TIMMINS - There were plenty of teams willing to play ‘Let’s make a deal’ in the days leading up to Saturday’s trade deadline, but likely the most significant change came in Blind River.
Don Gagnon is out as head coach of the winless Beavers and team president Bob Haworth has taken over behind the bench.
With a record of 0-32-0-1and only one point prior to the change, the move should not come as a big surprise to anyone who has watched the team play.
The Beavers’ fortunes did not improve significantly with Haworth behind the bench Saturday night.
They dropped an 8-1 decision to the Abitibi Eskimos at the Blind River Community Centre, the team’s 33rd loss of the season.
It remains to be seen if Haworth will be able to reward loyal Beavers’ fans with their first victory of the 2014-15 season any time soon.
The new coach will have a few new faces to work with, as the Beavers acquired defenceman Robbin Yew (21, 0-6-6, 6) from Dauphin Kings, of the MJHL, and forwards Dante Juris (23, 7-5-12, 25) and Jack Zanville (9, 1-1-2, 0) from Powassan Voodoos prior to Saturday’s trade deadline.
The Beavers also shipped goalie Daniel Potter off to the Wellington Dukes, of the OJHL, after signing goalie Ryan Ferguson (7.47, .829), released earlier in the week by the Eskimos.
Here is a rundown of some of the other transactions made by NOJHL clubs prior to Saturday’s deadline:
• Soo Thunderbirds — acquired forward Devin Shell (28, 6-16-22, 23), a Sault Ste. Marie native, from the Cambridge Winter Hawks Jr B (GOJHL).
• Kirkland Lake Gold Miners — traded defenceman Christian Bortoluzzi to the Newmarket Hurricanes, of the OJHL; traded forward Tyler Romain, a Timmins native, to the Cambrdge Winter Hawks Jr B (GOJHL).
• Elliot Lake Wildcats — traded forward Mick Tourangeau to the Valleyfield Braves, of the LHJQ; acquired forward Connor Scott (31, 6-1-7, 32) from the Humbolt Broncos, of the SJHL; acquired former Mattawa Blackhawks forward Kyle Baril (9, 2-8-10, 14) from English River Miners, of the SIJHL.
• Cochrane Crunch — traded forward Blake Peavey to the Dryden Ice Dogs, of the SIJHL, for forward Anthony Filoso (4, 0-0-0, 4); traded defenceman Jackson Atkinson to the Summerside Western Capitals, of the MHL; acquired forward Dylan Sakatch (12, 2-0-2, 10) from the Calgary Canucks, of the AJHL.
• Sudbury Nickel Barons — acquired defenceman Sheehan Kirkwood (27, 5-7-12, 58) from the Guelph Hurricanes, of the GOJHL; traded forward Lucas Toth to the English River Miners, of the SIJHL; acquired forward Eric Champagne (20, 16-5-21, 29), a North Bay native, from English River Miners, of the SIJHL.
• Abitibi Eskimos — released goalie Ryan Ferguson; acquired defenceman Joe Olson (18, 1-9-10, 51) from the Ridge Meadows Flames, of the PJHL.
• Powassan Voodoos — traded forwards Dante Juris and Jack Zanville to Blind River Beavers; acquired forward David Sherman (27, 3-2-5, 8) from North Bay Battalion, of the OHL; acquired forward Jake Staples (17, 5-14-19, 14) from the English River Miners, of the SIJHL.
• Mattawa Blackhawks — traded forward Josh Cameron to the Port Hope Panthers, of the EBJCL.
There were some interesting results in the NOJHL over the past week, but nothing radical enough to produce a change in Tom’s Top 9 NOJHL power rankings.
As with previous columns, the first number in the brackets represents the team’s ranking last week, while the second refers to their ranking before the start of the season.
1. (1-2) Soo Thunderbirds (26-4-0-4) — Speedy forward Nick Tassone (33, 23-29-52, 4) had a goal and an assist to lead the Thunderbirds to a 6-2 win over the Sudbury Nickel Barons on home ice Saturday night.
Nathan Hebert (32, 12-19-31, 10) added a pair of assists in that game. Brian Kment (883:30, 0, 2.85, .900) made 21 saves to earn the victory in that contest. Tassone scored twice the following afternoon, as the Thunderbirds doubled up the Abitibi Eskimos 6-3. Sixteen-year-old Boris Katchouk (15, 6-9-15, 18) added a goal and an assist in the victory. The week ahead will see the Thunderbirds travel to Sudbury for a game with the Nickel Barons Wednesday night and then to Elliot Lake for a game with the Wildcats, who sit second to the Soo in the West Division standings, Friday night.
2. (2-3) Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (27-6-0-2) — Ryan Swain (34, 15-27-42, 34) had a six point (two goals, four assists) night as the Gold Miners crushed the Abitibi Eskimos 9-4 on home ice Tuesday night. Steven Babin (35, 20-44-64, 12) had four points (three goals, one assist) in that contest. Ryan Aubertin (21, 18-20-38, 6) led the way in the Gold Miners 9-3 win over the Voodoos in Powassan Friday night, netting three goals and adding an assist. Meanwhile, Zach Pease (17, 5-8-13, 12) and Bryan Lubin (4, 2-6-8, 2) each picked up three points in the Gold Miners 5-4 double-overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Mattawa Saturday night. The Gold Miners lone game this week will see them host the Beavers at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Friday night.
