NOJHL teams on the up

Randy Russon
November 6, 2017

Rayside-Balfour Canadians. Soo Eagles. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. They are three Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League teams on the move.

Riding the goal-tending of veteran Mackenzie Savard and his 11-3-1 record, 1.97 goals against average and .945 save percentage, Rayside-Balfour is 8-1-1 over its last 10 games and has taken over first place in the NOJHL’s West Division.

Overall, Rayside-Balfour has 29 points from a record of 14-5-1 to move ahead of the Soo Thunderbirds, who have lost three straight games and are second in the West with 27 points.

Rayside-Balfour has managed to maintain its winning ways despite a recent coaching switch that had veteran NOJHL bench boss Dave Clancy step down and Vagelli Sakellaris move up from associate coach to head coach.

Clancy relayed to me that he departed Rayside-Balfour with no animosity though he did mention philosophical differences with Canadians owner-president Adrian Gedye.

Clancy added that since departing Rayside-Balfour, he has had a few coaching offers and could be back behind a bench at some point.

Gedye, from his end, said it was a mutual parting of ways between him and Clancy.

“Dave is an excellent coach and I am sure he will find another position quickly,” Gedye told

Over in the Michigan Soo, the Eagles have won seven of their last 10 games and 10 of their past 13 for an overall record of 12-7-0.

As rookie goalie Carter McPhail has played very well between the pipes with a 9-3-0 record, 1.91 goals against average and .940 save percentage, third-year forward Jake Palmerio continues to carry on as one of the more dependable skaters in the entire NOJHL.

Palmerio has 11 goals, 8 assists, 19 points in 19 games and is widely viewed as the Eagles best all-around player.

On the East side of the NOJHL, first-year coach Ryan Wood has his Kirkland Lake unit headed the right way.

The Gold Miners have won three straight and seven of their last 10 to up their record to 11-7-3.

Second-year KL forward Tyler Fyfe has been lighting the lamp with regularity for the Gold Miners with 18 goals in 21 games.

PHOTO: Soo Eagles forward Jake Palmerio, with a scoring chance against the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in recent NOJHL action.

What you think about “NOJHL teams on the up”

  1. So let me get this straight, that Palmerio kid is widely considered the best overall player on the Eagles and he didn’t make the all star team, Dayton Murray has 17 goals as a defenceman and didn’t make the all star team and Mackenzie Savard arguable the best goalie in the league didn’t make the all star team! Not knocking the players who made the team because I’m sure there all deserving but I guess to those who picked the team, some are more deserving than others to make the all star team.

    1. Totally agree with the previous post. All-star teams are exactly that, the best need to be recognized and these choices are lacking responsible choices from whomever.

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