NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012
NOJHL NOTEBOOK: Nickel Barons, Trappers among CJHL elite early on
SUDBURY — The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is well represented in an early look at the top clubs in all of Canadian Jr. A hockey.
With over 100 teams comprising the Canadian Junior Hockey League this season, only three of them, among those who have played five of more games to date, have yet to taste defeat in regulation, overtime or a shootout.
Two of those sides are members of the NOJHL as the Sudbury Nickel Barons and North Bay Trappers are 5-0 and 4-0-1 respectively.
Joining them are the Yarmouth Mariners of the Maritime Hockey League. They are a perfect 5-0 after five outings.
CJHL TOP 20: By virtue of their solid starts both Sudbury and North Bay have garnered recognition from the Canadian Junior Hockey League in the initial Top 20 rankings of the 2012-13 season.
The Sudbury Nickel Barons were tabbed 9th overall while the Trappers earned honourable mention accolades.
The rankings, compiled in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, are formulated upon a variety of factors.
This which includes the league in which the teams belong to, this season’s results in regular season, last season’s playoffs, as well as initial recruiting efforts for the 2012-13 campaign.
Both clubs are unbeaten early in the season with Sudbury registering a league-best 5-0-0 record while second place North Bay is close behind at 4-0-1.
The last time two NOJHL clubs received a top 20 ranking or honourable mention status was Feb. 20 of this year when both the Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles earned recognition.
The defending Royal Bank Cup champion Penticton Vees of the BCHL were the top rated CJHL side in the initial rankings.
CJHL TOP 20:
1. Penticton Vees (BCHL)
2. Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
3. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL)
4. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
5. Newmarket Hurricanes (OJHL)
6. Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)
7. Portage Terriers (MJHL)
8. Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
9. SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS (NOJHL)
10. Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL)
11. Coquitlam Express (BCHL)
12. Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL)
13. Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL)
14. Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL)
15. Winnipeg Blues (MJHL)
16. Truro Bearcats (MHL)
17. College Francais de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ)
18. Carlton Place Canadians (CCHL)
19. Oakville Blades (OJHL)
Honourable mention: NORTH BAY TRAPPERS (NOJHL), Canmore Eagles (AJHL), Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL), OCN Blizzard (MJHL) and Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL).
ON THE ICE: A total of seven games comprise the NOJHL docket this week.
Action gets underway this evening in Copper Cliff as the host Sudbury Nickel Barons looks to run their record to 6-0 as they welcome the first-year Elliot Lake Bobcats to McClelland Arena in a 7:30 p.m. start.
Two more tilts go Friday, including the top two clubs in the NOJHL standings squaring off at North Bay’s Memorial Gardens with the Trappers taking on Sudbury at 7 p.m.
Friday’s other game features Elliot Lake at home to Kirkland Lake with puck drop set for 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Arena.
Three more contests go Saturday and will all get underway at 7:30 p.m. Those match-ups see Kirkland Lake paying a visit to Sault Ste. Marie to take on the Thunderbirds at Essar Centre, North Bay heading to Iroquois Falls to meet the Abitibi Eskimos and the Nickel Barons going up against the Blind River Beavers.
Wrapping up week 4 in the NOJHL will be a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday as the Beavers entertain the Gold Miners of Kirkland Lake at the Blind River Community Centre.
2013 DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The North Bay Trappers will serve as the host team for the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship tournament.
The five-day event will be held at North Bay Memorial Gardens April 30 through May 4. It will feature the Trappers along with the champions of the NOJHL, Ontario Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League taking part.
Should North Bay go on to capture the NOJHL championship, then the league finalist will round out the four-team field with a berth to the Royal Bank Cup national Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I. in May on the line.
NOJHL THREE STARS: Goal scoring was down in week three of NOJHL action, but that didn’t stop a handful of players from solving a group of goaltenders who were very, very good and earning themselves the NOJHL Three Stars of the Week for the period ending Sept. 23, as chosen by the league’s selection committee.
RICHARD THERRIEN – ABITIBI ESKIMOS: With his team looking to break into the win column, the veteran scoring threat took it upon his shoulders by netting four goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Eskies surprised the Soo Thunderbirds 5-4 at the Jus Jordan Arena.
Therrien finished last year with 44 goals and 47 assists in his second season with Abitibi, making the jump from the very successful Hearst Elans Midget “AA” program. Carrying the captaincy for a second straight year with the Eskies, Therrien will be leaned upon heavily by long-time Abitibi coach Paul Gagne.
NICHOLAS TASSONE – ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS: Really coming into his own after returning for a final year of Midget AAA hockey with the Soo Michigan Indians last season, the 18-year old Nick Tassone is making a seamless transition to the ranks of the NOJHL.
Tassone scored twice and added an assist last week as the Bobcats split a weekend home and home series with the Blind River Beavers. A native of Sault Ste Marie, Ont., He currently leads Elliot Lake in scoring, averaging a point a game in the early going.
BRENNEN DUBCHAK – NORTH BAY TRAPPERS: With the North Bay Trappers hosting the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, team management did not hesitate when the opportunity arose to acquire a talented forward already blessed with DHC experience.
Kenora native Brennen Dubchak spent the 2011-12 season with the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, who hosted the 2012 Dudley-Hewitt in the Lakehead.
