Few surprises so far in NOJHL

We’re a month into the 2012-13 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League regular season and the current standings hold no real surprise.

It had been said here before the start of the season that North Bay, the Soo and Sudbury would battle for first, Kirkland Lake would be in the middle and Abitibi, Blind River and Elliot Lake would make up the lower third of the seven-team loop.

The Nickel Barons of Sudbury might be the only surprise, and a mild one at that.

While Sudbury was seen as a top three team, the Nickel Barons record of 8-1 through nine games is better than most NOJHL insiders would have thought, methinks. Then again, I’ve always been a fan of Nickel Barons coach Dave Clancy.

I’m thinking that the expansion Bobcats of Elliot Lake will begin to show upward movement sooner than later.

Elliot Lake has just one win as this is being written but coach-general manager Ryan Leonard and his staff have made several recent moves to improve on the team’s weaknesses.

The Soo has handed Sudbury its only loss to date and so far the Thunderbirds have adapted well to a new-look coaching staff featuring long-time assistant Warren Lavoy as headmaster and the seasoned, cerebral Dennis Bolton as his top associate.

The time-honoured Bolton is fresh from a four-year gig as an assistant coach with the Soo Eagles, who are now in their first season in the North American Hockey League.

Bolton is one of those old-style coaches who has brought himself up-to-date with today’s game.

Who to watch out for among the “big three” as the season advances?

I like Sudbury and I like the Soo and while I am not one who bets money, I would roll the dice and take the Trappers of North Bay to finish first.

NOJHL TO D1

Robbie Payne has secured a future commitment to play Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Payne, a 1993 birth year forward from Gaylord, Mich., is currently in his second season with the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings of the North American Hockey League.

Kalamazoo head coach Marc Fakler confirmed Payne’s recent commitment to NMU.

After scoring 40 goals in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with the Soo Eagles for coach Bruno Bragagnolo during their 2010-11 championship season, Payne moved to the NAHL with Kalamazoo for the 2011-12 campaign and produced 55 points, 26 of which were goals.

The Eagles are now part of the NAHL and compete with Kalamazoo in the North Division.

Payne, meanwhile, becomes the second former NOJHLer that NMU has recruited in the last two years.

Previously, NMU signed former Soo Eagles and Soo Thunderbirds goalie Michael Doan. Doan, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native, is now a freshman at NMU.

Of note, Walt Kyle, a former National Hockey League coach, is the main main behind the bench at NMU.

Among Kyle’s assistants is Joe Shawhan, a Sault Ste. Marie native and former head coach of the erstwhile Soo Indians of the NAHL. Shawhan was also an assistant coach with the Division 1, Lake Superior State Lakers before heading to NMU.

40 thoughts on “Few surprises so far in NOJHL

  1. Old Viking

    The Bobcats are entertaning the Fans of Elliot Lake I say. New goalie and a few other new player’s in Town. Ryan Leonard runs a good programme and deserves credit from us for bringing “real Junior hockey” back into Town. As long as we beat those Goons from Blind River we are happy LOL!

  2. Beavers1

    Old Viking: “Goons from Blind River” you say?!?!?!?!?
    That Elliot Lake team of yers should act if they ever make a new “Slapshot” movie!!!!!!!

  3. Mike

    Talking about goons, I’d like to know how a player gets 36 minutes of penalties in one game (4 shifts, 4 penalties), interferes with the opposition goalie 3 times, gets a Goaltender Interference Major, loses a fight, and plays in the next game – NO SUSPENSION. Yet the two players who came to the goalie’s rescue were both suspended.

  4. Randy Russon Post author

    Bruins 4,

    Well, for starters, Connor McNally of the Gold Miners is a really good player. 8 goals in 8 games to start the season.

    Regards,

    RR

  5. Cassio

    McNally is a Sudbury area kid who kinda reminds me of Brian McGarry who was a big goal scorer for the Northern Wolves/Junior Wolves days of Dave Clancy. I agree with you about Clancy too RR — affective coach who gets his players to play for him!

