NCAA schools scouting the NOJHL

January 27, 2016

Make no mistake about it, a plethora of Division 1 and Division 3 National Collegiate Athletic Association schools have been scouting the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with particular interest.

The improved, overall skill level in the NOJHL — coupled with the fact that four of its 12 teams have had top 10 rankings within the weekly Canadian Jr. Hockey League national polls — has seemingly resulted in more NCAA scouts and recruiters at games, watching tape and gathering information on a number of players in the northern loop.

Personally, representatives from several Division 1 and Division 3 NCAA schools have taken the time to ask for my input on a multitude of players from various NOJHL teams. And to a man, they have talked in impressive tones of how the reputation of the NOJHL has been elevated over the past few years.

Not that I am surprised that the NOJHL is gaining in stature among the 10 junior leagues that operate within the umbrella of the CJHL.

For example, just take a look at the number of players that the Soo Thunderbirds have moved up since the end of the 2014-2015 season.

Two Thunderbirds from the 2014-2015 team are freshmen at the Division 1, NCAA level — 1997 birth-year defender Owen Headrick is with the Lake Superior State Lakers and 1994 birth-year blueliner David Radke is with the Colorado College Tigers.

Three more Thunderbirds from last season’s team are Ontario Hockey League rookies — 1998 birth-year forward Boris Katchouk is with the Soo Greyhounds, 1998 birth-year forward Nicolas Sicoly is with the Guelph Storm and 1997 birth-year goalie Mario Culina is with the Windsor Spitfires.

And there are more.

Such as two players who started the 2015-2016 season in the NOJHL who have since signed with major junior teams — 1996 birth-year forward Steve Harland has advanced from the Powassan Voodoos to the North Bay Battalion and 1998 birth-year defenseman Ryan Mooney has moved up from the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League.

The way I see it, if a player can properly develop in the NOJHL for the OHL and the QMJHL — which they are — then the league is just as suited to get players ready for the NCAA ranks.

Without breaking confidentiality with any one from any NCAA school, I can say that just in the past few weeks, I have personally been asked for input and information on 15 players from the Soo Thunderbirds, Soo Eagles, Elliot Lake Wildcats and Blind River Beavers, to name four NOJHL teams.

And if someone like me — who is a hockey writer as opposed to being a general manager, coach or player agent — is getting the number of calls that I have been receiving, then I can only imagine how great the interest is in many more NOJHL players.

From what I am hearing, reading and been privy to, the NOJHL is now thought of as being among the top four leagues in the 10-member CJHL.

Ergo, the NCAA schools are taking more notice of the NOJHL. As they should be.

What you think about “NCAA schools scouting the NOJHL”

  1. Your League sent us Owne Headrick and he is doing real good with the Lakers plays a regullar shift and I am not mistakin he is the youngest player in the W.C.H.A. So I say that your League preparred Owen real well to play for the Lakers.
    I have gone to a few of the Eagles Games this Season and that I am impressed with the caliber of play. (It was nice to see the Eagles beat the Thunder Birds the other night I will say I enjoy that).

  2. It’s about time.

    This league, over-all, should be proud of itself and its product. Continuing this positive trend on a season-to-season basis is the obvious challenge. I don’t the think NOJHL will disappoint.

    Great stuff NOJHL and Co.

  3. With the number of quality players GM Bruno has gotten now on the Eagles they now have 7 or 8 players that could play at rhe next level as evidence of their record of late and the win over the Birds look for them to be a tough out the rest of the way

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