MAIN PHOTO: Martin Smith (left to right), Kian Bell and Fiona Smith-Bell will be inducted into the SJHL Hall of Fame as a family. (Submitted photo by Fiona Smith-Bell)

The following story is used with permission of Fall River’s Kian Bell and his family from Battlefords, Sask.

By Britton Gray

980 CJME Radio

NORTH BATTLEFORD, SASK.: Kian Bell is doing his best to live up to the big impact his family has had on the Battlefords North Stars.

His entire family will be inducted into the SJHL Hall of Fame for the contributions they have made to the franchise.

“It’s really cool. They did most of the work to get that induction,” Bell said of his relatives. “I kind of just got thrown in with them at the same time. But it’s a huge honour to be in with all three of them.”

Dr. Ian McDonald Smith was the North Stars’ president and governor, Martin Smith is the franchise’s all-time leader in points (349 in 229 games) and Martin’s sister Fiona Smith-Bell achieved international success. Her son — Bell — is currently a star on the team; he was recently named the league’s MVP and top forward for a second straight season.

“It’s really exciting for us. My dad was a builder when the team was bought and it became a non-profit community group and he was on the board and he became the president,” Martin Smith said.

“This history is long in our family with him serving as a league governor for 10 years and then my playing days with the North Stars and the success Fiona has had at the international level more specifically.

“Then Kian coming up through the SJHL and having success, it has been a really fun ride and we’re really honoured to be going into the Hall of Fame.”

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Smith-Bell says it’s a tremendous honour to go into the hall as a family.

“My first thoughts are of my dad — Doc, as he was known — because he was a tremendous ambassador in the community and his commitment to the SJHL and hometown North Stars,” Smith-Bell said.

“I just think of how proud he was of my brother for his accomplishments and a member of the hometown team. And now to have Kian there, it’s very special for sure.”

While Bell has become a key player for the North Stars, he may have never played for the team that meant so much to his family.

Bell has lived in many places across Canada, including Lumsden, White City and calling Fall River, N.S. He was playing in the QMJHL with the Cape Breton Eagles but that came to an end after the 2021-22 season.

“I was 19 years old and the team I was on, we fired the (general manager) and brought in a new GM. I went through six coaches in three years there,” Bell said. “They ended up trading everyone away and going into a rebuild phase and all the 19-year-olds got released on the waivers, so there weren’t any other spots to play for me. So I had to go to junior A.”

Bell knew the North Stars had interest in him for a couple years so, after weighing his options, he elected to travel west to Saskatchewan.

“My uncle and mom for sure were pretty stoked, including my dad. We all thought it would be a really cool opportunity,” Bell said. “Before, I was kind of against it – not against it, but I was more so hesitant to want to move all the way across the country from my family.

“I’ve lived away from home, but only four hours away from home which is a lot different being in North Battleford than Halifax. They were reassuring and were excited when I made the decision to come here.”


Smith-Bell admitted it was tough to see her son have to travel so far away to play hockey.

“It wasn’t easy sending him off, but I knew he was in good hands going to the community of Battleford,” she said. “They absolutely embraced him and I think a big part of that too was with my dad being a part of the community and Martin being there, it makes it a lot easier knowing he has my brother close by and great billets and a lot of support in the community.

“That was a lot easier — but it wasn’t the easiest goodbye last year.”

It wasn’t until Bell got to Battleford that he realized the sort of impact his family had on the community.


Growing up in Edam, Smith and Smith-Bell played hockey together for much of their childhood.

“We were defence partners and I later became a forward and she stayed on defence and had a great career. So not only were we defence partners, we were teammates and to see her go on and excel in the women’s game and be such a good ambassador and role model for young girls (is special),” Smith said.

“I was his protector,” Smith-Bell said with a laugh. “Just kidding. I played with the boys right up until I was 14 and had the opportunity to play with my brother, which is pretty special. We hadn’t played together in a little while and last month I found some equipment and we ended up playing a rec hockey game so that was a lot of fun in North Battleford.

