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NOJHL Notebook: Streaking Thunderbirds hottest team in CJHL

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
 
NOJHL Notebook: Streaking Thunderbirds hottest team in CJHL

SUDBURY – No team in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League at the moment is hotter than the Soo Thunderbirds.

Sitting in first place in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League standings with a 15-2 overall record the Thunderbirds enter play this week riding a CJHL-high 10-game winning streak.

Only five other CJHL clubs currently have win streaks of five or more games on the go.

After Sault Ste. Marie, the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) and Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) have both won eight consecutive contests while the Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) have come out on top in six successive match-ups.

Rounding out the list are the Granby Inouk (LHJAAAQ) and Miramichi Timberwolves (MHL) as they have both come away victorious in five straight outings.

TEAM LEAGUE WIN STREAK
Soo Thunderbirds NOJHL 10
Fort Frances Lakers SIJHL 8
Spruce Grove Saints AJHL 8
Steinbach Pistons MJHL 6
Granby Inouk LHJAAAQ 5
Miramichi Timberwolves MHL 5

GAME TIME: A busy week in the NOJHL kicked off Monday as the North Bay Trappers rolled to a 9-3 romp on home ice over the Abitibi Eskimos.

League play resumes tonight as Abitibi visits Sudbury in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena.

Two more tilts go Friday Elliot Lake heading to Kirkland Lake while North Bay travels to Espanola with face-off in each game being at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday has three more outings on the docket with Blind River at Kirkland Lake, Elliot Lake in Iroquois Falls to tangle with the Eskimos and the Thunderbirds taking on the Nickel Barons in Copper Cliff.

A couple of 2 p.m. matinees are schedule for Sunday afternoon with Blind River at Abitibi and Sault Ste. Marie in Espanola.

Weekly play then concludes Sunday evening with Elliot Lake on the road in North Bay to take on the Trappers at 7 p.m.

CJHL TOP 20: The weekly Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings saw the soaring Soo Thunderbirds making a big move into the top five while the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners also earned consideration.

Winners of 10 consecutive games and sitting in first place in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League standings, the 15-2 Thunderbirds were tabbed fourth nationally in the CJHL top 20, which are compiled each week in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting.

The 11-2-0-1 Gold Miners meanwhile, who sit second spot in the NOJHL, garnered honourable mention in the weekly listings.

A trio of western clubs grabbed the top three places in the rankings with the AJHL Fort McMurray Oil Barons at No. 1 followed by the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons and the SIJHL’s Kindersley Klippers in third.

There were a total of eight Dudley-Hewitt Cup-eligible teams that earned a ranking or honourable mention this week.

They include Sault Ste. Marie and Kirkland Lake along with the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL), the DHC host Wellington Dukes (OJHL), Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL), Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL), Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL) and the Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL).

CJHL TOP 20
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST WEEK’S RANKING)
1.    Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (1)
2.    Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (4)
3.    Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) (10)
4.    Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (8)
5.    Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (2)
6.    Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) (HM)
7.    Powell River Kings (BCHL) (6)
8.    Penticton Vees (BCHL) (12)
9.    Wellington Dukes (OJHL) (9)
10.   Selkirk Steelers (MJHL) (HM)
11.   Titan de Princeville (LHJAAAQ) (HM)
12.   Carleton Place Canadiens (CCHL) (17)
13.   West Kelowna Warriors (BCHL) (HM)
14.   Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (HM)
15.   Thunder Bay North Stars (NOJHL) (3)
16.   Les Cougars de Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ) (6)
17.   Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL) (16)
18.   Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (18)
19.   Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL) (19)            
20.   Yorkton Terriers (SJHL) (NR)

Honourable Mention: Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL), Langley Rivermen (BCHL), Vernon Vipers (BCHL), Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL), Cornwall Colts (CCHL).

ABOUT THE RANKINGS
The CJHL Top 20 weekly rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the team plays, winning percentage, win-loss record, total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc.

ABOUT THE CJHL

The Canadian Junior Hockey League is a national organization comprised of all 10 Junior A hockey leagues in Canada.

The CJHL represents more than 120 teams and 2,500 players and has over 2,800 former players furthering their hockey careers at the professional, major junior and college level across North America.

