No excuses, says Soo Eagles coach

October 14, 2015

They are an expansion team that has played four of its first 10 games against the powerful Soo Thunderbirds but Soo Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo does not want to make — or hear — any excuses.

With a record of 2-7-1 thus far this 2015-2016 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season, the Eagles are 0-4 against the reigning champion Thunderbirds, who are off to a torrid 11-1 start.

The Eagles have also been affected by injuries to several regulars but Bragagnolo, appearing on the Hockey North Show that I host on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on ESPN 1400 Radio, called the team’s overall showing thus far “unacceptable.

“There are going to be changes. We have some players who are showing that they either aren’t ready or they aren’t committed to play at this level. As a team, we have no excuses for what our record is,” Bragagnolo said evenly.

The Eagles head out on the road for three games in three nights this week — Friday against French River, Saturday at Powassan and Sunday versus Rayside-Balfour — and Bragagnolo said he is looking forward to the trip.

“It can be good to get away and bond as a team and at the same time this is going to be a big challenge for us,” said Bragagnolo. “French River is a first-year team like us and they are looking for their first win. Powassan is undefeated and the top-ranked team (in the Canadian Jr. Hockey League) and Rayside is up there in the standings and has a pretty-good team from what I hear.”

While the Eagles are struggling with the 2-7-1 record, Bragagnolo said that he has noted improvement in some players and lauded the fact that others are playing through injuries, notably hustling forward Jake Palmerio.

“He’s a tough kid who has been playing hurt and he does not want to take a shift off in practice or the game,” Bragagnolo said of Palmerio, who hails from the Canadian side of the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie.

Palmerio, a 1997 birth-year pivot who has 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points in 10 games with the Eagles, agrees with his coach about the upcoming road trip.

“The guys on our team are close and road trips can be a good bonding experience,” said Palmerio, who was a 20-goal scorer in 2014-2015 with the erstwhile Batchewana Attack of the now-defunct Canadian International Hockey League.

Palmerio added that despite the Eagles record to date, he feels the team is showing improvement.

“We have a great coaching staff and they are teaching us the little things that help you win games,” said Palmerio.


The Eagles are working out a third goalie alongside the tandem of 20-year old Jack Hickey and 18-year old Jack Deines.

George Hill, a 20-year old who had the best numbers as part of a four-goalie rotation with the Tier 3 junior Detroit Fighting Irish in 2014-2015, joined the Eagles at practice late last week after spending a month working out with the Cochrane Crunch of the NOJHL.

“He’s a good kid from Michigan who works hard in practice,” