NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
NOJHL NOTEBOOK: Game 7 tonight between Sudbury and Elliot Lake
SUDBURY — The two most exciting words in hockey … Game 7.
That’s what fans of the Northern Ontario Junior League are in store for this evening as the Sudbury Nickel Barons host the Elliot Lake Bobcats in a seventh and deciding game of their playoff series, which gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
The winner of tonight’s contest will advance to the NOJHL semifinals.
Should Sudbury come away victorious then they will meet the No. 2 Soo Thunderbirds in the next round and the No. 1 seeded North Bay Trappers will take on the No. 4 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
If Elliot Lake takes game 7 then they will go up against the No. 1 North Bay and the Thunderbirds will tangle with Kirkland Lake.
Both of the other two first round postseason match-ups were over in the minimum amount of games as the Thunderbirds swept the Abitibi Eskimos while the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners did likewise to the Blind River Beavers.
The last time a NOJHL playoff series went the full seven games was last season when North Bay upended Sudbury in semifinal action.
Prior to that that 2010 NOJHL final went the distance with the Abitibi edging the T-Birds in game 7 in that one.
Round 2 in the NOJHL playoffs is expected to run between March 29 and April 10.
From there the two remaining teams will meet for the league championship from April 12-24.
Should North Bay earn a trip to the finals then the other squad joining them will be guaranteed a berth in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada champion, hosted by the Trappers, from April 30 to May 4.
The DHC winner then moves on to represent the region at the Royal Bank Cup national Jr. A event May 11-19 in Summerside, P.E.I.
POSTSEASON PRODUCTION: With the Sudbury-Elliot Lake series going the maximum seven games it plays a factor that both those clubs are at and near the top in the league playoff scoring race as round 1 draws to a close tonight.
The Nickel Barons currently have top four postseason point producers and five in the top 10 while the Bobcats have a couple in the top five.
Andre Comtois of Sudbury leads all scorers with 13 points followed by teammate Darcy Haines with 12.
Bradley Bell and Brett Dusick of the Nickel Barons are next with nine points apiece.
Among a group of four knotted for fifth overall are Nicholas Tassone and Brian Hennessey of Elliot Lake as that duo has contributed eight points each.
Brandon Warmington of Sault Ste. Marie and Kirkland Lake’s Jean-Michel Naud are also in that pack.
The Thunderbirds’ Adam Ritchie and Darcy Casola have seven points between them as do Jean-Francois Silvestre of the Gold Miners and David Lazarus of Sudbury.
In net the top three goals-against average leaders in the T-Birds’ Joel Horodziejczyk (0.00), the Miners’ Chris Komma (1.50) and the Barons’ Michael Muzyka (1.93) all have one shutout apiece.
DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup in North Bay is now less than a month away with tickets packages for all eight games remaining on sale at the Trapper’s Box Office daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adult packages are $95 while students and seniors go $75 and children just $50 and you can reserve your seat by calling by calling 705-474-3770.
Joining the host North Bay Trappers will be either the NOJHL champion or finalist along with the title holders from both the Ontario and Superior International Jr. Hockey Leagues.
They are down to the final four in each league with semifinal action in the OJHL starting tonight with Newmarket visiting Kingston and St. Michael’s hosting North York in game 1 of the two best-of-seven affairs.
In the SIJHL the two-time defending champion Minnesota Wilderness are a win away from heading to their third straight final as they lead the Minnesota Iron Rangers 3-0 heading into game 4 Thursday. The other SIJHL semi has the Fort Frances Lakers and Dryden Ice Dogs deadlocked at two wins apiece. Game 4 in that series goes Thursday as well, in Fort Frances.
2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup schedule
Tuesday, April 30
OJHL vs. NOJHL 2:30 p.m.
SIJHL vs. North Bay Trappers 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1
NOJHL vs. SIJHL 2:30 p.m.
OJHL vs. North Bay 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 2
SIJHL vs. OJHL 2:30 p.m.
North Bay vs. NOJHL 7 p.m.
Friday, May 3
3rd Round Robin vs. 2nd Round Robin 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
Semifinal winner vs. 1st round robin 7 p.m.
You can learn more on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup by visiting the official DHC website at www.dudleyhewittcup.com.
NOJHL 3 STARS: Few extended playoff runs are ever accomplished without a hot goaltender, so it comes as little surprise that a pair of junior puckstoppers are featured in the “NOJHL Three Stars of the Week” for the week ending March 24.
CHRIS KOMMA – KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS: Many NOJHL observers might well have predicted a first round series win for Kirkland Lake over the Blind River Beavers, but few would have suggested it would come via a four-game sweep.
20-year-old netminder Chris Komma was one big reason why the series never reached game five.
The native of Boise, Idaho appeared in all four games, posting a goals against average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .937%.
Komma appeared in more regular season games this year than any other NOJHL goalie (41), ending the season with more than 2,300 minutes played.
MICHAEL MUZYKA – SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS: Rookie netminder Michael Muzyka showed signs of excellence at various points in his freshman season in the NOJHL, but the Sudbury Wolves 2012 draft pick has likely never held a hotter hand than in the Barons first round series with the Elliot Lake Bobcats.
