Midsummer musings

The first puck will drop on the 2012-13 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League regular season on September 5.

In the meantime, as we wait for July to turn to August and August to September, here are a few NOJHL-related questions that should be answered at some point in the weeks and months ahead.

As the seven-team NOJHL adopts a 48-game, balanced schedule, travel costs will go up. But will interest and attendance increase with all teams playing one another eight times apiece instead of the previous unbalanced schedule? For example, Soo Thunderbirds played Blind River Beavers 13 times during the 2011-12 NOJHL season while facing off against the North Bay Trappers on only six occasions.

How will Elliot Lake Bobcats fare in the higher-level NOJHL after five successful seasons in the non-sanctioned, Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League? The Bobcats, to be sure, are not short on hockey knowledge and dedication led by 32-year old owner-general manager-coach Ryan Leonard and his player personnel department of Chad Vresk, Brad Boyer and Charly Murray.

Will the tragedy-stricken town of Elliot Lake rally around the Bobcats? Elliot Lake, to be sure, has a lengthy junior hockey history that began with the old Vikings of the erstwhile International Jr. B Hockey League. As Elliot Lake begins its recovery from the mall disaster, the Bobcats are prepping for their first NOJHL season and hoping for the backing of the close-knit town.

Will the latest Sudbury franchise make a go of it with a new owner in Mike Mooney Jr. and respectable NOJHL veterans Oscar Clouthier and Dave Clancy on board as general manager and coach, respectively? From the Northern Wolves to the Jr. Wolves to the Cubs, we now have the Nickel Barons in Sudbury.

Can the Thunderbirds repeat as NOJHL champions? That won’t be easy with North Bay Trappers loading up with savvy veteran Tim Clayden calling the shots as director of hockey operations. But the Thunderbirds have no slouch of their own in general manager Kevin Cain who has been the best at his job in each of his two previous seasons with the Soo team.

Can new Thunderbirds bench boss Warren Lavoy have success as a head coach after years as an NOJHL assistant with the Birds, Blind River and the erstwhile Soo Indians? Lavoy has been a part of two NOJHL championship teams as an assistant, one with the Indians and a second with the Thunderbirds, both in a span of five seasons.

With the kinder, gentler coach-management team of Doug McEwen, David McCaig and Rusty Joncas in place will Blind River Beavers be able to win back a legion of lost fans and once again become the talk of Milltown? Blind River is a good hockey town. Its fans and advertisers merely want the Beavers to be competitive and be able to associate with the coaches and general manager. Which is not a lot to ask, methinks.

With all of this Soo-Sudbury-North Bay talk, will the Abitibi Eskimos be this season’s sleeper team? Or will it be the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners led by new coach Marc Lafleur?

52 thoughts on “Midsummer musings

  1. ABITIBIAN

    Right now, I think the Eskimos are in a coma , not much news or buzz on the team . I think Gagné will have a tough time recruiting from the Québec side with Lafleur in the loop.But Gagné will come up with something I`m sure.
    We haven`t heard anything since the fuss on keeping the team in I-Falls…& all the former players going somewhere else next season.
    Give us something to cheer about !!!!

  2. Frood

    I have actually been hearing alot of talk about the Nickel Barons ….. and positive talk at that. Apparently Mike Mooney has been shaking hands in the Sudbury hockey community and besides Dave Clancy is a very likeable person.

  3. Peachy

    It so hot in Iraqwa Falls that Frenchmen put ice cube in Pee Soup ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    I go to Manitoolin this weekend to drink Dago red & screw on Swing Bridge ahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  4. Beavers1

    Peachy I hear they are waiting for you at the Swing Bridge with a net and a strait jacket LOL!

    Beavers trying to sign a few good players from the Soo is the story I am hearing with young McCaig doing the recruting. Fan’s in Blind happy with Rusty as G.M. I think there should be a big BBQ outside at the Riverside to start the season off the RIGHT WAY just as young Ryan Leonard is planning up in E-Lake.

  5. Ryan Leonard

    The Elliot Lake Bobcats are gearing up an excititng season of Bobcat Hockey. The players and staff can hardly wait to hit the ice. The Bobcats have signed 23 players to date from all over Ontario and the US and all will arrive in Elliot Lake Aug 24th. The team will hit the ice on the 25th for 2 practices on Saturday and 26th two practices on Sunday.

    The Bobcats will play all their exhibition season games out of the Espanola Recreation Complex as ice in Elliot Lake will likely not be ready to handle games yet only practices. Bobcats start off their exhibition season with a home and home series Monday June 27th in Copper Cliff vs the Nickel City Barons. The two teams will hit the ice again Friday August 31st in Espanola.