3. (3-8) Elliot Lake Wildcats (22-9-1-1) — Adam Baxter (29, 16-27- 43, 14) and defenceman Nathan Campbell (33, 13-20-33, 30) each had a goal and an assist as the Wildcats tripled the Eskimos 6-2 at the Centennial Arena Friday night in their lone game of the week. Goalie A.J. Smith (1244:01, 2, 2.85, .915), one of the most under-rated puck stoppers in the NOJHL, made 20 saves to earn the victory in net for Elliot Lake. The week ahead will be a little busier for the Wildcats, as they host the West Division-leading Thunderbirds at the Centennial Arena Friday night and then travel to Mattawa for a game with the vastly improved Blackhawks Saturday night.
4. (4-1) Cochrane Crunch (22-11-0-2) — The Crunch got two-point nights from five players — Cody Gratton (33, 42-29-71, 26), Aviv Milner (33, 12-26-38, 16), Dustin Cordeiro (30, 31-15-46, 29), Henry Berger (13 4-8-12, 8) and defenceman Joey Mavrin (35, 7-17-24, 20 — en route to their 7-6 double-overtime win over the Voodoos in Powassan Saturday night. Gratton, of course, netted the game-winning goal. “Mr Clutch,” “The Scoring Machine,” “Breakaway Cody,” “The Great Gratton,” call him what you will, speedy No. 77 has a knack for scoring goals. The following afternoon, during Cochrane’s 4-2 win over the Blackhawks in Mattawa the game-winning goal was scored by … who else. Gratton’s linemate, Josh Racek (35, 18-32-50, 19), continued his torrid pace, as well, netting a goal and an assist. The week ahead will see the Crunch host their Highway 11 rivals, the Eskimos, at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night and the Beavers on Saturday night.
5. (5-6) Sudbury Nickel Barons (19-10-1-2) — The Nickel Barons top two scorers, August Jarecki (29, 10-18-28, 29) and Jacob Bonin (27, 9-18-27, 8) each had a goal in Sudbury’s 4-2 win over the Beavers on home ice Wednesday night. Goalie Kevin Labelle (1043:13, 0, 3.22, .910) made 16 saves to earn the victory. Jarecki and defenceman Ryan Mooney (32, 4-14-18, 22) had the lone goals for the Nickel Barons in their 6-2 loss to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday night. The Nickel Barons lone game this week will see them host the Thunderbirds at the McClelland Arena Wednesday night.
6. (6-4) Abitibi Eskimos (18-17-0-3) — Leading scorer Brady Clouthier (32, 31-31-62, 37) had a pair of goals in the Eskimos 9-4 loss in Kirkland Lake Tuesday night. Clouthier was not available for the team’s three-game road trip on the weekend and that absence, combined with an outbreak of the flu, held the team to one win and two losses. Tristan Salesse (19, 10-18-28, 10) and Patrick Picard (23, 2-9-11, 20) had the Eskimos only goals in Friday night’s 6-2 loss in Elliot Lake. Jake Holland (20, 14-25-39, 16), Ryan Tront (25, 16-18-34, 25) and Kezmin Madden (37, 4-9-13, 6) each had a pair of goals in Saturday night’s 8-1 win over the Beavers in Blind River. Salesse and Brenden Locke (32, 26-21-47, 19) each had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie. The week ahead will see the Eskimos travel to Cochrane for a game against their Highway 11 rivals, the Crunch, Friday night and then return home to host the Beavers at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
7. (7-7) Powassan Voodoos (11-16-0-6) — The Voodoos post-Christmas struggles (0-3-0-1) continued with a pair of losses on home ice this past weekend. Steve Harland (33, 29-28-57, 4), one of the steadiest — not to mention most talented — players in the NOJHL, continued to chug right along, though, as he scored twice and added an assist in the Voodoos’9-3 loss to the Gold Miners on Friday night. He also added three assists in Saturday night’s 7-6 overtime loss to the Crunch. Newcomer Jake Staples (1, 3-0-3, 2) notched a hat-trick in that loss. The lone game for the Voodoos this week will see them travel to Mattawa on Sunday for a game against the Blackhawks.
8. (8-5) Mattawa Blackhawks (8-24-0-2) — The Blackhawks (3-1-0-0) are one of the hotest teams in the post-Christmas NOJHL. Defenceman Nick Grosse (34, 3-21-24, 22) netted the game-winning goal as the Blackhawks upset the Gold Miners in double-overtime Saturday night. Andy Williams (33, 14-14-28, 27) had two goal and an assist to pace the attack in that game. Goalie Joe Sheppard (1471:56, 0, 6.16, .872) was the big star for the Blackhawks in their 4-2 loss to the Crunch on Sunday, turning in a 50-save performance. The big Texan has been busier than any other goal in the NOJHL this season, both in terms of minutes played and shots faced. The Blackhawks will host the Wildcats at the Mike Rodden Arena Saturday night and the Voodoos on Sunday afternoon.
9. (9-9) Blind River Beavers (0-33-0-1) — Yew (2, 0-2-2, 2) had a pair of assists in the Beavers 4-2 loss to the Nickel Barons in Sudbury Wednesday night. Goalie Zach Mills (879:53, 0, 7.02, .854) stopped all 33 shots he faced in that game in relief of starter Daniel Potter. Mills was not so fortunate during Saturday night’s 8-1 loss to the Eskimos on home ice, although he did make 42 stops. Juris (27, 8-6-14, 27) had the lone goal for the Beavers against the Eskimos. The Beavers search for their first win of the 2014-15 season will take them to Kirkland Lake to play the Gold Miners Friday night, Cochrane to play the Crunch Saturday night and Iroquois Falls to play the Eskimos Sunday afternoon.