All posts by Randy Russon

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]

These are the T-Birds to date


Randy Russon
By
July 28, 2020

There are multiple Birds flying into the junior hockey nest.

Cooper Smyl

Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have commitments from more than 10 players ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

Included in the double digit list are confirmations from six local skaters — four returnees and two newcomers — that they will don the blue, orange and white jerseys of the Thunderbirds for the upcoming campaign

…[read more]

Lafleur to Carleton Place


Randy Russon
By
July 28, 2020

The best team in the Central Canada Hockey League from the 2019-2020 season has added a crackerjack coach to its staff.

Marc Lafleur

Hockey News North has confirmed that Marc Lafleur has joined the staff of the Carleton Place Canadians as an assistant coach under owner, general manager and head coach Jason Clarke.

The 45-year old Lafleur and the Hearst Lumberjacks recently parted ways, just over a year after he led what was a second-year franchise to the 2018-2019 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship.

…[read more]

Return to play proposals


Randy Russon
By
July 27, 2020

Junior hockey leagues throughout Ontario have been working on various proposals relative to a return to play at some point in the 2020-2021 season.

Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers are division rivals in the NOJHL.

Under the Canadian Jr. Hockey League umbrella there are four junior A leagues that are based in Ontario. They are the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, the Central Canada Hockey League, the Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Superior International Jr. Hockey League.

The province is also home to the Ontario Hockey League, which is part of the major junior level, Canadian Hockey League.

…[read more]

Kerfuffle in Kingston


Randy Russon
By
July 25, 2020

This one ranks as a stunner.

Darren Keily

After 12 years with the Kingston Frontenacs — first as assistant coach, then as assistant general manager, then as director of hockey operations, and most recently as general manager — Darren Keily was unceremoniously let go by the Ontario Hockey League team earlier this week.

The surprise announcement by Kingston owner Doug Springer was shocking for a number of reasons including the fact that Keily had just guided the Frontenacs through two trying seasons of rebuild and had them poised to become an Eastern Conference threat come the 2020-2021 season.

…[read more]

Soo Thunderbirds have ice!


Randy Russon
By
July 24, 2020

It is an optimistic sign. Not a definitive one, perhaps.

But there is definitely a Bird sighting on the horizon, as in a planned, first flap of the wings.

To be sure, we see Birds on ice in the foreseeable future.

As in a tryout camp for the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

…[read more]

Two more for Espanola


Randy Russon
By
July 24, 2020

Score a couple more commitments for the Espanola Express ahead of the 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.

…[read more]

Super scouts hop the Express


Randy Russon
By
July 22, 2020

Sault Ste. Marie residents Brad Boyer and Chad Vresk have joined the scouting staff of the Espanola Express of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, Hockey News North has confirmed.

…[read more]

All aboard the Express train


Randy Russon
By
July 20, 2020

One by one, from here and there, passengers are boarding the Express.

Carson Boutin

The number of players — returning and incoming — who have committed to the Espanola Express of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for the upcoming season is now in double digits.

Rather impressively, Espanola president and general manager Jason Rapcewicz currently has commitments from 10 players to be on the Express train to the Spanish River town once the 2020-2021 season begins.

Rapcewicz and the Express are out to build on a 2019-2020 season in which Espanola made the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 term.

…[read more]

Coach Lafleur a free agent


Randy Russon
By
July 19, 2020

One of the very best Junior A hockey coaches in Ontario is on the market.

Marc Lafleur

Marc Lafleur and the Hearst Lumberjacks have parted ways, just over a year after he led what was a second-year franchise to the 2018-2019 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship.

The soon-to-be 45-year old Lafleur, who is a Hearst product, also had prior championship success as an NOJHL coach and general manager with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

…[read more]

Cross border hockey issues


Randy Russon
By
July 19, 2020

Let us hope and pray that junior hockey will be played at some point during the 2020-2021 season. However, for example, what happens if the junior hockey season gets the go ahead to begin play but the Canada-United States border remains indefinitely closed?

…[read more]

Eng on the Express


Randy Russon
By
July 18, 2020

It was a straight up one for one trade that delivered the Espanola Express a new passenger ahead of the 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.

James Eng

And Express president and general manager Jason Rapcewicz has an idea of what 2001 birth year center James Eng will bring to Espanola for the coming season.

Hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, the 5-foot-11, 170 pound Eng netted six goals, 15 assists, 21 points in 56 games for the French River Rapids as an NOJHL rookie in 2019-2020.

…[read more]

Oldham is for the Birds


Randy Russon
By
July 17, 2020

There is a new occupant in the Bird house.

Russell Oldham, signing up with the Soo Thunderbirds

That is, Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have added a productive forward to their lineup ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

Russell Oldham, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound front line skater, has landed in the Bird nest via the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Of note, Oldham is also a 2018 Ontario Hockey League under-18 draft pick of the Flint Firebirds.

…[read more]

Eagles tryout camp is soon


Randy Russon
By
July 16, 2020

Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League will be holding their main tryout camp in less than a month.

Eagles general manager Bruno Bragagnolo has confirmed the mid August main camp dates and details.

The Eagles are one of 11 teams in the NOJHL and its lone American entry.

…[read more]

Heading down the highway


Randy Russon
By
July 14, 2020

Sault Ste. Marie product Cole Ambeault is changing Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League teams.

Cole Ambeault

The 2001 birth year forward is heading down Highway 17 from the Blind River Beavers to the Rayside Balfour Canadians in a cash exchange between the NOJHL rivals.

Ambeault is making the move for school reasons, being that he is planning on going to school at Cambrian College in Sudbury in the fall.

…[read more]

Return of the Rock stars


Randy Russon
By
July 13, 2020

Rock and roll with a band of four.

Derek Seguin

Timmins Rock of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League has a firm, formidable foundation to build on ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

Hockey News North has confirmed that four Rock stars — goalie Ty Masternak and forwards Derek Seguin, Josh Dickson and Gabby Kioki — have committed to return to Timmins for another season.

Seguin, of note, is a local product and team captain.

…[read more]