Blind River to Espanola


Randy Russon
By
September 7, 2020
Devon Savignac

One of the most talented young skaters in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League has been traded.

Espanola Express has obtained highly skilled, 2003 birth year forward Devon Savignac from the Blind River Beavers in a cash exchange.

The 5-foot-10, 175 pound Savignac had asked to be traded from Blind River so he could remain at his family’s home in the Sudbury area during the season.

Espanola is only 40 miles west of Sudbury. On the other hand, Blind River is about 100 miles west of Sudbury.

Beavers coach and general manager Kyle Brick told Hockey News North that it wasn’t easy to trade Savignac but noted that a condition of playing for his team is that all players must reside in the Blind River area during the season.

“Yep, tough trade to make but we have worked hard here in Blind River to make sure that we have players who are fully committed to being part of the dam … we wish Sav all the best with his new team, he is a hell of a talent,” said Brick.

A ninth round pick of the North Bay Battalion at the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft, Savignac had an outstanding rookie season in the NOJHL for Blind River in 2019-2020.

Playing in 49 games for the Beavers, Savignac totaled 22 goals, 13 assists, 35 points. His 22 goals were second on the Beavers, trailing only league scoring leader Caleb Serre, who dented the twine 47 times.

Now, unless he makes the OHL in North Bay for the coming season, Savignac will remain in the NOJHL, this time with Espanola.

And Jason Rapcewicz, who became the owner, president and general manager of the Express prior to the 2019-2020 NOJHL season, told Hockey News North that Savignac “will fit in with us in Espanola really well.

“We are excited to acquire Devon from Blind River,” Rapcewicz added. “Devon is an explosive player who will be a big part of our offense this year.

“He is coming off a pretty good rookie season and we are expecting that he will only continue to improve and excel,” Rapcewicz added, in further praise of Savignac.

Espanola is coming off of a 2019-2020 season in which it posted a record of 17-34-5 and made the West Division playoffs for the first time since the franchise’s initial 2015-2016 season in the NOJHL.

A.J. Favot

And featuring a multitude of veteran skaters with northern Ontario roots including Savignac and the likes of fellow forwards Cameron Walker, Josh Boucher, Bradley Brunet (all from Sudbury), Cole Delarosbil (Sault Ste. Marie), defenseman A.J. Favot (Sudbury) and goalie Carson Boutin (Iroquois Falls), the Express seems poised to move up the NOJHL ladder in 2020-2021 — with the added premium of Rapcewicz having hired Brent Hughes as the new head coach in Espanola.

Among his coaching gigs, the 38-year Hughes spent three seasons as an assistant with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League from 2016 until 2019, posting a winning record each time before his contract and that of head coach and general manager Marc Andre Dumont were not renewed.

Hughes has spent a lifetime in the game.

Prior to being an assistant coach with Cape Breton in the QMJHL, the Toronto native was also a player/coach overseas at the pro level for the Scotland-based Dundee Stars.

Among other stops, he has also coached in the minor pro ranks and with the North York Rangers of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League and in the AAA midget ranks of the second to none, Greater Toronto Hockey League.

In total, Hughes played nine years of pro hockey in North America and Europe after having suited up for the Peterborough Petes and Brampton (now North Bay) Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *