Both the divisional standings and the overall scoring race are rather close within the 12-team Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Parity is particularly evident in the East Division where only four points separate the top four teams and where the sixth-place French River Rapids are only four points back of the fifth-place Hearst Lumberjacks.
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Timmins Rock sit atop the East with 37 points apiece. Kirkland Lake, with a record of 18-8-1, holds a game in hand on Timmins, which has an 18-9-1 mark.
Then it is the Powassan Voodoos with 35 points from a record of 17-8-1 and the Cochrane Crunch, which has a 16-12-1 showing for 33 points.
Hearst is next with 25 points and an 11-12-3 record followed by French River with a 9-17-3 mark for 21 points. Of note, French River has a 6-3-1 record since team president took over as head coach from Shawn Frappier.
On to the West Division, coach John Parco’s Soo Thunderbirds are in first place with 38 points from a record of 19-5-0.
The Thunderbirds have four games in hand on second place Blind River Beavers, who have a 15-8-5 record for 35 points.
Trailing Blind River are the Rayside-Balfour Canadians with 31 points from a record of 14-11-3.
Then there is a drop-off to the Soo Eagles, Elliot Lake Wildcats and Espanola Express.
The Eagles and Wildcats both have 22 points and the Express has 12. The Eagles have a record of 11-16-0, the Wildcats are 10-16-2 and the Express is 6-22-0.
On the player points parade, the race for the scoring crown is very close.
Lucas Theriault of the Thunderbirds leads the way with 17-19-36 totals followed by Greg Trudeau-Paquet of Kirkland Lake at 17-18-35, Caleb Serre of Blind River at 14-21-35, Riley Nadeau of Blind River at 19-15-34, Derek Sequin of Timmins at 18-15-33, Cade Herd of Powassan at 13-20-33, Brendan Young of Blind River at 10-23-33, Noah Boman of the Thunderbirds at 10-22-32, Jake Desando of Hearst at 12-18-30, Philippe Daoust of French River at 11-18-29 and his Rapids teammate Will Frustaglio at 10-19-29.
PHOTO: French River goalie Marshall Frappier makes a save off of Luka Bolduc of Timmins in recent NOJHL action.