Around the NOJHL

December 10, 2015

More than one Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association coach has been inquiring about more than one player from the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League…More from around the NOJHL.


Sporadic calls and e-mails come my way from a few who I know within the Division 1, NCAA ranks.

As part of their due diligence in the player recruitment process, they ask for input on various players from within the NOJHL.

In particular, I have been asked for any info that I may have on five younger NOJHL skaters: Zack Parrott, a 1997 birth-year defenseman with the Soo Eagles; Darian Pilon, a 1998 birth-year forward with the Soo Thunderbirds; Brett Whitehead, a 1998 birth-year defenseman with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians; Mark Tassone, a 1999 birth-year forward with the Soo Thunderbirds; Caleb Rich, a 1999 birth-year forward with the French River Rapids.


To clarify, there are only so many full-ride, NCAA scholarships out there.

Many Division 1, NCAA teams, including the nearby Lake Superior State Lakers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, are known to bring in partial-scholarship and walk-on players as freshmen.

In fact, a year ago, it was well into the off-season when Lake Superior State coach Damon Whitten brought in two 1993 birth-year players to add depth to his roster and both of them — goalie Gordon Defiel and defenseman Aidan Wright — ended up playing prominent roles for the Lakers as previously-unheralded freshmen.

Of note, older players without a commitment might also want to be prepared to red-shirt for a season before getting the opportunity to crack the roster of a Division 1 team.


Artur Terchiyev, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound, 1999 birth-year forward with the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the NOJHL, will represent the Ukraine at the Pool B, World Jr. Hockey Championships that begin later this month.

In 26 games with Elliot Lake thus far this season, Terchiyev has 8 goals, 14 assists, 22 points.


Not only are the Soo Thunderbirds the reigning NOJHL champions but with a record of 24-3-0 they currently hold down top spot in the 12-team league.

They are well-managed by Kevin Cain. They feature a number of local players. They are well-covered by the Sault Ste. Marie media.

But the Thunderbirds don’t draw more than about 250 fans to their home games at the Essar Centre.

Now I understand that the Ontario Hockey League Soo Greyhounds are — as they should be — the no. 1 draw in Sault Ste. Marie.

But if the Hounds can average 4,000 fans per game, the Thunderbirds should be able to attract about 500 per home match.

Afterall, in the much-smaller Michigan Soo, the Soo Eagles of the NOJHL lead the league with an average per-game attendance of more than 600 while playing in the shadow of the Lake Superior State Lakers of the WCHA.

What you think about “Around the NOJHL”

  1. Re: NCAA Div 1 scholarships.

    Teams in the main conferences (WCHA, NCHC, Big 10, Hockey East, ECAC) are allowed 18 full athletic scholarships to split up whatever way they want between however many players they have on their roster (usually between 26-29). The Atlantic Hockey conference only has 12 athletic scholarships per team. A caveat for the ECAC is that the “Ivy League” schools in that conference do not offer athletic scholarships; they do however offer other forms of financial aid which in effect serve the same purpose as athletic scholarships.

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