NOJHL NoteBook – February 15, 2012

NOJHL contact: Robert Mazzuca, Commissioner 705-670-8627 (Phone) – (Email) – (Website) Coaching change announced in Kirkland Lake   SUDBURY, Ont. –With just two weeks remaining in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s regular season, a coaching change has been announced.   The newly-minted Kirkland Lake Gold Miners have named Tim Zafiris their new head coach, effective immediately for the balance of the regular season and playoffs.   The Gold Miners executive board made the decision to have him take over from former coach Dave Gillespie.   The board decided it was in the best interest of the team to move in a different direction in order to continue developing and strengthen the organization on and off the ice.   Zafiris is also currently a Doctor of Chiropractic located in Temiskaming Shores. He is no stranger to Northern Ontario hockey fans having starred for a New Liskeard Cubs squad that won back-to-back Great North Midget Hockey League and Central Canadian AAA midget titles going on to make two consecutive Air Canada Cup national midget championship appearances in 1995-96 and 1996-97.   During the 1997 Air Canada Cup Zafiris was the top scorer and named most valuable player at the six-team event held in New Glasgow, N.S. where he led the Cubs to a silver medal performance.   Zafiris went on to play three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with both the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and London Knights.   He then attended the University of Western Ontario playing four years for the Mustangs where he was a member of their 2002 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship team.   Zafiris is expected to make his debut behind the bench Friday evening as the Gold Miners the North Bay Trappers in a game that will be contested at Englehart Arena. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.   GAME TIME: An eight-game week is on tap for the NOJHL with action getting underway this evening on two fronts.   Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is the sight for one of those contests as the hometown Soo Eagles welcome the Blind River Beavers in a 7:30 p.m.   The other match-up features the North Bay Trappers travelling to Sudbury to meet the Cubs in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena.   From there North Bay next takes to the ice Friday as they square off against Kirkland Lake in Englehart in the head coaching debut of Tim Zafiris for the Gold Miners. The Trappers have won three in a row.   Winners of two in a row, the Abitibi Eskimos look to extend their modest streak Friday as they head out on the road to meet the Soo Eagles.   A Saturday matinee features the top two clubs in the overall standings with the league-leading Soo Thunderbirds hosting the Eagles at Essar Centre. Blind River hosts Abitibi in the other game on this night with action getting underway at 7:30 p.m.   Wrapping up the week are a pair of games Sunday as the Thunderbirds host Abitibi in a 2 p.m. starter at John Rhodes Community Centre while Kirkland Lake entertains Sudbury at The Joe.   WEEK-IN-REVIEW: The week that was in the NOJHL saw seven games contested. Feb. 8: Abitibi 5 @ Sudbury 4 (SO)—The Cubs roared back from a four-goal deficit in the third, but fell in a shootout to visiting Abitibi…Preston Lacasse had a hat-trick, plus another in the shootout, for the Eskies…Nick Esposto and Jayce Douskey had a goal and two assists apiece for Sudbury…J.P. Fecteau was the winning goaltender making 37 saves.   Feb. 9: Sudbury 5 @ North Bay 8—A high-scoring affair saw the Traps pull out the victory…Danny Desrochers, Brad Gehl, Brandon Janke and Matthew Salituro all had three-point nights for North Bay…NOJHL leading scorer Jordan Carroll tallied three times and added an assist while Nick Esposto chipped with four helpers.   Feb. 10: Blind River 4 @ Kirkland Lake 3 (SO)—The Beavers ran a winning streak to two after pulling out a shootout triumph at Kirkland Lake…Alex Battisbelli scored once and assisted on another joining Michael Berens, who set-up a pair, with two point nights for Blind River…Jordan Turbide was the high-point man for the Miners with three assists.   Feb. 10: Soo Thunderbirds 3 @ Soo Eagles 5—The battle of the Soo went the Eagles way as they earned the win on Pullar Stadium ice…Luis Puig made 33 saves to register the victory with John Kleinhans turned aside 43 of 47 shots he faced with the other goal coming into an empty net…Matthew Wiggemansen tallied twice and notched an assist while Brian Depp dished out three helpers to help pace the Eagles offensively…Micky Sartoretto and James Delayer had a goal and an assist apiece for the Thunderbirds.   Feb. 11: Blind River 2 @ Abitibi 6—100-point man Marc-Alain Begin had another productive evening notching a couple of goals and an assist to lead the Eskimos in the triumph…Nicolas Fournier, Ryan Mercier and Karl Spenard all had two points for Abitibi…Scoring for the Beavers got tallies from Tyson MacLeod and David McCaig…J.P. Fecteau recorded another victory stopping 33 of 35…Brandon Currie was peppered with 44 pucks in a losing cause for Blind River.   Feb. 11: Kirkland Lake 1 @ North Bay 6—North Bay continued their goal scoring prowess registering six against the Gold Miners…The foursome of Brad Gehl, Ronnie George, Brandon Janke and Justin Schneeberger all had two points…Travis Jones was the lone marksmen for the Gold Miners…Carmine Alfano picked up the win and Tye Greschuk suffered the loss.   