  6. KL Flash

    Conner McNally is the real deal as a 20 Yr Old in this League & I can see him keeping this up and scoring 40-50 goals. Nice of you to mention his stats Randy!
    P.S. Randy did you used to live in Kirkland at one time?? Just curious I thought that I had read that..

  7. Randy Russon Post author

    KL Flash,

    I am not from Kirkland Lake but have been there more than a few times. My brother-in-law was born and raised in Kirkland Lake, though he moved to Sault Ste. Marie many years ago.

    Regards,

    RR

  8. jagr_68

    Watching the Trappers-Goldminers game, just have to point out, the officials are just brutal…both ways I mean. Not sure who these guys are or where they are from but the grade is a 4 out of 10. They are loosing control of this game.

  9. jagr_68

    I missed it because of blurry fasthockey coverage, but did Mcnally get taken out by Hunt on the 2 minute kneeing call? Is it a knee injury the reason he never returned? If so, no wonder the refs were loosing control of this one. But like I said, I missed the play, I might be wrong here.

  10. NBT1975

    The so called big shots from KL looked like a AA midget team last nite in comparrison to the Trappers! Is this the skilled skating team that all you Gold Miners fans was bragging about? Lots of pussies on the KL team if you ask me!

  11. Old Viking

    Yeeeeeeeessssssssssss to the Bobcats! “RR” said they were gonna turn this around with new player and the the new goalie look like he’s a pretty good one for sure. Cant wait to beat them goons from Blind River again!
    Also: RR I want to say that I enjoy your Hockey Show very much – excellint Junior Hockey coveradge!

    We do need more fans out to Centennial to watch the Bobcats no reason why there should not be 450-500 fans at evry home game.

  12. Cassio

    Was in North Bay for work yesterday so I stayed over for the game last nite…..Trappers looked dominant imho! Kirkland has some good players i.e. Dionne with his phsical style and this young Steve Babin kid is a dandy. Wait until you see him play if you have not yet.

  13. stick

    I see the Eskimos gave up 46 shoots, after watching the last two home games I thought their defencive game was getting much better. I guess they got away from it last night.

  14. KL Fan

    @NBT1975

    Funny how all of NB Trappers Fans always put down the other teams…simply no class….calling them pussies…your team has had some beatings in the past…so would that make your players pussies too….or just a bad game? Unfortunately, KL had their worst game of the season last night…nothing came together.

    Funny how the table was turned the last game and we dominated…even Tom McCarthy reported in the paper article that we dominated and outshot you guys 2-1….he thanked his goalie for standing on his head…we didn’t go around calling you guys pussies because we were walking all over you…just didn’t show up on the scoreboard.

    Some respect would be nice…is that too much to ask for to have NB show respect!

  15. stick

    Nice to see the Eskis bounce back with a much better effort tonight. Therrien 5 point night way to go lads.

  16. LeJib

    KL Fan – “all of NB Trappers Fans always put down the other teams” ?????????? I’ve been around Jr. hockey for a while, and hadn’t noticed that.

  17. Armand5

    Agree with you LeJib – Trap fans have had little to brag about for quite awhile – and there aren’t that many of them anyway.

  18. KL Fan

    I will say perhaps it isn’t every Trappers Fan but those vocal ones sure make it bad for all the others.

    Comment from NBT 1975 – not appropriate

    Doesn’t help when the President of the Trappers was interviewed last year and said ” KL has zero talent” – if you want, look at the games between KL and Trappers last year…it was at a Trappers home game that the interview took place…this is on tape, recorded and in the fast hockey archives…so can’t deny it was said.

    I too have been involved with Hockey for years – so don’t think I don’t know hockey, hockey etiquette. I do keep a close eye on things. I have attended many games, watched many broadcasts…so my comments are not made off the cuff.

