All posts by Randy Russon

Capy back with the Eagles


Randy Russon
By
August 30, 2020

Jim Capy

A good old coach is nosing his way back into the Eagles nest.

Jim Capy is returning to the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, this time as an assistant under head coach Doug Laprade.

Capy was the head coach of the Eagles for three full seasons from 2015 until 2018 before a mutual parting of ways with the team.

…[read more]

Toms is for the T-Birds


Randy Russon
By
August 29, 2020

One way or another, Connor Toms will be remaining at home to play junior hockey this season.

If the 16-year old defenseman does not make the roster of the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, he will man the blue line for the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Thunderbirds general manager Trev Zachary has confirmed the signing of the medium sized defender, who was a third round pick, 44th overall, by the Greyhounds at the 2020 OHL priority selections draft.

…[read more]

Mason Chitaroni has Plan B


Randy Russon
By
August 27, 2020

Mason Chitaroni

It is the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League that Mason Chitaroni wants to play for this season.

That is because Chitaroni is a plum prospect of the Knights, who took the 5-foot-10, 150-pound defender in the fifth round, 99th overall, at this year’s OHL priority selections draft from the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League.

But if Chitaroni doesn’t make the Knights as a 16-year old, he has a Plan B in place with the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

…[read more]

RBC has head coach vacancy


Randy Russon
By
August 27, 2020

The top team from the West Division of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is in the market for a new bench boss.

Rayside Balfour Canadians, who set the pace on the West side of the NOJHL in 2019-2020, are looking at candidates to take over from Dan Cuomo, who has decided to remain with his family in the Holland region of the Netherlands.

With the 65-year old Cuomo at the helm, Rayside registered a record of 40-11-5 for 85 points during the 2019-2020 regular season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted play just before the start of the divisional semi-final playoffs.

…[read more]

First T.J. Aceti award winner


Randy Russon
By
August 22, 2020

Cash Rowswell, with the parents of T.J. Aceti, Rose and Tony (photo by Mary Desimone)

Cash Rowswell has been selected as the first ever winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.

Young Rowswell was presented with the award today at an emotional, albeit informal backyard gathering.

A goalie who competed at the pee wee major AA level within the Sault Major Hockey Association during the 2019-2020 season, the 13-year old Rowswell was the unanimous choice by a four person committee as the winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award from a group of eight other local puck stoppers.

…[read more]

New commander in Cochrane


Randy Russon
By
August 21, 2020

Tom Nickolau

Memorial Cup champion and National Hockey League draft pick Tom Nickolau is taking the reins of the Cochrane Crunch of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

The 54-year old Nickolau has purchased the Cochrane franchise from previous owners Ryan Leonard and Katherine Leonard.

Nickolau, who was a member of the 1986 Ontario Hockey League and Memorial Cup champion Guelph Platers, also holds the distinction of being an NHL draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings.

…[read more]

New coach on the Express


Randy Russon
By
August 18, 2020

There will be a fresh face manning the bench for the Espanola Express come the 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.

Well traveled and experienced as a coach and a player at high levels of the game, 38-year old Brent Hughes will take over from Dave Clancy as the new head coach in Espanola.

Among his coaching gigs, Hughes spent three seasons as an assistant with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League from 2016 until 2019.

…[read more]

Kingston on the cusp


Randy Russon
By
August 18, 2020

An off season of change in leadership relative to the rebuilding of the Kingston Frontenacs has taken on a major contractor to do two jobs.

Paul McFarland, with Kingston Frontenacs owner Doug Springer

The Ontario Hockey League team has given coach Paul McFarland added responsibility as its new general manager. As the new GM, McFarland replaces Darren Keily, who was fired last month.

Just over two months before surprisingly releasing Keily, who had been with the organization for 12 years, the Frontenacs fired head coach Kurtis Foster after two seasons on the job to make way for the return of McFarland, who had been an assistant in the National Hockey League the past three years. Before leaving for the NHL, McFarland had three straight winning seasons as the bench boss in Kingston.