Feb. 11: Sudbury 1 @ Soo Eagles 8—Four goals in each of the last two periods saw the Eagles romp over Sudbury… Connor Lyons had a hat-trick for the Soo while Gavin Burbach dished out three helpers…Chris Truehl made 31 saves in the victory…Jordan Carroll had the lone Cubs effort…Alex Laino faced 59 shots in a losing cause. STILL STREAKING: The NOJHL’s leading scorer Jordan Carroll has been an offensive force all season long.   The Sudbury Cubs sniper has reeled off points in 36 games for his club and has only been held off the score sheet once in his 45 games played The veteran Sudbury forward has already shattered the team record for points and has set the new club mark for goals in a season. His 64 tallies not only lead the NOJHL, but also top the entire 133-team Canadian Jr. Hockey League.   Carroll is also just three assists shy of matching Brian McGarry’s team assist record of 62 set in 2005-06.   DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: At the conclusion of the league playoffs, the NOJHL champion will advance to represent the league at the 2012 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship, April 17-21 in Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League will host the five-day tournament at the Fort William Gardens.   Joining the NOJHL and the North Stars in the Lakehead will be champions of the OJHL and SIJHL.   Down in the 27-team OJHL, their regular season is now complete and they are into the playoffs.   Only two points separated the top five clubs in the standings with each of those clubs having to be considered serious contenders to capture the Buckland Cup OJHL title. The Georgetown Raiders and Newmarket Hurricanes shared the highest point total in the league with 79 points apiece with Georgetown claiming the regular season crown by virtue of registering more wins.   The St. Michael’s Buzzers and Trenton Golden Hawks finished one point behind while the Cobourg Cougars ended up with 77 points. Each of the five top teams has opening round byes.   In the SIJHL the defending champion Wisconsin Wilderness have already clinched first place in the regular season. They have a 42-6-1 overall record with seven games remaining.   The Dudley-Hewitt Cup host North Stars are hot of late coming off a five-game in five-night road trip where they won each contest while improving to 28-18-5.   Looking back you’ll find that the OJHL has won the last five Dudley-Hewitt Cups and eight of the previous 10. The last time the DHC was held in Thunder Bay, the North Stars were victorious.   The Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner will move on to represent the central region at the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Jr. A championship in Humboldt, Sask., this May.   Now up and running is the 2012 Dudley-Hewitt Cup website, which can be found online at   CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS: The NOJHL-leading Soo Thunderbirds remain in the top 10 in the latest Canadian Jr. Hockey League rankings, which were released on Monday.   They earned an eighth-place nod in the listings that are compiled in consultation with NHL Central Scouting and presented by   The No. 2 team in the NOJHL standings, the Soo Eagles also received consideration having secured honourable mention status.   Winners of an impressive 32 games in succession, the Penticton Vees of the BCHL justifiably remain rated the No. 1 club in the CJHL. They currently boast a 44-3-2 record and sport the best winning percentage in the CJHL at .918.   The Spruce Grove Saints moved to second in the rankings, followed by the Royal Bank Cup host Humboldt Broncos in third.   Sitting in the fourth spot are the Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Hockey League, while the Wisconsin Wilderness of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League round out the top five.   CJHL Top 20 Rankings (As of Feb. 13/12) Last week’s rankings in parenthesis 1. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (1) 2. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (3) 3. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) (2) 4. Woodstock Slammers (MHL) (5) 5. Wisconsin Wilderness (SIJHL) (4) 6. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (7) 7. Nepean Raiders (CCHL) (8) 8. SOO THUNDERBIRDS (NOJHL) (6) 9. Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL) (10) 10. Dauphin Kings (MJHL) (11) 11. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (13) 12. Newmarket Hurricanes (OJHL) (12) 13. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (9) 14. Cobourg Cougars (OJHL) (17) 15. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (14) 16. Les Cougars du College Champlain – Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ) (18) 17. Powell River Kings (BCHL) (15) 18. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (20) 19. Cornwall Colts (CCHL) (19) 20. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (16)   Honourable Mention: SOO EAGLES (NOJHL), Surrey Eagles (BCHL), Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL), St. Michael’s Buzzers(OJHL), Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL).   