THE NOJHL ON FEBRUARY 15

…What has been a rocky first season for the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League in Kirkland Lake has just got a bit rockier. The new Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, who took over from the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils when they folded just over a month ago, have fired head coach Dave Gillespie. Gillespie had been a positive constant throughout all of the turmoil of the troubled regime of original owner Bob Kasner. But Gillespie was advised on Tuesday by the new Gold Miner ownership that the team would be going in a new direction. Which is fine and well as new owners and new management have the right to hire their own people. But what is not right is that Gillespie allegedly received less than half of the $40,000 salary that he was promised to leave his Southern Ontario home last fall to move to Kirkland Lake and coach the NOJHL team. I have a letter in my possession from Gillespie’s wife, Joanne, that details a number of alleged promises related to salary and accomodations that were made to Gillespie by Kasner that she claims were not kept. For now, all I will say is this: The NOJHL as a league and Kirkland Lake as a franchise needs to take steps to ensure that the Gold Miners are not a continuation of what was a very bad experience with the Blue Devils. I have heard a lot of good things about the folks who are in involved with the Gold Miners and here’s hoping they can make the Kirkland Lake franchise the success that many within NOJHL circles believe it can be.

…As the regular season winds down and the start of the playoffs about three weeks away, one potential matchup that I am anticipating is an East Division series between the Abitibi Eskimos and North Bay Trappers. The two teams are presently in a battle for second place in the East Division and really, aside from Abitibi points machine Marc-Alain Begin, there is not much to choose from between the two teams in taking a close look at what they have and don’t have.

…With five games to play in the regular season, Sudbury Cubs forward Jordan Carroll needs six goals to reach 70 on the season. As 70 goals in today’s hockey is an amazing feat, the NOJHL’s all-time record for goals in a season may never be broken. It was back during the 1983-84 campaign that Rayside-Balfour forward Denis Castonguay piled up 196 points, including 97 goals.

…Is it better to have one very-good veteran goalie or two very-good goalies who are in their first season in the NOJHL? That’s a question I ask myself as I look ahead to a looming playoff series between the Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles. The Thunderbirds boast third-year guy John Kleinhans – who played his first two NOJHL seasons with the Eagles — as their workhorse, first-stringer. The Eagles, on the other hand, have the dandy double dip duo of Luis Puig and Chris Truehl.

67 thoughts on “THE NOJHL ON FEBRUARY 15

  1. Trapperfan

    It’s franchises and owners like that of the Blue Devils that casts a dark shadow on the this league and we become the brunt of many off handed comments and jokes. Dave was a great coach and no matter what was going on he was the guy who managed to keep those boys playing hockey through all of this. I agree with you Randy and hope that some things can be mended and the compensation that is owed be honoured.

  2. Bomb Shelter

    I will take my chances with Truhl-Puig over only having one Goalie who can start but saying that – Johnny Kliehnans is the # 1 Goalie in NOJHL right now.
    eaglefan: where have you been? There are Busch Lights waiting for you at the Bomber!!! RR should know!

  3. Dcky33

    Well RR what did i tell ya , I feel really bad for Gillespie , however , anything that Mr. Kasner puts his hands too turns to dust – in fact his other business – the local movie theatre in KL is closing this Friday as well. Please dont take this new ownership group into the same dimension as Mr Kasner and his inability to manage a hockey team never mind any other business . Im guessing that the Gold Miners are trying to clean the slate, finish the season and prepare for next year , i feel sorry for Mr Gillespie however because he stuck with it for the good of his players .

    Looking forward to the playoffs and all that they have to offer here in North Bay. Looks like it will be only game in town as the mighty Lakers have gone down 1 game to none to Ottawa .

  4. stick

    I see NB came back from a 6-2 score to defeat Suds, where were Jamie Haines and Nick Esposto? Don’t be surprised if NB end up in first with the easier schedule down the stretch they could pass the under staffed Wolves. Can’t see the Eskis finishing ahead of these two teams with their tough schedule.

