Soo penalty totals don’t lie

Randy Russon
February 15, 2018

A shot at redemption via the playoffs after a sub-par regular season was not to be for the Soo Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League.

Despite turning in one of their more disciplined outings of the 2017-2018 campaign in Game 2 of the playoffs, the season came to an end for the Soo major midgets when they lost to the Timmins Majors in overtime.

It was a pair of one-goal defeats — one on the road and one at home — by 2-1 and 3-2 scores that put fourth-place Soo on the sidelines and sent fifth-place Timmins on to the second round of the playoffs.

Kevin Panco, the head coach of the Greyhound midgets, was not shy over the course of the season to blame the “negative media coverage of Randy Russon” for much of what ailed his team over the course of the 2017-2018 term.

Whatever Panco’s thoughts or reasoning may be for blaming me, the record posted by the team he was in charge of certainly speaks for itself.

The standings clearly show that the Greyhounds finished fourth among six teams in the major midget division with 30 points from a record of 13-19-4.

Even more telling were the penalty totals that the Greyhounds rang up over 36 regular season games.

In that category — most penalty minutes — the Panco-coached Greyhounds spent a league-high 831 minutes in the penalty box over the course of the 36 games.

To put that into perspective, as the Greyhounds spent 831 minutes in the penalty box, the Sudbury Nickel Capitals Wolves totaled a mere 417 minutes in penalties.

Do the very simple math.

Over 36 regular season games, the Greyhounds spent 414 more minutes in the penalty box than the Nickel Capital Wolves — almost double the amount of time served in the sin bin.

Must be all of that “negative media coverage” that caused Panco to tolerate such high penalty minute totals and the lack of discipline shown by some of the players on his team.

Really, it is rather sad how the season played out for the Soo major midgets. While they may not have had the overall talent of the first-place North Bay Trappers and second-place Sudbury, the Soo certainly had enough good players to finish in third place and within striking distance of the top.

Instead — and the numbers don’t lie, “negative media coverage” or not — the Soo finished a distant fourth.

Let the record show that North Bay topped the major midget standings with 64 points followed by Sudbury with 63, the Kapuskasing Flyers with 40, the Soo with 30, Timmins with 29 and the New Liskeard Cubs with 11.

Must have been all of the “negative media coverage of Randy Russon” that caused the Soo to finish 34 points behind North Bay and 33 points back of Sudbury.

I feel for the many good players on the Greyhound roster who were part of an underachieving season, kids like veteran forwards Avery Rebek, Caleb Wood, Owen Shier and Parker Morgan and a host of others who put forth honest efforts over the course of the campaign including the likes of rookie forwards Nick Jameus and Nick Niro, capable defensemen Jacob Doucette, Jon Mackin and Jordan Ritchie and goalies Dawson Hunter and Andrew Uschenko.

I took in about a dozen of the Soo major midget games during the 2017-2018 season — way more than any other member of the local mainstream media, by the way — and what I saw was a collection of good, above-average players who fell victim to undisciplined team play.

The penalty numbers — 831 of them — certainly back up what I was witness to over so many games.

As for the aforementioned Panco, I don’t know if he will be back behind the bench of the Greyhound major midgets again next season. What I do know is that there are qualified coaches in Sault Ste. Marie who are contemplating stepping up and applying for the annual posting of the job.

At any rate and to be honest, I would much rather write positive stories as they relate to minor hockey players and teams in Sault Ste. Marie and throughout northern Ontario.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to ignore blaring and glaring numbers such as the league-high penalty totals that the Greyhound major midgets piled up on the way to winning only 13 of 36 regular season games — and then losing out in two straight games in the first round of the playoffs.

Sorry, Mr. Panco.

As the head coach of the Greyhound major midgets, those numbers are on you, not on me, man.

What you think about “Soo penalty totals don’t lie”

  1. I’ve tried so hard to bite my tongue about this hockey season. Try being a parent and watching your son play 3 minutes a game, no PP time, while the coaches reward the kids taking these penalties with extra ice time. Not fun. Especially when it’s your draft year!!!! The kids from the Sault are not promoted like others in the North. Hence the NOHA team! I told my son I am amazed he got 18pts when he would only play 1 or 2 shifts a period. Pretty sad development program….

