NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014
NOJHL Notebook: By the numbers
SUDBURY – An assortment of various numbers and what they pertain to in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
11: Marking the total number of games on the NOJHL schedule this week.
Three have already been contested with Kirkland Lake edging North Bay 3-2 on Monday while Wednesday saw Sault Ste. Marie slip past Sudbury 4-3 and Espanola hold on to defeat Elliot Lake 5-4.
A trio of 7:30 p.m. starts are on the slate Friday with the Thunderbirds at home to the Eskimos at Essar Centre, the Gold Miners welcoming the Nickel Barons to The Joe and the Rivermen and Bobcats finishing off a home-and-home set at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
Saturday night features three more 7:30 p.m. face-offs with Blind River hosting Abitibi, Elliot Lake at the Soo and Sudbury taking on North Bay at McClelland Arena.
Wrapping up weekly action will be a pair of games Sunday starting with the Eskimos paying a visit to the Rivermen in a 2 p.m. matinee followed by Trappers at home to the Nickel Barons at 7 p.m.
20: This is the number of games the red-hot Soo Thunderbirds have won in a row.
It is the best active winning streak in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League with the Selkirk Steelers of Manitoba right behind having come away victorious in 19 straight outings.
The league-leaders last defeat came back on Nov. 10 when they dropped a 3-2 decision at North Bay.
24: The Soo Thunderbirds have been dominant on home ice for nearly a year.
Dating back to last season the T-Birds have won 24 straight games in regular season play at Essar Centre.
They have also won 21 in a row to date in the 2013-14 campaign.
Their last loss at home in this overall span was back on Feb. 23 of last year when they dropped a 5-2 decision to Sudbury.
2: The torrid pace the Thunderbirds not only has them atop the NOJHL standings, but also has them garnering considerable attention at the national level.
Sault Ste. Marie was tabbed No. 2 overall among 128 teams in the latest Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings released earlier this week.
6: The second place Kirkland Lake Gold Miners kick off a four-game home stand Friday having won six consecutive outings.
This marks the fourth time this season the Miners have had winning streaks of five games or higher in NOJHL play.
14: Despite coming away victorious in their past half dozen outings and winning both of their games last week, Kirkland Lake actually dropped a notch in the latest CJHL two 20 rankings.
They dipped to No. 14 overall in the CJHL, which still places them among the top Jr. A clubs across the country.
23: No skater in the NOJHL has been more consistent the past three months then Brennen Dubchak of the Espanola Rivermen.
The veteran forward in his final year of Jr. A hockey has reeled off points in 23 straight games and currently leads the league in scoring with 69 points.
Dubchak has only been held off the score sheet six times so far this season with Espanola going 0-6 in those contests and 24-10 in games he has recorded at least one point.
35: This is the number indicating the most goals scored in the NOJHL so far in 2013-14 and holding that distinction is Gavin Burbach of the league-leading Soo Thunderbirds.
Burbach also sits second overall in points with 67 and also has a seven-game point streak on the go and has also scored at least once in six straight outings.
The T-Birds have gone 21-1 to date in games in which he has found the back of the net.
44: As a set-up man no one has done more in terms of assists in 2013-14 than Steven Babin of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
The 19-year-old forward from Val-d’Or, Que., leads all players in the NOJHL in assists with 44.
When Babin has produced multi-assist nights so far this season his club was won 22 times and lost only once.
12: It’s an even dozen that leads the way in the league when it comes to tallies with the man advantage.
Ryan Demyen of the North Bay Trappers tops the table in power play markers with 12.
The North Bay captain is also averaging a point-per-game with the Trappers to lead his team offensively with 44 points.
7: No skater in the NOJHL has produced more results when his side has been down a man during games than Brett Wagner of the Elliot Lake Bobcats.
Wagner, who turned 21 earlier this month, has struck seven times so far while the Bobcats have been shorthanded to lead the league in that category.
He also paces Elliot Lake in overall offensive production with 63 points, which is the fourth highest total in the league to date.
9: Scoring when it counts has always been a sign of key contributor on any hockey team and Brady Clouthier of the Abitibi Eskimos has proven his worth in this department.
The 20-year-old forward from Arnprior, Ont., leads the league in game-winning goals with nine in 42 games played.
With 27 tallies on the season it shows one out of every three he has scored to date has been the difference maker in contests.
His output in this category is the second highest total in the 128-team CJHL trailing only Andy Sturtz of the Carleton Place Canadians who has 10 in 43 outings in Central Canada Hockey League competition in the Ottawa area.
21: Much of the success the Soo Thunderbirds have had to date has been due to the play of netminder Joel Horodziejczyk.