  5. eaglefan

    Dcky33,
    It seems a little unfair to publicly whip a man for trying to build a hockey franchise in a small market, knowing going into the venture, their odds of making money, aren’t great. He may not have done things the way you think they should have been done, but he did put his money, time and effort into the attempt. That is called ‘putting your money where your mouth is’! And he did give the good people of KL something to cheer about. That arena should be sold out regularly if the town really wants to have junior hockey.

    I’ve been following the blog, reading how much people really enjoy the hockey entertainment on cold Saturday nights, where it’s the only show in town. I totally agree. I would prefer to venture out and watch the Eagles at the Pullar any night, than our ‘lauded’ Greyhounds, whose effort seems inconsistent these days.

    Hey Bomber…I’m letting the Busch Lights accumulate. I do them in bunches. Playoffs coming…you’ll get tired of my and RR’s mug hanging around.

  6. kenadian

    That was my last Cubs game (until the new ownership and move) PATHETIC PERIOD………… looking the trappers bench they had a FULL coaching staff 3 coaches and 2 trainers/equipment managers……
    Cubs had (an over his head) coach and one trainer.

    And yes they were short bodies BUT it’s the SAME game plan the forwards don’t think they need to backcheck or even help out in theri own end all they care about is the puck and scoring. Poor D, 2 guys trying to defend against 3-4 guys coming at them while the Cubs forwards hang out around the blueline waiting for the pass…..

    SELL NOW MR. SCOTT, to hell with giving your kids a place to play, do what’s right for the TEAM and LEAGUE!

  7. Trapperfan

    Yep agreed stick!. Very good chance that Suds will be knocked out of 1st . The Trappers do have an easier schedual to finish up so here’s hoping they can play with the same focus they need to play with when they play the better teams. Definetly need to get the defence firing on all cylinders from the beginning to the end of the game and the goalies need to be consistent and ready to play. This will make life a little easier I’m sure. Carrying the momentum of a “winning streak” going into the play offs will make the Trappers a hard team to shut down!!
    GO TRAPPERS GO!!

  8. eagles2210

    I think it is unfair of the commissioner to give Esposto only an 8 game suspension for deliberately stomping on a player with a skate blade, yet give Beaudoin from Abitibi a 15 game suspension for hair pulling. It seems to me that attempting to injure a player with a skate blade would be more dangerous than pulling someones hair. Anyone think differently??

  9. eskisfan

    How do you get a very good chance of that scenario ? And Stick you know the Jeckyl and hyde Cubs as well as anyone. Cubs have the talent to beat KL and the Beavers and giving what’s on the line, their going to beat em both and if not, expect a playoff version of the Cubs to show up Wednesday the 29th to wrap up first.

    Trappers need big help from the Beavers and KL and must win every game of their own from here on out including that game against Cubs in the last game of the year.

    KL will beat the Trappers in at least one of the 4 games they have left against each other. Expect the Gold Miners to give it everyting they have to show to thier new coach they belong there next year. Eskis vs Trappers next Friday will be a beauty as well and i can’t see the Eskis just giving that one away, the prelude to the round 1! Not predicting who will that game, but why assume the Trappers will win? Eskis have already won the season series and proven they can play with them. There should be no gimmies left for any team by this time of the year.

    Round one
    Suds (1st) vs Kl (4th), Trappers (2) vs Eskis (3)
    Eskis will need at least 2 wins on this road trip if they hope to maintain 2nd, if not they’ll slip to 3rd and lose home ice. Tall order, at home maybe, on the road it’ll be tough.

  10. northernlites

    Nope I totally agree with you eagles2210, kicking someone with a skate is whats known as a deliberate attempt to injure, and a serious one, I think if the refs gave him this penalty he should be finished for the season. There is no place in hockey for this flagrant attempt to injure.

