Eleven returning players and 14 new faces made the 2018-19 pre-season roster following the midget AAA Norman Nothstars’ try-outs Aug. 23-26, which wrapped up with the top 35 of the weekend going head to head in Sunday’s inter-squad match.
This list of returning veterans includes Sheldin Howard, Hunter Rambow, Jamie Valentino, Jordan Pfoh and Braedin Melsted, who all walked away from last season with their fair share of accomplishments and accolades.
However, not all of these players will necessarily remain with the team until the regular season begins, as some, such as Rambow and Howard, are also planning to try out for Manitoba Junior Hockey League squads.
The crop of new talent includes Ryan Monias of Thompson and Richard Ducharme of Norway house, as well as the men who will be working the bench.
This season, Glenn Laycock and Murray Nychyporuk will be sharing the role of head coach, taking over for James Buchanan, who fulfilled this position for the last two years.
In terms of their overriding coaching philosophy, both men are aiming to help these young athletes succeed on and off the ice.
“Our first goal is to create young men for the community and, as they get older, to be good citizens” said Laycock, referencing the team’s active participation in events like the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign. “Our second goal, obviously, is we need to win games, and we’ve been struggling in the last good six years with doing that.”
Laycock and Nychyporuk admit that course correcting from this previous season will be an uphill battle, especially after this most recent selection camp.
Not only did they have a much smaller pool of kids to choose from this time around, roughly half the number from last year’s tryouts, but many of the athletes who made the final cut have never played together before.
“They’re all new to each other, so [building] the chemistry is huge,” said Laycock. “So all these team events we do is for that reason is to get them all talking and sitting in a room and wearing that sweater.”
Heading into September, Laycock and Nychyporuk still need to make a few cuts to the roster before the beginning of the regular season, which will leave the team with a total of 20 athletes.
Until then, the coaching duo remains cautiously optimistic about their ability to rehabilitate the organization’s image for fans.
“If you start winning games and you keep these kids in line, that they’re part of the community in the right way, then you flip that around and you have people wanting to come here and you have all the talent here,” said Laycock.
The first game of the Northstars’ 2018–19 regular season takes place on the road against the Brandon Wheat Kings Sept 28. Their first home game of the year is set for Oct. 6, when they will be taking on the Winnipeg Bruins at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
Norman Northstars 2018−19 preseason roster
· Mikey Baron (Thompson)
· Sheldin Howard (Thompson)
· Keistin Saunders (Thompson)
· Hunter Rambow (The Pas)
· Henry Muchikekwanape (Norway House)
· Richard Ducharme (Norway House)
· Jamie Valentino (Thompson)
· Ryan Monias (Thompson)
· Morgan Daneliuk (Flin Flon)
· Blake Lahonen (Flin Flon)
· Kadin Ross (Cross Lake)
· Albert Sinclair (Split Lake)
· Brandon McKay (Thompson)
· Morgan Beauchamp (Flin Flon)
· Jordan Pfoh (Flin Flon)
· Braden Hill (The Pas)
· Chase Muswagon (The Pas)
· Dryden Garrick (Cross Lake)
· Lance Bobesko (Thompson)
· Brycen Francoeur (Flin Flon)
· Rowan Chuckry (Gillam)
· Christopher Pynn (Thompson)
· Sam MacDonald (Thompson)
· Braedin Melsted (Thompson)
· Rylan Potkonjak (Flin Flon)