Eagles should upend Express but…

March 8, 2016

Soo Eagles have a distinct advantage on the Espanola Express ahead of the best-of-three, preliminary-round, West Division playoff series between the two Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League teams.

For starters, the fourth-place Eagles were 20 points better than the fifth-year Express over the course of the regular season.

Then there’s the area of fan support which should assist the Eagles, who have home-ice advantage should the series go the full three games.

Playing out of venerable Pullar Stadium, the Eagles led the 12-team NOJHL in attendance during the regular season with a per-game average of 612.

At the other end, Espanola was last in league attendance with a per-game average of 178.

The best-of-three series begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Michigan Soo and then shifts to Espanola for a 2 p.m. match on Sunday. If a third game is necessary it will be played back in the Michigan Soo next Monday.

The winner of the series will then have the unenviable task of playing the league-leading Soo Thunderbirds in a West Division semi-final set.

As the Eagles prepare for the short prelim series with Espanola, bench boss Jim Capy is seeking what he calls a “fresh start” for the Soo team that he co-coaches with general manager Bruno Bragagnolo.

“Playoffs provide a fresh start for everyone,” Capy told HockeyNewsNorth.com. “We are looking forward to that fresh start. Espanola is well-coached and hard-working. We will have to match their intensity to have any success.”

Meanwhile, Jason Rapcewicz, who co-coaches Espanola with seasoned veteran Tom McCarthy, is mindful of the discipline factor.

“I think that the key to success for us will be discipline,” Rapcewicz told HockeyNewsNorth.com. “We have had success on and off again this season against the Soo Eagles and the biggest factor for our team has been to stay disciplined. We know that if we stick to our game plan teams will get frustrated and retaliate so if we can stay the course we will be in a position to succeed.

“We have a young squad but we are a very hard-working hockey club and if we can stick to the game plan good things will happen,” Rapcewicz continued. “I like the matchup and feel that it will be a very hard-fought, action-packed series.”

PHOTO: Soo Eagles co-coach Jim Capy. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

What you think about “Eagles should upend Express but…”

  1. We need to put 400+ fans in the Barn on Sunday. The Express need are support .. .. Come on Espy Hockey Fans !!!!!

  2. I agree with ROSS, the outcome of this series will depend on the line up the Express ices. The team is well coached and usually plays hard, but towards the end of the season,the Express has iced a team missing up to 6 regulars. Some of these players need to return if the Express are to defeat the Eagles. Goaltending could play a major role in the outcome. I have seen Labelle keep the Express in many a game this year.

  3. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this series go 3 hard fought games.

    What Espanola needs is fan support..plain and simple. I know the arena atmosphere stinks, its cold, you can’t hear anything over the speakers, you have to watch the game through netting, it smells like sweaty gym socks, the seating isn’t comfortable etc…but the boys need the support. It’s junior A hockey..anything can happen in a 3 game series. That was a nice sales pitch 🙁

    And to the people saying the Express are dead last in attendance. I don’t actually believe those numbers. I’m almost convinced someone is counting the fans at the end of the game when they submit the completed report to the league, instead of counting paid tickets sold that night (Season Tickets + Walk Up Sales).

    They HAD tickets for the 2013-14 season when they led the league in attendance. Are they leading this year? No, but the numbers are a little better than 180 a game. I’d put that number around 250 -275, around the number Powassan got to their games.

    When this team was in the playoffs in 2013-14 against Sudbury..I watched as 3/4 of the McClelland Arena was filled was Espanola fans…honestly..this team has fans..just wait and see Sunday.

  4. Hey Brad I wish to that more people came out to watch games in Espanola. Also the previous years numbers were a bit fudged IMO. Although there were more bums in the seats for sure this team has been a community minded group and deserves to have more fans in the arena.

    1. Oh it wouldn’t surprise me that the numbers were fudged knowing who was in charge at the time. Its too bad the Eagles got the better end of the reffing stick this series. Espanola’s injuries and suspensions really took a number on them. You cant compete in Junior A when you’re icing a team that could probably lose to a GNML team.

  5. Have to agree Brad the reffing was sub par at best. The lack of respect on Sunday shown by the Eagles and their coaching staff was surprising(a bit). The coach had the refs in his back pocket for two games,ruining one players final junior game by making sure he didn’t play. Shame on you Capy.

  6. Ross, I don’t often respond to comments like yours but this time i will! Not really sure where you think we disrespected anyone in this series. Our players keep their composure for the most part with all the stuff that was going on. As for having officials in my back pocket, I have been coaching 30 years and don’t remember ever having control of any! As for ruining anyone’s last game in Jr. hockey, he did that on his own by losing his composure in game 1 and getting suspended. Just so you know if any of those four players would have played the game would have been a forfeit. It’s easy to put the blame on the Eagles and the officials but maybe you should look at the team you cheer for!

    Coach Capy

  7. I honestly believe you might be dilusional sir. The refs you had in the Soo lost control of the game from the start as they wanted to get to a concert and not be at the game. The age of the officials as the same age as the players. The player lost control because they were tired of poor officiating but good for you guys for taking liberty of that,no hard feelings there. Gaudet after his third goal in Espanola showed a ton of disrespect the way he acted. Also playing tour best players to the end well I would consider that disrespect. T-birds in 5 in my opinion. But to you sir good job in putting together some talent for sure,i applaud you for that. So yeah actions like yours get to hockey fans. Thank you

  8. Honestly Coach Capy…give your head a shake.

    If the roles were reversed and you received that caliber of refereeing in Espanola in game 1..it wouldn’t surprise me to see one of your players “lose his composure” and snap at a ref. I prefer a player with passion, talent, and grit over a player with all the talent in the world and no drive. At least the guy cared to win..or at least compete.

    The player wasn’t able to play his last game of junior at home because the refs lost control of a game. If they had control of the game and the RESPECT of both teams…nothing would have happened and the series might actually have been a worthwhile watch.

    The refs handing out GM21’s was completely unnecessary, and personally, the commissioner should have reviewed game tape to see the hack job of a refereeing exhibition they laid forth and handed out appropriate fines and suspensions (if any). Sorry, but in no way should guys like Dom Lavergne and Joel Grandbois (two of the more talented, gentlemanly players on the Express team) be handed two and three game suspensions in playoff time over shotty refereeing and giving their two cents how bad of a job they were doing.

    I’ve heard players in the NHL complain about reffing in the NHL all the time…but never do I see 4 players receiving gross misconducts/match penalties and get suspended multiple games for whining and b****** about the biased reffing.

    The team they were playing was older, bigger, stronger, and had more experience than them, and they were playing on foreign ice…sorry, but the odds were stacked against them from the start…add shotty reffing to the equation and you have a recipe foe disaster.

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