Shrugging off a slow start to the 2023-2024 regular season, the Soo Eagles have taken over top spot with the best winning percentage in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Since losing their first two games of the season, the Eagles have since put together a record of 12-1-1 and will take a mark of 12-3-1 into two home games this coming weekend. To be sure, it will be two tough tests for the Eagles on the home ice of Pullar Stadium as they play host to the reigning NOJHL champion Timmins Rock at 7:30 on Friday night and the Sudbury Cubs on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m.
The Eagles will head into the two game weekend home stand featuring six players who are in double digits with 10 points or more. The gun-slinging six shooters are Jack Paweski (7 goals, 16 assists, 23 points), Ben Pouliot (9-11-20), Kenny Belanger (8-8-16), Nolan Hendry (7-6-13), defenseman Coby Fox (1-10-11) and Lucas Caulfield (6-4-10.)
The Eagles have also been getting quality goaltending from the duo of Marino Ramirez and Anthony Zolezzi. Ramirez has a record of 7-3-0 while Zolezzi has a 5-0-1 mark.
Both goalies have worked well with Noah Zeppa, who is the Eagles first-year goalie coach. Zeppa, who does not turn 21 years of age until December, played in the NOJHL with the Soo Thunderbirds as recently as last season. In fact, Zeppa isn’t much older than Ramirez or Zolezzi.
And they have been drawing some really good size crowds at the venerable Pullar, in support of the Eagles. It has been written before and I will make note of it again: Eagles president, general manager and assistant coach Bruno Bragagnolo is one of the best junior hockey operators in these parts.
Bragagnolo knows how to run a team like a business while remaining competitive in the standings. Not only that, Bragagnolo is a low key individual who rarely shows undue emotion and doesn’t make the game about himself.