Release Date: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012
2012 portion of NOJHL schedule begins tonight
SUDBURY, Ont. –The 2012 portion of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League schedule kicks off this evening in Sudbury in what should be a highly entertaining contest as the hometown Cubs host the front-running Soo Thunderbirds at McClelland Arena.
While the Thunderbirds lead the overall NOJHL standings with 52 points, Sudbury is on a roll themselves arriving at the holiday break winners of eight in succession and 10 of their past 11 outings.
A pair of other NOJHL clubs that were playing some good hockey to wrap-up 2011 are the Soo Eagles and North Bay Trappers.
Those two sides will meet Friday at Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. With the Eagles coming in posting a 9-0-1 record in their last 10 games and the Trappers entering 2012 riding a four-game winning streak, this should make for an another interesting contest.
Friday’s other game features the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils and Abitibi Eskimos renewing acquaintances with the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex serving as the setting.
From there, league action will feature three other match-ups on Saturday along with a Sunday afternoon matinee.
Among those is another NOJHL highlight contest that sees the Thunderbirds paying a visit to the Eagles Saturday as the top two teams in the standings take to the ice in 7:30 p.m. start.
Only five points separate the two rivals in the NOJHL standings with the Eagles also holding three games in hand as they look to make their move to surpass the Thunderbirds.
The two other league games slated for Saturday include North Bay traveling to Blind River for an encounter with the Beavers while Abitibi hosts Sudbury at Jus Jordan Arena.
Wrapping up the first week of play in 2012 will see Blind River hosting the Thunderbirds. Puck drop in that one is set for 2 p.m.
NOJHL 3 STARS: The final three stars of the week for 2011 in the NOJHL have been announced.
Earning the NOJHL accolades were the North Bay Trappers duo of Bryce Lipinski and Brad Gehl while Jordan Carroll of the Sudbury Cubs was also recognized for his off-ice efforts in helping his club continue their winning ways.
BRYCE LIPINSKI – NORTH BAY TRAPPERS: The Trappers’ forward registered his most productive outing of the season in the club’s final game before the break notching a hat-trick as North Bay doubled up Abitibi 6-3 on Dec. 22.
With his offensive outburst and inaugural three-goal game in the NOJHL, Lipinski raised his season totals to eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 23 games in a North Bay uniform.
JORDAN CARROLL – SUDBURY CUBS: The NOJHL’s scoring leader wrapped up 2011 on a torrid pace that included a four-point performance in his final game, a 6-4 Sudbury victory on Dec. 21.
The 20-year-old forward notched the game-winning goal in the late stages of that contest vs. the Blue Devils and iced it with an insurance marker into the empty net to clinch the win for the Cubs.
Carroll enters the New Year riding a 22-game point streak while also leading all NOJHL skaters in offensive production 86 points in just 31 games, including 41 goals.
BRAD GEHL – NORTH BAY TRAPPERS: Rounding out the three star honourees is recently acquired forward Brad Gehl.
Picked up by the Traps early last month from the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, the 20-year-old Peterborough product is wasting little time making an impact on his new club.
He was recognized for tallying twice, including firing the game-winner in overtime, as North Bay edged Abitibi on Dec.21.
CJHL RANKINGS: The next Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 rankings will be announced on Monday, Jan. 9
The final listings of 2011 saw the Soo Thunderbirds rated 10th overall while both the Soo Eagles and Sudbury Cubs earned honourable mention status in the rankings, which are compiled in conjunction with National Hockey League Central Scouting and presented by PlayingUpHockey.com.
The top ranked club in the CJHL at the break were the Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Hockey League. The Penticton Vees (BCHL) and Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) rounded out the top three, coming in second and third respectively.
The rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the team plays, winning percentage, win-loss record, and the total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc.
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DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: At the conclusion of the league playoffs, the NOJHL champion while advance to represent the league at the 2012 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship April 17-21 in Thunder Bay.
The four-team event will be hosted by the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. All games in the five-day tournament will be played at the Fort William Gardens.
Joining the NOJHL in the Lakehead will be the title holder of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League as well as the SIJHL champions and the host North Stars.
Taking a quick look at the other two leagues that will also compete for the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, you’ll find down in the OJHL that the St. Michael’s Buzzers continue to sit atop the overall standings in first place among the 27 clubs that comprise the league with 65 points and a .833 winning percentage.
Following the Buzzers are the Trenton Golden Hawks who are second overall with 61 points and a .824 win mark.
The Newmarket Hurricanes and Georgetown Raiders are knotted for third among all OJHL clubs with 55 points with winning percentages of .809 and .764 respectively.
As for the SIJHL, the defending league champion Wisconsin Wilderness continues to roll heading into 2012.
The second-year club has won 11 straight games and holds down top spot overall in the seven-team team with 57 points on a 28-3-1 record and have gone 53-4-3 in their last 60 regular season outings.
The second place Fort Frances Lakers (28-8-4) have won five in succession while the Dudley-Hewitt Cup host North Stars sit third in the SIJHL standings at 16-11-5.