    The Cats then will play a home and home with the Soo Thunderbirds which will start Saturday September 1st in the Soo and back in Espanola Sunday September 2nd.

    The Bobcats will be also be holding their 3rd Annual Bobcat Hockey School which is a full day camp starting from Monday August 27th thru till Friday August 31st. The camp is open to all hockey players from pre novice to Midget we have 3 different age groups during the day. All groups hit the ice twice a day and take part in dryland and games in between ice times with lunch provided.

    The Bobcats still have 1 import card left to fill and will be seeking a big solid defencemen and 1 more Forward card to fill which we will wait till OHL camps are finalized.

    We are looking forward to a great exciting winter in the NOJHL and the people in Elliot lake can hardly wait to see their team on the Ice as we will open up here in Elliot Lake September 7th vs the North Bay Trappers.

    The Bobcats have also finalised their College trip where they will take on the Finlandia Lions of the MCHA of the NCAA on October 20th up in Haughton Michigan and October 21st vs the Northland College Lumberjacks of the MCHA NCAA in Appleton Wisconsin.

    Everyone have a safe summer 5 weeks and counting boy how time flies when your having fun!!!!!!!!!

  6. bayinfo

    NORTH BAY TRAPPERS PRESS RELEASE

    Seguin comes home to Jr. Trappers

    He hasn’t played hockey in North Bay since bantam but Tait Seguin has decided he wants to come home and give junior hockey here in North Bay a shot.

    The 17-year-old 6th round pick of the London Knights has signed with the Trappers for the upcoming 2012-2013 season.

    The Astorville native joins the Trappers after attending Hill Academy Prep School in Toronto last season.

    Before that, the feisty forward played two seasons in Saskatchewan with the Notre Dame Argos, where he played major bantam and minor midget.

    “Returning home is big for me as it will allow me to reconnect with my family and friends as I left home at a young age to attend school and play hockey,” admitted Seguin who last played hockey in North Bay for the West Ferris Bantam AAA Blades.

    “I’m very excited for a long season of junior hockey here in North Bay and plan to have a lot of fun hosting the Provincials this spring. As Coach McCarthy says, we don’t want to just host it, we want to win it. I am very excited to be home and be apart of the home town North Bay Trappers family this season.”

    Jr. Trappers President/GM Chris Dawson believes Seguin will be an impact player and a leader on the ice.

    “Tait is a local, impact player that we are incredibly fortunate to have join our hockey club this season, Tait is a welcomed addition to our team,” stated Trappers President/GM Chris Dawson.

    Head Coach Tom McCarthy believes Seguin will help fill some of the void left by the departure of some key graduating veteran players.

    “I think that’s something the older boys on our hockey club did last year very well in providing leadership, we had both great leaders and good players and that made a difference each night. I think Tait also comes in and plays that dominant role on and off the ice for us, no question,” said McCarthy.

    “Tait does set the stage on the ice of how a team will play, you could see that during our training camp scrimmages and see how the team and the players have respect for him, his ability and his work ethic is outstanding. Two things Tait is going to add to this organization is character and work ethic, both of which our team thrives on.”

    Director of Operations Tim Clayden stated “it is very exciting for our entire team when a good hockey player & even a better person & student athlete commits to our program. It opens up many more doors and not just for Tait, but for all our player’s. Tait Seguin makes us a better team today.”

  7. ABITIBIAN

    StatsMan Dave;

    Our local/weekly paper is called The Enterprise & sorry it doesn`t have a website.

  8. Cue For Treason

    Go Beavers Go … if nothing else this comming season beat those “Booze Birds” from the Soo as they are called. Cocky arrogant team that like to strut around like a bunch of big shots.

  9. BirdsFan1

    Is Albert still trying to sell the Thunderbirds or was that just talk out of frustration. Albert is an OK guy & who puts up his money in support of Junior Hockey in the Sault. I hear that Ted Brooks & his wife will be involved with the team a lot this year & anyway having Dennis Bolton help out as the Coach will only help as Randy said in one of his article’s Dennis is a respectful respected person.

  10. CJNR

    Beavers sign any players?? all of a sudden its quite around here!!..do we still have a team??? RR any News on our Beavers???

  11. Beavers1975

    Beavers should hire RR as there press agent with the Standard all over the Bobcats now and this is just the beginning.
    Whats going on with this Beavers Reunion????? Havent heard a word in a month and nothin in the Standard.

