The Battlefords North Stars drafted five new players to its organization on Friday morning at the annual Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League draft, choosing three forwards, one defenceman, and one goaltender.
Joining the organization are forward Steven Kesslering, goaltender Carter Serhyenko, defenceman Walter Somers, forward Adam Kydd, and forward Kaleb Brunet.
The defending SJHL champs didn't have a first or second-round pick, but that doesn't mean they weren't happy with their picks.
"I think we did pretty well," said North Stars scout Wylie Riendau. "Obviously it's pretty tough when you don't get a pick until the third round but I think we got some good players and I think players that will be able to fit into our style of play in the future."
The North Stars chose Kesslering with their first selection at 32nd overall, in the middle of the third round. Battlefords acquired that selection in a January trade that saw overage centre Brett Horn head to Humboldt, and the North Stars received prospect Matthew Fletcher, a player development fee, and this pick in return.
"When we got Steven Kesslering, we really didn't think he was going to be there," Riendau said. "We were thinking [he] would go at least first or second round. We didn't think he'd be around for the third, that's for sure."
Kesslering is a Viceroy, Sask., native who played this past season for the Weyburn Red Wings AA bantam team where he tallied an impressive 30 goals in 30 games. His team won only three games in the entire regular season, yet Kesslering managed 40 points in 30 games and was tied for second in the entire league in the regular season in shorthanded goals with four.
In the playoffs, Kesslering added eight goals and 11 points in just five games, helping his team upset the sixth-ranked Moose Jaw Warriors with seven goals the best-of-three opening round series.
"He scored 47 per cent of their goals, regular season and playoffs [combined]," Riendau said. "That's pretty phenomenal. He's a good player. He's a power forward. He's got good size. He can skate. He's going to be playing AAA in Moose Jaw for the Generals this year so that's also huge for his development, playing AAA as a first year midget."
Kesslering was also chosen in the ninth round of the WHL bantam draft by the Kelowna Rockets.
Serhyenko was chosen just four picks after Kesslering, with the last pick of the third round, 36th overall. He is a tall goaltender from Saskatoon with a late birthday who played in 17 games for the Saskatoon Stallions bantam AA team. He posted a 7-8-2 record with a 4.05 goals-against-average and one shutout.
"He moves really well," Riendau. "He played on a weaker Saskatoon team so he saw a lot of shots. He had a really good SaskFirst tournament. He played very well there. He made it to the top-40 in Saskatchewan so he's going to be competing for a spot on the U-16 team, which we think is very beneficial for his development."
Serhyenko will also play locally this season, as he made the Battlefords AAA Stars at spring camp as a first-year midget.
Somers was the first and only defenceman chosen by the North Stars, taken with the final pick of the fourth round at 48th overall. He is another Saskatoon native, who tallied nine points in 29 games from the blueline for the Saskatoon Generals bantam AA team that was upset in the playoffs by the West Central Wheat Kings.
"We really like his aggressive, physical play and that's why we drafted him," Riendau said. "We like that he's tough to play against in front of his net, below the hashmarks, in the corners in his own end. He's a tough kid. We're really excited to have him as well.
"He moves the puck very well up the ice and I can see him chipping in with a few more points than it said he did this year."
With the 60th overall selection, Battlefords took Kydd, a forward from Regina that tallied 41 points in 30 games for the Regina Pat Blues bantam AA team. Those 41 points led his team in scoring and the second-best teammate was 12 points behind.
"He is the captain of his team [so] he's got really good leadership qualities," Riendau said. "I'd say he's more of a playmaking forward. He can chip in the odd-goal and stuff too for sure but... he can move the puck and he has really good vision in the offensive zone."
Brunet was taken with the final pick in the entire draft. He is from Pierceland, Sask., which is right by the Alberta border about 100 km west of Meadow Lake, and played midget AA this year in Meadow Lake for the Stampeders. He had 15 points in 27 games.
"He took kind of an unconventional route this year. He took the same route as our second round pick last year in Dylan Esau [playing midget]," "We think he's got a lot of potential. At Sask First, the first thing I noticed about him was his skating is phenomenal. He skates really well. He's very hard on the forecheck. He's going to be that first guy on the forecheck and he's going to crash and bang. We really like that about him. He's a physical kid."
*Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the North Stars drafted two forwards and two defenceman. Kaleb Brunet is a forward, not a defenceman, making it three forwards and one defenceman.
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