Hockey: Northstar teams go undefeated at the Knights Showcase
With wins over the Des Moines Jr. Buccaneers program on Sunday, the Northstar 16U and 18U teams finished the Knights Showcase 3-0.
ALEXANDRIA - The Northstar Christian Academy hosted its Knights Showcase from Dec. 2-4 and both the 16U and 18U Knights as they both went 3-0 on the weekend at the Northstar Sports Complex.
“Winning is fun for sure, we're excited that we won but I think we're more excited just that our guys play hard and they represent the Lord with,” Northstar Athletic Department Head and 18U Co-Head Coach Tim Jackman said. “I think the way that they play in the intensity and camaraderie that our team has, I think is what is what makes us most excited.”
The Knights programs ended the weekend with wins over the Des Moines Jr. Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 4. The Knights 16U team beat the Buccaneers 6-1, while the 18U team won 5-0.
Tyler Dahms, an Omaha native, got the first goal of the game for the Knights 16U team against the Jr. Buccaneers eight minutes in which was quickly followed by a goal from Evan Leden, a Geneva, Illinois native, to put the Knights up 2-0 after the first frame.
Des Moines cut it to a one-goal game with a Tyson Fevry goal with 4:20 left in the second frame. Northstar pushed its lead up three by the end of the frame with goals by Farwell native Grady Stallman and Alexandria native Alex Klimek.
Northstar ended the game with goals by Michael Mathison (power play), a Whitefish, Montana, native, and Carter Sanderson, a Pierre, South Dakota, native.
The Knights had a 63-16 shot on goal advantage in the win.
“We have good forward depth,” Leden said. “We were getting the puck to the net and all of us can really score.”
The Knights 16U began the showcase with a 5-0 win over Nichols Prep 16U on Friday, Dec. 2, and a 7-2 win over CarShield on Saturday, Dec. 4. The 16U Knights are now 21-4-2 so far this season.
Brooking, South Dakota, native Jacob Peterson leads the team in goals scored with 18. The 16U Knights have scored 121 goals this season and have allowed just 57.
In addition to their depth at the forward, Leden is excited about the play of the team’s young defenders and goaltenders.
Fargo native Merik Grinaker got the win in net for the 16U Knights on Sunday with 15 saves.
The 18U Knights’ shutout win was its fifth shutout of the season and the Knights are 25-2 this season.
“Our defense plays a in your face kind of style,” Jackman said. “They don't get puck-focused. We have good sticks and we play as a team. When we do make mistakes, we have good goaltenders there to back us up.”
The 18U Knights' opponents have scored just 51 goals in 26 games against the Knights this season. On offense, the 18U Knights have scored 148 goals led by Richland, Washington, native Caleb Elfering with 27.
The Knights 18U team got on the board eight minutes into the game with a goal by Gavin Hruza, a West Fargo, North Dakota native. The Knights went up 3-0 at the end of the first frame with goals by The Woodlands, Texas, native Ryan Murphy and Seattle native Jake Lundeen.
Alexandria native, Beck Liden earned the win net for the 18U Knights with 21 saves.
The second frame was nearly scoreless but Miltona native Cooper Fredricks found the back of the net to put the Knights up 4-0 heading into the final frame.
Minot, North Dakota native Dawson McCann put the final goal in the back of the net for the Knights as he scored with 6:06 left in the game.
The 18U Knights finished with a 52-22 edge in shots on goals on Sunday.
“This was great,” Fredricks said about the showcase. “We really came together after coming off of Thanksgiving break and we really played well as teams. I really think that showed up on the scoreboard this weekend.”
Northstar as a whole is looking to continue player development.
“Our strength is really our development,” Fredricks said. “We're really good at developing players and moving guys on to the next level.”
The Knights were proud that they won the tournament on their home ice in front of a lot of their parents.
“It was really good to win it for all the parents and stuff from the many different states,” Leden said.
The Knights also went undefeated in last season’s Knights Showcase on Jan. 27-29, 2022.
The Northstar program is now an independent team after playing its first seasons in the NAPHL T1ER.
The 18U Knights won the last two NAPHL Dixon Cups while the 16U teams made deep runs in the playoffs.
Jackman is ecstatic about the growth he’s seen from the players through the years.
“What's been exciting for me is I've worked with pretty much all players except for three on this U18 team at least one year, if not two years,” Jackman said. “ So I've already developed relationships with most of them. I know them fairly well. It's been really exciting to watch them grow because a lot of them were here when they were 14 or 15 years old. It's been really amazing for me to see watch him grow up as young men.”
Jackman said team comradery is the program’s most important principle.
“Everybody brings value to our team,” he said. “Everybody has a voice on our both teams. Our guys are here to serve and learn how to love each other and be a team. That's what makes our teams so strong.”
Both Knights teams are back on the ice for games against the Sioux Falls Power Saturday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Northstar Sports Complex.
The 16U Knights play at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday while the 18U Knights play at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Noon on Sunday.
Rylan Galiardi is a co-head coach for the 18U Knights while Mark Abalan and Dallas Steward are co-head coaches for the 16U team.
“It has been a good year thus far,” Jackman said. “I haven't had a chance to reflect on the season yet. I think right now, we're still just trying to help each player grow as a young man and as a hockey player. But from the start of the season to where we are now both teams are playing better hockey. All of our players have developed in certain areas and added value to themselves as players and as men.”