AAA Stars triumph in first pre-season contest

By Nathan Kanter
September 13, 2017 - 12:00pm

For a pre-season AAA midget hockey game, it was worth much more than the price of admission.

On Tuesday night, the Battlefords AAA Stars began their 2017-18 exhibition schedule with an exciting 5-2 win over the Saskatoon Contacts.

Head coach Norm Johnston had mixed feelings about the win.

"We've [only] had four ice sessions, [so] am I happy? I'm OK," he said. "A lot of things we focused on in practice were the things we didn't do tonight.

"[But] we scored five goals, only allowed two, everybody played power play [and] penalty kill, everybody got ice time so got to be happy with that."

The Stars roster was selected way back in April so there was no fall training camp.

Standing out on Tuesday were three new faces: forwards Ty Mosimann and Damon McKenzie, and goaltender Carter Serhyenko.

Serhyenko, who is still just 14-years-old because of a late birthday and was selected by the North Stars in the 2017 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League bantam draft, made 32 saves on 34 shots.

"For a [14-year-old] kid in the league, he's very good," Johnston said. "There's three goaltenders left for the U-16 team in the province and he's one of them. He's playing really well."

Mosimann, a 17-year-old forward who played for the Prince Albert Mintos last season and recorded 38 points in 44 games, opened the scoring and assisted on the second goal. McKenzie, another 17-year-old who played on the other wing with Mosimann scored twice, including the game-winner and assisted on Mosimann's goal as well.

McKenzie played last season for the Unity Lazers midget AA team, racking up 26 goals and 13 assists in 26 games.

"[Mosimann] scores and skates," Johnston said. "Him and Damon McKenzie are a really good fit. We're just waiting for that other guy in the middle."

That 'other guy' in the middle Johnston is referring to is his potential top line centre in Adam Beckamn, who signed with the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs last month and will likely start the season with them. Beckman could be returned to AAA if all or most of Spokane's players at NHL camps are returned to junior.

Last season, Beckman was one of the lone bright spots on the Stars, putting up 41 points in 44 games as a 15-year-old rookie.

If Beckman doesn't come back?

"We have no idea," Johnston said. "Oh I'm concerned, absolutely...We'll have to look for another player, either someone within our group, or someone outside our group."

Moving forward, a big focus for Johnston is to move away from a dump and chase style of play, which he said a lot of kids are used to.

That is a major adjustment that will take time, but it's what he wants to do.

"We're trying to change our game a bit. We don't want to dump and chase," Johnston said. "Now we're trying puck possession, which is really difficult because it's hard to teach them. You can practice but that's practice, that's not against anybody. As soon as they have opposition, then they get scrambly and don't know where the puck is. So communication and move our feet, that's what we've got to do."

The AAA Stars next pre-season game is on Thursday, also at home, against the Beardy's Blackhawks. Puck at the Civic Centre is set for 7:30 p.m.


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