…[read more]

New gig for John Parco


Randy Russon
By
August 16, 2020

John Parco

A successful three season run at the helm of the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League has turned into a new challenge for high end coach John Parco.

The soon to be 49 year old Sault Ste. Marie product has signed a two-year contract with the Italian Ice Hockey Federation.

In his new role, Parco will be the director of hockey development for the Italian Federation.

…[read more]

Birds have 10 in the nest


Randy Russon
By
August 16, 2020

Soo Thunderbirds general manager Trevor Zachary has confirmed the signed commitments of 10 players ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

Brock Santa Maria

Included in the group of 10 are confirmations from six local skaters — four returnees and two newcomers — who intend to wear the blue, orange and white jerseys of the Thunderbirds for the next Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.

The returning local veterans are forwards Avery Rebek, Cooper Smyl, Brock Santa Maria and Kurtis Rogers.

Local newcomers to the Bird house are forwards Michael Chaffay and Ty Zachary.

…[read more]

Colts could be Barrie good


Randy Russon
By
August 14, 2020

Nick Porco

Horse power is poised to make some noise in and around Barrie.

And a couple of northern Ontario boys represent a faction of high end skaters who figure to make the Barrie Colts an Eastern Conference contender come the 2020-2021 Ontario Hockey League season.

Left winger Nick Porco, a Sault Ste. Marie product, and pride of Powassan defenseman Connor Punnett are two players who went to Barrie in separate exchanges with the Saginaw Spirit during the 2019-2020 season.

…[read more]

Family advisors of choice


Randy Russon
By
August 12, 2020

They are known as family advisors and/or player agents. And when I am asked by parents of hockey players — which is rather often — as to who I would recommend as a family advisor, I give them the names of three management groups that I have had good and lengthy dealings with.

…[read more]

What’s with the handshakes?


Randy Russon
By
August 10, 2020

I fully expected the Toronto Maple Leafs to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fifth-and-deciding game of their preliminary round, National Hockey League playoff series.

Leafs and Blue Jackets shaking hands (during COVID-19) after Game 5 of their NHL playoff series

After all, the Leafs had stunned Columbus in Game 4 with an improbable 4-3 overtime win after rallying from a 3-0 deficit with less than four minutes to play in the third period.

But what I didn’t expect — aside from the Leafs coming up flat in a 3-0 loss in Game 5 — was that players from both teams would remove their gloves and shake hands following the decisive match.

…[read more]

Eagles change camp dates


Randy Russon
By
August 9, 2020

From one week to another and from once facility to another.

Originally slated for August 12-14 at Big Bear Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have moved their main training camp dates and location.

Instead, the Eagles will now hold their main camp a week later, from August 21-23, at Lake Superior State University’s Norris Center facility.

…[read more]

Fronts zero in on new GM


Randy Russon
By
August 8, 2020

Kingston Frontenacs figure to have a new general manager in place towards the end of August.

Frontenacs president Doug Springer told the Kingston Whig Standard that the Ontario Hockey League team has narrowed down a list of candidates to take over from Darren Keily as GM.

Springer said he hopes to have a new GM in place within three weeks.

Keily was surprisingly fired by Springer earlier this month after having helped to guide the Frontenacs through two rebuilding seasons.

…[read more]

New Liskeard to Powassan


Randy Russon
By
August 7, 2020

On to the next level for this dandy duo.

Jackson Buffam

A pair of top performers from the New Liskeard Cubs of the Great North Midget Hockey League have signed with the Powassan Voodoos of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

They are forwards Ben White and Jackson Buffam.

White and Buffam were New Liskeard’s top two point producers during the 2019-2020 season. They were also sixth and seventh, respectively, on the Great North scoring chart.

…[read more]

Rayside signs rookie goalie


Randy Russon
By
August 7, 2020

Rayside Balfour Canadians of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have stayed local with the signing of 2003 birth year goalie Jake Marois.

