Not all seven teams saw league action. But 2023-2024 regular season play in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League began on the weekend with the Sudbury U18 Wolves and Timmins Majors as the pace-setters.
Playing on the road, head coach Brian Dickinson’s U18 Wolves scored three straight victories. The U18 Wolves upended the New Liskeard Cubs by a 6-3 count and routed the Kapuskasing Flyers by a 9-3 margin before edging Timmins 5-4 in a shootout.
Timmins, on the other hand, emerged from the weekend with a 1-0-1 record from a 4-3 overtime win over Kapuskasing and a hard-earned point from the shootout setback to Sudbury.
Steve Polyblank, who is the veteran head coach of the Majors of Timmins, liked what he saw from his team on the weekend, including the one point garnered from the shootout loss to Sudbury.
“They (Wolves) are going to be one of the better teams in our league and I think we just showed we can compete with the best teams. It’s early but I liked a lot of what I saw,” Polyblank told the Timmins Daily Press.
“Obviously, our veteran guys, I have put a little pressure on them, saying ‘our best players have to be our best players,’” Polyblank added. “Definitely they were against Kap and they were good (against Sudbury) as well.”
Meanwhile, New Liskeard came away from opening weekend with a win and a loss. The Cubs rebounded from their defeat to Sudbury by upending the North Bay Trappers 3-2.
Of the top five scorers from the opening weekend of play, four are from Sudbury and one is from Timmins. Aleksander Duguay of Sudbury leads the scoring parade with one goal, five assists, six points while four others had four-point weekends — Ryan Daze, Bryden Shank and Nicholas Labrecque of Sudbury and Travis Poan of Timmins. Daze and Poan both potted three goals.
Elsewhere, the other two members of the seven team league were idle from league activity while participating in tournaments.
In fact, the Soo Jr. Greyhounds do not begin regular season play until the October 20-22 weekend when they are slated to head to North Bay for three games against the reigning Great North champion Trappers.
The other inactive team from opening weekend in the Great North was Sudbury’s U16 Wolves. Like the Soo, they are also scheduled to debut with three road games on the October 20-22 weekend.