NORTH BATTLEFORD - Fans of the Battlefords North Stars are hoping that North Battleford city council hasn't inadvertently jinxed the team's Cup chances with talk about a possible deep playoff run at their last meeting.
City council in North Battleford considered the ramifications of a lengthy North Stars SJHL playoff run at their Feb. 13 meeting. During that meeting Mayor David Gillan expressed confidence in the North Stars' chances.
Gillan noted the North Stars “are doing very very well as everyone knows, and will probably have a successful postseason, which means a bit of pressure on our Access Communications Centre to accommodate.”
He noted a few years before, when the North Stars had a good run, that they had “to expand seating. I know at the time we expanded the exits… Are we prepared as best as possible?”
Director of Parks and Recreation Cheryl DeNeire responded they are “forecasting a whole range of situations, based on multiple possibilities that they ran right through to the Canalta Cup finals.”
“We have done this before, so we are aware of what’s coming towards us. Yes, planning is under way for this.”
Gillan highlighted the issue because he had spoken recently with members of the North Stars organization and “they were telling me how excited they are.”
Should the North Stars go on a deep playoff run, they would require dates at the Access Communications Centre through the championship series for the SJHL.
Should they win that title, they would then directly go to the national Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. That would run May 11 to 21.
As was the case a year ago in Estevan, the champions of all nine of the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s leagues as well as the host Portage Terriers will proceed directly to the national tournament.
The Anavet Cup, traditionally held between the Saskatchewan and Manitoba champions, will again not be played and that will also mean fewer potential playoff dates late in the postseason at the Access Communications Centre.
In 2019, the North Stars won the SJHL title and Anavet Cup playoff dates at the venue were scheduled into early May. That was the last time the North Stars enjoyed a deep playoff run. SJHL playoffs were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the North Stars were defeated in the first round by Flin Flon in 2022.
In recent years when the North Stars have gone on a deep run, the Access Communications Centre has needed to juggle playoff dates to take into account the Kinsmen Indoor Rodeo. This year’s Rodeo takes place April 28, 29 and 30.
As of Tuesday, the Battlefords North Stars stood atop the SJHL with a record of 41-4-2-1, and were second in the national CJHL rankings behind the Brooks Bandits. The North Stars had previously spent time in the top spot overall in Canada. The North Stars have already clinched their spot in the SJHL playoffs, which do not begin until early March.
Mayor Gillan also expressed some thoughts at the meeting about how the community could think of ways to support the team should it make a deep run to nationals.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a great team and they have a great chance of winning it all,” said Gillan.