Summer tournament hockey

Randy Russon
April 1, 2021

Dependent on factors related to COVID-19 and a return to more controllable numbers, summer tournament hockey may be more prevalent this year given the low total of games that were played at the junior and under 18 levels during the 2020-2021 season.

Up in Kirkland Lake, the coach and general manager of the Gold Miners — members of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League — has served notice that he intends to put together a summer tournament team of players born in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 that will compete in a number of planned showcase events.

Kyle Smart, who is the coach and GM of the NOJHL Gold Miners, has already approached a number of players to be on a team that will be called the Northern Lights.

Meanwhile, Brent Hughes, who joined the Espanola Express of the NOJHL as head coach this past season after three straight winning campaigns as an assistant coach with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League, has his own plans in the works for summer hockey action.

Brent Hughes

Hughes told Hockey News North that he intends to assemble two summer teams under the BH Hockey Development program that he owns and operates, as long as, of course, it can be done safely and by following any and all public health guidelines.

Hughes has already enlisted Jason Rapcewicz, who is the president and general manager of the NOJHL’s Espanola franchise, to assist him with the BH Hockey summer teams.

Hughes said the intent is for both teams to be made up from players born in the 2001 to 2005 age group, adding that the planned showcase tournaments for the Toronto and Niagara areas “represent a great way for kids from the north to get seen by higher level scouts, especially considering the few number of games that players got to play in this (past) season.”

Hughes added that he would like to have as many players from Northern Ontario as he can on the two teams, “noting that this is an opportunity for kids from the north to be scouted. The tournaments that we plan on going to are established ones that are known for having a lot of scouts in attendance. This can serve as a complete evaluation process.”

In his first season in Espanola, the much-shortened 2020-2021 campaign, Hughes coached the youthful Express to a record of 5-4-3 through 12 NOJHL games.

Hughes said he has a commitment from “the majority” of the players who finished the 2020-2021 NOJHL season under his watch in Espanola to play for him this summer.

The Express stands to return every one of its players from the ’20-21 campaign for the 2021-2022 season.

Meanwhile, players from Northern Ontario — in addition to the ones who played for Hughes in Espanola this past season — who are interested in playing for a BH Hockey summer tournament team can e-mail him via

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