Five Battlefords North Stars took part in the first ever Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and Manitoba Junior Hockey League combined showcase, which kicked off on Monday in Regina with a three-game slate.
All three games were SJHL victories.
The first game of the day saw the youngest squads go head-to-head, with the SJHL's Team Schwartz taking down the MJHL's Team Garbutt 5-1. Both teams are made up of players born in 1999 or later, while the other four teams at the showcase are 1997 and 1998-born players.
North Stars rookie Matthias Urbanski centred Team Schwartz's top line with Flin Flon Bombers stand-out Chrystopher Collin and Humboldt Broncos winger Logan Hunter.
Urbanski had an assist in the win, while Collin had two goals.
"I felt really comfortable... Happy with the way it went," Urbanski said after the game. "A lot more skill than what I expected it to be. A little bit slower though.
"I got to feel what it's like to play with two of the top rookies in the league and it worked well with them."
North Stars head coach Brandon Heck thought Urbanski was one of the best players on the ice.
"He's gained a lot of confidence," Heck said. "You saw again today he was so strong on the puck. He plays both ways. He makes a difference whether he scores or not, each and every game."
In the second game of the day, the SJHL's Team Mitchell defeated the MJHL's Team Zajac 4-2, thanks to two goals from Estevan's Michael McChesney.
No North Stars took part in that game, because Dakota Huebner was not healthy enough to take part in the showcase after suffering a lower-body injury last week.
In the nightcap, four North Stars skated as teammates on Team Kunitz, helping them to a 4-2 win over the MJHL's Team Belfour.
North Stars defenceman Levi Kleiboer, already committed to the University of Maine, got the SJHL on the board with a weird power play goal that tied the game 1-1. Notre Dame's Chance Longjohn would add two goals later on in the game (and added an assist) and subsequently received player of the game honours in the win.
Battlefords defenceman Cody Spagrud assisted on Longjohn's second goal with a beautiful heads-up pass to him in the slot. After the game, Spagrud said things could have gone better.
"I think [tonight] went okay," he said. "The ice was a little rough. I'd like to control the puck a little better. For the first game it was okay."
North Stars forward MacGregor Sinclair, who committed to Canisius College in late November, said after a nervous start from both sides, the pace quickened and made for a good game.
"After we got into it, I think it was a really fast-paced game and you saw there were a lot of really smart players on both sides," Sinclair said. "One might say our league is better but I think it might have just been our chemistry from the start."
The second and final day of the showcase is set for Tuesday with another three games.
Team Schwartz will play Team Garbutt again, this time in the morning at 10:30 a.m.
Then Team Mitchell will play Team Belfour at 2 p.m. and Team Kunitz will wrap things up with a game against Team Zajac at 5 p.m.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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