  11. scott

    8 game is more then enough for such an incident. The player was not hurt and he didn’t make a commotion of from what i heard. Nick With 8 games and Haines already missing 5 games and who knows if he misses the remainder of the season, the cubs are in rough shape. I recall criticism on Sudbury top line defense, it seems with Haines out, they haven’t one a game and with Nick sitting the shot total is way up. The real problem is Carroll, Douskey, and others who are putting themselves before a win. Stats are looking good but wins aren’t. Cubs need to learn to play defense and not be so soft. Seems they are following soft play from their older guys. douskie, carol, zagordo put down your purse

  12. foober40

    Regarding the situation in Kirkland Lake there are a few things you might want to consider . First Bob Kasner might have put up a bit of money but most wasn’t his and in the end there wasn’t enough of it , his or others . He had no experience running a team at any level and no help with ant type of junior experience outside of Dave , who played junior and above but coached in the outlaw league . There was no direction , attempt to get direction or understanding of Hockey Canada , OHf or NOHA regulations which cause major issues as I’m sure you all figured out by now . Yes Bob did try to bring junior hockey to Kirkland but I think the most telling statement he made was ” I’m bringing junior hockey here whether it’s wanted or not ” . I like Bob and generally get along with him but his arrogance and past history doomed him to failure .

    As for the new group , I also know most of them very well also . They are for the most part good hockey people with extensive minor hockey experience in a variety of positions . While they have the knowledge of the rules of the governing bodies they are short on junior experience . I personally question their ability to entice new players for next season given a perceived lack of contacts in the junior hockey world . That’s not to say they don’t have any but that they may not have as many as Dave did and they might not be as up to date as well . Now the fact is they have the time to develop these contacts over the next few months but it will require a great deal of work . A great deal will depend on the new coach and his experience . I know many of this years players will not return next year from talking to them . They have had a bad experience and are not happy . In the modern world the news of a bad experience is spread around far and wide quickly and I wonder how that will affect recruiting as well . Again though , the new group has some time to correct the issues and build better relations with the team . I’m sue they will be trying over the next few weeks . As with any junior team there are always growing pains and I’m sure there will be a lot of work done in KL to address the issues .

    As for Dave I wish him well . All i Know for sure is I liked the guy and he generally had the respect of his players and that of several local hockey people whose opinion I trust . In the end that’s good enough for me . I think we’ll be seeing him coaching somewhere next season and it will be a difficult team to play against .Have a great day all .

  13. Hockeyfan

    74 Shots on net…I was expecting to read about 3 overtime periods, but instead a 9-8 victory for the trappers. Wasn’t at the game, but for a team to put up 74 shots on goal – either they were flying out there, or the Cubs really need to backcheck. 5 Points in a game is great, unless it comes with a loss. The cubs have amongst the most talented core of any team out there…shameful.

  14. BayBruiser

    Oh, great! Here we go! Another sports-wife in her hubby’s business!

    LOL. That was just a joke. I hope things get fixed up for Mr. Gillespie.

    As far as North Bay catching Sudbury, it is pretty much impossible. In their 4 games remaining, Sudbury should get 4 points putting them at 64. That would mean that North Bay would have to win ALL 7 of their remaining games just to tie for points (not sure how a tie-breaker would work). 3 of those 7 games are vs Abitibi and the T-Birds and Sudbury which will make it that much harder.

    North Bay also has a much harder schedule than Sudbury; mainly due to playing 3 upper-end teams and Sudbury only 2. Also playing 5 games in 7 days has not been done by any team the entire league (playoffs excepted) that I can trace. KL for that matter plays 6 in 8.

  15. northernlites

    Regardless if the player was injured or not Scott its the deliberate attempt to injure, he should be done for the season, we don’t need that type of incidents in our league.

  16. Nukker

    Bringing in a big name like Zafiris is exactly what the KL franchise needs to put itself on the map. I expect them to be competitive the rest of the way and if Tim decides to return next year, don’t be surprised to see parity throughout the East Division. He knows the game well, has some contacts and can bring in some top end talent for the 2012-13 season. Once he brings in his own people on the bench, I fully expect things to turn around for the Gold Miners.

