NOJHL Notebook: Busy October begins tonight


Release Date: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
NOJHL Notebook: Busy October begins tonight

SUDBURY – As the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League heads into its second month of regular season play a hectic October will see 37 leagues game being played.

Game action for this month begins tonight at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff as the Sudbury Nickel Barons host the Soo Thunderbirds at 7:30 p.m.

That contest is one of nine that compiles the weekly docket of competition.

Three more 7:30 p.m. tilts are on tap Friday as the Thunderbirds welcomes the Blind River Beavers to Essar Centre while North Bay heads to Espanola and Sudbury will meet Abitibi in a neutral site contest, which will be played at McIntyre Arena in Timmins.

The following night then has Elliot Lake tangling with the Rivermen of Espanola at Centennial Arena and Blind River at home vs. North Bay in another pair of 7:30 p.m. starts.

A busy week in the NOJHL then concludes Sunday as the Beavers heads to Espanola at 2 p.m. followed by Sault Ste. Marie entering the Trappers and 3 p.m. and the Eskimos and Gold Miners facing off in Kirkland Lake at 7:30 p.m.

WHAT A MONTH: September was a good one for Kirkland Lake Gold Miners forward Steven Babin.

Points in all eight games he played as well as leading all skaters in the league in both assists and points with 14 and 16 helped earn him the Gongshow Gear player of the month laurels for September.

He also leads the league in point-per-game average at 2.00 while his assist numbers tie him for the fourth-best total overall in that offensive category in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League, despite having played at least two fewer games than those ahead of him.

Babin’s efforts have also helped the Gold Miners post the best record in the NOJHL after one month of play as they sit in first place on 14 points with a 7-1 won-loss mark. Kirkland Lake was also rated 11th in the most recent CJHL Top 20 rankings.

Honourable mention for September’s NOJHL’s Gongshow Gear player of the month laurels went to forwards Gavin Burbach of the Soo Thunderbirds and Brennen Dubchak of the Espanola Rivermen.

CJHL TOP 20: The on-ice success of NOJHL clubs has also drawn the attention of the CJHL and three teams in the league garnered recognition in the most recent national rankings.

First place Kirkland Lake was tabbed 11th in the CJHL in the latest Top 20 rankings, which are compiled in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting.

Right behind them in 12th were the Soo Thunderbirds while the Espanola Rivermen earned honourable mention status. Both the T-Birds and Rivermen are tied for second in the NOJHL standings with identical 6-2 records.

ONLINE ACTION: Each and every NOJHL game this season is available online on a pay-per-view basis via FASTHockey.

Fans can view the games through the FASTHockey link on the league website at

NOJHL 3 STARS: The fourth installment of the NOJHL’s “3 Stars” of the week saw Espanola forward Brennen Dubchak, Elliot Lake goaltender Etienne Roy and Kirkland Lake forward Steven Babin honoued for their contributions.

BRENNEN DUBCHAK, (F) ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – It was another impressive week for the 19-year-old Kenora, Ont., product as he found the back of the net in all three games his team played last week helping them skate to a trio of triumphs.

He began by notching his second hat-trick of the season in a 7-4 road victory vs. Sudbury on Wednesday and then followed that up by scoring the eventual game-winner while adding an earlier assist as the Rivermen won their home opener 5-4 against the same Nickel Barons in front of a jam-packed Espanola Regional Recreation Complex crowd Friday.

Dubchak then wrapped up his successful week supplying another tally and setting up one more as his side edged Abitibi 6-5 in overtime Sunday afternoon.

His efforts also helped him extend a consecutive game goal and point streak to five straight having amassed nine tallies and four helpers in that span while moving into second overall in NOJHL scoring with 14 total points.

ETIENNE ROY, (G) ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The 19-year-old netminder was instrumental helping the Bobcats pick-up a pair of home ice victories this past week.

Roy, who hails from Levis, Que., began his efforts by being named the game’s first star following a 40-save performance in a 5-2 triumph over the Soo Thunderbirds on Friday.

He followed that up the next night making another 23 stops as Elliot Lake edged the North Bay Trappers 4-3 in overtime giving him a 2.46 goals-against average and a solid .926 save percentage for the week.

The Bobcats goalkeeper now sits second in the league in minutes played at 393:26, saves at 205 and wins with four.

STEVEN BABIN, (F) KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Babin’s lone contest last week was an impressive one as the 19-year-old forward dished out a NOJHL season-high five assists in an 8-1 victory over Blind River.

The big night for the Val d’Or, Que., native has a league-best eight-game point streak heading into October.

Babin, who represented the NOJHL at this summer’s Ontario Summer Select Showcase event in Cornwall, currently leads all skaters in assists with 14 and is first in overall points with 16.

NOJHL SHOWCASE: The NOJHL is slated to host a league Showcase Weekend Jan. 10-11 in Espanola.

A total of four league regular season games, which will count in the NOJHL standings, will be played at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.

The goal is to further showcase the players of the NOJHL in one location to further assist NCAA, CIS, CHL and NHL scouts allowing them access to all league members clubs in one venue.


Friday, Jan. 10
Elliot Lake vs. Espanola 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 12
Kirkland Lake vs. Blind River 1:30 p.m.
Abitibi vs. Soo 4:15 p.m.
Sudbury vs. North Bay 7:15 p.m.

CENTRAL CANADA CUP: Over the Christmas break the NOJHL will be sending an all-star team that will compete in the Central Canada Cup Challenge Dec. 27-29 in Terrebonne, Que.

There the NOJHLers will go up against similar all-star squads from the Maritime, Quebec, Central Canada and Ontario Jr. Hockey Leagues.

This marks the second time in three years the league will take part in the event.

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The NOJHL champion will move on to represent the league at the 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship.