“Let’s just say I’m not in the shape I used to be in and I’m not coming out of retirement anytime soon.”

As they grew older and eventually called the Battlefords home, Smith suited up for the SJHL team.

“To play for the North Stars, growing up watching the North Stars and then being able to put on a North Stars jersey was really special,” Smith said. “When you’re playing in front of your friends and family, I think there’s added pressure to perform every night and I liked that part of it.

“When you walked down the street, there was people that knew you because you were from around here. It was really special.”

He is not only the franchise leader in points but goals (142) and assists (207) and has played the second-most games in a North Stars jersey (229).


Smith-Bell started playing senior women’s hockey and got onto the national team’s radar. She is a two-time world champion (1997, 1999) and an Olympic silver medallist (1998 in Nagano).

“My parents were able to come to Japan, which was pretty special to have them in the stands. We ended up losing in that final – we had never lost an international competition going into Japan,” Smith-Bell said.

“At first, you’re devastated but there was just so many special memories. Walking in the opening ceremonies was probably one of my highlights; your team has grown from 20 to (over 100 as part of Team Canada).

“Just being able to see the other venues and being a part of the athlete’s village (was amazing). Wearing the maple leaf is a big honour and that never gets old. Being able to put on the Canadian jersey and wear it for your country, it was a tremendous honour.”

Now Bell is getting the same sort of treatment his family received in Battlefords for years.

“Everywhere I go, somebody will recognize me but not because it’s me but because I’m the nephew of Martin Smith, the son of Fiona Smith or the grandson of Doctor Smith. It’s pretty cool. Everywhere you go, someone will recognize me but it’s because of my family,” Bell said.


When he joined the North Stars last season, he also elected to wear No. 27 – the same number his uncle wore back in the day.

“That was emotional when he phoned me and told me the options he had for numbers and he decided to wear my old number 27,” Smith said. “Mom and Dad aren’t with us anymore and I know as Grandpa and Grandma they would be smiling down with the success that he has had.

“The fact that he is wearing my old number 27, it’s just extra special and you couldn’t write a better script the way things have turned out with him coming here and playing for the North Stars and everything that has come with it.”

Bell has done his best to live up to the lofty expectations that come with the number. In his first season, he had 54 goals and 48 assists for 102 points. He was named the league MVP that season.

He was the first member of the team to get past the 50-goal plateau since Smith did back in 1991-92.

“Down the stretch run for the North Stars trying to hang onto first overall and all those sorts of things, the side story of him trying to get to 51 and equal my mark I had 30-some years ago, it was exciting,” Smith said. “It was something we hopped on board and got on the ride for – I was just happy to see him reach that and then exceed it.”


The North Stars won the SJHL title and got all the way to the final of the Centennial Cup before losing to the Brooks Bandits 4-0.

“It was the best year of my life,” Bell said. “It was so much fun – the guys all around the room were just one big family. We all still keep in touch.

“Something comes up about last year pretty much every day at the rink. It was such a blur and it went by way too fast but it was just so much fun. The personal success was nice but just winning and getting to go to Portage and create those memories was awesome. It put so much fun back into the game.

“Ever since I came here, it has been nothing but smiles at the rink. That’s made me really love the game more than I was back home. The coaching staff here is just awesome along with all the guys and everyone around the community. It’s been good for me, my family and getting to spend some more time with my uncle. It’s put a lot of love back into the game and it’s super-exciting.”


Bell started the 2023-24 season with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings but joined the North Stars in late October.

The team was playing around .500 hockey at that time, but went 30-10-4-0 after he returned to the lineup. He finished with a SJHL-leading 57 assists and 94 points.

“This year I’ve been trying to be more of the passing guy and set up the other guys. Both years are similar in certain ways but this year it’s more of me passing the puck,” Bell said.

While his focus is on trying to win a second straight SJHL title with playoffs now underway, he and his family will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in June.

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