Entering the series midway through game three, Muzyka has proceeded to turn aside 128 of the 135 shots fired in his direction, posting a sparkling .948% save percentage.
The Sudbury native followed up a shutout in game five with a 51-save performance in a tough 3-2 overtime loss in game six.
NICK TASSONE – ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS: After scoring 16 goals in his first season in the NOJHL, Sault Ste. Marie native Nick Tassone could not have picked a better time to match one quarter of that output in a single playoff game.
The 19-year-old 5’10” forward exploded with a four-goal outing as the Bobcats grabbed a 2-1 series lead over the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
With the first round matchup now headed to a deciding seventh game Wednesday night in Copper Cliff, Tassone leads all Elliot Lake scorers with five goals, one more than crafty teammate Brian Hennessey.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS – Despite a valiant effort the Eskimos season came to an end as they were swept in four games by the defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Soo Thunderbirds. … Four different skaters shared the team scoring lead in the playoffs. The foursome of Ryan Kerr, Justin Holliday, Zach Innes and Peter Poulin-Roy all had three points apiece vs. the T-Birds. … The sweep at the hands of Sault Ste. Marie marked the first time since 2003 that the Eskimos did not win a playoff game. They were bounced by the then Soo Jr. Greyhounds in 2003.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Even though they battled hard in the first round of the NOJHL playoffs the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners proved to be too much to handle as Blind River fell in four games in opening round action. … Tyson MacLeod and Brandon Bazinet shared the club lead in postseason scoring. Both skaters tallied twice and added a pair of assists. … Samuel Wilbur was next with three points, including one goal. … The club did pick up some hardware from the league for their efforts this season that saw them improve by 16 points over a year ago. Captain Adam Newkirk was named a league first team all-star and the NOJHL’s top defenceman. … Bazinet earned top defensive forward laurels while general manager Rusty Joncas was named NOJHL director of the year and also earned a place on the first all-star team in the manager’s position.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The resilient Bobcats look to keep their season alive with a victory in Sudbury tonight vs. the Nickel Barons. … Should Elliot Lake win that contest they’ll meet the No. 1 seeded North Bay Trappers in round 2. … The Bobcats have won the only two overtime games in league postseason play this year to date with Nicholas Tassone and Matt Grove notching the game-winning tallies. … Tassone and Brian Hennessey share the team scoring lead with eight points apiece. That ranks them tied for fifth in the NOJHL. … Cory Simic leads all goaltenders in the league in shots faced and saves made at 248 and 227 respectively. He is also fifth in in goals-average at 3.72 per game.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – With the triumph over Blind River in round one the Gold Miners won their first playoff series in the Gold Miners brief history. … Of the teams that have played in the postseason to date the club has allowed a league-low six goals against. … Netminder Chris Komma is second in goals-against average at 1.50. … Jean-Michel Naud tops the team in playoff scoring with eight points on two tallies and six helpers. … Right behind Naud is Jean-Francois Slyvestre. He has seven points after scoring three times and setting up four others. … Bench boss Marc Lafleur has added to his first team-all-star nod by also being named the NOJHL coach of the year for 2012-13.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – A well-deserved rest that was earned after winning the league’s regular season title and a bye in the opening round of postseason hockey will soon end as round two action is expected to begin this weekend. … They still don’t know who their opponent will be as of yet. If Sudbury wins their game 7 contest over Elliot Lake tonight then the Trappers will take on Kirkland Lake. Should the Bobcats beat the Nickel Barons then North Bay will go up against Elliot Lake. … The Trappers have earned a couple of league awards already with Brandon Janke picking up most gentlemanly player laurels while Trevor Hunt was named the NOJHL’s most improved player.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Thunderbirds have picked up where they left off during the league playoffs a year ago. With the sweep of Blind River in the first round they no await either the Sudbury Nickel Barons or Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in round two. … Brandon Warmington leads the team in playoff scoring to date with eight points, which tied him for fifth overall in the NOJHL. … Adam Ritchie and Darcy Casola are close behind with seven point points each. … Among the league awards the T-Birds have already won are Casola being named the NOJHL’s best overall team player and netminder Joel Horodziejczyk being named the league’s rookie of the year. Horodziejczyk is 1-0 in the playoffs already with that victory being a shutout.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – The Nickel Barons will look to keep their season alive this evening as they entertain Elliot Lake in game 7. … Should they win they will meet the rival Soo Thunderbirds in one league semifinal. … Sudbury sports the top four point producers in the postseason at the moment. Andre Comtois leads the way with 13 points followed by Darcy Haines with 12. … Bradley Bell and Brett Dusick share third both on the team and the NOJHL with nine points apiece. … Michael Muzyka sits third in goals-against average at 1.93 and second in save percentage at .948. … Sudbury lost in their last game 7 appearance last season as the then Cubs fell to North Bay in semifinal action. … Back in 2000-01 the then Sudbury Northern Wolves defeated the Sturgeon Falls Lynx in a seventh game in league quarter-final play.