The new-look Espanola Express of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League has signed two players from the Great North Midget Hockey League, Hockey News North has confirmed.
2001 birth year goalie Joel Rainville from the major midget North Bay Trappers and 2002 birth year forward Chase Lammi from the minor midget Sudbury Wolves have both opted to move up to the NOJHL and sign with Espanola.
The Express has missed the playoffs in each of the past two NOJHL seasons but completely overhauled its coaching staff over the summer. Veteran bench boss Dave Clancy is now at the helm in Espanola as its new head coach.
Regarding the two players signed from the Great North loop, both head to Espanola as highly-touted youngsters.
As an up-and-coming goalie, Rainville goes to Espanola following two impressive seasons with venerable coach Guy Blanchard’s North Bay major midgets.
In 2017-2018, the 6-foot, 175-pound Rainville had a record of 21-2 and a goals against average of 2.37 during the regular season. He followed that up with a 3-2 record and 1.90 goals against average in the playoffs.
Rainville, who also saw action with the NOJHL’s Powassan Voodoos as an affiliate player last season, attended the rookie camp of the Ontario Hockey League champion Hamilton Bulldogs earlier this summer.
Meanwhile, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Lammi had 12 points in 24 regular season games with the Sudbury minor midgets in 2017-2018 and then saw action in five NOJHL playoff matches as an affiliate player for the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
Espanola president and general manager Chad Clarke is ecstatic with the signing of the two northern Ontario youngsters.
“Joel is a premier goaltender in the north, he had options and we are pleased he chose us to develop his career here in Espanola,” Clarke said of Rainville. “We expect Joel to step in and continue his winning ways with us this year … he will give us a fighting chance every time he is in the net.”
As for Lammi, Clarke also had multiple words of praise.
“Chase is an incredibly hard working player and his relentless attitude will pay dividends in our league,” Clarke began. “He fit right in with the (Rayside Balfour) lineup and did not look out of place (during last spring’s NOJHL playoffs) and we expect him to do the same with us this year.”
PHOTO: Chase Lammi (left) and Joel Rainville.