18 SJHL season preview If you go by what the ever subjective Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings are projecting, it would appear that the Battlefords North Stars are runaway favourites to repeat as Canalta Cup champions as they are the only team from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to crack the list.
In reality, however, it's highly unlikely that the North Stars will run roughshod over the rest of the competition and post another 12 0 record in the post season. As the new season gets underway Friday, there appears to be no clear cut favourite to win the SJHL title with a handful of teams having a legitimate chance to lift the trophy in April. The makeup of each roster will be completely different once the playoffs begin, but as opening night draws closer each of the 12 coaches in the league have a good sense of what their squads have to offer as they battle it out across the province. The only change behind the bench in the SJHL took place with the defending league champions as Nate Bedford left his role as head coach and general manager in June to take over the Portage College Voyageurs in Cold Lake, Alta. Replacing him is 32 year old Brandon Heck, who has spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the Camrose Red Wings of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. "After the pre season, pandora charms cheap I'm excited to get some practices in the books and work out the details to get everything in place and get going as a team," Heck said. "This is going to be a different team with a different identity than last year. We might not be as big or as tough as we were a year ago, but we'll be able to move the puck in a similar fashion to last season's team." While the North Stars will be losing a number of weapons on offence, along with the top two blueliners from last season's squad in Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych, they still have a number of key players back from a team that won their first title since 2000. "Layne Young has high end skill and he's a threat to score every time on the ice, plus we have some other returning forwards like Troy Gerein and Owen Lamb who play the game the right way at all times," Heck said. "On defence, Levi Kleiboer's patience with the puck blows me away every time and Cody Spagrud is someone who I think will put up some more points this season. Plus, Taryn Kotchorek's numbers in goal speak for themselves." One of the teams that ended up getting swept aside by the North Stars during their run to the championship were the Bruins, as they reached the semifinals for the first time since 2005. "We were disappointed that we didn't have a better showing in that round as we felt like we left a bit on the table," Bruins head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood said. "With that said, I don't think anyone was going to beat the North Stars in a seven game series. They were the best team in the league and they deserved the Canalta Cup. "We've made some nice strides over the last couple of seasons and we are moving in the right direction with our team culture. If you combine that with the quality of players we have here, it bodes well for success." The Bruins' offence looks to be one of the best in the SJHL on paper with Zach Goberis, Kaelan Holt and Michael McChesney expected to lead the way. "Michael was the rookie of the year for our division last year and he's really turned our heads in the pre season," Lewgood said. "Another sophomore guy we are excited about is defenceman Johnny Witzke. He played in the shadow of Josh Reiger [who is now with the NCAA's North Dakota Fighting Hawks] and I expect him to have a breakout year." Curtis Meger was expected to be the starter in goal, but he's currently vying for a spot with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, leaving the Bruins with a trio of new faces in between the pipes. Although they are still searching for their first championship since 1993, two straight trips to the league final has pandora charms for sale online done a lot for the Bombers when it comes to recruiting new talent. "We've been fortunate to have a lot of high end guys come up here and be a part of the program lately," Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan said. "Winning helps, but we've also seen a number of players getting NCAA Division I scholarships over the last couple years. this December. "It's an honour to have the chance to not only represent the Bombers but the entire SJHL at an international event," Reagan said. "I'm not going to lie, there's a little bit of nerves, but when you have those feelings you know that you're going to be taking part in something special." While the Bombers will lose a number of key members from last year's team, they still return some veterans to go along with the fresh faces. "Nick Shumlanski's a three year veteran in our league who put up nearly 60 points last year and Nate Hooper's been an impact forward early on after a good rookie campaign," Reagan said. "Brendan Newton's entering his third season in goal and I think he's one of the top netminders in our league. "We have so many good young players, but Chrystopher Colin has where can i buy pandora charms online stood out so far.
He's joined us from Montreal and had five goals in exhibition play." Another player to watch is 20 year old blueliner Kurtis Rutledge, who spent the last two years in the WHL with the Tri City Americans and the Kootenay Ice. A year after missing out on the post season for the first time since 1980, the Broncos got off to a quick start last fall before eventually getting caught up by the injury bug buy pandora earrings online and getting knocked out in the quarter finals by the Nipawin Hawks.
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