Tracks of the Great North


By
December 6, 2022

Here ‘n there in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League where five of the eight teams have records above the .500 mark, where there is a three way tie for the scoring lead and where there is considerable net worth among goalies.

• Soo Jr. Greyhounds were dealt their first loss of the season on the weekend as they dropped a 6-3 home ice decision to the surging North Bay U18 Trappers. With a record of 10-1-0, the Jr. Greyhounds are still in first place in the Great North but the U18 Trappers (8-3-0), Sudbury U16 Nickel Capitals (8-3-1), Kapuskasing Flyers (8-3-1) and Timmins Majors (8-6-2) are all within range. Of further note, long-time Great North coach Steve Polyblank and his Majors of Timmins are fresh from a three-game road trip in which they picked up five of a possible six points.

• There is now a three-way tie atop the individual scoring chart between Nate Gravelle of the U18 Trappers, Max Campbell of the U16 Nickel Capitals and Hudson Chitaroni (pictured in above photo by Bob Davies) of the Jr. Greyhounds, all with 21 points. Gravelle has a 2006 birth date while Campbell and Chitaroni were both born in 2007. Gravelle has 14 goals and seven assists while Campbell and Chitaroni both have nine goals and 12 assists. Campbell and Chitaroni are among a number of 2007 birth year prospects from the Great North for the 2023 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft. They are all being watched closely by OHL Central Scouting’s northern Ontario watch dog Blaine Smith. Smith, who is also the managing director for the Sudbury Cubs of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, is a long-time former general manager of the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL.

Nick Marson

• In a league with so many distinctly noteworthy goalies, two of the better ones have been Maverick Fletcher of the Soo with a 6-0-0 record and 0.83 goals against average and Nick Marson of the U16 Nickel Capitals with a 5-0-1 record and 2.63 GAA. Fletcher also has three shutouts while playing behind the league leading team of the Great North. Interestingly, he was recruited to tend goal in the Soo for the Jr. Greyhounds this season after starring in the Great North in his hometown of Sudbury for the U16 Nickel Capitals in 2021-2022. Comparatively, while Fletcher is 16-years old, Marson will not turn 15 until later this month. Besides being a 14-year old, Marson is an intriguing story, having been cut by his hometown Jr. Greyhounds prior to the start of this season and then having the resolve to leave home for Sudbury to try out — and make — the U16 Nickel Capitals. Marson has a strong work ethic that transfers from practice to games that has been well noted by U16 Nickel Capitals head coach Jordan Cheechoo.

A.J. Borrelli

• Besides Fletcher and Marson, there are so many other worthy goalies who are stopping pucks at a high rate in the Great North this season. They include the U18 Trappers duo of Michael McIvor and Michael Puckhart, the Timmins tandem of Sam Rudner and Alex Hall and Kapuskasing workhorse Alexandre Boivin. McIvor has a 2.17 goals against average, Puckhart has a 2.51 mark, Rudner has a 2.49 GAA, Hall has a 2.58 average and Boivin has a 2.89 GAA. Hall, who is a local Timmins product, is the youngest of the lot with a 2007 birth date.

• And on the subject of choice, top grade goalies, A.J. Borrelli of the Sudbury U18 Nickel Capitals has returned to practice after missing five games with a serious bout of pneumonia. Borrelli has a 1-4-0 record with a respectable 3.58 goals against average on a U18 Nickel Capitals team that has won just three of 11 games. A Sault Ste. Marie native, Borrelli moved away from home this season to play in Sudbury.


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