Monday musings

December 1, 2014

We begin today in the Ontario Hockey League and make subsequent stops in various other junior outposts on both sides of the International Bridge.


He is one determined individual.

In fact, he could be a poster boy for determination.

For starters, he was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs as an afterthought, a lowly 13th-round pick at the 2010 Ontario Hockey League draft.

Four years and one OHL team later, Jean Dupuy has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres as a player never drafted into the National Hockey League.

At the risk of calling on an old cliche, Dupuy’s story is one that dreams are made of.

From 13th-round pick in the OHL to being bypassed at the NHL draft three times to signing with Buffalo as an overage left winger who the Soo Greyhounds rescued from Kingston’s fourth line a year ago last month — that is Dupuy’s story.

Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe points to Dupuy’s approach to his hockey career as the reward for the 6-foot-3, 200 pound left winger from Orleans, Ont. being signed by Buffalo.

“Over the last year Jean has shown a positive attitude and relentless work ethic that has helped take both his game and our team to a higher level,” summed up Keefe. “It’s great to see him get rewarded for his efforts.”

Dupuy, who has a late birthdate — he just turned 20 in October of this year — has gone from a low-scoring spare part in Kingston to a point-per-game player in this, his first-full season as a Greyhound.

The big guy is both happy and thankful these days.

“I’m very happy to sign my first NHL contract with the Sabres, it’s a very exciting (time) for me and my family. It’s really a dream come true,” exclaimed Dupuy, who has 6 goals, 14 assists, 20 points and a plus-minus rating of +16 with the Hounds in 21 games thus far this season.


Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League had to work plenty of extra time to salvage a 4-3 road win over the Michigan Warriors on Sunday and improve their second-place standing in the North Division to 31 points from a record of 15-12-1.

In all, there were 24 combined shooters in the shootout before defenceman Michael Caruso — a Sault Ste. Marie native, formerly of the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League — scored the game winner.

The Eagles are on the road to Janesville this weekend for a two-game showdown with the North Division-leading Jets.

Janesville is four points ahead of the Soo and has two games in hand.


Developing and promoting its players are listed in the mission statements of most leagues and the Canadian International Hockey League is no different.

As a first-year league, the CIHL has had its share of issues this season with the southern Ontario teams breaking away to start their own renegade league.

But the CIHL has managed to maintain a presence in northern Ontario while adding the Kalkaska Rhinos, who are based in northern Michigan.

Kalkaska will play host to a showcase tournament January 8-10 that will involve CIHL teams as well as the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League.

To be sure, the inclusion of Detroit is seen as a key component.

Fighting Irish coach-general manager Dan Vasquez has strong ties and multiple contacts with Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association as well as American Collegiate Hockey Association schools.

The ACHA, by the way, has proven to be a landing zone for a number of players from the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, including 2013-2014 scoring champion Gavin Burbach of the Soo Thunderbirds.

Burbach plays for the Chicago-based Robert Morris University Eagles.

And back to Vasquez, he and the Fighting Irish have moved more than a dozen players to the ACHA ranks alone in the past two years.


Take a deep breath.

The CIHL is now poised to finish the 2014-2015 season with four teams, according to founder and president Tim Clayden.

So — at least for now — the CIHL is comprised of Batchewana, Espanola, Kalkaska and a combination of the Sudbury Royals and Markstay-Warren Spirit Warriors.


Adam Baggs, a 1998 birth-year defenceman who plays for Batchewana of the CIHL, figures to have future options of choice ahead of him.

The 6-foot-2, 200 pound defenceman has already been drafted into the Ontario Hockey League as a 10th-round pick of the Niagara Ice Dogs.

And the big, stay-at-home defender, who despite being a 16-year old is a plus-minus leader on the Attack, has already been introduced to Damon Whitten, who is the head coach of the Lake Superior State University Lakers of the Division 1, Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Whitten informally chatted with Baggs prior to and after a recent edition of the Hockey North Show that I host on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on ESPN 1400 Radio.

The Lakers plan to take a look at Baggs — who besides being an up-and-coming player with size and puck-moving ability and an OHL draft pick, is also an academic standout — at an upcoming Attack game.


They are longtime Highway 17 rivals who compete annually for the Carmen Provenzano Memorial Cup.

And they are top to bottom in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Soo Thunderbirds lead the nine-team NOJHL with 40 points from a record of 19-3-2.

At the bottom of the NOJHL are the Blind River Beavers with just a single point from a record of 0-23-1.

In a show of futility that the NOJHL has not seen since the erstwhile Manitoulin Islanders, Blind River has scored just 42 goals in the 24 games and allowed 173.

Meantime, Jaren Bellini has taken over the Thunderbird goal-scoring lead with 16, which is one more than Nic Tassone.

Next home game for the Thunderbirds is Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they play host to the Cochrane Crunch.

PHOTO: Jean Dupuy of the Soo Greyhounds. (Photo by Aaron Bell.)

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