As we venture to take an early glance ahead of the 2021-2022 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season here is a Hockey News North look at 10 probable returnees who loom as impact players.
The players, who all have northeastern Ontario roots, are listed in alphabetical order.
Gavin Brown, Rayside Balfour Canadians. Hailing from the tiny town of Massey, Brown is a good sized forward with a 2002 birth date.
He put up three goals, four assists, seven points in 10 games for Rayside Balfour during the abbreviated 2020-2021 season.
As a rookie during the 2019-2020 season, Brown was a productive performer for the Canadians with 21 goals, 18 assists, 39 points in 54 games.
Michael Chaffay, Soo Thunderbirds. A durable forward with a nose for the net, the 2002 birth year skater is a local product who finished tied for fifth on the Thunderbirds scoring chart in 2020-2021 with six goals, 10 assists, 16 points in 21 games.
With the Soo’s top two scorers from last season — Cooper Smyl and Caleb Wood — ticketed to play elsewhere in 2021-2022, Chaffay looms as a bona fide threat to fill the net as a sophomore.
Harry Clark, Timmins Rock. A homegrown product, Clark played big as a smaller sized rookie forward for the Rock in 2020-2021.
He tallied nine goals, 11 assists, 20 points in 22 games and with a 2003 birth date, should be one of the top skaters in the entire league in 2021-2022.
For a player his age, Clark’s attention to playing an all-round game is notable.
Gavin Disano, Blind River Beavers. Hailing from Sault Ste. Marie, the 5-foot-9, 185 pound Disano faced a slew of shots in becoming a workhorse between the pipes for Blind River and becoming its no. 1 goalie as a rookie.
Disano’s 6-4-1 record, .891 save percentage and goals against average of 4.53 do not tell the whole tale of what the young goalie faced in the Beavers net as a 2003 birth year youngster.
That is, in 689 minutes of action, Disano faced a whopping 478 shots, which, tallies up to a per game average of almost 42 shots per 60 minutes. Plus, Blind River played the last seven games of the season with just two regular defenseman due to injuries and suspensions.
Tyson Doucette, Soo Thunderbirds. Small in stature but smart and with untapped skill, the hard working forward came through with five goals, six assists, 11 points in 20 games for the Soo as one of the youngest players in the entire league in 2020-2021.
With a 2004 birth date, Doucette has considerable junior eligibility remaining in order to further refine what is already a pretty good game.
Still growing in size, local lad Doucette has what is called a “high hockey IQ” as he sees and reads the ice well.
Teegan Dumont, Elliot Lake Red Wings. While no transactions can be made official until the NOJHL opens for new registry business on June 1 ahead of the 2021-2022 season, multiple sources have affirmed that Elliot Lake has obtained the rights to the 2003 birth year defenseman from Blind River for future considerations.
Dumont, to be sure, has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with and looms as a local crowd favourite for fans in Elliot Lake.
A physical defenseman, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound, right handed shooting Dumont suited up in 12 contests for Blind River during the abbreviated 2020-2021 NOJHL campaign and scored a goal before a seven-game suspension for instigating a fight ended his season.
Prior to the 2020-2021 campaign, Dumont played two full seasons in the Great North Under 18 Hockey League as a standout for both the Sudbury Minor Wolves and Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves. In total, Dumont netted 17 goals, 20 assists, 37 points and racked up 142 penalty minutes in 50 regular season games.
Over the course of his two seasons in the Great North, Dumont also skated in eight NOJHL games with the Rayside Balfour Canadians as an affiliate player and netted a goal and an assist.
To be sure, this is a big defenseman who could become an impact player for his hometown Elliot Lake team and add fuel to a long-standing rivalry with the nearby NOJHL foes from Blind River.
Cameron Dutkiewicz, Soo Thunderbirds. A 2001 birth year product from Timmins, Dutkiewicz finished third on the Soo scoring chart with nine goals, 10 assists, 19 points in 21 games as an outstanding defenseman.
With a wicked, right-hand shot and a big presence as a power play quarterback, Dutkiewicz is poised to become an even more commanding player in 2021-2022 than he was in the shortened 2020-2021 campaign.
A.J. Favot, Espanola Express. A smooth, medium sized defender with a 2002 birth date and hailing from the Sudbury area, Favot has already played two NOJHL seasons in Espanola.
His stats from his blue line post are rather impressive — five goals, 23 assists, 28 points in 61 games on the Express lane.
If Favot takes his all-around game up a notch, he should be a supreme defender for the Express in 2021-2022.
Brock Santa Maria, Soo Thunderbirds. An under-rated forward with a 2002 birth date, Santa Maria finished tied for fifth with the aforementioned Michael Chaffay on the Soo scoring parade in 2020-2021 with six goals, 10 assists, 16 points in 19 outings.
Santa Maria showed some flashes of dominance for the Thunderbirds last season and going into his third term with the team in 2021-2022 has the ability to be a major difference maker as yet another homegrown product.
Cameron Walker, Espanola Express. An Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Kingston Frontenacs, there is a lot of like about the 2003 birth year forward from Sudbury.
Walker wore an ‘A’ on his jersey for the Express in 2020-2021 as a leader for rookie coach Brent Hughes. Walker led Espanola in scoring last season with seven goals, seven assists, 14 points in 12 games and was a notable presence on the ice with a constant, relentless effort.