For latest CJHL news and features, visit www.cjhlhockey.com and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/cjhlhockey or @cjhlhockey.

NOJHL 3 STARS: The staple of any club’s success is solid goaltending and a trio of Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League netminders were recognized for their stellar play between the pipes as Joel Horodziejczyk of the Soo Thunderbirds, Sylvain Miron of the Abitibi Eskimos and Joakim Jutras of the Espanola Rivermen have been named the latest “3 Stars” of the week.

JOEL HORODZIEJCZYK, (G) SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The Thunderbirds netminder was recognized for a third straight week for his continued impressive run in the Sault Ste. Marie net.

Taking on the two nearest teams to the T-Birds in the NOJHL standings, Horodziejczyk was equal to the task allowing only two goals against on 51 shots fired his way helping the T-Birds extend their winning streak to 10 straight games.

The 18-year-old Sudbury product began his latest effort Saturday stopping all but one attempt he faced in a 2-1 triumph over second place Kirkland Lake.

Sunday afternoon he continued to shine kicking out another 29 pucks in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the visiting Espanola Rivermen.

Horodziejczyk, who last week was one of five NOJHLers invited to attend next week’s Canada East selection camp in Oakville, has won his last six starts allowing only four tallies against posting an impressive 0.67 goals-against average and a equally solid .970 save percentage.

SYLVAIN MIRON, (G) ABITIBI ESKIMOS – No NOJHL stopper has played more minutes (726:44) or faced more shots (439) than Abitibi’s Sylvain Miron.

His latest efforts in the Eskimos crease saw 18-year-old from Iroquois Falls turn aside 27 of 28 attempts he faced in backstopping his hometown team to 3-1 victory over visiting North Bay on Saturday night.

Miron has gone 3-1 in his last four starts with the only blemish coming at the hands of the red-hot Soo Thunderbirds.

JOAKIM JUTRAS, (G) ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – Making his NOJHL debut over the weekend the 19-year-old native of Sorel-Tracy, Que., certainly impressed giving the Rivermen a chance to win both games he appeared in.

He began with a 35-save performance Saturday in a 7-2 triumph at Blind River in the first start in the league since being acquired by Espanola.

Sunday afternoon he was just as solid making another 37 stops, including a number of remarkable stops, in a narrow 2-1 setback to surging Sault Ste. Marie giving Jutras a noteworthy .947 save percentage after two starts.

CANADA EAST CAMP: Five NOJHL players will be attending the Canada East selection camp, which is scheduled for Oct. 27-30 at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ont.

There are a total 66 players invited to take part where the participants will be divided into four teams – Black, Gold, Red and White – and will play six intrasquad games, in addition to daily practices.

Representing the NOJHL will be Soo Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Horodziejczyk, Sudbury Nickel Barons defencemen Bradley Bell and Jonathon Lavigne along with Kirkland Lake Gold Miners forward Steven Babin and Espanola Rivermen forward Cray Roberge.

Kirkland Lake head coach and general manager Marc Lafleur is an assistant coach and video coach for Canada East.

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 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.

TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES

ABITIBI ESKIMOS – The Eskimos have three games in store this week as they are in Sudbury tonight before returning home to Elliot Lake Saturday evening and Blind River Sunday afternoon. …  The club is tied for fourth in the NOJHL standings with a 6-6-0-2 record. … Brady Clouthier tops the team offensively with 16 points in 14 games. His10 tallies also pace the Eskimos. … He has points in eight of his his past nine outings. … Erik Robichaud has 11 points in just eight games since joining the team. … Goaltender Sylvain Miron has played more minutes (756:28) and has faced more shots (471) than any goalkeeper in the league.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS –Two road contests are in store for the Beavers this weekend as they make stops in Kirkland Lake and Iroquois Falls against Abitibi. … Blind River only has one win in their past 10 games. … Team captain Samuel Wilbur continues to produce at over a point-per-game clip with 13 in 12 outings. … Wilbur is tied for second in NOJHL power play markers with three and shorthanded efforts with one. … Tyson MacLeod is second on the squad with 12 points. … Four of Blind River’s next five games will be on the road.

