There is so much good that can be written about the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. And here are just a few examples from among the many folks who make following the NOJHL worth while.
BRUNO BRAGAGNOLO. An old school Italian from the north side of Chicago, Bragagnolo has been the face of the Soo Eagles since he and Ron Lavin purchased the floundering franchise in 2010. As president and general manager (and associate coach), Bragagnolo oversees a hockey and business operation that has made the Eagles one of the NOJHL’s model franchises. A no-nonsense individual, Bragagnolo is now in his eighth season as the helm of the Eagles, who have established a terra firma presence in the Michigan Soo.
JAKE PALMERIO. Now in his third and final season as a hard-toiling forward with the Soo Eagles, Palmerio is the epitome of a 200-foot player who never takes a shift off. A dependable scorer and a complete player, Palmerio is poised to continue his hockey and academic pursuits at the college level next season. Hard to find a better kid than Palmerio. The fact that he is a really good player is simply a bonus.
KYLE BRICK, CRAIG MACDONALD. In his second season as the head coach in Blind River, Brick and his trusted sidekick MacDonald have helped transform the Beavers from a cellar dweller in to an NOJHL contender. Brick, MacDonald et al led the Beavers in to the NOJHL championship series in 2016-2017 and again have Blind River in a favourable position as the 2017-2018 season heads towards the stretch run.
CALEB SERRE. The second-year centre is not only tied for the scoring lead with the Blind River Beavers with 23 goals, 20 assists, 43 points but he is a hometown boy who has made good. Just 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, Serre is proof that big things can come in small packages.
JOHN PARCO. In his first season as a head coach in the NOJHL, Parco has the rookie-laden Soo Thunderbirds in first place in the West Division with play set to resume in the 2018 portion of the schedule. Great coach, great guy, who simply loves to teach the game.
MARK TASSONE. Back with the Soo Thunderbirds for a third go-round, Tassone has 9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points in just 12 games since returning to the NOJHL from the Ontario Jr. Hockey League. Good kid from a good, good family.
NICK SMITH. All this second-year forward does is score. He scores in the first period, he scores in the second period and he scores when the game is up for grabs. With 26 goals, 21 assists, 47 points in 34 games, little Nick plays big and is the straw that stirs the drink for the Soo Thunderbirds.
CHARLY MURRAY. A venerable scout of decades of volunteer service, Murray has helped out a number of NOJHL teams over the years and is presently providing a service for the Soo Eagles. This is a guy who does what he does for the players and the players only. No hidden agenda here.
CHAD CLARKE. As president and general manager of the Espanola Express, Clarke is one of the men who helped save junior hockey in Rainbow Country a few years back. The Express has struggled to win games but Clarke has retained his upbeat, friendly way of doing business. One of the good guys of the NOJHL.
ADRIAN GEDYE. Owner and general manager of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, Gedye goes out of his way to utilize as many Greater Sudbury area players as he can. Home town proud, to be sure.
RYAN WOOD. A transplant from the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League and a Manitoba native, Wood has not only proven himself to be a good hockey guy but is some one who is easy to talk to and who is always promoting his players as coach and general manager of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
RYAN LEONARD. As owner, general manager and coach of the Cochrane Crunch, he wears his heart on his sleeve. Runs a really good program up in Cochrane and while he runs his yap off on occasion, Lenny is a good ambassador for the NOJHL and a great promoter of his players.
MARC LAFLEUR. An exceptional student of the game who will go to great lengths to enhance the development of his players and the overall performance of his team. Hearst Lumberjacks are in very good hands with their hometown coach.
SAM BOURDAGES, NICK DUBE, MAX LACROIX. A northern trio with the Hearst Lumberjacks, Bourdages as a forward, Dube as a goalie and Lacroix as a defenseman are all products of the Kapuskasing Flyers of the Great North Midget Hockey League. The Flyers, without question, represent a model, small town, major midget program.
TED GOOCH. The first-year president of the Timmins Rock is easy to deal with and has brought an honest, refreshing, professional approach to his volunteer position.
PAUL FRUSTAGLIO. Without Frustaglio, the French River Rapids might have folded after two seasons and two previous sets of operators. As president of the Rapids, Frustaglio is easy to get a hold of and just as easy to deal with.
PETER McISAAC. The mayor of Powassan just may be the Voodoos biggest fan. You can always count on him to tweet or re-tweet anything to do with the Voodoos.
ROBERT MAZZUCA. Some people like the veteran NOJHL commissioner and some people don’t. Generally speaking, if you shoot straight with him, he will shoot straight back. Fiercely protective of the NOJHL.
DAVID HARRISON. Want to know anything about the NOJHL with regards to players and teams, past and present? Then all you need to do is to get a hold of the NOJHL historian who has lived and breathed his favourite league for decade upon decade. Any one who has an issue with the stats man clearly has an issue.