Puckin’ around the NOJHL

Randy Russon
February 12, 2018

As February inches towards the middle of the month let us visit and revisit a few rumours as they pertain to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.


Corey Bricknell is staying put as the coach and general manager of the Elliot Lake Wildcats, at least for now.

Bricknell, who is in his third season in the NOJHL — it is his second year in Elliot Lake after spending one term with the erstwhile Iroquois Falls Eskimos — recently applied for what was a vacant position as director of operations for the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

And while Bricknell apparently made the short list, he did not get the job.

However, should Robert Mazzuca — for whatever reason — not return to the NOJHL as commissioner for the 2018-2019 season, Bricknell is said to be very interested in the position.


As Powassan Voodoos search for a new full-time coach, there is talk that former Ontario Hockey League, National Hockey League and Russian pro forward Vitali Yachmenev is a candidate to replace the reputable Beau Moyer in Voodoo-ville.

The 43-year old Yachmenev is one of the most popular players in North Bay’s OHL history, having scored a remarkable 114 goals in just two seasons with the erstwhile Centennials. He then went on to play in close to 500 NHL games before skating for several seasons in Russia.


Paul Frustaglio, who operates the French River Rapids, is said to be exploring relocation for his small — very small — market team.

One possible option is Sturgeon Falls, though Powassan holds territorial rights and would have to permit such a move.

And a relocation to Sudbury is reportedly not out of the question.

Meanwhile, talk continues that Mark Burgess, former long-time owner of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, is interested in a return to junior hockey and is eyeing the NOJHL as a target. Burgess operated NOJHL teams in Sudbury in the past while also owning the OHL Wolves.


It will be between either Cochrane or Timmins as to which NOJHL centre plays host to — and gets automatic entry in to — the 2019 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada championships.

The NOJHL is expected to announce its decision shortly.

What you think about “Puckin’ around the NOJHL”

  1. Sturgeon would be the right choice, you can play 80 percent of your games in sturgeon and the other 10 percent home games in French river… that way your not screwing over the dedicated fans that’s supported the franchise when that clown al donnon opperated it, as for Sudbury if they are not granted an expansion team maybe consider buying espanola… the group try’s hard, but facts are facts they just can’t recruit and there tuition is rumoured to be rather high, and also Timmins all the way for the Dudley bid…

    1. Yeah Truth, you hit the nail on the head Espanola cannot recruit, I don’t even know if they try to be honest with you. 3/4 of their players are 4th liners on any junior-A team…sad state of affairs there.

  2. I have to agree with the previous writer that Espanola has had trouble recruiting players since it rejoined the league three years ago. The amazing thing is, despite the poor showing of the team, the Express are still sitting middle of the pack in attendance. Improved, full time scouting might help this franchise attract better players. I hope the team finds a way to become more competitive and remain in Espanola.

  3. Espanola isn’t going to last long in the NOJHL. Manitoulin Island should get another shot at an NOJHL franchise, but everyone knows that’s not gonna work out in the end. Parry Sound would make a good NOJHL market. The OJHL doesn’t think much of Parry Sound, or even Huntsville – another good market that would provide a geographical rivalry to the Powassan Voodoos, if the Voodoos don’t relocate because of the media attention they’ve caused by firing Beau Moyer. In the end, the team will probably rebrand under new ownership. French River is pretty much done once the Rapids move…

    1. Ryan they said the same thing about Blind River…and look where they are now.

      They had a difficult time attracting players too…but instead..they brought in people and scouts and improved their program. They are now a top shelf NOJHL franchise.

      The better part about Espanola, they are mid-pack with attendance, and proved when the Rivermen and Clayden was running things, that this market could succeed. They drew over 500 fans a night to the games. They have the fan support, now they need people who can lead a franchise. You can’t tell players…come play for us and Coach Tom McCarthy. His name will only get you so far.

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