The 18-year-old forward scored twice in Cup play and has continued filling the net in North Bay this year, racking up eight points in his first five games with the Trappers.
GOAL SCORER: Sudbury Nickel Barons snipers Darcy Haines continues to score at a good clip early on.
His eight tallies in five games leads all skaters in the NOJHL while also topping the league in overall points with 12.
Looking across the entire CJHL you’ll see only eight players have scored eight or more goals so far this season.
Every one of these goal scorers plays in either Ontario or Quebec.
Haines sits tied for fifth overall in the overall goals scored department, but has also played in fewer games than the others.
The following are the CJHL goal leaders as of Sept. 26:
PLAYER TEAM LEAGUE GP G
Benjamin Laliberté Ste-Jerome LJRAAAQ 8 11
Joakim Arsenault Ste-Agathe LJRAAAQ 7 10
Matt Galati Pickering OJHL 7 9
Sebastien Bergeron Ste-Agathe LJRAAAQ 7 9
Darcy Haines Sudbury NOJHL 5 8
Marly Quince Cornwall CCHL 6 8
Patrick Chore Oakville OJHL 7 8
Alex Gagnon Granby LJRAAAQ 8 8
ABITIBI ESKIMOS – After starting 0-4 to begin the season the Eskimos came up big to notch win No. 1 of the campaign Saturday as they rode the four-goal performance of Richard Therrien to upend the defending NOJHL champion Soo Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime. … Therrien’s big night allowed him to take over the team scoring lead. He has six points, including five goals, in four games. … Abitibi only has one game scheduled this week as they welcome North Bay to Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Having won two of the past three the Beavers host Sudbury Saturday and Kirkland Lake on Sunday at the Community Centre. … Scoring goals has not been a problem for the club so far this season. They are currently tied for the second most markers scored in the NOJHL with 26. … Tyler Brown leads the squad offensively with eight points on three tallies and five assists. He is knotted for fifth in league scoring. … Paul Muio is next on the team in points with seven, including six helpers, while Samuel Wilbur sits third with six points. 14 different skaters have already notched markers for Blind River so far this season.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The first-year Bobcats recorded their first NOJHL victory on Sept. 21 defeating Blind River 5-1 on home ice. … A Thomas Coty tally late in the first period stood up to be the initial game-winning goal in team history. … Cory Simic made 26 stops in his Bobcats debut to register the victory. … After Wednesday game in Sudbury Elliot Lake returns home for three straight at Centennial Arena, including Kirkland Lake paying a visit Friday. … Nicholas Tassone has goals in three straight outings. All of those markers come on the power play.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – The Gold Miners will look to snap a mini two-game losing streak this weekend as they hit the road for three games with stops in Elliot Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and Blind River Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. …Steve Babin and Jordan Briand share the team point lead with five apiece. … The club has allowed the third fewest goals in the league to date at 15. … Chris Komma sits fifth in NOJHL goals-against average at 2.65 while also posting one shutout.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – The Trappers remain unbeaten at 4-0-1. … They are one of three clubs across the CJHL who have yet to lose after playing in five or more games. … North Bay has allowed the fewest goals in the NOJHL so far at 11. They are tied for second in goals scored with 26. … … Greg Dodds is fourth in the league in goals-against average at 2.13. He is also fourth in save percentage at .922 having played every minute in net for his team so far this season. … Newcomer Brennen Dubchak has taken over the team scoring lead with eight points in five games. He sits tied for fifth overall in NOJHL offensive production. … Brandon Janke is right behind with seven points on a pair of tallies and five assists. … Corbin Bean, Carter Horwitz and Trevor Hunt all have six points early on.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Rookie goaltender Joel Horodziejczyk leads all NOJHL netminders in both goals-against average and save percentage. He sits with a stingy 0.67 GAA along with an impressive .969 save mark. … With 11 points Adam Ritchie leads the T-Birds offensively. His numbers also rank him second overall in the league having scored six times while setting up five others. Ritchie already has three multiple-point games to his credit. … Greg Sartoretto joins Ritchie in the NOJHL top 10 in scoring with seven points. He sits second on the squad with two markers and five helpers. … Having dropped two in a row after starting the season at 3-0-1 the defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Thunderbirds begin a stint of 10 of their next 12 at home Friday as Kirkland Lake pays a visit to Essar Centre.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – Sudbury looks to extend their unbeaten run to start the 2012-13 campaign to six straight as they host Elliot Lake at McClelland Arena. They are only one of three teams in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League who are unbeaten after five or more games. … The Nickel Barons pace the NOJHL and in goals scored with 30. … Offensively Sudbury continues to boast three of the NOJHL’s top four point producers early on. Darcy Haines leads the way with 12 points, including a league-best eight goals. … Sebastien Leroux and August Jarecki are knotted for third in league scoring with nine points apiece. Goaltender Alex Laino is 3-0 to start the season while Michael Muzyka is 2-0. Muzyka is third in goals-against average at 2.00 while Laino in sixth at 3.00. They are also second and sixth respectively in save percentage at .937 and .907. Three games in four nights see the Barons at home tonight before visiting North Bay Friday and Blind River Saturday.