That four-team event will be hosted by the OJHL’s Wellington Dukes and will run April 29 – May 3 at the Essroc Arena in the Wellington and District Community Centre.

ROYAL BANK CUP: The DHC title holder will then move on to represent the region at the 2014 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship with that tournament being hosted by the BCHL’s Vernon Lakers May 10-18 in Vernon, B.C.


ABITIBI ESKIMOS – After finishing up with five straight games on home ice the Eskimos will now compete in five consecutive contests away from Iroquois Falls. It will start Friday as they take on Sudbury in which they will be the home team, but it is a neutral site affair in Timmins. They’ll also be in Kirkland Lake Sunday taking on the league-leading Gold Miners. … The club has five of a possible six points in their previous three outings. …  Kealy Cummings is averaging a point-per-game with seven in as many contests to pace the squad offensively. … Brady Clouthier and Ryan Wildman are right behind him with six points each. … Netminder Sylvain Miron has faced a league-high 232 shots against. He is fourth in goals-against average among netminders who have played at least 120 minutes or more so far this season at 2.94. Miron is also third in save percentage at .922 and third in minutes played at 366:44.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Blind River will look to end a three-game winless drought as they have a trio of games this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie Friday, at home vs. North Bay Saturday and in Espanola Sunday afternoon. Samuel Wilbur has a four-game point streak on the go and has taken over the team scoring lead with 10 points. Wilbur’s three power playtallies ties him for first in that category among all NOJHL players. He is also knotted for the club goal lead at six with Tyler Shanush, who is second in team scoring with eight points. Tyson MacLeod is right behind him with seven points. … Beavers’ netminder Dylan Knox is one of three NOJHL goaltenders to have a shutout after one month of league play.

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – Winners of two straight the Bobcats will look to extend their streak in their lone game of the week, which goes Saturday at home vs. Espanola. … First-year forward Brett Wagner continues to impress as he holds the team point lead with 13, which is also the fourth best total in the NOJHL. Wagner also share the league lead in shorthanded goals with two and is tied for fourth in assists with seven. … Aaron Carmichael’s nine assists are the second most in the NOJHL. He is second on the squad in offensive production with 10 points. … Andrew Palushaj is tied for the league goal lead with seven while Dustin Cordeiro is knotted for sixth in the same category with six. … Goaltender Etienne Roy is fourth in league save percentage at .903. He has played the second most minutes in net overall at 393:26 and has faced the fourth most shots at 227.

ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – Fresh off playing their first two homes games in the NOJHL in front of capacity crowds at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex the surging Rivermen have two more home games this weekend Friday against North Bay and Sunday afternoon vs. Blind River sandwiched around a visit to Elliot Lake Saturday. … The club has won three straight and six of their past seven. … The Rivermen earned honourable mention in the latest CJHL Top 20 rankings. … Forward Brennen Dubchak has goals and points in five consecutive games. He is second in goals in the league with nine and third in NOJHL scoring with 14 points. … Corbin Bean is tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with three. Bean and Brandon Janke are next on the squad with 12 points. … Griffin Strain has played more minutes than any other NOJHL netminder at 421:12. He has faced the third most shots at 228.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Sitting in top spot in the NOJHL standings at 7-1 the Gold Miners were tabbed 11th in the latest CJHL Top 20 rankings. … The club is 3-0 on the road this season to date and 4-1 at home. … Their lone contest of the week goes Sunday evening as they host Abitibi at “The Joe.” Forward Steven Babin is riding an eight-game point streak. He lead the team and the league in assists and points with 14 and 16 respectively. … Four of their next six will be on the road. … Among netminders who have played a minimum of 120 minutes Kenny Fitzgerald is first in goals-against average at 1.29 while Marc Audet is third at 2.65. Fitzgerald is also tops in save percentage .937. … D-man Jeremy Picard-Fiset is tied for fourth in assists with seven.

NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – Having dropped three in a row North Bay will look to get back on track with a trio of road games this weekend with stops in Espanola, Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie. … Eight of the Trappers next 11 contests will be away from West Ferris Arena. … Jake Staples and Zach Turner share the team point lead with 11 apiece. Staples also has a four-game point streak on the go. … Ryan Demyen is next on the squad with 10 points. He is tied for third in total league goals with seven and knotted for top spot in power play markers with three. Staples also has a trio of extra man efforts. … Goaltender Dustin Hummel has played the fourth most minutes in the NOJHL at 361:57 and has faced the second most shots at 230.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The T-Birds have three games in five days this week starting tonight in Sudbury before heading home to take on Blind River Friday evening and North Bay Sunday afternoon. Sault Ste. Marie has won five of their past six games and sit tied with Espanola for second place in the league standings with a 6-2 overall record. … They were rated 12th in the most recent CJHL top 20 rankings. … Forward Gavin Burbach leads all NOJHL shooters in goals with 10. He is also second in league points with 15. …Anthony is tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with three and is third in assists with eight. …Rookie netminder Brian Kment is second in the NOJHL in both goals-against average and save percentage at 1.60 and .937 respectively. He is 3-0 so far this season.

SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – Sudbury will try and put an end to a four-game winless run this evening as they host Sault Ste. Marie tonight. They sit in eighth place in the league standings with a 2-7 record having allowed the second most goals against so far at 40. The club’s other game this week is a neutral site affair in Timmins Friday vs. Abitibi. … Ryan Punkari has been a steady offensive player for the squad to date as he is averaging a point-per-game with nine in as many outings. He also shares the team lead in goals with Josh Moore at four apiece. Jonathon Lavigne, who paces Sudbury in assists with six, is third in team scoring with seven points. … August Jarecki is next on the squad with eight points. Six of the Nickel Barons next eight games will be played on McClelland Arena ice.

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