Hearst heads to the Soo

Randy Russon
April 9, 2019

It will be the first-place teams from the East Division and the West Division facing off for the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship.

Hearst Lumberjacks, who finished atop the East Division standings during the regular season, then made it through two rounds of the playoffs, upending the Timmins Rock and Powassan Voodoos.

Soo Thunderbirds, who placed first in the West Division standings during the regular season, subsequently sidelined the Blind River Beavers and Rayside-Balfour Canadians to earn their way into the NOJHL finals against Hearst.

The best-of-seven championship series will begin in Sault Ste. Marie later this week.

The Thunderbirds finished first overall in the 12-team NOJHL over the course of the regular season. Coach John Parco’s Thunderbirds amassed a regular-season mark of 44-11-1, good for 89 points.

Hearst took first in the hotly-contested East with 73 points from a record of 33-16-7.

Both teams met twice during the regular season, albeit several months ago. The Thunderbirds won 4-3 in the Soo on October 27 and the Lumberjacks took a 3-0 decision in Hearst on November 2.

Hearst will take a seven-game playoff winning streak into the finals against the Soo and Lumberjacks coach-general manager Marc Lafleur says key moments could determine the outcome of the championship series.

“For us to continue to have success we’re going to have to play better away from the puck and do the little right things all the time,” Lafleur told Hockey News North.

“Games could very well be determined by a few key moments and the team that wins those moments will win the league championship,” Lafleur added. “These will be two teams who work very hard every night and push the pace.  Fans will be in for some good hockey.”

What you think about “Hearst heads to the Soo”

  1. I think that the T-Birds are over rated. They play most of their games against teams that offer little resistance. I watched the T-Birds get smoked by Kirkland Lake and it was pathetic, the T-Birds who are used to winning so much don’t lose well. Maybe if the T-Birds spent more time playing in the East they might pick up a few tips. Sitting at the top of the West is no big triumph. The 5th place team in the East had the same record as the 2nd place West team. I also noticed how the T-Birds have a different pace of their game schedule. They seem to get many Sunday games against teams who have driven hundreds of miles and played 3 games in 3 days. I would say they would never be so highly rated if they spent more time in the Hwy. 11 half of our league.

  2. After two nights in the Soo the Jacks have learned a valuable lesson. They can beat the T-Birds by not paying into their hand. The Sunday game was a better indicator of how the rest of this series is going to go. I think if I have my numbers right Jake Desando gets to dress on Wednesday. I would love to see him fresh after 10 games behind the glass.

  3. Right on again Mr. Wilkes and even some folks in the Soo are betting on the Lumberjacks saying they are a better coached team and man to man are better than the T-Birds…the Jacks have faced adversity all season, but in their vocabulary that word doesn’t exist they just play through it…in order to make the NOJHL a better league some major changes need to be made and that is all what I will say for the moment.

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