If you blinked, you may have missed him: 20-year-old Connor Logan blazing down the wing at North Star training camp.
Logan, a native of Victoria, B.C., was part of the second group that took to the ice at the Civic Centre this morning on the second official day of training camp.
Acquired from the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL in June, Logan’s speed and quick hands made him stand out to North Stars head coach and general manager Nate Bedford.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Bedford said. “I don’t think he’s going to have too many problems fitting into our league. I think the guys already like him.”
Logan said playing in the BCHL last year helped his development, as it’s one of the best junior leagues in Canada.
“[It’s] nice to get a year of junior A under my belt,” he said after the morning skate. “[I] learned a lot from it and hopefully I can take that with me moving [forward].”
Logan was far from the only bright spot on the ice this morning, as Bedford said the energy level the entire group brought was good, especially considering the first group hit the ice at 8:30 a.m.
“I like to coach quickly, especially in practice, and get guys going and I thought they responded pretty well,” he said. “We’ve got some tough decisions but it’s exciting because there [are] some really good kids out there.”
Bedford said the first couple days of camp are just about the players becoming familiar with him and vice versa, before things hopefully get more competitive on the last couple days.
“Hopefully, over the next two days here, guys start to come out of their shells a little bit and show what they’ve got,” he said. “That gives them the best opportunity to make the team.”
The new head coach also was impressed by the leadership shown, not necessarily on the ice today, but at fitness testing yesterday.
“I was really surprised with how strong our leadership is,” Bedford said. “Fitness testing - it shows metrics on a lot of different things but what you don’t realize is the amount of character that it shows and this team certainly has a lot of that.”
Bedford said roughly 36 to 38 players are attending camp. The reason the number isn’t exact is because some players are attending major junior camps and may arrive late if they are cut, such as Ty Muench, who just returned from Swift Current. Goaltender Joel Gryzbowski made the most recent cut for the Saskatoon Blades, but five goaltenders still remain on their roster.
Coby Downs, who finished third in team scoring on the North Stars last season with 73 points, is also not at camp because he is attending a USHL camp in Omaha.
“I wish him the best of luck,” Bedford said. “Obviously we’d like to have him here but it’s probably, outside of major junior, the best development hockey [league] in the world in my opinion.
“If a kid wants to try to be the best he can, or play at the best level, you’ve got to support that,” he added.
If Downs doesn’t make the team, Bedford said the team would be more than happy to have him return.
“I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t come back so I think we’re pretty positive he will,” Bedford said.
The first scrimmage of training camp takes place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre. On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be more practices and scrimmages and on Thursday there will be a softball game. The first pre-season game takes place this Saturday on the road against the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL.
Nathan Kanter is battlefordsNOW’s sports reporter and voice of the Battlefords North Stars. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @NathanKanter11
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