Sunday, August 02, 2009

Traverse City roster finalized Sunday

For Traverse City North Stars head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo, the final day of training camp is a bittersweet affair. The three-day competition of lofty talent yields exceedingly difficult personnel decisions and Sunday was no different.

“It’s a great day because you pick your team and there’s excitement about all the potential,” Palumbo explained. “But it’s also a day filled with conversations with young men who are talented, have worked very hard and are great kids. Sometimes it’s those conversations that stick with you as much or more than telling a kid he made your team. As time goes by and you begin to set about preparing for the season, some of that goes away, but it’s easily among the toughest aspects of coaching.”

The 2009-10 roster, which was hewn from eligible returnees, tenders, draft picks, and a summer’s worth of tryout camps – culminating with Sunday’s training camp finale – features a very familiar flavor. There are 14 players coming back, plus a trio from former NAHL North Division rival Mahoning Valley, and a pair of local high school products who earned roster spots with their strong weekend showings – Traverse City West product Eric Rivard and Traverse City Central’s Jared Van Wormer.

“Now we knew coming in that they both of them were good hockey players,” Palumbo said. “But they played their way in. Eric just kept making plays, and showing up all over the ice. Everybody who was evaluating kept raving about his consistent performance. He was strong in the offensive end, and a real presence physically. I wouldn’t call anyone who makes it onto the roster from our training camp a ‘surprise’, but I’m not sure we realized they were this ready.”

Among the returning players is All-North defenseman Travis White, plus an additional four returnees – Bo Jacobs, Chris Heineman, Cody Walsh and Mike Schenfeld – along the blue line. Heineman, who is slated to undergo surgery later this summer, is out until at least January.

Matt Davis – a former teammate of Schenfeld at Lake Forest Academy – along with draft picks Nilan Nagy and Trevor Campbell – round out the unit.

Seven forwards return from last year’s club that went 34-17-7, including Dan Radke, Tim Opie, Kyle Jean, Eric McLintock, Josh Miller, Garrett Thompson, Sean Burke and Chris Salomone.

Jean will miss at least the first month of the season with an upper body injury suffered last season. First-round draft pick Taylor Burden skated into a North Stars sweater, as did tenders Sean Keane and Andrew Huff and Ontario import Kelin Ainsworth.

Tyler Marble, who became the Stars’ third goalie a year ago after the retirement of Dallas Kniss, and Brian Jean – younger brother of Kyle Jean – landed backstopping duties. Palumbo said the team may well add a veteran goalie to the mix.

While many of the weapons from last season’s franchise year return, three former foes will now sport the interlocking 'TC.' Forwards Nick Shkreli and Doug Clifford bring a combined 24 goals and 46 assists from Youngstown, while David Chaney brings own-zone prowess and a special teams skill set to the Stars.

“It’s hard to say exactly what kind of team we’ll have yet, style-wise,” Palumbo assessed. “But it’s probably similar to last year’s team in that respect. There are some injuries to contend with, but we do have depth. There’s a lot of potential to meet and exceed some of the benchmarks we set last year, but ‘potential’ is a big word. We’re at the beginning now.”

The club opens with an exhibition game against Alpena on Sept. 3 at Centre ICE arena. The regular season gets underway with a Sept. 12-13 at Janesville (Wis.) in advance of the Sept. 16-19 NAHL Showcase in suburban Minneapolis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

2 rookie goalies? I sure hope they sign a vet or it will be a long year!