Around the leagues
February 9, 2015
An alphabetical tour from the Canadian International Hockey League to the Great North Midget Hockey League to the Midwest Jr. Hockey League to the North American Hockey League to the North American 3 Hockey League to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League to the Ontario Hockey League to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association:
Batchewana Attack and Espanola Rivermen came away with titles from a five-team weekend showcase tournament that was hosted by the Detroit Fighting Irish of the MWJHL.
Batchewana upended the independent Kalkaska Rhinos 5-3 in the championship match while Espanola out-scored Detroit 4-1 in the consolation final.
Batchewana coach Denny Lambert praised Detroit coach-general manager Dan Vasquez and the Fighting Irish organization “for putting on a first-rate, well-organized tournament. Our players got another opportunity to play in front of a number of college scouts.”
The Fighting Irish, by the way, will play outside the MWJHL against CIHL competition again this weekend when it heads north to play Espanola on Friday night at 7:30 and Batchewana on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
New Liskeard Cubs overtook the Soo Thunderbirds on the final weekend of the regular season to narrowly nab first place.
New Liskeard finished atop the seven-team GNMHL with 53 points, two more than the Soo.
Traverse City Hounds continue to top the Midwest with 68 points from a record of 33-1-2.
Motor City Monarchs are next with 58 points, which is three more than Detroit, though the Fighting Irish does have three games in hand.
There are just four points separating third place from last in the six-team North Division.
Soo Eagles and Johnstown Tomahawks are tied for third with 43 points apiece followed by the Springfield Jr. Blues with 42 and the Michigan Warriors with 39.
In the Central, Brookings Blizzard is chasing Aberdeen Wings for the fourth-and-final playoff spot.
Brookings is four points back of Aberdeen with three games in hand.
Only three points stand between the top three teams in the East Division.
Pittsburgh Vengeance leads the way with 58 points while the Metro Jets and Toledo Cherokee have 54 apiece.
Soo Thunderbirds have taken a two-point lead on the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners for first overall in the nine-team NOJHL.
But lurking in third place just five points back of first-place Soo are the expansion Elliot Lake Wildcats.
To be sure, Wildcats bench boss Nathan Hewitt should be a shoo-in for NOJHL coach-of-the-year honours.
Oshawa Generals are first overall in the 20-team league with 84 points followed by the Soo Greyhounds with 78 and the Erie Otters with 75.
A team to watch in the Western Conference is the Kitchener Rangers, who have surged to within a point of fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Overage goalie Jake Paterson has made a big difference for Kitchener since being acquired from the Saginaw Spirit at the trade deadline.
Since joining the Rangers, Paterson — who has already signed with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League — has a 9-3-1 record to go with a 1.99 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage.
A showdown for the eight-and-final playoff spot looms this weekend as the Lake Superior State University Lakers will play host to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers in Friday-Saturday night matches.
The two teams have 12 points apiece though Alabama-Huntsville has two games in hand.
PHOTO: Consolation final action from Sunday’s showcase tournament match between the Espanola Rivermen of the CIHL and the host Detroit Fighting Irish of the MWJHL.(Photo by Ken Demmers.)
What you think about “Around the leagues”
Randy – Do you have any updates concerning Greyhound youngsters (Jack Kopacka / Mac Hollowell / Boris Katchouk), such as what clubs they are with, how they are doing honing their skills this season, and any rumors of them sticking with the big dogs next year. In the one game I had occasion to see Hollowell (call-up to the Hounds (Jan 15′)),) he appeared to be a great skater and moved the puck extremely well. Thanks for any updates on the young prospects and keep up the great work.
Randy: I hope you don’t mind me commenting on one of the players I’m a little bit familiar with:
Mac Hollowell is playing Jr. B in his hometown of Niagara Falls. It’s difficult enough to make any junior league as a 16 year old but he not only made it, he’s looking really good. And for a 16 year old to get the amount of power play time he’s been getting you have to really impress the coach. He has 34points in 42 games with a good number of them with the extra man advantage. The Greyhounds made a great pick. IMHO.
Boris Katchouk is playing for the Soo Thunderbirds in the NOJHL and doing quite well.