Saturday, May 14, 2011

North Stars begin retooling process

It was quality over quantity on Friday at Centre ICE Arena, as the Traverse City North Stars officially began the annual summer re-tool – this time under new head coach Chad Fournier.

The club kicked off its pre-draft open tryout camp, looking to re-stock its coffers at every position.

“Generally, the first day of open camps are not always the best,” said Fournier. “Whether it’s nerves or travel lag, you don’t always see the ‘A' game from everyone. But even with comparatively lower numbers at this camp, we got great jump all the way around. Guys were going hard and competing from the first whistle, and that was encouraging. There’s a lot of skill on the ice, but it was the overall first-day effort that was the most impressive.”

The North Stars, fresh off the first 40-win regular season in franchise history, will have to try to replace a bevy of aged-out veteran players, including top scorer Tim Opie and three-year All-NAHL North pick Travis White, among others. White’s contributions will be especially difficult to replicate. He served as captain for the past two years and was a three-time All-NAHL North selection.

“I don’t think you can replace a Travis White,” Fournier opined. “It’s probably something that has to be taken on by a committee. Finding that kind of leadership isn’t always easy. You look to your returning veterans, and expect them to start to take on those kinds of roles, and the place that starts are these camps. You look for them to be the best players on the ice, and it goes from there.”

While 16 of 23 players from the 2010-11 edition of the North Stars are eligible to return, two fresh faces were among those that caught the eye of Fournier, GM Anthony Palumbo, and staff: Forward Seth Adams and goalie Zach Naglevoort.

Adams, a two-time all-stater who powered Big Rapids High School to a state quarterfinals berth last year as a junior, has displayed a deft scoring knack. In a 3-2 double-overtime victory against Sault Ste. Marie in last year’s regional championship, Adams registered all three of the Cardinals’ goals, including the game-winner just over six minutes into the second OT.

“We like what we’ve seen from Seth,” Fournier said of the 6-foot-3, 195-pound tender. “We know his coach, we see the hard work. He has the skill, and shows a willingness to do all the little things as well.”

Naglevoort, a sizable backstop at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, crafted a sterling 52-10-13 mark with a 1.83 goals-against average and 14 shutouts over two seasons and 79 appearances for the midget major Compuware program. The tender was 11-5-6 with a .921 save percentage in 22 Tier 1 league contests in 2010-11.

Fournier and the North Stars will continue to work toward assembling their 2011-12 roster on Saturday, with a morning practice/goalie session and an evening scrimmage at Centre ICE. The camp concludes on Sunday morning with the weekend’s final game.

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