    Good luck to Tim and the Gold Miners the rest of the way!!

  17. stick

    KL hockey people will your midget 87′s still be around next season? They have not won one game all year and I don’t see much coming up next season.

  18. Eskisfan

    I too think Zafiris could have a big and positive impact on the Gold Miners. i hope he introduces his style of play as well. skate hard, shoot hard and play hard. Never afraid to drop the mitts, he was a great player who was fun to watch. If he does well there to close out the season, he might be able to sway a player or two that Foober says won’t be back. He’ll also have contacts and will bring a few Liskeard kids to KL. This Gold Miners exec will have to continuously remind people and players that this is new team, new org. A website will surely help.
    I think everyone has to feel bad for Gillespie, he did a good job filling the roster, mostly outlaw kids and many were fillers, but he put together a team that competed better on the ice than many of the Islanders team we saw over the past 4 years. If Doc Sinclair gets on board in some capacity, he’ll helped as he probably still has some avenues to draw from. I think KL will be OK next year.

    As for the 87′s, hate to say i told you so. i predicted a rough year, maybe not this rough but i called it. If they are around for next year, they should be much improved, well let’s say they can’t be any worse. I’m sure they were the youngest team in the league this year and they should have most back next year along with a year of experience under their belt. No, not a whole lot coming up but there is a Bantam or two. Kudos to the kids on the 87′s for toughin it out all year, that couldn’t of been easy. I like that they gave Suds a better fight than most people expected in the series that ended tonight. Props to their executive as well! Good guys who work hard and are in it for all the right reasons. Couldn’t have been easy for those gents either with the tough season on the ice and the new competition for fans and sponsorship dollars.

  19. Eskisfan

    And Stick, although the 87′s didn’t win a regular season or playoff game, they did get a win while participating in a Tournament in Ottawa.

  20. Bruin19

    Goldminers have a website. http://www.goldminers.com check it out.

    In regards to Foobers comments about players not returning, that has changed with Tim Zafiris being named coach. I have spoken to most players and they are excited with the coaching change and the direction the team is going in. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

    Hockey contacts and recruiting are essential to any team who wants success on and off the ice. I believe time will tell and people will be pleasantly surprised how competitive the Gold Miners will be in the future.

    On another note went to the 87′s game last night and was impressed how much they improved when they have a full bench.

    Eskifan they also won a exhibition game against the Cubs 3 0.

  21. Ned33

    Firstly I think it very unfair to start painting the new ownership group in KL with the “Kasner Brush”he lack hockey knowledge – community support and of course money…the new group is made up of some solid community people…with some hockey knowledge…and importantly financial resources…and they are smart enough to find the answer if needed…if they think they have made the right move that is their choice…I feel bad for dave as he is a good guy and worked hard in the early stages of junior hockey in KL and I am sure the community wishes him well. I think the ownership’s main goal is to finish out the season and than begin to build a solid franchise and prepare for next season….they weren’t left with much to work with as the team was not changed over until after the deadline which eliminated any chance of improving the roster…

    As for the 87′s it was a very tough year and the boys didn’t roll over and die against Suds…they have a number of players eligible to return and with a year of AAA midget under their belts they will be better…hats off to Mike Bowman for being selected executive of the year for the GNML….

    It is hopeful that the two teams can work together…and improve the Hockey situation in KL….

  22. NYFDFF

    Very well said Foober40. I agree the new ownership group has every right to choose it’s coaching staff and for them the timing is right. Give Mr Zafiris a few games to assess the skill level on the team looking forward to next season. What wasn’t right is their lack of compassion in dealing with a bad situation. True any promises or deals made between Dave and Bob K died the day the team folded but what seems to be forgotten is the fact that the new ownership group reaped the benifit of a turn key franchise that was held together for most of the season by Dave, long after most would have bailed. I understand the fact that had they paid Dave other creditors could have come knocking, but surely they could have been creative with their new +250k budget to set things right with a signing bonus, severance package etc. Instead it seems they have choosen to turn their backs. If Dave did had a fault it was that he was too close to his players mostly it seems in an attempt to protect them from the circus that enveloped the team. For this he has been justly rewarded.

