They’re best buddies off the ice and they’re also the backbone of the defence for the North Stars: Kendall Fransoo and Connor Sych.
Sych may have three inches on Fransoo, standing a whopping 6'4”, but what’s clear is how big both men are on leadership.
“You’ve got to show some of the younger guys coming in [to camp] that we’re a team that is not lazy,” Fransoo said after practice on Thursday. “I think that is kind of what camp is all about; showing people that we do everything the right way. Stops and starts, finish hits. We play hard hockey here.”
All week long, new head coach and general manager Nate Bedford praised the two leaders. He said they are two of the best he’s ever seen.
“They run the team,” Bedford said. “Certainly if something goes wrong, one of those two are going to fix it.”
Sych, who tallied 35 points in 54 regular season games last year, believes it’s probably the character of both of them that stuck out to Bedford.
“We’re both hard working guys,” Sych said. “[We’re] both welcoming to other players. That’s a big part — welcoming the newer guys into the room. It helps gel the team together.”
When Fransoo was asked why Bedford may have noticed his leadership, he was quick to credit the team.
“It takes a team to make a great leader,” he said. “When you have guys who respect you and follow you, you respect all them. It just works hand in hand.”
Fransoo and Sych may be the go to guys when the team needs an extra push, but both have different ways of leading.
For Sych, it’s about keeping things light and positive. He likes to crack jokes in the dressing room.
That’s not to say Fransoo is only serious, but he believes the key to being a good leader is to remain vocal and show everyone what you’re willing to sacrifice.
“You can’t be quiet,” Fransoo said. “You’ve got to be a talking guy all the time and you’ve got to be able to show the rest of the guys you’re willing to do anything for the team and get a win.”
After an unbelievable first place finish in the regular season last year was followed up by a second round playoff loss, there’s no reason this team can’t go on a long playoff run this season.
The entire ‘D’ core will return, and although they lost leading scorer Igor Leonenko, who is attending the St. Louis Blues prospect camp at the Traverse City prospects tournament, new acquisitions like Connor Logan coupled with last year’s Rookie of the Year Layne Young should provide enough offence.
But the most exciting thing so far at camp has been the addition of size.
“We’ll definitely be a lot more of an aggressive team,” Sych said. “I think that way we’ll be able to wear teams out a little bit more and make the game a little bit easier on us.”
The added size plays right into one of Fransoo’s biggest strengths on the ice: his physicality, which has him eager to start the year.
“We’re a bigger group this year I think and that excites me a lot because that kind of plays into how I like to play,” he said.
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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