Jake Marois

As a member of the fourth place Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves, the 6-foot, 175 pound Marois was the top goalie in the Great North Midget Hockey League in 2019-2020 with a 2.16 goals against average in 1,280 minutes of action.

Marois also played in the Great North in 2018-2019.

His work in the Great North loop was enough for Marois to earn an invitation to attend the upcoming Ontario Hockey League camp of the London Knights as a free agent.

…[read more]

OHL return to play reaction


Randy Russon
By
August 6, 2020

It spells cautious optimism and hope, albeit with some lingering uncertainty.

Barrie Colts forward Nick Porco

It is a date that players, coaches, fans — and anyone with any sort of association to the Ontario Hockey League — can focus on and look forward to.

And while there is still so much to do as the COVID-19 pandemic remains in our midst, the recent announcement by the OHL that it plans to begin the 2020-2021 regular season on December 1 has at least partially pulled the major junior league from the state of relative dormancy it has been in since the 2019-2020 season was shut down in mid March of this year.

For players like 19-year old forward Nick Porco, a Sault Ste. Marie native and member of the OHL’s Barrie Colts, it is something to work towards.

…[read more]

OHL has its D-day plan


Randy Russon
By
August 5, 2020

A conditional plan is in place.

That is, Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch has confirmed a return to play for all 20 teams.

Planned start date is December 1, 2020, subject to ensuring that the players, fans, staff and community are able to play and attend games safely, said Branch.

Training camps for all 20 teams are expected to begin around the middle of November.

…[read more]

NOJHL playing waiting game


Randy Russon
By
August 3, 2020

There is no panic coming from Robert Mazzuca.

Espanola Express is one of 11 NOJHL teams that are playing the waiting game

No panic in his voice. No panic in his plans. No panic in his actions.

Instead, the 10th year commissioner of the 11-team Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is playing the waiting game relative to when the 2020-2021 season might begin.

Meanwhile, the veteran NOJHL boss remains optimistic that the junior league — which includes 10 teams from northeastern Ontario and one northern Michigan based squad — will play at some point this season.

…[read more]

Imports commit to Kingston


Randy Russon
By
August 1, 2020

This adds up as a commitment coup for the Kingston Frontenacs.

Vitali Pinchuk (left) and Martin Chromiak

That is, forwards Martin Chromiak and Vitali Pinchuk have both committed to return to Kingston for the upcoming Ontario Hockey League season.

Both players were selected by Kingston during the 2019 Canadian Hockey League import draft and are coming off their rookie season with the Frontenacs.

After back-to-back losing seasons in which it won just 33 of 130 regular season games, Kingston is positioned to be an Eastern Conference contender in 2020-2021.

…[read more]

Sticks to the Lumberjacks


Randy Russon
By
July 31, 2020

Overachieving defenseman Keaston (Sticks) Blais has signed with the Hearst Lumberjacks of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Keaston (Sticks) Blais

An ever-improving, hard-working, right-hand shooting defender with a late October, 2002 birth date, Blais has spent the past two seasons with the Timmins Majors of the Great North Midget Hockey League.

A character individual who hails from the northeastern Ontario town of Iroquois Falls, Blais greatly advanced his game over two seasons with the Timmins midgets under the watchful eye of no-nonsense Majors coach Brandon Perry.

…[read more]

A good coach is a good coach


Randy Russon
By
July 29, 2020

Junior hockey and the way it operates and carries on can be cyclical, trendy and copycat.

Dan Cuomo

And while some may say or feel that junior hockey is a young man’s game when it comes to the art of coaching, that is simply not the case.

For example, as the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League both boast exceptional coaches who are in their 30s and 40s, so too do they feature high end bench bosses who are in their 50s and 60s.

In other words, when it comes to the NOJHL and OHL as two junior hockey leagues of illustration, a good coach is a good coach, regardless of age.

…[read more]