KASNER SPEAKS OUT
Kirkland Lake Blue Devils owner-general manager Bob Kasner has responded to the six-month suspension that he’s been handed by Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League commissioner Robert Mazzuca for violations of NOJHL/Northern Ontario Hockey Association/Hockey Canada regulations.
Kasner told me by e-mail that “Although we followed Hockey Canada’s rule in regards to the amount of carded players for December 1st, we did not file the necessary document with the NOHA/NOJHL. Unfortunately, the league elected to suspend me for this oversight and my penalty is as the commissioner has stated.
“It is unfortunate that the league took this stand against a new team that is trying everything to put kids on the ice for the right reasons, however rules are rules and we are not above them nor do we think we deserve any special treatment.
Kasner then took a bit of a shot at NOJHL administrator Hector Seguin.
“Having said this, it would have been helpful if we had received a phone call from the league administrator on December 1 asking for our cutdown list. We simply did not understand that an actual document was necessary…we certainly do now!” Kasner concluded.
It’s been a rough first season in the NOJHL for the Blue Devils, who have actually shown marked improvement on the ice over the last month.
Prior to Kasner’s suspension, Blue Devils coach Dave Gillespie was twice suspended by the NOJHL for using illegal players.
BEASTS OF THE EAST
Sudbury Cubs seem to have shrugged off a November slump and have moved back atop the NOJHL’s East Division.
Led by the three-headed offensive monster of former Ontario Hockey League skaters Jordan Carroll, Jamie Haines and Nick Esposto, the Cubs have surged ahead of the Abitibi Eskimos to reclaim top spot.
Still in the hunt, though, are the North Bay Trappers.
While the Trappers are merely a .500 team at the moment, president/general manager Chris Dawson has made several additions to his team’s lineup without giving up a lot in return.
WEST SIDE STORY
Simply put, Soo Thunderbirds president Albert Giommi is a good guy, a very successful, self-made businessman who just happens to like hockey.
Now in his second season as Thunderbirds president, Giommi has actually been with the team as an investor since it entered the NOJHL in 1999.
Not only are the Thunderbirds a hobby for Giommi, they are also a major passion. And just as Giommi is passionate about his team, the same holds true for the NOJHL.
“I think we are really making progress as a league,” said Giommi on a recent edition of the Hockey North Show on Sault Ste. Marie radio station ESPN 1400. “The league is going in a good direction and I believe that it will continue to get better and better.”
Giommi didn’t pull any punches when asked about the possibility of the Thunderbirds main rival, the Michigan-based Soo Eagles, leaving the NOJHL after this season for the North American Hockey League.
“First of all let me say that I have a lot of respect for those who are involved with the Soo Eagles,” Giommi said evenly. “For a group that is only in its second season, they have been a major success on and off the ice.
“But if they want to leave us for another league,” Giommi continued, “that’s their call. So be it. If we have to, we’ll move forward without them.”
The reigning champion Eagles are currently the NOJHL’s hottest team.
With a record of 9-0-1 in their last 10 starts, the Eagles are rounding into mid-season form.
An offensive machine led by seasoned forwards Brock Raffaele, Brian Depp, Travis Payne and Shane Totten, the Eagles have been getting exceptional goaltending of late from Luis Puig and Chris Truehl.