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – Elliot Lake embarks on a three-game road swing this weekend with away games against Kirkland Lake, Abitibi and North Bay. … Brett Wagner continues to lead the way offensively with 17 points in 13 games. That puts him in eighth spot in NOJHL scoring. Wagner shares the league-lead in shorthanded tallies with two. … Dustin Cordeiro is second in team scoring with 13 points in as many games. … Aaron Carmichael is knotted forseventh in the league in assists with nine. … Etienne Roy has faced the fifth most shots among NOJHL netminders at 299. He has played the fourth most minutes at 513:26.

ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – The Rivermen will be on home ice twice weekend when they host North Bay Friday night and Sault Ste. Marie Sunday afternoon. … Brandon Janke leads all NOJHL skaters in points with 29. … Corbin Bean is next on the squad and fourth in the league with 24 points while Brennen Dubchak is fifth with 22. … Forward Cray Roberge will represent the team at the upcoming Canada East selection camp in Oakville. … Espanola will be at home in four of their next six games. … The team will be without the services of head coach Tom McCarthy Nov. 8-10 as he’ll be coaching Team East at the CJHL Prospects games in Yarmouth, N.S. … Recently acquired netminder Joakim Jutras was one of the latest 3 Stars of the week award winners.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – The Gold Miners earned honourable mention in the latest CJHL rankings. … The team will be without head coach and general manager Marc Lafleur starting Sunday as part of his assistant coaching duties with Canada East at their selection camp and for the upcoming World Jr. A Challenge Nov. 4-10 in Yarmouth, N.S. … They trail first place Sault Ste. Marie by six points in the standings, but do hold three games in hand.  … The Gold Miners are at home twice this week with games against Elliot Lake and Blind River. … Steven Babin’s 25 points leads the team and has in the third overall in the league. He leads the NOJHL in assists with 19… Babin was one of five NOJHLers named to the Canada East selection camp. … Defenseman Jeremy Picard-Fiset is fourth in assists with 10. Netminder Kenny Fitzgerald is third in the NOJHL in goals-against average a t 1.94.

NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – The Trappers began their week by scoring a season-high nine times in a win over Abitibi Monday night. … They are in Espanola Friday and at home to Elliot Lake Sunday. … Ryan Demyen leads the team in both goals and points with 10 and 16 respectively. Demyen is tied for the league lead in power play markers with five. … Rookie netminder Evan Cormier is fourth in the league in save percentage at .915 among those who have seen at least 100 minutes of game action. … Cormier has faced the fourth most shots against at 305. … Dustin Hummel meanwhile has faced the second  most attempts against so far this season at 364 while playing the third most minutes at 567:54.
 
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Red hot Sault Ste. Marie has won 10 straight contests. … The Thunderbirds sit in first place in the NOJHL standings with a 15-2 record. … They have moved all the way up to fourth in the latest CJHL top 20 rankings. … Their 15 wins are the most of any team in the league. … The Sault is 9-0 on Essar Centre ice this season. … … The Thunderbirds are 12-0 in games so far this season when Anthony Miller records at least one point. … Gavin Burbach leads the team and is second in NOJHL scoring with 24 points. His 14 tallies are the second most scored in the league … Anthony Miller is tied for third in assists with 13. He is also tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with four. … Joel Horodziejczyk will represent the Thunderbirds and the league at the Canada East selection camp in Oakville at the end of the month. He is second in goals-against average at 1.73 and first in save percentage at .930 among netminders that have played at least 100 minutes. … Road games in Sudbury and Espanola are in store for the T-Birds Saturday and Sunday.

SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – The Nickel Barons have dropped three straight and eight of their past nine contests. … Sudbury is tied for seventh in the league standings with Blind River. … Nickel Barons defencemen Bradley Bell and Jonathon Lavigne will attend the Canada East selection camp in Oakville at the end of the month. … Ryan Punkari leads the team in scoring averaging a point-per-game with 14 in as many outings. He has points in six of his past seven games. … August Jarecki’s 11 points are next on the squad. … Sudbury will play three straight at home including tonight vs. Abitibi and Saturday against the league-leading Soo Thunderbirds.

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