The Northstar Christian Academy hockey teams will open up their 2021-22 schedule at a North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine Sept. 16-19 before coming back to Alexandria for the home opener against the MN Blades Sept. 25-26.
The Knights are entering their fourth season with an 18U team and second with a 16U team. Both programs won the NAPHL regular season title last season as five players total were taken in the United States Hockey League draft, 12 tendered in the NAHL and one signed in the Western Hockey League. The U18 team won the NAPHL Dixon Cup with a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Little Flyers when Cody Croal netted the game-winner 1:45 into overtime.
That 18U team returns 11 players from last year’s group. Two of those returnees, forwards Reese Laubach (Youngstown) and Croal (Muskegon), were a part of the five Northstar players taken in the USHL draft. Both set a Knights’ program record last season with 33 goals each. Princeton native Dylan Cook gives Northstar its top three scorers from last year back to help lead a team that finished with a 44-8-2 overall record.
Goaltender Logan Verpoort, who the Knights feel is one of the top goaltenders in the country at this division, is also back, while CJ Kier will move up from the 16U team.
“CJ was often the backbone of the 20-21 16U team and made USA Hockey National Development Camp as one of the top 2004 birth-year goalies in the U.S.,” it said in the Knights’ press release on the 2021-22 season. “The 16U team returns goaltender Beck Liden from last season, who is poised to have a breakout year and grow in a leadership role. Incoming 16U goalies Max Weilandt (2005) and Merik Grinaker (2006) both are considered top in their age groups after being selected to USA Hockey National Development Camp in their respective age groups.”
The 16U team has six returning players from last year’s group. Brayden Berg is part of that group after scoring 36 points last year, while WHL draft pick Briggs Orr and Lear Voit will help anchor the back end as returners for a team that went 34-15-4 overall.
The Knights also added Mark Abalan and Dallas Steward to their coaching staff. Steward has over 10 years of coaching experience in the USHL and Division I college hockey. He will coach the 18U team alongside head coach Rylan Galiardi.
Abalan has over 20 years of coaching experience, including nine years in the USHL with Sioux City and Chicago. He will serve as the associate director of the Northstar Christian Academy and joins current 16U head coach Tim Jackman as an assistant coach.
In total, the Knights’ 49 players represent 18 different states. Northstar will host 11 different home weekends in Alexandria that includes two 8-team showcases the weekends of Nov. 19-21 and Jan. 28-30.
NORTHSTAR KNIGHTS HOCKEY SCHEDULE
(Game Times for 2 game sets (unless otherwise noted):Game 1: U16 5 pm, U18 7:30 pm; Game 2: U16 9 am, U18 Noon)
Sept. 16-19 NAHL Showcase at Blaine
Sept. 25-26 vs. MN Blades at home
Oct. 2-4 NAHL Showcase at St. Louis, Missouri
Oct. 8-10 Fargo Force Showcase at Fargo
Oct. 16 Blue Army at St. Paul
Oct. 17 Blue Archy at home, 16U Noon; 18U, 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 23-24 Team ND at Home
Oct. 29-30 Des Moines at home
Nov. 5 STL AAA at St. Louis, Missouri
Nov. 6-7 Carshield at St. Louis, Missouri
Nov. 12 SSM Prep/SSM 16s at Faribault, MN
Nov. 13-14 Windy City Storm at home
Nov. 19-21 Knights Showcase at home
Dec. 4-5 Carshield at home
Dec. 11-12 Reapers at Mt. Prospect, Illinois
Dec. 18-20 NAPHL Showcase at Blaine
Jan. 16-18 NAPHL Showcase at Michigan
Jan. 22-23 Reapers at home
Jan. 28-30 Knights Showcase at home
Feb. 4-5 at Des Moines, Iowa
Feb. 12-13 Rink Academy at home
Feb. 18-21 NAPHL Playoffs at Michigan
Feb. 25-27 TBD
March 4-5 at Sioux Falls, SD
March 12-13 Culver at Dubuque, Iowa
March 17 Seacoast at home; 16s at 5 p.m.; 18s at 7:30 p.m.
March 19-20 MN Blades at home