    1. The Sault has no idea how to properly promote their kids. There is a reason why half the OHL teams have not selected a Sault kid in over 10 years. Just look at the difference between the NOHA minor midgets teams. Sudbury & North Bay went to big tournaments like Toronto titans showcase with 55 teams & London Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament with 42 teams. The Sault best tournament for scouts was Peterborough with 20 teams. The other NOHA teams where there too. The Toronto showcase had more scouts at a single game then the Sault seen all year.

      What’s the reasoning to skip those opportunities for the kids? What makes the situation worst is the coach & manger telling people they can’t compete at a showcase that hosted every other rep team in Ontario. They basically told the scouts every kid on their team sucks. The team would have been fine. There is talent on that team. That’s another issue about the coaching.

      The coaches are only about certain kids. It didn’t take long for the rumors about golf buddies, old friends & clients to make its way around the rinks. Every kid but one who’s been label on this site as legit prospect has personal ties to the coaches. It’s pretty obvious watching the Sault. The coach clearly has favorites. The best player against us has never been name on here. The sault will always be a laughing stock if they don’t get some honest people in their program.

  2. And this why a staff change should have happened after last year’s season. This staff, this program, the old executive is not about developing players to project to higher levels. The program is about keeping a closed shop and awarding old friends and allies teams year after year regardless of performance measure.

    This is the same guy who coached team NOHA and the Sault Major Midgets last year. A year where there was no minor Midget program in the Sault. Here’s my old broken record rant coming……He picks only 3 – 01s for his Sault Major Midgets, which leaves the rest of the talent laden 01s to play AA and ineligible for team NOHA and the OHL draft. Then to add insult to injury, of the 3 – 01s he did take for his soo major Midgets, he only picks 2 of the 3 for his team NOHA. Wtf kind of development for Sault kids is that one might ask???

    Parents were loyal to this program for 8 years shelling out copious amounts of money to have the door slammed on their kids in their most important year.

    It is very unfortunate that Sault Major has continued to allow this to happen to our kids this year. However, as I’ve stated before, this program has fallen victim and will continue to victimize kids and parents due to poor choices. It is a system that has shut out the input of seasoned and progressive hockey minds, and thus has reaped zero rewards for our young prospects as a result.

    1. Concerned Parent,

      The difference is, the Coach of the Soo minor midgets doesn’t blame his team’s record on the media.

  3. “ Concerned Parent” . There is no excuse for minor midgets team record. There are a few in my mind legitimate reasons. First and foremost, we didn’t have 3 of the better 02 players like Campbell, Jameus and Niro from a age group that with those players hadn’t had much success previous years. Campbell had a great year with NBay, Jameus and Niro were both taken by the major midgets.
    We also had issues with players uncertain there would be a minor midget team , based on information they were given by those who didn’t want to see the team operate. Having said that, I’m proud of the way the group developed over the year, and the commitment the coaches showed over the year and the job they did. I’m excited to see the program under Henderson next year and beyond. Teams record doesn’t always tell the story.

    1. Niro and Jameus should’ve been released immediately after the minor Midget team was announced. IN MY OPINION. They would’ve played big minutes in key situations and would have helped the minors considerably.
      Shame on Sault Major and shame on this coach. This is the BS that will continue to occur unless sweeping personnel changes don’t take place asap.

  4. The comparisson in Penalty Totals between the “Soo” and the Sudbury Nickel Caps says it all!
    A Team that has no discipline is not really a Team imho.

  5. The need for a change in the Head Coach position is quite obvious to me any ways. All them penalty’s fall on the Head Coach for to allow them to continue.

  6. It was their choice to play major midget it’s all about choices don’t know why u are placing the blame on the coaching staff fully knowing what to expect.

  7. Wow it’s the coaches fault it’s the media fault the fact remains if u can play this game they will find you stop worrying about a major midget draft that’s not what u want get invited to a team camps that needs help and play you ur way on FYI life isn’t fair neither is the OHL so u better learn to suck it up or u will get eaten up in the next level PLAY THE GAME not the politics

  8. There’s a difference between being a reporter and being a stenographer.
    If the aforementioned coach believed in what he was doing, he wouldn’t be concerned about what you were writing.

  9. Yes MSB that”s the way it works. Anyone that has played hockey and has come up through the system here, SMHA etc, knows that that best players are used more than the lesser players. It’s something parents have to try and understand, and except. RR is reporting that this years Midget Hounds might lack the discipline needed to finish higher in the standings. Nothing wrong with that.

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