NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
NOJHL Notebook: Soo’s Anthony Miller making his mark early on
SUDBURY – Each of the 10 leagues that comprise that Canadian Junior Hockey League has had their respective regular seasons underway and one of the key offensive categories across the CJHL is currently being co-shared by Soo Thunderbirds forward Anthony Miller.
In just six games played the 19-year-old Miller not only tops the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League in game-winning goals with three, but his totals are also good enough for him to share the overall CJHL lead in winning tallies with Ryan Scarfo of the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. He too has a trio of game-winning efforts in just six games played.
Even more impressive about Miller’s solid start is he has only scored three times so far this season, but each of them have been the difference maker in those contests that he found the back of the net.
He has also assisted on another winning tally allowing him to play a hand in four of his team’s five victories to date.
GAME TIME: Another eight-game week in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is ready to get underway and the game action begins tonight at McClelland Arena as the Sudbury Nickel Barons entertain the Espanola Rivermen at 7:30 p.m.
Two nights later three more tilts are on the docket including the return of Jr. A hockey to Espanola as the Rivermen take to the ice in their home opener in a conclusion to a home-and-home with Sudbury.
Also on tap Friday has the Soo Thunderbirds paying a visit to Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake to take on the Bobcats while the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners are at home to take on the Blind River Beavers.
Saturday has Blind River heading to Iroquois Falls to meet the Abitibi Eskimos while North Bay will travel to Elliot Lake.
A pair of Sunday matinees then wraps up weekly competition with Abitibi heading to Espanola for a 2 p.m. start followed by North Bay in Sault Ste. Marie at 3 p.m.
STATS PACK: Thunderbirds forward Gavin Burbach has reeled off points in four straight outings, including a pair of game-winners, to take over the NOJHL scoring lead with 10 points.
Burbach’s teammate Anthony Miller is one of four skaters in the league knotted for second in league point production with nine. He too has a four-game point streak on the go.
CJHL TOP 20: The first Canadian Junior Hockey League regular season rankings were announced earlier this week and two NOJHL clubs cracked the top 10.
The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Soo Thunderbirds, who are tied for for first place in the NOJHL standings with identical 5-1 records, were tabbed eighth and ninth respectively in the listings, which are compiled in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting.
CJHL TOP 20
1. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL)
2. Les Cougars de Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ)
3. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
4. Truro Bearcats (MHL)
5. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL)
6. Powell River Kings (BCHL)
7. Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
8. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL)
9. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL)
10. Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL)
11. Portage Terriers (MJHL)
12. Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL)
13. Hamilton Red Wings (OJHL)
14. La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL)
15. West Kelowna Warriors (BCHL)
16. Carleton Place Canadiens (CCHL)
17. Penticton Vees (BCHL)
18. Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
19. Kindersley Klippers (SJHL)
20. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL)
Honourable Mention: Cowichan Valley Capitals (BCHL), Selkirk Steelers (MJHL), Milton Icehawks (OJHL), Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL), Titan de Princeville (LHJAAAQ).
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 www.nojhl.com.
NOJHL 3 STARS: The latest “3 Stars” of the week for the 2013-14 season are a trio of forwards in the Soo Thunderbirds Gavin Burbach, North Bay’s Kyle Baril and Ben Miller of the Abitibi Eskimos, who were all honoured for their respective on-ice performances last week.
GAVIN BURBACH, (F), SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Burbach was recognized for his efforts in finding the back of the net helping the Thunderbirds come away victorious in both their outings last week while also aiding his teams’ move into a tie for top spot in the NOJHL standings with Kirkland Lake and seeing Sault Ste. Marie extend a winning streak to four games.
The T-Birds veteran, who turns 20 Friday, began by scoring the game-winner Friday in a hard-fought 4-2 triumph over Espanola at Essar Centre.
He then maintained his scoring touch by striking once in each period to register a hat-trick in a 5-3 win on the road Sunday at Blind River.
Burbach’s efforts helped him move into top spot in NOJHL scoring with 10 points, including seven goals, which ties him for the league-lead in that category.
KYLE BARIL, (F) NORTH TRAPPERS – In three games last week the 19-year-old North Bay native had points in each of them helping the Trappers pick-up victories in the final pair helping his side get in the win column for the first time this season.
Baril began with a marker in a tough one-goal setback against Sudbury on Wednesday, then followed that up two nights later by drilling the game-winner in the third period and assisting on another earlier in the contest as North Bay won for the first time at West Ferris Arena helping his side rally from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 vs. the same Nickel Barons.
He then topped off his week by picking up another helper as the Trappers won their second straight, a 4-3 triumph over Elliot Lake marking the fifth consecutive one-goal game the squad has played in.
BEN MILLER, (F) ABITIBI ESKIMOS – In his club’s lone outing during the week that was the 18-year-old Timmins product had an impressive night tallying twice, including scoring the game-winner, while also adding an assist helping his side skate to a 6-2 victory on home ice Saturday vs. Elliot Lake.
His offensive efforts allowed him to set a new personal NOJHL-best for points in a game while also matching a single-game high for goals, which was reached last season, also in a game against the Bobcats.
Miller is now tied for second in team scoring with four points and is well on his way of surpassing the five tallies and 10 helpers he had all of last season.
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.