Thunder Bay last hosted the DHC in 2006 where they defeated Sudbury in the final and advanced to the Royal Bank Cup.
The 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup will be hosted by the Sudbury Kal Tire Cubs.
WEBSITE: The NOJHL website offers the latest news and information on the seven-team loop ranging from their schedule, statistics and additional notes on this the 50th anniversary season of the league.
You can find the website online at www.nojhl.com.
FASTHOCKEY: Fans can watch live NOJHL games online on a pay-per-view basis throughout the year via FASTHOCKEY.
Simply visit nojhl.fasthockey.com to sign up or for more information.
NOJHL TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES
ABITIBI ESKIMOS:Abitibi opens 2012 with games against Kirkland Lake and Sudbury this week …The Eskimos wrapped up 2011 on a slide going 1-6-1 in their past eight games…The club sits second in the NOJHL Eastern Division and fourth overall at 16-13-4…Their 12 home wins on the year are the second highest total in the NOJHL…Richard Therrien remains the team’s leading point producer having racked up 61 points in 33 games on 26 goals and 35 assists. His offensive numbers leave him fifth in NOJHL scoring…The Eskimos have nine games slated in January including five on the road and one in Timmins.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS: The Beavers will look to improve their fortunes in the New Year as they start off with a four-game home stand at the Blind River Community Centre…The squad went a disappointing 1-7 in December including being shutout three times…The club sits in the cellar of the NOJHL western division as well as seventh overall with a 5-28-2 record…The trio of Joel McAuley, Paul Muio and Tyler Brown are listed one-two-three respectively in team scoring with point totals of 20, 19 and 17…Shane Snow has points in four of his past five games.
KIRKLAND LAKE BLUE DEVILS: The first-year Blue Devils take to the ice Friday at home vs. Abitibi in their lone game of the week…Travis Jones holds the team scoring lead with 29 points with eight of them coming in his past four outings…Dustin Roy is next on the club with 27 points…Three of Jordan Turbide’s 11 goals have been game-winners, which lead the team. All of his markers have been scored since Nov. 18…The B-Devils have seven games in January, including five of them on home ice.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS: The Trappers will look to extend their winning streak to five Friday as they pay a visit to the Soo Eagles…A three-point effort in his last game allowed Matthew Salituro to take over the club scoring lead with 29…Danny Desrochers (9g-19a-28pts) and Brad Edwards (12g-15a-27pts) round out the top three…Goaltender Mitchell Knight continues to lead all NOJHL netminders in goals-against average at 2.69 among those who have played 600 or more minutes…The Traps have allowed the third fewest goals in the league at 116…January sees North Bay play 10 times between Jan. 6-29…They have gone 6-4 in their last 10 outings.
SOO EAGLES: The defending NOJHL champion Eagles are sizzling entering play in 2012 having won eight straight games. They are also 12-1 in their last 13. They trail the first place Soo Thunderbirds by only five points in the overall standings and also hold three games in hand on their rivals…The Eagles boast five skaters among the top 10 in NOJHL offensive production. Brock Raffaele (29g-29a-58pts) is sixth, Brian Depp (27g-29a-56pts) is seventh, Shane Totten (17g-30a-47pts) holds down ninth while Travis Payne (15g-31a-46pts) and Gavin Burbach (13g-33a-46pts) are knotted for 10th…Luis Puig has gone an impressive 7-0-1 in net since joining the club while posting an solid 2.60 goals-against average and .919 save percentage…Defencemen Derek Diaz (3g-4a) has a four-game point streak.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS: The Thunderbirds begin 2012 in top spot in the standings with a league-best 26-6 mark. They also boast the best winning percentage overall at .813…A three-game road swing awaits this week with games vs. Sudbury, the Soo Eagles and Blind River…A well-balanced attack has seen to Soo produce 10 players with 20 or more points so far this season. Leading the way is Micky Sartoretto as the Sault Ste. Marie native has averaged two points per game with 62 in 31 contests. His 27 tallies and 35 assists leave him fourth in NOJHL scoring. Teammate Matt Amadio sits eighth in the league in offensive production with 52 points, including 17 goals…Goalkeeper John Kleinhans leads all goalies in wins (17), shutouts (4) and minutes played (1,405). Among those with 600 or more minutes in net he is second in goals-against average at 2.82.
SUDBURY CUBS: The Cubs enter the New Year having gone 9-1 in the past 10 games…Sudbury sports the top three scoring leaders in the NOJHL…The NOJHL’s leading point producer Jordan Carroll has the second highest offensive numbers in the entire CJHL with 86…Jamie Haines, who is second in the NOJHL offensively, leads the league in game-winning goals with seven. No. 3 overall scorer Nick Esposto is tops in power play markers with 14 while Carroll leads the way in shorthanded tallies with four and shares second overall with four game-winners…Carroll and Haines are also both riding impressive 22-game point streaks entering play in 2012…The team leads the NOJHL in goals scored with 188…Their nine road victories is a tie for second most overall.