There is hustle and bustle — and some rustle — taking place as the Ides of March descend upon the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Fear not an assassination, as Julius Caesar endured during the historic Ides of March. Then again, with the playoffs about to begin, there will be teams looking to put a dagger into the hearts of their opponents.
One looming playoff match-up is the ongoing border battle grudge featuring the Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles. If there is love lost between the two teams, it won’t be found any time soon.
The men behind the Thunderbirds bench, in particular John Parco and Toots Kovacs, seem to share a dislike with Eagles head coach Jim Capy that is mutual. Regardless of their ageing ways, boys will always be boys when it comes to hockey.
The cross-border rivals do have several skaters who rank in the impact player category.
As the Thunderbirds have a high-end lot led by Nick Smith, Mark Tassone and Camaryn Baber, the Eagles have a nest of good eggs that include Christian Bardarson, Nick Techel and Jake Palmerio.
Oh, by the way, the NOJHL announced its all-star teams and award winners on Thursday. And despite the fact that Smith scored 35 goals for the Thunderbirds and Bardarson lit the lamp a league-high 41 times for the Eagles, neither player earned an NOJHL honour.
The exclusion of Smith is particularly perplexing.
Playing for a low-scoring squad in which opponents were able to key on him, Smith nonetheless tallied 35 times on a team where no other player was able to score 20. And he is neither all star or award worthy?
The Twin Soo tilt that lies ahead is one of two semi-final tussles that figure to be fiery and feisty.
Another is the imminent stare down between the Cochrane Crunch and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners which should be a coaching show of sorts between holdover Ryan Leonard and newcomer Ryan Wood.
Preceding the semi-finals are the best-of-three, preliminary-round sets between the no. 4 and 5 seeds from the two divisions.
On the West side, it will be a north shore meeting between the Blind River Beavers and Elliot Lake Wildcats. And in the East, it will be a northern nook face off between the Hearst Lumberjacks and Timmins Rock.
Beware the Ides of March.
PHOTO: Soo Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith.