Powassan Voodoos, Timmins Rock and Hearst Lumberjacks are the forces to be reckoned with in the East Division of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League while the fourth seed French River Rapids have remained within range of the big three.
POWASSAN (13-2-4, 30 points.) The scoring prowess of Rodion Tatarenko — an Ontario Hockey League prospect of the North Bay Battalion — and the clutch net-minding of junior A hockey nomad Alex Bugeja have stood out thus far for coach Marc Lafleur and the Voodoos.
TIMMINS (14-2-1, 29 points.) The Rock has allowed a league low 38 goals as the defensive system of rookie coach Brandon Perry works very well in limiting shots on net. 20-year old local products and long-time teammates Riley Brousseau and Cameron Dutkiewicz have been high performance standouts for Timmins. Brousseau plays an all-around game up front while Dutkiewicz is an offensive defenseman and power play quarterback.
HEARST (14-4-1, 29 points.) Marc-Alain Begin has made a nice transition from former assistant coach of the Lumberjacks to the head master of Hearst. Robbie Rutledge has been lighting it up on the goal scoring chart and the puck-stopping duo of Liam Oxner and Matteo Gennaro is as good as its gets.
FRENCH RIVER (9-9-1, 19 points.) General manager and coach Paul Frustaglio has the Rapids playing a disciplined style as evidenced by their league low 141 penalty minutes. (Hearst, by comparison, has 275 PIM.) The three-pronged scoring machine of Cooper Bowman, Dominik Godin and North Bay product Chase Lefebvre is a French River feature.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the division, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners have 12 points and the Cochrane Crunch has six.
(action photo by Thomas Perry of the Timmins Daily Press)