Notebook: NOJHL returns to Little Current Saturday


Release Date: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013
NOJHL returns to Little Current Saturday

SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is returning to Little Current this weekend as the Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Recreation Centre will host a neutral site contest between the North Bay Trappers and Espanola Rivermen at 7 p.m.

The area last hosted the NOJHL back in 2011 when the Manitoulin Islanders were part of the league before relocating to Kirkland Lake.

There is also another neutral site match-up Friday when McIntyre Arena in Timmins serves as the venue at 7:30 p.m. with the Abitibi Eskimos and Blind River Beavers serving as the participants.

Those contests are just two of nine that appear on the NOJHL docket this week.

Weekly action had an early start to it as on Monday as North Bay edged the Blind River Beavers 5-4 thanks to a pair of tallies from Eric Champagne as well as three assists from Duane Wainman in his first game back in a Trappers’ uniform after being reacquired by the town he played in last season.

There is also a pair of tilts slated for evening as Kirkland Lake heading to Iroquois Falls to tangle with Abitibi while Sudbury is home to North Bay in a pair of 7:30 p.m. starts.

Three more 7:30 p.m. games go Friday with the Eskimos entertaining Blind River, Sault Ste. Marie hosts Espanola while Sudbury pays a visit to Elliot Lake.

Along with the Rivermen – Trappers encounter in Little Current Saturday you also have the Gold Miners welcoming the Beavers to “The Joe” in a 7:30 p.m. face-off.

Wrapping up weekly action Sunday has Kirkland Lake hosting Abitibi at 7:30 p.m.

NOJHL 3 STARS: The latest NOJHL 3 Stars of the week were forwards in Darcy Haines and Tyler Jones of the Soo Thunderbirds along with Landon Hiebert of the Abitibi Eskimos.

DARCY HAINES, (F) SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Last season’s NOJHL most valuable player has been stellar since joining Sault Ste. Marie last month helping them reel off nine consecutive victories, including three last week.

In those most recent three outings Haines racked up seven points aiding the Thunderbirds in extending their cushion atop the NOJHL standings.

Haines began firing the game-winner and adding two assists in a 5-2 win over Abitibi Friday evening at home.

The 20-year-old from Val Caron, Ont., followed that by potting two more tallies, of which one was the winner, and setting up another goal in a 6-1 triumph over Sudbury.

Haines then concluded his efforts picking up an assist to help the T-Birds win 6-4 in Espanola Sunday afternoon.

He now has points in each of the 10 games he has skated in with the Soo this season amassing 20 in total on six goals and 14 helpers.

TYLER JONES, (F) SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Also contributing to the success of the No. 4 nationally-ranked Soo Thunderbirds has been Tyler Jones.

The Mason, Mich., product tacked on six points last week in aiding his club’s offensive efforts in coming away victorious in each outing.

Starting off, Jones doled out a couple of assists in the victory over Abitibi Friday.

The next night he added another helper at Essar Centre as the T-Birds topped the Nickel Barons 6-1 and then wrapped up his solid week by notching the tying goal and setting a pair of others in a 6-4 decision at Espanola.

Overall Jones is averaging close to point-per-game for the Thunderbirds with 28 in 31 games.

LANDON HIEBERT, (F) ABITIBI ESKIMOS – In three road games last week the recently acquired Hiebert scored four times helping the Eskimos pick-up a key four points allowing Abitibi move into fourth place in the league standings.

Among the efforts the 20-year-old native of Red Deer, Alta. produced was notching a pair of tallies, including the game-winner, in a 4-2 triumph at Blind River Saturday.

He followed that up by tacking on two more markers in a pivotal 6-3 triumph in Elliot Lake Sunday evening allowing the Eskimos to move past the Bobcats into fourth in the NOJHL standings.

Hiebert now has six points in just four games since joining Abitibi late last month.

CJHL TOP 20: The continued solid play of the Soo Thunderbirds and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners had both Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League clubs move up the Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 rankings.

The latest listings had the NOJHL-leading Thunderbirds jump to fourth overall nationally while the Gold Miners moved to 13th in the CJHL in the ratings that are compiled each week in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting.

Winners of nine in a row, Sault Ste. Marie currently leads the NOJHL in points with 56 as they sit in top spot with an overall record of 27-4-0-2.

Second place Kirkland Lake has 46 points, but also hold six games in hand on the T-Birds. They enter the week with a 22-3-0-2 mark having gone 11-1-0-1 in their previous 13 outings.

In terms on winning percentage the Miners also still boast a slightly better winning percentage over the Sault at .852 to .848.

A new team has taken over top spot in the CJHL this week as the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League garnered the No. 1 ranking.

Sliding into No. 2 nationally are the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League while the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who saw a lengthy run as the top-ranked squad in the CJHL come to an end this week, dipped to No. 3.


1.  Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (2)
2.  Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (3)
3.  Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (1)
4.  Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (5)
5.  Powell River Kings (BCHL) (7)
6.  Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) (4)
7.  Yorkton Terriers (SJHL) (8)
8.  Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL) (9)
9.  Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (6)
10. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (13)
11. Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL) (11)
12. Weeks Crushers (MHL) (10)
13. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL) (14)
14. Selkirk Steelers (MJHL) (12)
15. Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) (15)
16. Aurora Tigers (OJHL) (NR)
17. Vernon Vipers (BCHL) (NR)      
18. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (HM)
19. Dieppe Commandos (MHL) (19)
20. Les Pantheres de Saint Jerome (LHJAAAQ) (NR)

Honourable Mention: Brooks Bandits (AJHL), Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL),  Drumheller Dragons (AJHL), Okotoks Oilers (AJHL), Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)


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.


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

The CJHL represents 128 teams and over 2,500 players and has over 2,800 alumni furthering their hockey careers at the professional, major junior and college level across North America.  

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

CENTRAL CANADA CUP CHALLENGE: It’s just over two weeks away until a NOJHL select squad heads to Terreboone, Que, to compete in the Central Canada Cup Challenge.

The three-day event will feature the NOJHL taking on competing clubs from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Central Canada Hockey League and the Quebec AAA Jr. A loop taking part.

Each of the six participating clubs will play a five-game round robin with the length of games being two 20-minute periods.
After round robin competition the top two squads in the standings will compete in the Central Canada Cup Challenge championship contest on Dec. 29.

The NOJHL will open up competition Friday, Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. against one of the two LHJAAAQ squads that will be taking part.

Their second game of the day goes at 5 p.m. as they square off vs. the CCHL.

Saturday, Dec. 28 sees two more tilts on tap for the NOJHL as they’ll meet the second LHJAAAQ side at 1 p.m., which will be followed by a 5 p.m. face-off with the OJHL North East.

Round robin play for the NOJHL then concludes Sunday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. when they square off with OJHL South West.

The top two teams will then met in the championship game later that same day at 5:30 p.m.

There will be a total of six teams taking part with one apiece from both the NOJHL and CCHL along with two from Quebec and the OJHL.

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

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.


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.

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 – Winners of eight straight at Jus Jordan Arena the Eskimos will attempt to extend that home ice success this evening as they entertain Kirkland Lake at 7:30 p.m. … They also have two other games on the go this week as they take on Blind River in Timmins Friday before heading to Kirkland Lake Sunday night. … Having gone 4-1 in their past five outings Abitibi has moved into fourth place in the NOJHL standings with a 15-12-0-2 record. … Brady Clouthier continues to be one of the top point producers in the league. His 42 points currently tops the team and also puts him sixth overall in the entire NOJHL. Clouthier is also tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with six. He also has an active five-game point streak. … Ryan Tront, who is second on the team offensively is also knotted for 11th in league scoring with 28 points. … Goaltender Sylvain Miron has played the second most minutes (1025:21) and has faced more shots (659) than any goalkeeper in the league.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Blind River enters action this week seven points behind Sudbury for seventh spot in the league standings. … The Beavers have games this week starting with the neutral site affair in Timmins vs. Abitibi Friday before heading to Kirkland Lake Saturday. … Tyson MacLeod leads the club in points with 20 while Scott Marshall is next with 17. … Matthew Neault is coming off a season-high four points Monday vs. North Bay. … Jacob Boisvenue did likewise with his three-point effort.  

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The Bobcats enter play this week fifth in the NOJHL standings with a 14-12-0-3 record. … The club has gone a solid 8-6-1-0 in their last 15 games. … The club’s lone contest this week is Friday when they welcome Sudbury to Centennial Arena. … Brett Wagner‘s 38 points has him leading the team offensively. He is also eighth overall in the NOJHL. Wagner is also second in the league in goals with 23, tops in shorthanded tallies with five and tied for third in game-winning markers with four. The Bobcats have an impressive 9-1-1-0 record in games in which Wagner registers at least two points. … Dustin Cordeiro is second on the squad in points with 26 followed by Andrew Palushaj with 22.

ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – The NOJHL’s leading point producer and Gongshow Gear player of the month in Brennen Dubchak was named the CJHL’s third star of the month for November. … The Rivermen boast three of the top five scored in the league. Along with Dubchak in first with 50 points, Corbin Bean is tied for third with 46 while Brandon Jnke is fifth on 43 points. … Dubchak and Bean are tied for third in goals with 20 apiece while the trio are second, third and fourth overall in assists. … Bean is tied for the NOJHL-lead in game-winning goals with six while Dubchak’s half dozen man advantage markers knot him for second in the league. … Espanola remains third in the NOJHL standings with an 18-12 record. … They remain the only NOJHL team without a loss in overtime to date. … With two games this week the Rivermen visit Sault Ste. Marie Friday before taking in North Bay in a neutral site contest Saturday in Little Current.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Kirkland Lake moved up to 13th in the CJHL national rankings once again this week. … The Gold Miners have the most 25 or more point producers in the NOJHL with five. … The Gold Miners boast the best winning percentage in the league at .852 while sitting second in the overall standings with a 23-3-0-2 record. They do hold six games in hand on first place Sault Ste. Marie. They’ll make one of those games up tonight as they take on Abitibi. … They then return home to host Blind River Saturday and the Eskimos Sunday. … Steven Babin’s 46 points leads the team and ties him for second overall in the NOJHL. His 31 assists are the most of any player in the league. …Babin’s six power play markers tie him for third in the NOJHL. Mathieu Lecompte is also tied for third in shorthanded goals with two and knotted for fourth in game-winning tallies with four. … Kenny Fitzgerald is third in goals-against average (2.28) and fifth in save percentage. (.910)

NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – North Bay remains six in the NOJHL standings with a 11-15-0-4 record. … The Trappers started off their week on the right track Monday as they defeated Blind River 5-4. .… They have gone 4-2 in their last six outings. … They’ll look to continue their winning ways tonight in Sudbury as well as in Saturday’s neutral site contest in Little Current vs. Espanola. … Ryan Demyen continues to lead all NOJHL skaters in power play goals with eight. Demyen is also pacing the Trappers offensively averaging just over a point-per-game with 29 in 28 outings, including a team-high 15 goals. … Eric Champagne, who sits second on the squad in scoring with 24 points, also has a six-game point streak on the go (8g-4a). … Rookie netminder Evan Cormier is third in the NOJHL in save percentage at .920.

SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The hottest team in the NOJHL, the Thunderbirds have rolled to nine consecutive victories. … They have also jumped to fourth overall in the CJHL weekly top 20 rankings. … Sault Ste. Marie still have not lost on home ice so far in the 2013-13 campaign, having gone 16-0 to date and 19-0 dating back to last season. The 16 home wins in a row to start a season is a team record.  … The club leads the NOJHL in points with 56 and sit a close second in winning percentage at .848. … After racking up 17 points in his past 10 games Gavin Burbach has moved into second spot in NOJHL scoring with 47 points. Burbach also tops the league in goals with 24 and is fifth in assists with 23. … The Thunderbirds are 13-0 in games he records at least two points. … Anthony Miller, who is second on the squad offensively with 41 points, is seventh overall in the league. His five game-winners are the third most in the NOJHL. … The club has four skaters with 25 or more points so far this season, the second most in the league. … Netminder Joel Horodziejczyk tops all goaltenders in both goals-against average and save percentage at 1.79 and .931 respectively while winning his last 14 starts in the Soo net. He also leads the way in shutouts with two.

SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – The Nickel Barons are seventh in the league standings with 18 points with a 7-18-0-4 record. …Sudbury has gone winless in their past five games. … They’ll look to get back into the win column tonight as they host North Bay at McClelland Arena at 7:30 p.m. The club’s other contest this week goes Friday in Elliot Lake vs. the Bobcats. … … August Jarecki is averaging nearly a point-per-game for the Nickel Barons with 26 in 27 contests. His offensive totals lead the team. … Ryan Punkari is next on the squad with 20 points followed by Giovanni Foschia and Brody Brunet with 19. … Brunet has a modest two-game point streak on the go. … Khadyn Butterfly is second points among NOJHL defencemen. He leads all NOJHL defencemen in power play tallies with five. … Of the five games the Nickel Barons have left in 2013, three will be on the road.


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