  23. ABITIBIAN

    Northernlites
    It wasn`t a 2 goal lead but the last time they played the Eagles here, they gave up 4 G in the last 5min of the game to lose it 9-5….that says something about the Eskies & the Eagles

  24. eskimos

    you just can’t give the ref any excuses in the soo eagles barn becuase they will nail you on it.
    you don’t just play the eagles there , the ref are always in the mix.
    come on a 5 on 3 tie game gimme a break!!!!!

  25. northernlites

    Yep, went back and checked on numerous games vs Eagles and the opposition seems to be in the box in the later part of the periods, is it coincidence, mmmm, one wonders.

  26. eaglefan

    I didn’t see Diaz’s hit from behind. It happened at the end of the game, a scrum along the sideboards. If he actually did something serious, he should get his just desserts. What about Birds coach…I missed that also, but did he jump on the ice or what is it he did? The box score says he left the bench without the officials permission.

    One thing I will say…the Birds did everything in their power to lose the game this afternoon. Stupid, undisciplined penalties, in the final minutes, while they held the lead by one goal, could have cost them the game. Check the boxscores. I’m sure if they lost the game, they would have blamed it on the refs. But they would have had no one to blame but themselves. Thankfully, they won and we won’t be hearing the crying, how the refs ‘screwed’ them again.

    The refereeing has been questionable at times, but IMO, it has been bad both ways on those occasions. When players are lazy or out of shape, they will take stupid penalties late in the game when they are playing a team who shows up prepared, in shape.

  27. American Eagle

    Thunderbirds cant even win with class. They get a goal with seconds left to beat theEagles and then there Captain gets a Misconduct for making an obsceen gesture. That’s real class, Mr. Cain and Mr. Giomi – too bad that it’s Second Class!

  28. littlebird

    il said it before and ill say it again, diaz is scared of delayer and solomon and is a cheap shot artist.now i will go to the rink and watch the birds win and celebrate

  29. eaglefan

    American Eagle,
    Try not to make it too personal. Kevin is a class act. I don’t know Albert, but he does appear to let the people do their jobs. That is what a good owner should do. They have put together a very good team and I wish them success.

    The Eagles are proving to be a formidable contender for them though. I, for one, am happy about that. Great games therefore and healthy rivalry is good for both teams. It will only increase fan interest.

    I’m trying to let the Thunderbirds know that with a little discipline, they wouldn’t need to complain about the ref. They may win the games the old-fashioned way. Such as yesterday, except for the third period, where they almost blew it!.

  30. stick

    Looks like the Eskis ruined your little celebration, way to go Eskimos. I see the birds were up to their old tricks in the last few seconds. No class at all. Sure looks like the Eskimos are in the same class as the top teams in the league. Bring on the play-offs.

  31. eaglefan

    littlebird…Diaz got 3 assists yesterday. Better he be on the ice than in the box. He is as scrappy as any I’ve seen in the league. There is a time to scrap and a time to walk away. This is called discipline, something the Birds lack and you likely don’t understand. Possibly, the coach put players out to take the playmakers out of the game!! Challenge them to scrap and get them out of the game. Just sayin….

  32. eskimos

    way to go eskis 4-6 point on the weeknd not bad.
    if they did not play 2 teams on friday it would have been 6-6 point for sure.

