Flashback: ’06-07 NOJHL champion Soo Indians

January 30, 2014

They were a rag-tag crew of American-born players from six different states, a collection of hockey gypsies who represented the only foreign entry in what was a seven-team Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

They were a one-hit wonder of a franchise that was assembled just before the 2006-2007 NOJHL campaign started and folded soon after the season ended.

They were owned by an out-of-town, out-of-state rapscallion who rarely visited to watch them play or support them.

Somehow, they banded together, rallied to finish first that 2006-2007 season and then went on to win the NOJHL championship and represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada Jr. Hockey Tournament.

Soo Indians overcame all odds that 2006-2007 season and they hold a rightful and delightful place in the NOJHL history books as league champions.

As the 21 players on the Michigan-based Indians were all American, their three coaches were all Canadians who lived and worked on the Ontario side of the International Bridge.

Ah yes, the Soo Indians of 2006-2007 were quite the outfit led by coach-general manager Kevin Cain and his assistants, Al DiPasquo and Warren LaVoy.

I covered the Indians all season, all the way to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup playdowns that were held at Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls, Ont.

A collection of retreads they were, unlikely champions who bested teams of equal and better assembly en route to winning the NOJHL crown.

There were no real stars on that Indians team, though they had two high-end goalies who rotated and a third who was almost as good.

Brennan Poderzay and Elliott Hogue were the main men in the nets and Jake Rosenthal was the capable third guy who backed up the one-two tandem.

All three went on to tend goal at the Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association level and the now 27-year old Poderzay plays professional hockey in Slovenia.

As for Cain, who is now the championship-winning general manager of the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds, he has fond memories of that title-winning Indians team of 2006-2007.

“That was a high-maintenance team, that’s for sure,” Cain recalled with a laugh. “Having said that, they were a really tight-knit team. I think about them as individuals and as a team a lot and when I do, it’s with a smile on my face.”

The Indians finished in first place that 2006-2007 season with a record of 31-15-2 and after a first-round playoff bye, ousted the North Bay Skyhawks and Sudbury Jr. Wolves to win the NOJHL title and earn the right to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.

At the four-team DHC with the host Abitibi Eskimos, the Superior International Jr. Hockey League champion Schreiber Diesels and the Ontario Jr. Hockey League champion Aurora Tigers, the Indians came up short.

But while the Indians as a franchise departed the Michigan Soo almost as quickly as they arrived, the team and its players remain one for the ages.

From the goaltending trio of Poderzay, Hogue and Rosenthal to defencemen J.D. King, Nick Novak, Austin Brown, Jake Russell, Peter Landem and Sean Reid to forwards Shane Bailey, Sam Yearsley, James Ciotti, Nick Zilka, Justin Maciuk, Chris Cooper, Isaac Viau, Mike Connolly, Joe Larson, Ky Moje, Scott Pulak and Sean Farley to coaches Cain, DiPasquo and LaVoy to equipment manager Jeff Stefanski, the Soo Indians NOJHL championship team of 2006-2007 is one that won’t soon be forgotten.

PHOTO: Soo Indians goalie Brennan Poderzay, with a game-star medal, at the 2007 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Central Canada Jr. Hockey Tournament that was held at Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls, Ont. (Photo by Brian Holmberg.)

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What you think about “Flashback: ’06-07 NOJHL champion Soo Indians”

  1. Great story Randy. They indeed were a good group of hockey players and represented our league well.
    Remember watching them play the Jr. Wolves and it was a great atmosphere in Copper cliff.
    By the way whose the dude in the picture at the top of the column.
    Looks like it was taken quite some time ago when people still wore suits and a carnation. LOL

  2. Thanks for the nice words and post, my old friend David Harrison. That was a memorable series from ’06-07, Soo Indians v. Sudbury Jr. Wolves. As for the man in the suit, it’s from just last year when I was Emcee at my niece’s wedding. A far cry from what I usually wear, jeans and sports-teams hoodies, lol. Keep in touch, David.


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