Following cuts and reassignments made this morning, the Battlefords North Stars roster is now at 29 bodies.
Nothing is set in stone, as there are always moving parts in training camp, but 16 forwards, 11 defencemen, and two goaltenders are currently still in the mix.
It was close to 40 players before last night's 8-2 loss to Humboldt, which was the team's fourth pre-season game in four nights.
"We found out who we thought was ready for Junior A last game and a big part of it is your play in the D-zone," North Stars head coach and general manager Brandon Heck said on Thursday afternoon. "Some guys were just maybe a bit overwhelmed by Humboldt's speed and strength. We want to be a strong defensive team again this year, so we've got to build that identity back."
No longer with the team are forwards Colton Adair, Michael Curran, Zach Horn, Justin McKinlay, Tanner Robin, and Logan Spence, while defencemen Noah Form, Brayden Pruden, and Dawson Vallier have also not made the next cut.
Spence was re-assigned to the AAA Stars, as Heck said it would be best for his development.
Goaltenders Dawson Rodin and Jake Taylor were also released. Heck would not comment on where that leaves the current goaltending situation, with Austin Prior as the only remaining goalie behind starter Taryn Kotchorek that has played at camp.
Two British Columbia forwards also made their debuts last night for the North Stars: Dean Whitcomb and Matthias Urbanski. Whitcomb is not with the team anymore but Urbanski still is, and Heck did say he was impressed with the 18-year-old's debut.
"I thought he was maybe our best forward all night long," Heck said. "So good first impression. It's just one game but I'm pretty happy with how he played."
Although the team is now much closer to where it needs to be come opening night, Heck said tomorrow's roster will once again consist of a mix of returning veterans and players on the bubble.
"The one positive we can take away with playing a lot of exhibition games is we can be patient with our decisions and why wouldn't we?" Heck said. "These games matter but they don't count, so we'll give players the opportunity that they should get and we'll put them in roles that we kind of have envisioned and see how they handle it.
He also reiterated that the results of the pre-season games, including last night's 8-2 loss, don't mean too much.
"We've kind of been overwhelmed with just playing games and making sure we're rested and taking care of our bodies to avoid injuries," Heck said. "We haven't played a very well-structured game, so I'm trying not to lose too much sleep about the outcome of the exhibition games."
Battlefords will be on the ice on Friday morning again, with those playing in the evening only skating briefly and those not playing taking part in a longer skills session.
Friday's game is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre against the Kindersley Klippers, before the team's travel to Kindersley for a rematch on Saturday.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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