Who will be the best in the West? Who will be the beast from the East? It is too close to call in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Let us begin with the NOJHL West where the Rayside Balfour Canadians and Blind River Beavers are tied for first place with 44 points apiece.
Rayside has a record of 21-8-2 and Blind River is 20-7-4 with both teams having played 31 games.
In the rear view mirror of the Canadians and Beavers are the Soo Eagles and Soo Thunderbirds.
The Eagles have 37 points and the Thunderbirds have 34. The Thunderbirds hold a game in hand on the Eagles.
Then there is the duel for the fifth-and-final playoff spot in the West with the Espanola Express having 16 points compared to 11 for the Elliot Lake Wildcats. The key here is that coach Dave Clancy and the Express have three games in hand on the Wildcats.
Over to the East, the Powassan Voodoos are holding on to top spot with 48 points, just ahead of the Hearst Lumberjacks with 45 and the Timmins Rock with 44.
But Powassan (24-4-0) and Timmins (21-5-2) both have five big games in hand on Hearst (22-10-1.)
Cochrane Crunch holds down fourth place in the East with 27 points from a record of 12-14-3 as coach Ryan Leonard’s crew is just ahead of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners with 21 points and the French River Rapids with 18.
All teams play a 56-game regular-season schedule and with plenty of time for rosters to be tweaked, it does appear that we are in for a frantic finish on both sides of the NOJHL.
PHOTO: Rayside Balfour Canadians and Blind River Beavers are in a first place tie in the West Division of the NOJHL.