There were some good opening night crowds. There were some good starts for players, coaches and teams alike. The 2017-2018 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season is underway.
A trio of 1999 birth year players helped the Blind River Beavers to an opening weekend sweep of their North Shore rival Espanola Express.
Holdover forward Caleb Serre had four goals and an assist and fellow returnee Max Khull contributed two goals and two assists from his front line spot to spark Blind River to the home-and-home triumphs.
And Beavers rookie goalie Garrett Boyonoski, formerly of the Soo Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League, posted both wins for Blind River with a 2.50 goals against average and .923 save percentage.
As a team, the Soo Thunderbirds were a big road surprise.
The supposedly-rebuilding Thunderbirds rode some strong goaltending from veteran Brandon Gordon and the Soo came away from a three-game road trip to Cochrane, Hearst and Timmins with a pair of victories for first-year head coach John Parco.
Speaking of Hearst, the Lumberjacks made their NOJHL debut on the weekend and in their home opener, drew 627 fans — which is a great beginning for the new franchise.
Still on the attendance chart, the Timmins Rock drew a league-high 1,066 fans to its home opener. Timmins led the NOJHL in attendance in 2016-2017, just ahead of the Soo Eagles, who drew 682 to their 2017-2018 home opener.
Espanola also had a healthy opening night crowd with 407 fans clicking the turnstiles.
And it was a night of firsts when the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners opened with a home-ice whitewash of the French River Rapids.
Ryan Winter posted the shutout in his Kirkland Lake debut and first-year coach-general manager Ryan Wood earned his first NOJHL victory.
There are several games slated for this weekend including Friday night notables that feature French River with its home opener against the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, the Soo Eagles playing host to the defending champion Powassan Voodoos, Espanola at home to the Elliot Lake Wildcats and the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners traveling to Cochrane for a stare down with the Crunch.