  12. American Eagle

    I would have to say that the North Bay Trappers are the early favorites to win the NOJHL this season. Our team has left for the NAHL as you all know I am sure but I for one have not forgoten about the NOJHL. Its a great League and I plan on making it over to whatch the Thunderbirds play this coming season.

  13. BirdsFan1

    I doubt very much that the Thunderbirds will have any problem beating up on Blind River AGAIN this season.

  14. Linda Lamorie

    CJNR and Beavers 1975
    Have no fear the Beavers are a team.
    Our coaching staff have been very busy preparing for main camp the August 24th weekend, scouting and signing players.
    Come and check us out that weekend

    As for the Reunion, the Blind River Legion 189 and Beavers with Shane Boyer at the helm are very busy these days.
    This event is a major fundraiser for both these groups.
    We would like to remind people that the Reunion, Aug 3-5th
    is fast approaching.For those of you who have not purchased your weekend tickets the cut off date for the sale of them is this Thursday, July 26th. The Reunion office at 13 Murray street will be opened everyday this week for your convienence to do your late purchases.
    On Thursday, the office will be opened 10-6. You can also call Shane at 705-356-1348 or Linda at 705-356-4937 for tickets.
    After Thursday the only tickets available will be for YUKYUKS
    Saturday afternoon show for $40 a person.
    Also, dance tickets will also be available for $30 a person or $50 a couple. Come out and dance to the music of the band INTRIGUE from the Detroit area. This band have been the opening act for many famous bands such as Kool&Gang, Darryl Hall and K.C.& the Sunshine Band. Go to blindriverreunion.com for more info on this band and or any other weekend events.
    Tickets for YukYuks and the dance are available from all Reunion members and or at the office.
    Please feel free to stop in to the office and view our silent auction items and possibly make a bid on something you would like to own.
    This event is opened to the public, come out and support these two hard working groups while having fun.
    The great Marcel Dionne is our guest speaker at the dinner, he will also be playing in the golf tournament on Saturday.
    Come and spend time speaking with him or getting autographs from him during the evening.
    Beaver 1975, I hope you are attending the weekend festivities,
    if you haven’t purchased your ticket I would like to hear from you.

  15. Peachy

    Peachy need rest – wuz on work bench in Manitoolin all week-end ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Peachy go to Blind River next for re-union & maybee pick up old tramp & go for roll in hay ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    To Hockey Advisor: Go choak you chikken ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha you no advise puck all ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  16. eski01

    Abitibian, why don’t you fill us in on the eskis? Let’s hope that Paul is working on somthing, they don’t even have their training camp dates on their schedual on their site. Like usual they never let anybody know what they’re up to until the end, unlike other clubs. A few updates here and there may help in season tickets sales you would think?

  17. Brother99

    RR;
    Any word on the NO playing the NA? How about the Soo Eagle tournament, had heard that the Eagles and another NA team might play the Tbirds and Bobcats. Inquiring minds want to know.

    Nice that the Bobcats are playing two NCAA III teams that should get the league some looks. Way to go Coach Leonard.

  18. ABITIBIAN

    Eski01 & those interrested

    Sum up from our local paper:
    season tickets count 170 – exhib. games sched vs K-L Aug.24 & 25 – 3 person golf scramble, deadline to register is July 23,(today) 17 teams already registered, tourny is July 28 – Talk on league new ot format & The Eskimos have hired a new Strategic Alliance Manager; Kris Kullas. Kris will be responsible for corporate advertising sales & partnerships. The former director of Rec. Services for the City of Timmins and noted hockey author/enthusiast is a welcome addition to the team. Kris can be reached at 705-363-7415 (cell).
    For more info :www.eskis.com or call 705-258-3508 or visit them on Facebook

  19. Randy Russon Post author

    Brother99,

    Right now it looks as though Soo Eagles will be playing Fairbanks IceDogs of the NAHL in pre-season action at the Pullar. It doesn’t look as though an NOJHL team is involved at the moment.

    Peachy,

    Should I warn the good people of Blind River that you are on your way there for the Beavers reunion? They might be able to set up a road block outside the city limits in time for your arrival.

    Regards,

    RR

  20. Beavers1

    Peachy: We have a spot picked out for you in Blind River – right under a rock similar to the one you were born under! ahahahahahahaha
    Seriously old Peach you and your sense of humour would be a welcome site in Blind River!

  21. American Eagle

    Good info on the Eagles & Fairbanks RR. Looking forward to Soo boy Rob Profitt bringing his Alaska team to the Soo!

