for the first time since 2007 with a perfect 10–0 record. In 2015, he was named head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, becoming the 14th head coach in team history. McLellan’s first season in Edmonton was a rebuilding one. The Oilers finished with 70 points, the second-worst record in the league. However, the following season, the Oilers tallied over 100 points for the first time since the 1980s dynasty and made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. In 2019, the Los Angeles Kings named McLellan head coach where he coached until February 2024.

Kelly McCrimmon

Kelly McCrimmon spent his first years coaching junior hockey in the SJHL, starting with the North Stars for two seasons, then one with the Lloydminster Lancers from 1985-1988. In 1988, he re-joined the Brandon Wheat Kings as an assistant coach, then later became general manager in 1989, as well as a few stints as head coach along the way. In 1992, he became the minority owner of the Wheat Kings, purchasing one-third of the franchise. In 2001, he became the sole franchise owner after buying the remaining shares from Bob Cornell. In 1995–96, McCrimmon won his first championship as a WHL general manager and his second championship with the Wheat Kings. In 2004, he took over the coaching duties for the Brandon Wheat Kings. In his third stint as head coach of Brandon Wheat Kings, he appeared in the finals as head coach and general manager. In 2011, he stepped down from his coaching duties only to return in the 2013-14 season for the Wheat Kings for the next three seasons. During the 2014–15 season, he coached the Wheat Kings to the Western Hockey League finals, losing to the Kelowna Rockets. The next season he was brought on as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland. The Wheat Kings had a second stint at the finals that year, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Seattle Thunderbirds in five games. After 26 seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings, on August 2, 2016, McCrimmon was named the first-ever assistant general manager of the new NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights. In McCrimmon’s first year as assistant general manager, the Vegas Golden Knights became the second expansion team ever, after the St. Louis Blues, to make the Stanley Cup Finals. On May 2, 2019, he was promoted to general manager. On June 13, 2023, the Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup. By winning the Cup after six seasons, they become the fastest team to win the Stanley Cup from the time of expansion.

North West Hockey Development Association

North West Hockey Development Association has been active in the Battlefords since January 1982. They were initially started as a booster club for the Battlefords AAA Stars but have evolved to provide support for the hockey community in the Battlefords. The North West Hockey Development Association is a group of volunteers that support the development of hockey in the area and their support is extended to all stakeholders including – Battlefords North Stars of the SJHL, AAA Stars of the SMAAAHL, and Battlefords Minor Hockey Association which consists of approximately 50 minor hockey teams each season. Through their countless hours of volunteering, they run the concession at the Access Communications Centre (formerly Civic Centre). This tireless group of volunteers provides support to the local organizations while assisting with additional projects including improvements to the Access Communications Centre, purchasing the current score clock and serving as key contributors to the development of a new arena complex in the Battlefords. In April of 1990, North West Hockey Development helped to purchase the Battlefords North Stars to keep the team from moving to Saskatoon. They then transferred ownership to the Battleford North Star Fan Club run by Dr. Ian Smith. Without the support and contributions of the North West Hockey Development Association and its volunteers, hockey in the Battlefords would not be where it was today.