NOJHL SHOWCASE GAMES
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 – The Eskis wrap-up a five-game home stand Saturday as they host Blind River before heading for their first game in Espanola Sunday afternoon. … The club has three of a possible four points in their last two games. Kealey Cummings five points lead the team after coming off a one-goal, two-assist performance in a 6-2 victory over Elliot Lake last Saturday. … Brady Clouthier, Ben Miller, one of the league’s most recent 3 stars of the week, and Zach Innes share the Abitibi goal lead with two each… Netminder Sylvain Miron leads all goalies in the NOJHL in minutes played at 307:44 and shots faced at 205. He is also fourth overall in save percentage at .932 among those who have played 60 minutes of more so far this season.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – The Beavers have two games this week with both of them being on the road. They are in Kirkland Lake Friday before heading to Iroquois Falls Saturday to meet Abitibi. … The club enters play this week with a 3-3 record as they sit tied for third spot in the league standings. … With seven points Tyler Shanush holds the team scoring lead. Shanush is also tied for second the NOJHL-lead in game-winning goals with two and is knotted for fourth spot in overall tallies with five. … Trevor Simonick is tied for second in power play tallies in the league with two.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The Bobcats will kick-off a four-game home stand Friday as they welcome the Soo Thunderbirds to Centennial Arena. They’ll then host North Bay Saturday. … Six of the club’s next seven games are also at home. … First-year forward Brett Wagner has taken over the team scoring lead with nine points. That also ties him for the second-best total in the NOJHL. … Andrew Palushaj shares the league goal lead with seven while Dustin Cordeiro is knotted for fourth in the same category with five. … Wagner and Aaron Carmichael are tied for top spot in assists in the NOJHL at six. … Goaltender Etienne Roy has played the third most minutes of any stopper at 271:29. He is also second in shots faced at 163.
ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – It’s an exciting three-game stint for the Rivermen this week. After playing in Sudbury Wednesday the club returns to Espanola for their first-ever home games, vs. the same Nickel Barons Friday before entertaining Abitibi Sunday afternoon. … The club is tied for third in the league standings with a 3-2 record, which is solid when you consider all five of those contests, have been played on the road. … Seven of the team’s next nine games will be on Espanola Regional Recreation Complex ice. … Brennen Dubchak tops the squad offensively with seven points. Brandon Janke and Corbin Bean are next with six. … Both of Bean’s tallies have been game-winners. His two GWG tie him for the second most in the league. … Goaltender Griffin Strain is fifth in minutes played at 240. … Alex Chandler posted a shutout in his first NOJHL start, a 5-0 victory at Blind River Sept. 14.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Despite suffering their first loss of the season last week the Gold Miners’ strong start earned them the No. 8 overall listing in the first CJHL top 20 rankings of the regular season marking the initial time they have been recognized by the CJHL. … Kirkland Lake only has one game this week as they host Blind River Friday, but they are quick to get back at it as they head to North Bay for a rare Monday night contest against the Trappers. … Mathieu Lecompte continues to lead the Miners in scoring with nine points, which also knots him for the second best total in the NOJHL. His six goals are the third-best mark in the league. Teammate Steven Babin is next offensively with eight points. That ties him for sixth overall with his six assists tying him for the league lead… Defenseman Jeremy Picard-Fiset is close by with five helpers. …Netminder Kenny Fitzgerald is second in goals-against average overall at 0.90. He is also second in save percentage at .967 while Jessie Morin is third at .944. … Mar Audet is sixth in goals-against average at 2.65 while having played the second most minutes in net at 271:53.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – Winners of two straight the Trappers will look to extend their streak Saturday in Elliot Lake. They are also in Sault Ste. Marie Sunday afternoon before returning home to take on Kirkland Lake Monday at West Ferris Arena.… Kyle Baril earned one of the NOJHL’s 3 Stars of the week for his most recent efforts, including scoring the game-winner in the club’s opening triumph of the season. … Rookie Zach Turner leads the team offensively with nine points, which also ties him for the second best total in the league. … Jake Staples and Ryan Demyen are next on the squad with six points. … Demyen leads the NOJHL in power play markers with three. … The Trappers have played in five straight one-goal games. … Head coach Zane Neily is now eligible to return coming off a four-game league suspension.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – No stranger to the CJHL rankings, the Thunderbirds were tabbed ninth overall in the first regular season listings announced earlier this week. … The T-Birds are tied for top spot in the NOJHL standings. … The T-Birds have won four straight. … Sault Ste. Marie is in Elliot Lake Friday before returning to Essar Centre to hos North Bay Sunday afternoon. … NOJHL star of the week Gavin Burbach leads the league in scoring with 10 points. … Anthony Miller leads the NOJHL in game-winning goals with three. That also ties him for the best total in the entire CJHL. … Rookie netminder Brian Kment is 2-0 to start his full-time NOJHL career with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .917 save mark.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – The Nickel Barons sit eighth in the NOJHL standings with a 2-5 record, but are 2-1-0-1 in their past four games. The club’s only two games this week will be a home-and-home vs. Espanola starting tonight at McClelland Arena before heading to Espanola where they’ll have the distinction of being the Rivermen’s first-ever opponent at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex. … Ryan Punkari and August Jarecki share the team point lead early on with six apiece. Jonathon Lavigne is next with five. …Josh Moore’s four tallies lead the club in that department. … Michael Muzyka sits seventh in goals-against average at 2.73. … Seven of the Nickel Barons next 10 games will be played on home ice.