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Job opportunity - Pearson resigns from North Stars

After three seasons, of trying to rebuild the North Stars' prospect pool and making a run in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Bauer Conference among other things, Ken Pearson will no longer be behind the North Stars' bench.

After three seasons, of trying to rebuild the North Stars' prospect pool and making a run in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Bauer Conference among other things, Ken Pearson will no longer be behind the North Stars' bench.

Citing family reasons, Pearson resigned as head coach and general manager from the team Friday and Monday he officially took a job with the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as head coach and general manger. The change in leagues puts Pearson 30 minutes from his two children instead of 10 hours when he was coaching in North Battleford.

"I never would've thought of leaving if this opportunity in Manitoba never would've come about," said Pearson. "It was an opportunity I thought I couldn't pass up. I had this opportunity about a year ago and passed up on it to come back to the Battlefords, but this time I couldn't pass on it."

Pearson leaves the Battlefords with a strong reputation as a hockey guy. His connections and dedication to players have helped many of his graduating players who had aspirations to play either professional, college or university hockey, getting to the next step in their careers.

Pearson returns to a league and a community he is familiar with, as he began his coaching career in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 1994 nearly 10 years ago, coaching in Winkler.

Pearson was appreciative of his coaching staff and the board for their work the way they helped to make his job easier and were accommodating with the way he operated the hockey team.

"The organization is great. Right from the top, I think Ray Adelman (president and alternate governor) and I have a good relationship and a lot of respect for each other," said Pearson. "He made it real easy for me to do my job and the rest of the board worked their tail off to do different things for us as a hockey team."

Now the board begins the search for a replacement and, with fall camp set to start Aug. 31, there isn't a lot of time to wait around.

It is confirmed interest from coaches with league experience have already inquired about the job and by Thursday the committee of four board members hopes to begin short listing the applicants and interviewing potential coaches.

By this time next week I hope we are in negotiations with our chosen one," said Stew Demmans, governor of the board and chair of the coach hiring committee.

The new coach and general manager will inherit a team coming off a 26-29-2-1 record and inherits a roster with four 20-year-old forwards in Blake Tatchell, Brett Miller, Boyd Wakelin and Samuel Fortier, two defenceman in Woody Klassen and Travis Sparrow and goaltenders Graham Hildebrand and Blake Voth.

"There have been some great players that have come and gone and there are still some great players there and I wish nothing but the best success for all those kids," said Pearson, who leaves the SJHL with a 76-86-7-3 regular season record.

Of his highlights and accomplishments in the Battlefords, Pearson credits the board for bringing back the SJHL Showcase tournament. He mentioned the 2010 playoff run that ended in the Bauer Conference final against La Ronge, playing team Sweden in an exhibition game after the past season's Christmas break and having two players play in the top 40 game this past season along with helping graduating players move on with their hockey careers.

On that note of graduating players, Pearson's dedication to the organization and his players, continued after he resigned from the team, as he passed on the information that Keith Grondin, the North Stars top goal scorer last season, committed to play at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. at the CIS level.

Pearson also said by the end of the week or early next week, Colin Phaneuf should know where he is going to be playing, as he has two remaining choices at the NCAA level and was waiting for one of them to decide what they are doing with their open roster spot.

"I will certainly leave there with my head held high knowing that there is a great group of guys there now and they got some good recruits this fall coming into camp," said Pearson. "I think our scouts did a real good job of identifying guys in Saskatchewan to fill out our roster in the coming years. I think the future will be real bright for the North Stars."

Pearson is also invested in the program and the players he has brought in and leaves behind and will work with the board on their decision to hire a new coach.

"He leaves us with a team that has promise for the future," said Demmans.

Demmans said he has been somewhat surprised of the quality of applications in just two a few days of announcing the open positions and is confident the North Stars will find a good coach to take over the team.