Hometown coach Marc-Alain Begin and the Hearst Lumberjacks are among the beasts of the East side of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Winners of nine of its past 10 games, Hearst has burst to within two points of first place in the NOJHL East with a record of 9-2-1.
Hearst trails pace setting Timmins Rock (10-1-1) and Powassan Voodoos (9-2-3) in the hotly contested East Division. The Lumberjacks have two games in hand on the Voodoos.
Of note, the 30-year old Begin, who learned the ropes as an assistant coach to Marc Lafleur with the 2019-2020 champions from Hearst, is an NOJHLer through and through. He starred for two seasons with the erstwhile Abitibi Eskimos before going on to score 20 goals in 95 games in the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League.
Now as the head coach in Hearst, Begin is leading a team that features 16-year old rookie standout Mathieu Comeau as a homegrown forward. Comeau has six goals, five assists, 11 points in 12 games as one of the youngest players in the NOJHL.
Other early season sensations for the Lumberjacks have been forwards Zachary Demers, Raphael Lajeunesse, Riley Klugerman and Robbie Rutledge and goalies Liam Oxner and Matteo Gennaro.
Notably, Hearst is at Timmins this Friday night in what figures to be a barn burner of a showdown at McIntyre Arena.