  22. bayinfo

    press release;

    2012 -13

    DUDLEY HEWITT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP

    HOST TEAM

    FREE AGENT TRAINING CAMP
    August 20th to Aug 23rd, 2012

    Registration begins Monday August 20th @ 3 pm
    FREE AGENT CAMP APPLICATIONS
    are being accepted now

    PLAYER APPLICATION

    Do to an overwhelming amount of player’s requesting a try out to play in North Bay this season,
    the Trappers have cancelled their one day camp early in August
    to help give players a longer and better opportunity to make the hockey club
    extending their free agent training camp to 3 days

    August 20th to 23rd, 2012 at Memorial Gardens in North Bay, ON

    We have a pretty basic theory in North Bay
    where we believe winning is a lot of fun and we believe in having fun
    where players must be a good person first to be a Trapper
    we believe in team work, team chemistry and in each other
    we are looking for players that compete each and every shift
    player’s that put the name on the front of the jersey

    ahead of the one on the back

    should you have any questions

    email tim.clayden@northbaytrappers.com

  23. Brother99

    RR;
    Thanks it is a shame they aren’t maybe an NOJHL team should conatact the Alaska team and see if they couldn’t schedule a game too LOL. They might as well play as many games as they can while their here.

  24. eskisfan

    Nothing to gain for the NAHL to play a NOJHL team. If they win, everyone will say they should have won, if they lose or tie, it’ll hurt the rep of the NAHL or maybe more so the EAgles. you never know though, after all, i believe it was Traverse City who took part in the Soo tourney last year.

  25. foober40

    Since there has been very little information on the Gold Miners of Kirkland Lake , I thought I would add a few items to the blog for your information and consideration . The Miners are working feverishly every day on construction of a new and improved dressing room area . Progress is going well and near completion . It will be a vast improvement over last season . Camp is scheduled to start on ice August 3rd with a weekend series of sessions in New Liskeard at the Don Shepherdson Arena. At this time there are in excess of 60 players who have registered to attend . New head coach Marc Lafleur moved to town several weeks ago and is working hard at his preparations for the upcoming season and recruiting . However , potential assistant coach Tim Hewitt has been enticed to the Ottawa area with an employment offer and will thereby not be accepting the position . The team is currently exploring other options and rumour is that there are a number of interested and capable candidates . No word yet on players signings but local star Jordan Turbide has be seen working out regularly . Finally the team has announce that Dennis Hull is the special guest speaker at a November 10th fundraising dinner to be held at Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake . Enjoy the rest of your summer folks , hockey starts in about 10days .

  26. KL Flash

    foober40 – I dont find the Gold Miners that great at providing info either perhaps that is why there is not much info on them.

  27. sleddog

    Randy,I have noticed a updated North Bay Nugett website with no access to your website

  28. Randy Russon Post author

    sleddog,

    All Sun Media websites, including newspapers in North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, S.S. Marie, are undergoing a new look, as you may have noticed. Hopefully a link to this Blog will be added as they update the websites.

    Regards,

    Randy

  29. KL Flash

    My predictions (subject to change):

    1 – North Bay
    2 – Kirkland Lake
    3 – Sudbury
    4 – Soo
    5 – Abitibi
    6 – Elliott Lake
    7 – Blind River

  30. eaglefan

    Sounds like Port Huron could use the Hockey Advisor. Perhaps Scout or maybe Macbeth.

    I hate seeing fans and hockey people pile on a new coach. I recall after Ted Nolan’s first year in the Soo Greyhound organisation. The fans wanted him railed out of town. Sherry Bassin was hired in Ted’s second year, stood by Nolan, hired Danny Flynn as his assisant and told Flynn he was hired to make Ted better, not to replace him in the future, as many speculated. As a matter of fact, Bassin stated that if Ted were fired, so would Flynn. The rest of the story has been written.

    It does sound bleak though.

  31. eski01

    Other than North Bay who should have a strong club because they’re hosting the Dudley, how can anybody make predictions? KL training camp this week, eskis next week. Other than the Bobcats doesn’t sound like any teams are picked yet.

  32. eskisfan

    KL is having a huge camp and has a very good coahc with good connections. I fully expect the G Miners to compete and 2-4th place would not surprise me in the least, but 5th would.

  33. Beavers1

    Elliot Lake will be luck to win 10 games this season. Bobcats Fans: get ready for Last Place.!!

  34. Clemence Ruel

    The Gold Miners may just be a better Team in their second year but to aspire to be amongst the best teams may be somewhat far fetched but you never can tell. It may be a very interesting season indeed.

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