Nearby options

May 18, 2014

In the town where I live I know of at least four undrafted, 1997 birth-year skaters who could and should be playing junior hockey in 2014-2015 but do not have a commitment as of yet.

They are (in alphabetical order) defenceman Caleb Boman and forwards Matthew Caruso, Jacob Palmerio and Jason Uhl.

All were teammates with the Soo Thunder minor midgets two years.

But when the Soo North Stars major midgets went dormant prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season, the four had to look elsewhere to play.

Boman, Caruso and Palmerio all left town to play major midget while Uhl stayed home to play high school hockey.

All are looking to play junior hockey in 2014-2015.

All attended the spring tryout camp of the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League earlier this month.

But despite having good showings, none were committed to by the Thunderbirds, who have a plethora of veteran skaters eligible to return in 2014-2015.

Still, should they choose to be close to home — and not venture to Southern Ontario — there are options beyond the Thunderbirds.

For starters, there are the Blind River Beavers of the NOJHL. Blind River is about 90 miles from Sault Ste. Marie and the Beavers are coached by Soo resident Don Gagnon.

There are multiple other junior teams within a three-hour drive of the Soo, the Sudbury Nickel Barons of the NOJHL being one.

And let’s not forget about the Espanola Rivermen of the new Canadian International Hockey League.

Espanola served as a jewel of an NOJHL franchise in 2013-2014 before owner Tim Clayden opted to form the CIHL and move his Rivermen to it.

Into Michigan are the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League, though they are limited to four import players.

There is also the Midwest Jr. Hockey League, which has Michigan-based teams in nearby Alpena, Traverse City and the Soo.

Point is, Boman, Caruso, Palmerio and Uhl are all good players capable of playing junior hockey in 2014-2015.

And if one door should close, another one just might open.

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