NOJHL circle of change

April 15, 2015

A storied franchise that had a presence within the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League from 1962 until 2005 will be revived for the 2015-2016 season, has confirmed.

The Rayside-Balfour Canadiens will assume the identity of the Sudbury Nickel Barons as both the name change and relocation have been approved by NOJHL governors.

The relocation is of little consequence from a travel standpoint as Rayside-Balfour is part of the City of Greater Sudbury, which housed the aforementioned, Copper Cliff-based, Nickel Barons.

But having Rayside-Balfour back in the NOJHL does restore history to the league while retaining a presence in Greater Sudbury.

As the NOJHL advanced levels from Jr. B to Jr. A, what eventually became the Rayside-Balfour franchise played under various monikers from 1962 until 2005.

The team was known as the Garson-Falconbridge Native Sons from 1962-1969, the Chelmsford Canadiens from 1969-1973, the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens from 1973-1995 and the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats from 1995-2005.

In all, the franchise won 10 NOJHL/Northern Ontario Hockey Association championships and took home Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada titles as the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats in 1997, 2000 and 2002.

Now, the transformation of the Sudbury Nickel Barons to the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens continues a new-look, NOJHL circle-of-change under hands-on, aggressive commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

The 52-year old Mazzuca, who has a reputation that includes being called a meddlesome micro-manager, is nonetheless a thorough, well-connected, intelligent individual who makes decisions based on what he feels is best for the NOJHL.

When Mazzuca took over as NOJHL commissioner in 2011, the league was made up of seven teams.

Since taking office, Mazzuca has overseen arrivals and departures to and from the Michigan Soo, Espanola, Elliot Lake, North Bay, Mattawa, Powassan, Cochrane, Timmins and Iroquois Falls.

The NOJHL, which now stands at nine members, is awaiting NOHA approval to set up a 10th team in French River and is exploring a return to both the Michigan Soo and Espanola.

What you think about “NOJHL circle of change”

  1. Will the NOJHL have two teams known as the Canadiens? I had been told the team playing out of the French River area starting in the 2015-16 season would be known as the Riviere des Francais Canadiens and play out of an arena in the Town of Noelville. Has that changed?

  2. It makes more sense to be out there I think may draw more fans,possibly. Hopefully the people that support the Barons will continue to support after the move. Unfortunately there was not much of a crowd in Copper Cliff. Hoping that there will be more news with Espanola soon. That way we can help fill the local barns with are fans to. Robert continues to make changes for the good just wishing the import rule would change a bit so we can try to attract more americans to keep some of our level of hockey high. That’s not his decision I know it belongs to the higher up in Hockey Canada. Thanks Randy as always great stuff.

  3. Thanks for the nice words…and to Thomas Perry: The team from the French River area, playing out of the arena in Noelville, will be called the French River Rapids, I am told. They were to be called the Canadiens but have diverted from that name to accomodate Rayside-Balfour.

  4. Its great having good ole RR back on the NOJHL Beat. Nobody does it better than RR even tho I do not always agree with his methods or his madness LOL.

  5. This news sucks for me personally, WOW this totally pisses me off since I have followed this team since its inception in 2000-2001. I get the crowds have never been that good and the arena is probably not up to junior a standards but its the people you get to know and meet that become a big part of your life once or twice a week I will miss. I enjoyed my time attending games in Copper Cliff over the years as it was such an enjoyable experience I will miss it. Good Luck to rayside balfour enjoy your new team. I remember a few years back this town had great fan support enjoy folks ! R.I.P Barons.

    1. Barons Fan, I understand your frustration but it’s a business. The fact that there’s no consistency with this team from ownership to team name to revolving players from year to year makes it hard for fans to feel as sense of pride here. I guess they’re hoping that Chemmy residents will support the team and they’ll draw more than parents and friends. Maybe they will and that’s the bottom line. I disagree with you that the Copper Cliff rink is not a Junior A rink. It’s MUCH MUCH better than the old Chemmy rink from a fan perspective. The CC rink is well lit and the sightlines are great for most seats. The Chemmy rink is uncomfortable and most seats are obstructed.

      Isn’t the Chemmy rink that home of the Midget AAA team? Are they moving elsewhere? Same thing for Levack. It’s the home of the Major Bantam AAA team? Are they moving elsewhere to make room for the CIHL team?

      1. Robman they are renovating Chemmy so lighting and seats will be much better. NC AAA is no longer according to people in the noing

  6. I Cant wait for Junior Hockey to ‘Rock’ again in Timmins !!
    Lissening to the talk around Town there is no doubt we shall Rock !!

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