Multiple North Stars nominated for league awards

By Craig Beauchemin
March 2, 2016 - 8:26am Updated: March 3, 2016 - 10:41am

The Battlefords North Stars season has seen them sit at, or near the top of the league standings for essentially the entire season.

It has resulted in a few of their players being recognized for their efforts throughout the grind of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Season.

Igor Leonenko, in his third and final year with the North Stars, has been nominated as the Finning Division's representative for league MVP.

The 21-year-old Russian has avoided injury this season, something he couldn't do his first two years in North Battleford, and it has resulted in astounding offensive production. Leonenko is second in league scoring as of March 1 with 44 goals and 41 assists. His 85 points are nearly four times higher than his previous career high.

North Stars head coach and general manager Kevin Hasselberg says he always knew Leonenko could produce this way.

"I think this is what he needed to do to achieve his personal goals and that is to play professional hockey next year," Hasselberg said, adding, "He's going to be evaluated closely throughout the playoffs and he's going to have to carry on with what he's achieved through the regular season and we have no doubt he's going to continue to do that."

The two other MVP nominees are both goalies, Jack Burgart of the Weyburn Red Wings and Kris Joyce of the La Ronge Ice Wolves.

Layne Young is in his first year at the Junior A level but has been right near the league leaders in scoring all season long, and sits fourth with 74 points as of March 1. He was nominated as rookie of the year and also named to the All-Rookie team, which included Young's teammates Coby Downs up front and Cody Spagrud on defence.

"You can add Levi Kleiboer to that list and you can add Taryn Kotchorek to that list," Hasselberg said.

"Braydon Buziak has had a tremendous second half of the year, Troy Gerein has had a great finish to the year. We wouldn't be where we are if our first year players hadn't come in quickly and established themselves quickly and earned rolls. They're very important pieces to the puzzle, and that's why we've achieved first place."

Rookie of the year nominees include goaltender Kristian Stead of the Nipawin Hawks and Mackenzie Welke of the Yorkton Terriers.

The last nominee was North Battleford native Connor Sych who was one of five players nominated for defenceman of the year.

"There aren't enough good things that can be said about Connor," North Stars assistant coach Braeden Johnson said, adding, "He's on the penalty kill, he plays the power play, he's got an excellent shot and he's been rewarded by his play with his acknowledgement as a potential defenceman of the year."

Other nominees for defenceman of the year are Eric Sinclair of the Melfort Mustangs, Regan Seiferling of the Yorkton Terriers, Peyton Hogan of the Notre Dame Hounds and Zach Douglas of the Estevan Bruins.

Twitter: @craig_beauch

North Stars lose game 4, return home for game 5 Saturday

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