Sault Ste. Marie will be duly represented by a pair of local minor hockey graduates as the Espanola Express, from down the highway, begins regular season play in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League this weekend.
Former teammates within the Sault Major Hockey Association ranks at both the AA and AAA levels, forward Cole Delarosbil and defenseman Jordan Ritchie are together again in the NOJHL with Espanola.
Both have 2001 birth dates.
Delarosbil is in his second season in Espanola while Ritchie, as was first reported by Hockey News North, recently signed with the Express as a free agent after spending the 2019-2020 NOJHL season with the now-dormant Elliot Lake Wildcats.
Chad Vresk and Brad Boyer, who are Espanola’s Sault Ste. Marie based scouts, recommended Ritchie to Express general manager Jason Rapcewicz.
The son of former Ontario Hockey League winger David Ritchie, the younger Ritchie has a reputation as a hard-working, hard-nosed defender with a passion for the game.
As previously mentioned, the 6-foot-1, 195 pound Ritchie has a full season of NOJHL experience from the 2019-2020 campaign with Elliot Lake. In 47 games for Elliot Lake last season, Ritchie tallied two goals, seven assists, nine points and 53 minutes in penalties for the Wildcats.
As for Delarosbil, the late blooming, 2001 birth year forward was limited to just 27 games as a NOJHL rookie last season due to a broken ankle.
But despite playing mostly on the third and fourth lines for Espanola, the 6-foot-1, 190 pound Delarosbil nonetheless managed six goals, three assists, nine points.
Like Ritchie, Delarosbil is known for his good character and hard working commitment.