TRAVERSE CITY — Fans going to Traverse City North Stars games this season are likely to see a lot of familiar faces.
Fourteen players on the team's recently-released opening-day roster are either back from last year's squad or local high school players. And some are both.
Seven Traverse City natives dot the roster, as well as Cadillac's Will Badner, who the team traded for in July.
The North Stars are loaded with three Traverse City West alums -- Eric Rivard, Mitchell Snider and Frank Gilbert -- as well as two each from TC Central (Jared VanWormer and Kyle Froese) and the Bay Reps (Jake Peacock and Eric Jones).
The Stars also bring back forwards Alec Shields, Michal Toman, Alex Taulien and Chris Waterstreet as well as defenders Chris Leibinger and Robert Wiener as part of their 24-man roster that is looking to take Traverse City to its fourth straight playoff appearance.
First-year head coach Chad Fournier said having so many local players on the team wasn't necessarily the plan, but it worked out that way after several of them worked their way onto the team with impressive training camp tryouts.
"So far we've heard nothing but good things about having all the local kids," Fournier said. "But, we'll see what happens. Will people come to see us more than they did in the past? I hope so. We'll see when Sept. 28 comes if there's more people in the stands."
The Stars open the home portion of the 2011-12 season that night against Port Huron.
"Frank Gilbert is a very solid, all-around defenseman for us," Fournier said. "Kyle Froese is a very talented, skilled, young defenseman.
"Eric Jones played some of the best hockey I've seen him play (at camp). He played physically, made some plays. Jake Peacock, we're hoping he can give us some of the scoring touch he's shown he has in high school."