SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Timmins Rock have arrived in Portage la Prairie, Man., as they gear up to compete in the Centennial Cup National Jr. A Championship, which runs May 11-21, in the Manitoba community.
Here’s a brief glance at what’s in store for the Copeland Cup – McNamara trophy winners:
HOW THEY ADVANCED: Brandon Perry’s side skated to their first NOJHL title, Timmins collected series triumphs over the French River Rapids, Powassan Voodoos and Soo Thunderbirds.
Pacing the Rock offensively were the veteran forward duo of Brady Harroun and Nicolas Pigeon, who both produced at over a point-per-game clip.
Harroun, the league-leader in goals during the regular season, added nine more in the playoffs and added seven assists.
NOJHL MVP Pigeon also added 16 points as he scored five times and dished out 11 helpers.
Defenceman Felix Cadieux-Fredette also contributed mightily for Timmins in their run for the league crown as he had 15 points, in as many outings, on a pair of markers, while assisting on 13 more.
Both Rock netminders did their part in backstopping their team to NOJHL supremacy.
Veteran Patrick Boivin went 7-3 with an average of 2.10, along with a .916 save percentage and two shutouts.
Rookie Jacob Brown meanwhile was unbeaten at 5-0 while having a 2.20 GAA and a .910 SV% and one shutout.
BEEN THERE: A benefit that should help the Rock experience-wise is having five players on their roster who competed in last year’s Centennial Cup.
Forwards Harroun, Lucas Piekarczyk, Ethan Pool, along with defencemen Kenyon Nyman and Brandon Rossetti all played in last year’s event in Estevan, Sask., as members of the SIJHL’s Red Lake Miners.
Timmins also boasts blueliner Kyle Trottier, who participated in the 2022 national Jr. A event as a member of last season’s NOJHL winners, the Soo Thunderbirds.
Date: Friday, May 12
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Team: Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners
Head Coach: Laurie Barron
THE MARINERS: A stern initial test awaits the Rock in their opening contest with the Maritime Hockey League champs.
Yarmouth finished first overall in the 12-team MHL during the course of the regular season with a solid 41-9-2-0 record.
Defensively they were solid, allowing a league-low 132 goals-against, which was 33 fewer than their closest competitor in that department.
The Mariners also scored 230 times, the third best total.
Converting at 24.5% on the power play, they led the MHL while on the penalty kill at an impressive 86%.
In the playoffs, Yarmouth ran the table, going a perfect 12-0 in posting a trio of four-game sweeps over the Pictou County Weeks Crushers; Truro Bearcats and the Edmundston Blizzard, who they swept in the MHL final.
UP FRONT: Leading the Jr. A Mariners offensively in the playoffs were forwards Reilly Mayne and Ryan Semple, who both collected 18 points apiece en route to their win.
Mayne led all MHL skaters in goals with nine, three of which were game-winners.
Rookie centre Jerome Gilbert also contributed 15 points in a dozen outings, on five tallies and 10 helpers.
DEFENSIVELY: Leading Yarmouth on the back-end was blueliner Ben Roode, who was also an over a point-per-game performer with 14 in 12 games, featuring 11 assists.
First-year D-man Franco Canevari chipped in with 11 points as he notched five markers and helped set-up six others.
IN NET: Between the pipes, Joey Lovullo was spotless in the postseason going 10-0 for Yarmouth, pacing the MHL with a stingy 1.80 goals-against average, along with a .939 save percentage. He also posted a pair of shutouts.
The club’s other goalkeeper, rookie Keegan Warren, was 2-0 in his appearances with a 2.96 GAA and a .910 save mark.
Date: Sunday, May 14
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Team: Terrebonne Cobras
Head Coach: Robert Dubuc
THE COBRAS: Representing the Quebec AAA Junior Hockey League at the Centennial Cup are the Terrebonne Cobras.
Finishing first overall in the 13-team QJAAAHL, the Cobras went 42-5-0-1 in the regular season, while averaging nearly six goals-per-game, while only allowing 109, in total, against.
Special teams saw the Cobras convert at a solid 37.04% only the power play, while handling 82.14% of the time they were shorthanded.
They earned their way to the Centennial Cup by winning their league’s NAPA Cup, going 12-4 on their way to the title, including a Game 7 home ice triumph versus Cégep Beauce-Appalaches in the finale.
UP FRONT: The top-two point-getters in the league both skated for the Cobras.
They were Steven Fournier and Anthony Di Cesare, who collected 86 and 81 points respectively, while Loic Gibeault tied for sixth overall in offensive production with 70 points.
Fournier added another 20 points in 16 postseason contests, while Di Caesare was even better with 30 points, including 16 tallies.
DEFENSIVELY: On the Terrebone blueline, Luke Stegman topped them offensively with 29 points and Samuel Rebelo was right behind them with 28 points.