  19. LeJib

    KL Fan, etc. – Everything I have said is true. End of story. I will have no further comment on the subject of ‘good fans’ and ‘bad fans’ who follow every team in every sporting event.
    Meanwhile, fans at the Gardens were treated to another excellent hockey game this afternoon (Sunday). As I commented to a couple of E.L. fans who joined me in my family’s seats, (and to the coach after the game), although the Trappers played okay and worked hard, the Bobcats played just a little bit better and worked harder. Their consistent work ethic made the difference in the game. I see a young team with enough potential and motivation to not be taken lightly. Well-deserved two points, Bobcats.

  20. league fan

    thanks Lejib for the Rap up…. it seems to me that the league is well balance this year……..what do you think or is it just me, most games are very close

  21. KL Fan

    I agree! There won’t be an overwhelming tilt this year – will make it for some interesting hockey!

  22. sigs_2012

    Happy turkey day, everyone! |A day late but no less tasty for Eskis who got home late last night (or should I say, early this morning?).

  23. Bruins 4

    Yes I agree with Jagr_68 and KL fan. That was not a kneeing call. Player was out rest of game. Amazing how everyone forgets that all the goldminers losses were 1 (or 2 on the empty netter) goal before the Trappers game. Yes it was likely their worse game of the year but still 37-32 SOG for the Trap, is that dominance? Anyways they learned their lesson and handed it to the Barons the next night.

  24. LeJib

    Hey league fan – You’re ‘spot on’ mate. I think we’re going to be treated to the best-balanced season in many a moon. That being said, there is usually a team or two who fall behind and have a not-so-hot year. Similarly, there could be a team or two who pull ahead in the race for first. Either way, I foresee a season of very competitive hockey. If you take any team lightly on any given night, you do so at your own peril. Cheers to a banner year for NOJHL!

  25. Trapper Fan

    When a team doesn’t play like a team the result is the game on Sunday between the Bobcats and Trappers. Players need to keep their egos in check, and being humbled is a good thing from time to time to remind anyone of that.
    This league has really ramped up and there is no doubt that the teams in this league will be fun and exciting to watch.

    Didn’t Kyle Rowe play for the Trappers a couple of years back?

  26. David Harrison

    Kyle Rowe played in North Bay 2010-11 season. 28 games two goals eight assists and 25 penalty minutes. He played one playoff game

  27. Cue For Treason

    Huge win for Beavers over the Booze Birds!! Corey McEwan gets the OT winner! Way to go Beavers!

  28. stick

    Nice to see the Eskis finally score some goals, no sure where they are finding all these new players but big improvement in team speed and skill. Also what did they feed the Beavers this weekend???

  29. Shutterbug

    Ninety minutes of full-out hockey tonite in Blind River as the
    Beavers and Trappers played to a 3-3 tie.
    Good crowd out to support both teams, Beavers vastly improved since their loss to the Eskimos last week, hopefully this will get them moving up the points scale…..good game guys !!!

  30. eskisfan

    Eskis look like they now have some real depth up front. Desseau, Wildman, Poulin-Roy, and Sweeny who picked up a goal in his first game are all going to help big time. This compliment to go along with Therrien, Innes and Kerr who were contributing already give the eskis some decent firepower. Windsor and Borden provide good size and hopefully get healthy soon. levesque is getting better everygame as well. League is tight and gettin tighter. Cant wait to see the eskis in another month once the final roster fully understands thier role and system they play. I predict November and December to be good months for the Eskis and their faithful.

  31. stick

    I have to agree with Eskisfan this is a much improved squad from a couple of weeks ago. Also heard another new arrival expected this week, hopefully he will be a player like the last few.

  32. Sigs_2012

    Eskisfan: agreed (PS – I believe it’s JESSEAU, not “desseau”).
    Apparently another body coming to the Eskis tomorrow or Tuesday.
    Eskis have got a guardian angel doing some scouting for them!

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