Hockey News North and the Espanola Express are planning to team up during what will be a temporary time away from game activity for the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team in the early stages of the 2021 schedule.
With the other eight active teams of the NOJHL potentially slated to return to play later this month as part of cohort competition, Espanola will be on the sidelines as the league’s ninth entry before the Express resumes regular season game action in February.
Which is where Hockey News North will come in to play while the Express is temporarily idle.
That is, as the Express is on the ice and practicing ahead of its return to regular season cohort play, Espanola head coach Brent Hughes will also divide his roster into two inter-squad teams and play a best-of-five series of game-like scrimmages for the ‘Hockey News North Cup’.
Hockey News North editor Randy Russon came up with the idea of the inter-squad series involving members of the NOJHL Express.
“I just thought that the other eight teams are scheduled to return to play this month and Espanola will be temporarily inactive,” Russon noted.
“Espanola has not played an NOJHL league game since December 20 and as the odd team out, will not play again until some time in February. So, I just thought I would offer to amp up the player atmosphere in Espanola a bit and sponsor an inter-squad series within the Express just for the fun of it.
“Espanola president and general manager Jason Rapcewicz has been a really good advertiser and supporter of Hockey News North so I just thought offering to sponsor an inter-squad series for the Express would be a way of us saying thank you in our own small way,” Russon added.
Presented with the idea of an Express inter-squad series, both Rapcewicz and aforementioned Espanola head coach Brent Hughes were quickly on board with the proposal.
“One hundred per cent, I am in for this,” relayed Hughes. “Thank you.”
“We’re good to go,” concurred Rapcewicz.
Once the best-of-five inter-squad series is completed, members of the winning team will be presented with custom designed t-shirts with the Hockey News North and Espanola Express logos on them.