Monday, July 28, 2008

Vets, free agents crack North Stars roster

There was a fair amount of initial consternation on Sunday at Centre ICE arena, but in the end Traverse City North Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo was thrilled with the roster he and the coaching staff selected to the 2008-09 roster.

The club capped its summer tryout season with its training camp, which was comprised of athletes from each of the two open camps, drafts, tenders, and those who skated their way onto the Stars’ radar.

“It didn’t get any easier this year – in my mind it was much harder to pick a team,” said Palumbo, who is entering his second season behind the TC bench. “We had a whole year to scout kids, and with four and five guys out there brining us players, we had some very tough decisions. There are at least five or six players we let go who can play in this league.”

Thirteen North Stars players who were age-eligible to return made the final round of cuts, while six tenders, draft pick Cody Walsh, and a trio of free agent performers – along with recent trade acquisition Travis White – comprise the club’s fourth opening roster.

“I’d like to think it’s a group with a good balance,” Palumbo explained. “We are definitely stronger up front 1 through 15. We don’t want to have just one or two lines doing most of the damage. We’d like to have a bunch of 40-point guys, but so would everyone.”

The three free agents who came from Midwest Elite league midget major programs and played onto the roster include David Johnstone, a high-scoring forward from Team nXi (42 goals, 85 points in 65 games), Belle Tire’s Dean Pawlaczyk (28 goals, 30 assists over 59 contests), and goalie C.J. Motte (pictured) of Honeybaked (7-3-4, 2.23 goals-against average).

Johnstone, already committed to Michigan State University, had at least a point in each of the weekend scrimmages at Centre ICE, while the 16-year old Pawlaczyk was a spirited match for third-year TC blueliner Chris Heineman during a Sunday morning fracas.

Motte did not permit a goal during a 5-0 victory over the Red Team in Sunday’s camp finale.

“We have guys that we think can play the sniper/goal-scorer role, guys that can bang and dig the puck out, and a bunch of defensemen with the skills to be a force at both ends of the ice,” Palumbo beamed. “And we also think we have quite a few that can do all of those things and play with the edge you need in the (NAHL’s) North Division.”

The North Stars open the 2008-09 season at the annual North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minn. Former North Division rival and reigning league champ St. Louis is the first opponent at the four-day event, followed by Alaska, Bismarck, and Fairbanks. TC opens its home schedule on Sept. 27 at Centre ICE against Marquette.

“It feels pretty good to have that part of the off-season behind us and to be able to know the personnel heading into the year,” Palumbo said. “It gives you something concrete to work with.”

WHITE 5, RED 0: Ryan Amin bagged a pair of goals, while Motte and Tyler Marble combined to help the White Team blank the Red Team in Sunday’s camp finale all-star game. Amin, a tender who poured in 16 points in 25 MWEHL contests last year for Compuware, also landed on the final roster.

Motte photo courtesy Honeybaked

No comments: