NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
Team NOJHL to face formidable opposition at Central Canada Cup Challenge
TERREBONNE, Que. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League takes to the ice Friday in day 1 play at the Central Canada Cup Challenge showcase event in Terrebonne, Que., with a pair of games on the slate.
They will be the first two of five round robin contests at the six-team tourney that also features all-star select squads from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Central Canada Hockey League and the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League.
Both the OJHL and QJAAAHL have two clubs competing in Terrebonne while the CCHL and NOJHL have one representing their respective leagues.
Each of the six participating sides will play a five-game round robin with the length of each contest being just two 20-minute, stop-time periods.
There will be a total of 16 games staged during the course of the Central Canada Cup Challenge with the top two sides in round robin competition vying for the championship Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
TEAM NOJHL: Under the guidance of director of operations Oscar Clouthier (Sudbury Nickel Barons), head coach Marc Lafleur (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners) along with assistants Jordan Smith (Soo Thunderbirds) and Zane Neily (North Bay Trappers), Team NOJHL have a team with veteran leadership and youthful energy that looks to impress in Terrebonne.
In net the club will rely on the goaltending of Joel Horodziejczyk (Soo Thunderbirds) and Evan Cormier (North Bay Trappers) to backstop the squad at the event.
There is no goaltender in the 128-team Canadian Junior Hockey League hotter than Horodziejczyk at the moment.
He currently leads all NOJHL netminders in wins (19), goals-against average (1.76), save percentage (.932), shutouts (2) and minutes played (1,260)
The Sault Ste. Marie stopper has also won his last 16 starts, boasts the top winning percentage among CJHL goalies at .905 and in the middle of his run helped Team East to a CJHL Prospects Games President’s Cup win in Nova Scotia with a stellar 36-save performance with a 4-2 victory over Team West in the finale.
Helping anchor the NOJHL defensive corps is 2012-13 first team all-star Jeremy Picard-Fiset. (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners)
Picard-Fiset leads all NOJHL blueliners this season in both assists and points with 23 and 27 respectively.
Up front the squad features five of the elite eight point producers in the NOJHL so far this season, including three in the top five.
Gavin Burbach, (Soo Thunderbirds) Steven Babin (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners) and Anthony Miller (Soo Thunderbirds) have combined for 160 points between them.
You also have the offensive prowess of Brady Clouthier (Abitibi Eskimos) and Brett Wagner (Elliot Lake Bobcats) with both of those skaters having scored 23 times apiece to date and both are over the 20-assist mark on the season.
Clouthier also leads the NOJHL in game-winning goals with seven.
The following is a breakdown of Team NOJHL’s opponents at the tournament and when they play them.
Game 1: Friday 1 p.m. vs. LHJAAAQ St-Louis-Lalime – The Central Canada Cup Challenge opener for the NOJHL should be a good test for the squad in this their first of two games against the offensive-friendly LHJAAAQ.
Among the players to watch will be forward Benjamin Lagarde (Princeville Titan). He currently leads all skaters in the entire CJHL in goals with 37.
Julien Houle (Princeville Titan) is another player with a knack for putting the puck in the net as he has tallied 25 times in 30 outings while also chipping in with 34 assists.
Add in 35-goal man Karl Léveillé, along with his 21 helpers, is just a sample of the firepower on this team.
They can also put up numbers from the back-end as well as Sebastien Gauthier’s (Granby Inouk) 11 markers and 22 assists would indicate.
Statistically the top netminder in the league in Philippe-Alexandre Vinette (Princeville Titan) is also on the squad.
He paces the LHJAAAQ in goals-against average and save percentage at 2.86 and .909 respectively while picking up the second-most wins at 20.
Game 2: Friday 5 p.m. vs. CCHL – The second opponent for the NOJHL Friday will be from the Central Canada Hockey League.
Boasting a line-up with seven NCAA commitments, the CCHL also has a strong squad in Terrebonne.
A couple of CCHL forwards to watch are Nathan Todd (Brockville Braves) and Stefano Momesso (Smiths Falls Bears) as the duo sit among the top 10 in league scoring with 43 and 41 points respectively.
Then there is Carl Faucher (Hawkesbury Hawks) and Jesse Blais (Kemptville 73s) who also lie on the first page of the CCHL leaderboard.
Defenceman Kelly Summers (Carleton Place Canadians) is presently the No. 2 scoring D-man in the CCHL with the 17-year-old rearguard having committed to attend Clarkson University.
The youngest player on that team’s roster is highly-touted 16-year-old defenceman Kris Myllari, (Kanata Stallions) who has already been recruited to attend Penn State on scholarship.
The CCHL line-up will also boast the top two in goals-against average manning the nets for their side.
Alexandre Savard-Belanger (Ottawa Jr. A Senators) leads in goals-against average at 2.58 and sits seventh in save percentage at .908.
Then there is Jordan Piccolino (Cornwall Colts) who is second in average at 2.66 as well as third in save percentage at .917.
Game 3: Saturday 1 p.m. vs. LHJAAAQ Perron-Burrows – Between the pipes the Perron-Burrows division side have the league leader in victories in their line-up in Philippe Gingras (Sainte-Jerome Panthers). He has 23 triumphs so far this season.
Rookie goaltender Shawn Ouellet sits second in the LHJAAAQ in average at 3.00 as well as in save percentage at .902 along with a solid 11-1-2-2 record.
The top point producer in the league is also on this squad in Nicolas Dionne (Sainte-Jerome Panthers). He has amassed an amazing 83 points in just 35 games scoring 34 times and setting up 49 others.
Samuel Aquin (Sainte-Jerome Panthers) can also connect as his 26 tallies will attest. Add in 45 assists and Aquin sits fourth overall in scoring with 71 points.
Game 4: Saturday 5 p.m. vs. OJHL North-East – The competition for the NOJHL does not get any easier in their second contest Saturday as they’ll meet some of the premier players from the OJHL’s North and East Divisions.
Coached by the 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup host Wellington Dukes bench boss Marty Abrams, OJHL North-East is led offensively by Mike Panowyk (Whitby Fury) and his 45 points in 28 games.
A force on the power play Panowyk has accumulated 22 points while his Whitby side has had the man advantage.
Justin Maiolino (Newmarket Hurricanes) is another skilled player on this roster to look out for. He has 16 goals and 28 helpers to his credit to date.
On the back end look for OJHL North-East to rely on defencemen Robert Powers (Toronto Lake Shore Patriots), Jake Emilio (Cobourg Cougars) and Matthew Heffernan (Stouffville Spirit) to contribute offensively as the trio all are all over 20 points on the campaign.
In net Nathan Perry (Cobourg Cougars) leads all of the OJHL in goals-against average at 2.15 and holds down second in save percentage at .928.
Meanwhile the squad’s other goaltender in Tyson Teichmann (Wellington Dukes) has the third best save mark in the league at .928 and is sixth in average at 2.52.
Game 5: Sunday 11 a.m. vs. OJHL South-West – Wrapping up round robin play for Team NOJHL will be a Sunday morning encounter with OJHL South-West.
Coached by Rich Ricci of the defending OJHL champion and Dudley-Hewitt Cup finalist St. Michael’s Buzzers the South-West squad features three skaters who have already earned attention by NHL Central Scouting and eight with NCAA commitments secured.
Jake Evans (St. Michael’s Buzzers) is a 17-year-old forward who has earned a “B” rating from Central Scouting and will attend the University of Notre Dame on scholarship. He is averaging over a point-per-game with St. Michael’s of Toronto with 35 in 32 outings.
Another skater up front to watch is Pat Egan (Buffalo Jr. Sabres) as he is third overall in OJHL offensive production with 53 points. He also shares the league-lead in power play markers with 11.
Then there is fellow forward Shane Bennett (Milton Icehawks) right behind Egan in scoring with 52 points with his 29 goals leading all of the 22-team OJHL.
Add in David Italiano (St. Michael’s Buzzers) knotted for second in scoring having buried 26 pucks past OJHL goalkeepers and you’ll see OJHL South-West have a solid offensive arsenal to choose from.
D-men Michael Prapavessis (Toronto Lakeshore Patriots) is tied for the league lead in points among rearguards with 33 and is a “C” rated player by NHL CS.
Another “C” rated defenceman on the squad is Jake Walman (Toronto Jr. Canadiens). Like Prapavessis, he too is a 17-year-old. Walman has scored four times and set-up 18 others.
Backstopping this side between the pipes are George Argiropoulos (St. Michael’s Buzzers) and Evan Buitenhuis (Oakville Blades).
Further news, game results, statistics and other relevant information during the Central Canada Cup Challenge can be found online via the official event website at www.centralcanadacup.com/en/.