NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Saturday, March 29, 2014
Soo – Abitibi semifinal series preview
SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s second semifinal series begins tonight at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie as the Soo Thunderbirds entertain the Abitibi Eskimos in game 1 of the best-of-seven affair.
The following is a preview of that series:
SCHEDULE: As the No. 1 seed the Thunderbirds have home ice advantage and will host the first two games of the series along with games 5 and 7, if they are necessary.
The Eskimos will be at home for games 3 and 4 next Wednesday and Thursday and they would also be at Jus Jordan Arena should a sixth game be required.
The dates for the final three games will be announced once the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds schedule for their second round match-up vs. the Erie Otters is completed.
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 4 Abitibi Eskimos
Best-of-seven series tied 0-0
Game 1: Saturday, March 29 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 2: Sunday, March 30 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 3: Wednesday, April 2 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 4: Thursday, April 3 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 5*: T.B.A. @ Soo (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: T.B.A. @ Abitibi (Jus Jordan)
Game 7*: T.B.A. @ Soo (Essar Centre)
HOW THEY ARRIVED: Both clubs advanced to the second round of the NOJHL playoffs following quarter-final triumphs with the Thunderbirds defeating the Blind River Beavers in five games while Abitibi advanced after pulling out a one-goal victory in a seventh and deciding contest with the Elliot Lake Bobcats.
Despite finishing 75 points behind the regular season champion T-Birds, Blind River battled hard in the series of which four games were decided by the narrowest of margins including the finale that required overtime before the Soo prevailed.
It was equally as difficult for Eskimos as five of the seven they played against the Bobcats were decided by one goal in a series that also featured a pair of OT sessions.
POSTSEASON PERFORMERS: Soo rookie defenceman Owen Headrick led his side in offensive production in round 1 picking up six points on a goal and five assists.
Veteran forward Anthony Miller (3g-2a) and another first-year player in Brett Jeffries (2g-3a) were next with five points apiece.
Darcy Haines and D-man David Radke were next as that duo both tallied twice and set-up two others.
Abitibi got plenty of production in their win over Elliot Lake putting four skaters in the top 10 in NOJHL playoff scoring.
Leading the way is Eskimos forward Ryan Tront who tops the table with 10 points as he has scored five times while doling out five helpers.
Next on the squad and tied for second overall in the league is Brendan Locke who piled up nine points in vs. the Bobcats, tallying twice and chipping in with seven assists.
Erik Robichaud is right behind with eight points followed by Landon Hiebert with seven while Brady Clouthier and Brennan Roy had a half dozen points apiece.
In net, rookie Brian Kment saw the bulk of the action for the Thunderbirds going 4-0 sitting second overall in goals-against average at 1.74 and fourth in save percentage at .918.
Brody Wagner saw action in five games against Elliot Lake going 3-2 and sits third in save percentage at .922.
Sylvain Miron was 1-1 in two starts for the Eskimos.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: In the eight regular season meetings between the two sides Sault Ste. Marie came out way ahead going 7-0-1-0 in the match-ups outscoring Abitibi 37-13.
The Eskis lone triumph came Nov. 9 at home when they edged the Thunderbirds 3-2 in OT.
The NOJHL’s leading scorer, in Gavin Burbach of the Thunderbirds, was the top point producer in games amongst the two teams as he registered 15 on seven goals and eight assists.
Anthony Miller and Haines were next with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Clouthier led the Eskimos offensively vs. the Soo with seven points followed by Tront’s six.
NOJHL MVP Joel Horodziejczyk was 5-0 against the Eskimos while Kment was 2-0-1.
Wagner had the lone triumph for his side over the T-Birds in the regular season.
Special teams saw the Soo go 5-32 while on the power play and Abitibi went 6-31.
The Thunderbirds notched the two shorthanded markers that were scored.
Sept. 14 @ Abitibi (5-2 Thunderbirds)
Oct. 13 @ Soo (5-1 Thunderbirds)
Nov. 9 @ Abitibi (3-2 Eskimos OT)
Dec. 6 @ Soo (5-2 Thunderbirds)
Jan. 4 @ Abitibi (4-1 Thunderbirds)
Jan. 11 @ Soo (4-2 Thunderbirds)
Jan. 31 @ Soo (9-0 Thunderbirds)
Feb. 22 @ Abitibi (3-2 Thunderbirds OT)