It is mid June, which is still early in the junior hockey off season.
In fact, the start of the 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season is at least three months away — and maybe longer.
Still, some teams in the NOJHL have re-opened for the business of signing players — returning and incoming — ahead of the 2020-2021 campaign.
Following is a reprise of signings and commitments from three NOJHL teams as first reported by Hockey News North.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS
Beavers coach-general manager Kyle Brick confirmed the signing of four incoming players with northern roots.
Under Brick, the Beavers are fresh from four straight winning seasons including a 37-15-4 mark from the 2019-2020 campaign.
At any rate, crackerjack coach Brick has acknowledged the addition of four rookies from the midget ranks — goalie Gavin Disano, defensemen Mason Berthiaume and Teegan Dumont and right winger Blake McNally.
All four players have 2003 birth dates.
Disano (Soo Jr. Greyhounds), Berthiaume (Timmins Majors) and Dumont (Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves) all played in the Great North Midget Hockey League in 2019-2020.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound McNally, meanwhile, played midget hockey in Blind River in 2019-2020 and also got into eight NOJHL games with the hometown Beavers, scoring three goals, two assists, five points in impressive fashion.
As a goalie, Disano played in 19 games totaling 912 minutes for the Jr. Greyhounds in 2019-2020 and had a 2.56 goals against average.
Berthiaume, a 5-foot-10, 190 pound defender, showed an offensive side with Timmins in 2019-2020 with 12 goals, seven assists, 19 points.
And Dumont, who is a strapping 6-foot-2, 210-pound blue liner, also showed his offensive capabilities with the Sudbury major midgets by netting 11 goals, nine assists, 20 points.
Of note, Dumont has been invited to the Ontario Hockey League training camp of the London Knights as an undrafted free agent.
Besides the newcomers, Beavers assistant coach/assistant general manager Craig MacDonald confirmed to Hockey News North that 13 players from the 2019-2020 team have signed up to return to Blind River for the 2020-2021 campaign.
Hard working forwards with good character to match, Cole Delarosbil and Brennen Martel have confirmed a return to Espanola for a second season.
Delarosbil is from Sault Ste. Marie and Martel hails from Timmins. Delarosbil stands in at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds while Martel is 5-foot-8, 150 pounds.
Both players have 2001 birth dates.
Prior to becoming NOJHL rookies with Espanola in 2019-2020, the two were opponents in the aforementioned Great North Midget Hockey League — Delarosbil with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds and Martel as a member of the Timmins Majors.
Delarosbil produced six goals, three assists, nine points in just 27 outings in his debut season with Espanola.
And Martel got into 37 of Espanola’s 56 regular season games as an Express rookie in 2019-2020 and contributed three goals, three assists, six points as as a relentless performer.
With general manager Jason Rapcewicz and head coach Dave Clancy at the helm, the Express improved from a 10-43-3 record in 2018-2019 to a 17-34-5 mark in 2019-2020, which was an increase of 16 points in the standings.
A big off season move by Thunderbirds general manager Trev Zachary was the hiring of an all-new coaching staff.
In a shrewd show, Zachary brought in head coach Denny Lambert and a bench staff of assistants Jeremy Stevenson, Micky Sartoretto and Aidan Wright to take over a Thunderbirds team that registered a record of 30-19-7 in 2019-2020.
The 50-year old Lambert, who played and coached with distinction in the OHL with the Soo Greyhounds and who is a warhorse of over 500 National Hockey League games as an overachieving left winger, takes the reins of the Thunderbirds from John Parco, who led the Soo squad to three successive winning seasons before a mutual parting of ways with management earlier this spring.
On the player side, Zachary as the GM has signed two rookie forwards from the major midget Soo Jr. Greyhounds in Michael Chaffay and Ty Zachary.
Chaffay was second on the Jr. Greyhounds in scoring in 2019-2020 with 34 goals, 19 assists, 53 points in 35 games.
And Zachary was a factor of his own with 11 goals, 28 assists, 39 points — numbers that were fourth highest among Jr. Greyhound skaters.