There is no turning back for the Espanola Rivermen.
In more ways than one.
For starters, the Rivermen are facing elimination in their second-round, best-of-seven, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoff series with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
Third-seeded Espanola trails second-ranked Kirkland Lake three games to none in the series, with the Gold Miners having defeated the Rivermen by 2-1, 2-1 and 3-2 scores.
When the season does end for the Rivermen it will also mark the end of what will have been a successful one-year stint in the NOJHL.
Besides placing a strong third during the 2013-2014 regular season, Espanola finished atop the attendance chart of the eight-team NOJHL with a per-game average of 526 spectators.
While the Rivermen will remain in Espanola after this season, they will be a part of the new Canadian International Hockey League effective the 2014-2015 campaign.
Rivermen owner Tim Clayden, who is the force behind the formation of the CIHL, has made no secret of the fact that his team is departing the NOJHL because of frustration and contempt with the way the league is being run under commissioner Robert Mazzuca.
Once they leave, the Rivermen will become the second team since 2012 to depart the NOJHL for another league under Mazzuca’s watch.
Soo Eagles left the NOJHL at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 campaign to join the North American Hockey League.