Last season’s NOJHL rookie of the year has won his last 21 starts for the Thunderbirds and has not lost a game in league play in over four months when he suffered a setback vs. Elliot Lake all the way back on Sept. 27.
Horodziejczyk leads all stoppers in goals-against average and save percentage at 1.73 and .934 respectively and also leads the way in shutouts with three.
990: This is the total number of shots faced by Sudbury Nickel Barons netminder Mike Muzyka.
He has seen 79 more pucks fired his way than his nearest rival in this category, North Bay rookie goalkeeper Evan Cormier.
Muzyka, on average, has faced 35.4 shots against in 28 appearances so far this season.
2: The Blind River Beavers are looking to build on their modest two-game winning streak as they continue a four-game home stand Friday evening vs. Abitibi.
This matches a season high for the Beavers, who had not won back-to-back contests since the first weekend of the season with home victories Sept. 7-8 against Elliot Lake and North Bay.
40: Did you know in the lengthy history of the NOJHL two teams had unbeaten and untied regular seasons.
Both the 1989-90 Sudbury Cubs and the 1999-2000 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats both finished regular season play with perfect 40-0 records.
The Cubs went on to capture both the league’s playoff title before falling in seven hard-fought games in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup final to Longueil, Que.
As for Rayside-Balfour they rolled to a NOJHL championship losing just once in 13 games then went on to capture the Dudley-Hewitt crown before eventually suffering a heart-breaking 2-1 setback to the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the final of the RBC Cup national Jr. A event in Alberta finishing that season with an incredible overall record of 60 wins against only four defeats.
6: It is just six weeks until the start of the NOJHL playoffs and much is yet to be decided when it comes to determining who will finish where in the overall standings.
The Thunderbirds magic number to winning the regular season crown sits at 20 where a total number of points earned by the Soo or lost by second place Kirkland Lake will allow the T-Birds to claim the No. 1 seed in the postseason.
Espanola and Abitibi are tied for third spot with the Rivermen holding two games in hand.
Elliot Lake remains in the hunt for home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs trailing Espanola and the Rivermen by just five points.
North Bay and Sudbury are also close in the race for sixth with the Trappers presently a point up on the Nickel Barons while Blind River has some work to do if the hope to avoid playing the regular season title holder in round one of the playoffs.
0: Through almost five months or regular season action there has yet to be a tie game in league play so far this season.
Each of the 26 contests that have required extra time, be it the first five-minute OT with the sides skating four players aside and a second five-minute session with the team going three skaters apiece, have all ended before time expired.
Espanola is a perfect 5-0 in OT so far while Sudbury also has a league-best five extra time triumphs, but the Nickel Barons have also lost six times in OT.
88: This is the number of days until the start of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Jr. A championship in Wellington, Ont.
The NOJHL title holders will head there to take on the host Wellington Dukes along with the winners of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League to vie for the right to represent the region at the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A event this May in Vernon, B.C.
2012: It was just two years ago that the NOJHL last won the Dudley-Hewitt Cup when the Soo Thunderbirds won the 2012 title in Thunder Bay after beating the Stouffville Spirit of the OJHL in the championship game.
Prior to that the last league team to win the crown was the 2002 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats, who were also victorious in 2000 and 1997.
NOJHL ON FASTHOCKEY: 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 www.nojhl.com.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS – Abitibi enters the final six weeks of the regular season tied for third place in the overall standings with Espanola. … The Eskimos have 14 games remaining on their slate before the playoffs, including six at home and one neutral site affair in Timmins. … Brady Clouthier tops the team offensively with 61 points in 42 outings. His nine game-winning tallies are the most in the NOJHL and second most in the entire 128-team CJHL. Clouthier is also riding a seven-game point streak. … Erik Robichaud has points in five straight. …Netminder Brody Wagner has gone 6-1 in his past seven appearances. …Abitibi sits tied for fourth in the league in power play proficiency at 18.1% and are seventh overall on the penalty kill at 77.2%.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Blind River will look for a season-high third win in a row Saturday as they host Abitibi. … The club has a dozen games left on the regular season portion of their schedule of which will be at home. … Tyson McLeod tops the team in points with 30 followed by D-Man Scott Marshall with 24 and Jake Zarzycki with 21. … Consistent with their struggles this season the Beavers sit eighth in the NOJHL in both the power play and penalty kill at 13.7% and 72.7% respectively. …Blind River is 1-3 in overtime games to date.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The Bobcats remain in serious contention for home ice in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. …They trail Espanola and Abitibi, who are tied for third place overall, by just five points in the standings. … Leading the team offensively is Brett Wagner. He is also fourth in the NOJHL in scoring with 63 points and leads all skaters in the league in shorthanded tallies with seven. …The Bobcats still have 15 games remaining in the regular season. Four of those contests will be at Centennial Arena while another will be a neutral site affair in Cochrane. … Elliot Lake has gone to overtime nine times so far this season winning four times. … The squad sits third overall in the league on the P.K. at 83.2% and are sixth on the P.P. at 16.6%.
ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – Tied with Abitibi for third overall in the standings, Espanola does hold two games in hand and also currently have one more victory than the Eskimos. … They have a league-high 16 games left on their schedule, which includes nine at the friendly confines of the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex. … Red-hot forward Brennen Dubchak leads the NOJHL in scoring with 69 points. He is also riding an impressive 23-game point streak. … Dubchak is also third overall in man advantage efforts with 10 and tied for second-best in the league in shorthanded efforts with teammate Corbin Bean with four shorthanded efforts. … Bean is also knotted for second in game-winners with six. … The Rivermen sit third in the NOJHL on the power play at 20.2%, but are fifth best while shorthanded at 81.2%. … Espanola is a perfect 5-0 in overtime so far in 2013-14 and are the only team in the league who has yet to lose in OT.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Much of the Gold Miners success this season has been due to the efficiency of their special teams. Kirkland Lake leads the league in both the power play and penalty kill at 26.3% and 88.6% respectively. … The club has gone 2-3 in overtime so far this season. The Miners have all but guaranteed at least having home ice in the first round of the playoffs. They are comfortably in second place overall trailing front-running Sault Ste. Marie by nine points, but also holding two games in hand. … Kirkland Lake has won six straight games. This marks the fourth time this season they have won five or more games at various points of the schedule. … The Gold Miners will play their next four games at home before finishing their regular season by skating on the road in eight of their last 10 contests. … Steven Babin continues to lead the team offensively with 65 points. He also leads the league in assists with 44 and is third overall offensively … Right behind him is Samuel Wilbur with 62 points including 17 in his past five outings. … Jeremy Picard-Fiset leads all NOJHL defencemen in scoring with 37. He also has an active six-game point streak. … The Gold Miners were tabbed 14th in the latest CJHL top 20 rankings.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – North Bay has 13 games remaining in regular season play, including seven where they are the home team. … North Bay is just 2-5 in overtime this season. …. Special teams have the Trappers in fourth spot on the penalty kill at 82.6%, but seventh on the power play at 16.3%. … Ryan Demyen does however lead all skaters in the league in power play markers with 12. … Overall offensively Demyen is averaging over a point-per-game with 44 in 41 outings. …Duane Wainman is next on the squad with 35 points. … Rookie netminder Evan Cormier has played third most minutes in the league this season at just under 1,395. He has also faced the second most shots against at 911.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Surging Sault Ste. Marie will look for their 21st win in a row Friday evening as they host Abitibi at Essar Centre. … Dating back to last season the Thunderbirds have also won 24 in succession on home ice. … They have a dozen games remaining and their magic number to win the regular season title is a point combination of points earned via wins or ties or points lost by Kirkland Lake equally 20. … They are currently ranked second overall in the 128-team CJHL. … Gavin Burbach leads the league in goals with 35 and is second overall offensively with 67 points. … Burbach is also tied for fourth in power play markers with eight and has points in seven straight games. … Anthony Miller is tied for fourth in game-winning tallies with five. … Joel Horodziejczyk and Brian Kment are 1-2 respectively in goals-against average in the league. Horodziejczyk, who has won his past 21 starts, leads the way at 1.73. He is also tops in save percentage at .934 and shutouts with three. As for Kment his GAA is 1.92 and he is fifth best with a .909 save mark. … The T-Birds are second in the NOJHL on both the power play and penalty kill. With the man advantage they are firing at a 21.2 rate and are at 88.6% on the P.K. … They have gone 3-2 in OT to date.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – Sudbury has played in a league-high 11 overtime games this season. They have won five of those contests, which ties them for the league-lead in most OT triumphs. … The Nickel Barons are knotted for fourth for power play success at 18.1% and are sixth overall on the P.K. at 80.5%. … Sudbury trails North Bay by one point in the race for sixth in the standings and also holds a game in hand on the Trappers. … Of the 14 games they have remaining in the regular season; six will be at McClelland Arena. … August Jarecki continues to lead the Nickel Barons offensively with 32 points. He is followed by Ryan Punkari and Giovanni Foschia with 26 apiece. … Khadyn Butterly leads all NOJHL defencemen in power play goals with six. … Goaltender Mike Muzyka has faced more shots against than any stopper in the league at 990. He has also played the second most minutes at just over 1,527. … Nine different Sudbury skaters have game-winning goals this season.