Teams of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are able to recruit players from across Canada and into the United States. Still, there are in the neighbourhood of 85 homegrown players from northern Ontario and northern Michigan who are a part of the 12 teams of the NOJHL.
Thus, skaters and goalies from the north represent more than 33 per cent of all players in the NOJHL, which is a notable credit to the talent level in these parts.
Following is a Hockey News North list of 10 featured NOJHL players who are from the north. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Billy Biedermann, Sudbury Cubs. From the Manitoulin Island town of Little Current, the 2005 birth year rookie has been a top forward for the veteran laden Cubs with an impressive nine goals, five assists, fourteen points for a Sudbury squad that has a .500 record through 18 games.
Patrick Boivin, Espanola Express. Hailing from down the road in Blind River, the 2003 birth year goalie has been a standout as a rookie puck stopper for Espanola. On an Express team that has a 7-8-1 record, Boivin has a 7-7-0 mark with a 3.06 goals against average and .922 save percentage.
Riley Brousseau, Timmins Rock. A hometown lad in his final season of junior hockey, the all around forward is among the league’s leading scorers with five goals, 11 assists, 16 points on a Timmins team that has a league best record of 11-1-1.
Mathieu Comeau, Hearst Lumberjacks. Another kid with a 2005 birth date, the skilled forward has been a big hit for his hometown Hearst unit with six goals, five assists, 11 points for the 9-3-1 Lumberjacks.
Tyson Doucette, Soo Thunderbirds. A local lad and 2004 birth year forward known for his smarts, the still growing youngster leads the 10-2-2, West Division leading Thunderbirds in scoring with nine goals, six assists, 15 points as a go to guy for head coach Cole Jarrett and his staff.
Cameron Dutkiewicz, Timmins Rock. A big right hand shooting defenseman with a rocket for a shot, the local Timmins product is in his last season of junior eligibility. And he has been a Rock star with three goals, 10 assists, 13 points from his blue line position.
Cooper Foster, Soo Thunderbirds. A 2005 birth year rookie forward and second round Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft pick of the Ottawa 67’s, Foster stands second on the Thunderbirds score sheet as a standout local product. Foster has four goals, 11 assists, 15 points in 13 games.
Chase Lefebvre, French River Rapids. Hailing from North Bay, the 2004 birth year forward has been a top producer for coach Paul Frustaglio and the 7-8-0 Rapids with 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points.
Brock Santa Maria, Soo Thunderbirds. Now in his third season with the hometown Thunderbirds, the 2002 birth year forward defines commitment to the local program, having chosen to remain in the Soo when he has had junior A opportunities elsewhere. A hard working forward and captain of the Thunderbirds, Santa Maria has scored three goals, seven assists, 10 points despite having missed three games.
Chase Tallaire, Michigan Soo Eagles. The 2002 birth year skater, who hails from St. Ignace, which is a mere 50 miles south of the Michigan Soo and just north of the Mackinac Bridge, is off to a torrid start with 12 goals, five assists, 17 points for the Eagles, who have an impressive record of 8-3-1, having played all 12 of their games on the road to date. Tallaire, who starred with the under-18 Michigan Soo Indians prior to moving up to the NOJHL with the Eagles, comes by his goal scoring ability naturally. The youngster’s dad, Sean Tallaire, played four seasons of Division 1 hockey with the Lake Superior State University Lakers from 1992 to 1996 and scored 102 goals in 169 games while being part of national championship teams as a future Hall of Fame inductee.
(Brock Santa Maria of the Soo Thunderbirds, in action against the Elliot Lake Red Wings. Photo by Northern Exposures.)