It will be a relatively light schedule for the Battlefords North Stars to start the 2017-18 season, but a hectic finish as they play just seven games in the first 35 days, then wrap up with five games in an eight-day stretch early March.
The season opener for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) defending champs will be on the road in Kindersley, Friday, Sept. 15, with their home opener the following night against the Klippers once more. The division rivals will play each other 10 times for the second straight year, after facing each other eight times per year for three straight seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16.
The SJHL showcase schedule has not been released yet, but each team will play two regular season games in Warman between Sept. 24 and 27. The North Stars most likely opponents for that are Estevan and Melville.
Following the showcase, the North Stars spend almost all of October at home where they'll play just seven games, six of which are at the Civic Centre.
A date to circle on your calendar is Saturday, Oct. 21, when the Flin Flon Bombers come to the Battlefords to rekindle their rivalry with the North Stars. The teams have met in the playoffs the past two seasons, most recently this past spring in the finals when the North Stars swept the Bombers en route to their first championship in 17 years.
The longest homestand for Battlefords is between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10, when they play seven games in a 12-day stretch. The longest time away from home will be in January when they play six straight road games, including two up in Flin Flon.
Seven of the team's final nine games are on the road when they play 15 games in February and the first nine days of March.
The season finale will not be a home-and-home against the Klippers like last season, although a late season home-and-home will still happen on March 6 and 8. This year's finale will be on March 9 when the North Stars visit Nipawin.
Battlefords also plays a total of four neutral zone games. First they will face La Ronge in Pinehouse on Dec. 9, then they'll play Melville in Balcarres on Jan. 20 (which could be a part of Hockey Day in Saskatchewan, though no announcement has been made), followed by a Jan. 27 game in Spiritwood against La Ronge, capped off with a game in Unity against Kinderlsey on March 6.
On the season as a whole, the North Stars will face Humboldt, Notre Dame, and La Ronge six times this year, and Estevan six times as well assuming they're one of the two showcase opponents. Every other opponent, other than Kindersley, will face the North Stars four times, assuming Melville is the other showcase opponent.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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