Unlike last year, the Battlefords North Stars had to choose a completely new set of players to wear both the captain and three assistant captain letters this season.
The new coaching staff of Brandon Heck and Boyd Wakelin said there were too many leaders to choose from, but in the end, they named Layne Young, perhaps not surprisingly, the captain, while Tory Gerein, Levi Kleiboer, and Cody Spagrud will each wear an 'A'.
All four players are entering their third full Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Season.
"[Young] is a natural leader," Heck said on Wednesday after practice. "He works hard on the ice so he can be vocal because he does it all right."
Young has put up back-to-back 70-point seasons and is a good bet to compete for league MVP this season.
But clearly, it's not just his numbers that convinced the coaches he was ready to lead the team.
"He shows up early," Heck continued. "His preparation is as good as I've ever seen. Just a good guy to follow."
"It's obviously an honour," Young said on Wednesday of being given the 'C'. "I'm going to kind of just keep going about my business. Keep doing what I'm doing. I feel like I've been good enough of a leader and I think it's an honour that the coaches think that I'm good enough to be a leader on this team."
Gerein, like Young, is entering his final Junior A season, and put up nine points in 12 playoff games this past spring, after posting a career-high 21 points and 181 penalty minutes in the regular season. He's likely to crush his previous career high in points this year, but Heck has been most blown away with the emotion in his game.
"He understands that when you want to win as bad as anyone, that counts in practice, that counts in your stretch. Just a good guy for young guys to look up to," said Heck.
The duo of Levi Kleiboer and Cody Spagrud will be leaned upon heavily this season on the blueline and the good news is both have another year of junior eligibility left.
They each played on the North Stars as 17-year-olds two seasons ago and even each dressed for several playoff games the year before. Last season, Kleiboer had 32 points in 55 games from the backend while Spagrud had 20, including five goals. Kleiboer's 32 points were ninth-best among defenceman in the SJHL.
"Levi, on the ice he's a leader. He talks a ton out there [and] he's ultra competitive," Heck said. "He's just got a good swagger about him that breeds confidence and [says] 'We've got this, guys.'
"[Spagrud] does everything the right way. He plays so hard, practices so hard, wants it real bad, [and is] not afraid to ask questins. He's just a good Saskatchewan farm kid that you want around."
With these four new players leading the charge, the North Stars will begin their 2017-18 season on the road in Kindersley on Friday evening. The teams will meet again at the Civic Centre on Saturday for a rematch.
NorSask North Stars hockey will begin on Friday at 7:15 p.m. on 93.3 the Rock and on Saturday on CJNB/CJNS with the Ultra Print pre-game show.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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