The weekly rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the teams play, winning percentage, win-loss record, along with their total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc. The CJHL is comprised of the 10 junior A hockey leagues across Canada. is the premiere social network website specifically designed for hockey players, scouts, coaches, fans and advertisers. allows players to create free personal profiles to promote their accomplishments and get noticed by scouts and coaches at upper levels. Just as importantly, our site fosters player and parent learning and knowledge about what it takes to successfully be recruited and simply, “play up”. Visit today.   NOJHL TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES ABITIBI ESKIMOS:Abitibi has gone 7-3 in their past 10 games and have won two in a row…100-point man Marc-Alain Begin has an 11-game point streak on the go picking up eight goals and 31 assists during his run. He has also moved into second spot in league scoring with 106 points and tops the NOJHL in point-per-game average at 3.21…His 14 power play markers are the third most in the league…Richard Therrien sits sixth in NOJHL scoring on 79 points. He has points in 10 of his past 12 games and is sixth in power play goals with 10…11 of Corey Hamel’s 17 goals this season have been scored on the power play, which is the fifth best PPG mark in the league.   BLIND RIVER BEAVERS: The Beavers are 2-1 in their past three heading into their game this evening at the Soo Eagles…Blind River remains in the cellar of the NOJHL western division with a 7-37-2 record…Tyler Brown’s 27 points lead the team. He has points in five of his past six…Paul Muio is next with 25 points…The squad has scored only 105 times so far this season while allowing a league-high 262…Four games remain in their regular season.   KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS: New coach Tim Zafiris makes his coaching debut Friday as the Miners take on North Bay in Englehart…The franchise recorded their first point last week…Jordan Turbide has eight points in seven games…Travis Jones is averaging a point-per-game and paces the squad in goals with five…He has points in three straight…Kirkland Lake has seven games in 12 nights facing them as they conclude regular season play.   NORTH BAY TRAPPERS: Winners of three in succession, having racked up 19 goals in that span, the club has road games vs. Sudbury and Kirkland Lake this week…Matt Salituro has an eight-game point streak on the go and leads the team in scoring with 47 points…Brandon Janke also has points in eight straight while Brad Edwards has gotten on the score sheet in five consecutive games…Brad Gehl has 25 points in 17 games since being acquired by the club…Mitchell Knight is second among netminders in goals-against average at 2.84 and shutouts with four.   SOO EAGLES: The Eagles look to extend their winning streak to three as they host Blind River tonight…Four of their last five games will be on Pullar Stadium ice…Their lone remaining road game is Saturday vs. the Soo Thunderbirds…Brian Depp has moved to seventh in NOJHL scoring with 76 points…Shane Totten (63pts) sits ninth in the league, Dallas McLaughlin (58pts) holds down 10th while Travis Payne (56pts) is 11th and Gavin Burbach (55pts) is 12th…Chris Truehl boasts the best save percentage among NOJHL netminders at .916. He is third in goals-against average at 3.00…Luis Puig has moved to fourth in GAA at 3.98…The Eagles are a league-best 17-2-2 on home ice.   SOO THUNDERBIRDS: Ranked eighth overall in the latest CJHL rankings the Thunderbirds lead the NOJHL standings with a 35-9-1 record and a .789 winning percentage…They are looking to capture their second consecutive regular season title holding a five-point lead over the Soo Eagles in the race for top spot…The Thunderbirds are 7-2-1 in their last 10 outings…The Soo have 10 players with 30 or more points so far this season…Team leading scorer Micky Sartoretto has points in 29 of his past 32 contests. He is fifth in NOJHL scoring with 87 points. Teammate Matt Amadio sits eighth in the league in offensive production with 73 points. He has points in 10 of his past 14 games…John Kleinhans leads all NOJHL goalkeepers in wins (24), goals-against average (2.82), shutouts (5), and minutes played (1,979). He is second in save percentage at .913…Kleinhans has posted a 7-2 record in his past 10 appearances.   SUDBURY CUBS: Sudbury will look to put the brakes on a two-game losing drought as they host rival North Bay tonight…The Cubs are 4-3-3 in their past 10…Jordan Carroll continues to lead the NOJHL in scoring…He also has the second highest point total in the entire CJHL at 123. He currently paces the CJHL in goals with 64…He is also riding an impressive 36-game point streak and leads the league in shorthanded goals with six…Jamie Haines leads the league in game-winning goals with nine and is third in overall scoring with 104 points…Nick Esposto has 21 points during a seven-game point streak and has moved up to fourth overall in the NOJHL in offensive production. He is six points shy of reaching the 100-point plateau while registering 28 multiple-point games so far this season…Goaltender Jeremy Pominville is 11-2-1 in his last 14 decisions…Netminder Alex Laino is 10-4-2 in his last 16 outings…The Cubs are one of three NOJHL clubs with a winning record at home and as the visiting team…Three of the squad’s remaining five games will see them playing at home…Sudbury leads the NOJHL in goals with 258.