  33. upfront

    American Eagle
    Are you kidding to say the Birds Captains has no class is classless in it’s own right isn’t Diaz one of your Captains along with McLaughlin who together have almost 4 times as many penalty min as Sartaretto ?? I forgot there Angles in all this So check the box score which has been corrected yes he took a penalty right after the deliberate attempt by Diaz to injure him with the check from Behind it was with 1 sec on the clock once again Diaz shows he can’t loose with grace just like the head shot at the end of the game that cost him 4 games .So think before you speak

    Stick last time I checked you had a player get suspended for the Hair pulling now that’s class lolol

    The Birds did loose today but definitely not to a better team they just took stupid penalties which cost them and it will continue to down the stretch unless they correct it fast Bring on the playoffs for sure

  34. northernlites

    The birds along with Sudbury have no class what so ever, they wouldn’t know what class was if it hit them in the face, The birds were beaten by a better disciplined team, that’s where class comes from. Dig deep and try and get a couple of things on the Eskis, don’t have to look far for the birds or the cubs.

  35. stick

    Upfront the Eskimo player that pulled the hair was let go right after the incident, can’t say I have heard of any of your classless players sent packing??

  36. eaglefan

    Looks like the refs did the TBirds in again!!! And it wasn’t even those American refs. Power play (PP) goal turns out to be the winner. I am totally shocked!! Not! Three penalties in the third for the Birds. No retaliation penalties from Abitibi. That is discipline. Good job Abitibi. Toughness is measured in many ways littlebird. But don’t take my word for that. Blame the refs!

  37. eaglefan

    upfront,
    So ‘the Birds lost, but definitely not to a better team’. Excuse me, but, ahahahahahahahahaha…(thanks Peachy)

    Abitibi should just resign now and save the Birds some trouble. As a matter of fact, all the teams should just default to the Birds. The Birds may have better players, but ‘team’ is where they are lacking. And you can scream and rant and rave all you want about better anything, but selfishness doesn’t win any admiration and can cost games.

    Don’t get mad at me…I’m sharing advice. I will cease and desist until I begin hearing, once again, how the refs are ‘screwing’ the Birds.

  38. Peachy

    eaglefan – go pluck youself ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  39. Fanofthegame

    I will weigh in on the “intent to injure” discussion regarding a Cub player as my son was injured 3 seasons ago by a blade to the forearm in the playoffs in this league! The incident was not intentional but very unfortunate as it took over 3 months for the wound to heal (infections X 3 due to dirty skate blade)and the stitches had to be removed and the woundhad to heal from the inside out with dialy visits to a health clinic for wound & bandage care and IV antibiotics….fortunately he did not have any tendons or muscle severed and was able to return to play the following season.

    This player should be out the season IMO….

    Jodi Mendelsohn

  40. SovEaglefan

    Great article Randy Russon. I think the Eagles will be able to dominate the NAHL if and probably when they move back there. I am really looking forward to your coverage of them and the NOJHL on Stephen Heisler’s site. You guys make a great 1-2 punch and I enjoy your insightful and detailed articles of junior hockey. You two are the best by a country mile.

  41. northernlites

    I see Sudbury had great class at the end of the game again, what a classless team, the coach has no control what so ever over this team.

  42. Trapperfan

    It would appear that the Cubs are being led by the players and not the coach I’d say the respect for the coach’s leadership is out the window. The Cubs will not get far in the play offs sad when egos spend the money to build the “best team” and then allow the players to sabatoge the end result. But then again, maybe the players just want to have the season end early.
    Time will tell…….

  43. North

    What did the Cubs do at the end of the game? I was there and saw nothing besides a lack of effort , no commitment to defense by the top line and 3 minute shifts by that line.
    Trapperfan…..as far as your comments go-they have played the last 7 games without #12 and 4 games without #10 which affects the depth. Also #77 has played with the Wolves during this tough stretch which affected the back end as he is needed.
    When healthy they are the best team in the East.

  44. Trapperfan

    I’m thinking that if #10 gave a rats a$$ about his club and their advancement to win the league he wouldn’t be taking cheap shots at people out there and acting like a spoiled brat. It is behaviour like that affects the team as a whole. The top line”s lack of committment to defense is another indicator that they are not interested in the team as a whole and ultimatly decide the outcome by showing poor leadership and work ethic.
    Good to see #77 back in the lineup last night too bad he needed to work 2x as hard to to keep the score where it was.

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