IN NET: QAAAJHL MVP Alexandre Marchand was tremendous in net all season.
Sporting a very impressive 30-1-0-1 mark, the 2003-born Trois-Rivières, Que., product was all but unbeatable in his time between the pipes this season.
Marchand paced all LHJAAAQ netminders in wins (30); goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.929).
He also posted three shutouts along the way, which was just one off his league lead.
Marchand had a 2.00 GAA and a .931 save mark in the playoffs in backstopping his side to a title.
Date: Monday, May 15
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Team: Brooks Bandits
Head Coach: Ryan Papaioannou
THE BANDITS: The AJHL champs are making another appearance at the national Jr. A event in a bid to become the first team to win three Centennial Cups in succession.
As the top-ranked side in the entire 118-team CJHL, Brooks was a juggernaut in Alberta, going 53-5-1-1 to finish in top spot there.
The Bandits were No. 1 in the AJHL on the power play and on the penalty kill at 34.4% and 88.9% respectively.
High-scoring, the Alberta champs scored 319 times while giving up only 113, which were both leagues bests.
Rolling to another AJHL championship, Brooks won their latest title with playoff series victories over rivals Okotoks, Blackfalds and Spruce Grove, going 12-3 along the way.
The Bandits already has 20 players committed to college or university programs and have four players, forwards Aiden Fink; Hudson Malinoski, as well as defencemen Sam Court and Aiden Celebrini, listed on the final NHL Central Scouting Draft Rankings.
UP FRONT: The AJHL’s leading scorer was the Bandits’ Fink.
He piled up 97 points in 54 games while Dario Beljo was next with an 89-point run, including 34 goals.
They had five players register 10, or more, points in the playoffs, led by Caelan Fitzpatrick’s 16 and a team-best 11 goals.
DEFENSIVELY: Skating in his first full season in the AJHL, Court was third overall in scoring with Brooks on 72 points, in 52 outings, by scoring 13 times and assisting on 59 others.
They also saw Hughie Hooker pick up 37 points and touted rookie D-man Celebrini provided 21.
IN NET: About as good as one can be in net was Brooks’ goaltender Ethan Barwick.
He went 45-4-0-1 overall with a stingy 1.88 goals-against average and a solid save percentage of .929.
Barwick also went 12-3 in the playoffs with a 2.13 GAA and .915 SV%.
Date: Wednesday, May 17
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
Team: Ottawa Jr. Senators
Head Coach: Kyle Makaric
THE SENATORS: No stranger to taking part in the nationals, Ottawa will be taking part in their fourth consecutive Jr. A championship, dating back to 2018, that saw both the 2020 and 2021 events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finishing first in the CCHL, the Senators went 42-8-3-2 while scoring 218 times and gave up a league-low 126 goals-against.
Their 25.3% success rate on the power play led their league and were second overall on the P.K. at 87.5%.
Ottawa’s run to their latest CCHL crown saw them go 12-5 in the playoffs as they defeated the Cornwall Colts and Brockville Braves in a pair of series that went five games before defeating the Smiths Falls Bears in the league Bogart Cup final that went the distance.
UP FRONT: Former NOJHLer Chase Lammi was the offensive leader in the CCHL postseason, recording 24 points on 10 tallies and 14 assists for Ottawa.
Mickael Hibert was close behind Lammi with 22 points, including five markers, while Massimo Gentile provided 19, featuring a team-best 11 goals.
During the regular season, Vincent Velocci topped the Jr. Sens offensively with 59 points in 52 contests.
Gentile was next with 56 points, with a club-high 30 goals.
DEFENSIVELY: Will Murphy paced all Ottawa rearguards in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs.
His 14 points in the postseason led the squad in 17 appearances and tacked on 42 more during the campaign by scoring 11 times and helping set-up 31 others.
Mathis Bedard chipped in with 33 points on the back-end during the season and nine in the playoffs.
IN NET: CCHL postseason MVP Rorke Applebee racked up a dozen victories in the playoffs while registering a sharp 1.93 goals-against average and a solid .936 save percentage.
Applebee was also very good in the regular season, going 24-2-3-0 during the year while pacing all league netminders in average at 2.07 and was also tops in save percentage at .934.
The 2003-born goalkeeper also posted six shutouts overall.
ALSO COMPETING: Making up the other division in the 10-team Centennial Cup will be the following:
Battlefords North Stars (SJHL); Steinbach Pistons (MJHL); Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL); Collingwood Blues (OJHL) and the Portage Terriers (Host-MJHL).
LIVE STREAM: All Rock round robin games will be streamed live online, on a pay-per-view basis via the following link:
Centennial Cup Broadcasts
2023 Centennial Cup website
Photo credit: Thomas Perry / Timmins Daily Press