Here ‘n there on a Friday
February 21, 2014
Items on the agenda include National Hockey League interest in a Soo Eagles defencemen, a gruelling road trip for the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, and how the top three teams in the Ontario Hockey League are all from the same division.
They are taking note of Michael Caruso, a 6-foot-1, 190 pound defenceman with the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League.
Caruso, who has a 1995 birth date, was so impressive at the recent NAHL Top Prospects Tournament that was held in the Detroit suburb of Troy that at least one National Hockey League scout inquired about the strong-skating, hard-shooting defender who plays with a nasty edge.
Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo confirmed that a scout from the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks approached him to specifically ask about Caruso.
Somewhat of a late developer, Caruso played two seasons of AAA midget hockey in Sault Ste. Marie and another in the NOJHL with the Soo Thunderbirds before crossing the International Bridge to play for the NAHL Eagles this 2013-2014 season.
A 14th-round pick of the Peterborough Petes at the 2011 OHL draft, Caruso has retained his Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility.
ON THE ROAD
Clinging to a six-point lead atop the NOJHL standings with six games to play in the regular season, Soo Thunderbirds are on the road for three days.
The Thunderbirds are in Kirkland Lake tonight to play the second-place Gold Miners before taking on the Abitibi Eskimos on Saturday and the North Bay Trappers on Sunday.
The game with the Trappers will be played in Mattawa, which is about 40 miles from North Bay.
First-place Soo has 88 points and has played one more game than second-place Kirkland Lake, which has 82 points.
The Thunderbirds recently had their 25-game winning streak snapped by the Gold Miners.
Soo coach Jordan Smith, appearing on the Thunderbird Hockey Show on ESPN 1400 Radio, said playing three road games in three days “is never easy. But we had a good week of practice and I expect that we will be up to the challenge.”
There are four divisions of five teams spanning two conferences in the 20-member Ontario Hockey League.
Despite that diversity, the top three teams in the OHL are all from the same division.
That’s right, the Guelph Storm, Erie Otters and London Knights are not only 1-2-3 in the Midwest Division but points-wise they are 1-2-3 in the 10-team Western Conference and 1-2-3 in the entire OHL.
Guelph, Erie, London.
Just call them the Monsters of the Midwest.