Wednesday, August 31, 2011

North Stars set for seventh NAHL season

Another run for the Robertson Cup is officially under way.

After a summer’s worth of tryout camps, tenders, draft picks and even a trade, the Traverse City North Stars reported for duty this week as the 2011-12 season gets rolling.

The North Stars, coming off the franchise’s first-ever 40-win regular season campaign, will practice together this week in advance of a Labor Day weekend trio of preseason clashes in Sault Ste. Marie. While the club is entering its seventh season, longtime assistant coach Chad Fournier is going into his first year holding the reins as head coach.

“The guys are working hard and we’re excited to be back at it,” said Fournier, between two-a-day practices. “This first week or two is about coming together as a team, getting back in that winning frame of mind, and preparing for the season. The goal is to improve every day.”

The weekend event will feature six teams from three junior hockey leagues, including the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Soo Eagles, Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers and Sudbury Cubs and Ontario Junior Hockey League Hewitt Cup champion Wellington Dukes. Traverse City will face off against Blind River in Friday’s tourney opener, Wellington on Saturday, and conclude with a Sunday tilt against the host Eagles.

“It won’t count in the standings, but it does count in terms of what direction we take as a team,” Fournier explained. “There will be plenty of college (scouts) there as well, so there’s some individual motivating factors too.”

While Fournier and his North Stars squad would like to get off on the right foot this weekend, the North American Hockey League’s regular season isn’t far off, either. The NAHL Showcase gets cranked up on Sept. 14, featuring all 28 teams in a four-day spectacle that attracts thousands of fans and college scouts from across the league’s considerable footprint and beyond. The team’s home opener is set for Wednesday, Sept. 28 against North Division foe Port Huron.

“We’re still introducing some concepts, and as a staff we’re still learning about our players,” Fournier added. “Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be a chance to see how we’ve progressed, and what we’re doing well. We’re all pretty excited to be here, to get going, and to start the journey.”


: Soo Eagles Labor Day Weekend Showcase

WHERE: Pullar Stadium - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

7:30 p.m.: Blind River v. Traverse City

1 p.m.: Soo Eagles v. Sudbury
4:30 p.m.: Soo Thunderbirds v. Blind River
8 p.m.: Wellington v. Traverse City

1 p.m.: Sudbury v. Blind River
4:30 p.m.: Soo Thunderbirds v. Wellington
8 p.m.: Soo Eagles v. Traverse City

11 a.m.: Sudbury v. Wellington
4 p.m.: Soo Thunderbirds v. Soo Eagles

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