First pucks drop on the new Canadian International Hockey League…Four wins in a row for the Soo Thunderbirds…Soo Eagles have a Berry good goalie…Two perfect teams in the Ontario Hockey League…Opening act in the Midwest Jr. Hockey League…
CIHL: Six of the eight teams in the new Canadian International Hockey League took to the ice on the opening weekend of the regular season. Coached and managed by Scott Ginson, the St. Charles Spirit swept a home-and-home set from their neighbouring rivals, the Sudbury Royals. Meanwhile, defenceman Johan Kling scored 3 goals as the Batchewana Attack cuffed the visiting Espanola Rivermen while in the closest game of the debut voyage, the Collingwood Ice scored a 3-2 home-ice win over the Milton Battle Arts Cobras. “As a league, we’re off to a good start,” said CIHL founder and president Tim Clayden. “I am both happy and relieved to get started.”
NOJHL: After losing two games on home ice which led to unflattering words from head coach Jordan Smith, Soo Thunderbirds have since reeled off four straight wins in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. The Thunderbirds were a perfect 4-for-4 last week, upending the Blind River Beavers, Sudbury Nickel Barons, Elliot Lake Wildcats and the despised Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. Goalie Brian Kment has shrugged off a sluggish start and now has a 4-1 record to go with a 2.20 goals-against-average and .926 save percentage. Meanwhile, three forwards have scored 6 goals in 8 games for the 6-2 Thunderbirds. They are Nic Tassone, Nic Sicoly and Matt Pinder.
NAHL: Rookie Jack Berry is playing like a veteran for the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League. Berry has a 3-1 record, 1.22 goals-against-average and .941 save percentage for an Eagles team that has a 5-5 mark through 10 games. Offensively, the Eagles are being led by Bruno Birzitis with 5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, Sandis Zolmanis with 4-10-14 numbers and Trevor Cope with 9 goals in 10 games.
OHL: Soo Greyhounds and Erie Otters are both off to 4-0 starts in the Ontario Hockey League. In his first season as a starter, Hounds goalie Brandon Halverson is 4-0 with a 2.25 goals-against-average and .935 save percentage. Meanwhile, three Otter forwards are 2-3-4 among OHL scoring leaders. Dylan Strome is 1-12-13 followed by Connor McDavid at 5-7-12 and Nick Betz at 4-4-8.
MWJHL: Soo Firehawks used the home ice of Big Bear Arena to post a 2-0-1 record as the Midwest Jr. Hockey League regular season got underway on the weekend. Cody Anderson sparked the Firehawks with 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points while Dustin Brown put up 3-2-5 numbers.
PHOTO: St. Charles Spirit took a weekend-opening series from the neighbouring Sudbury Royals in the new CIHL.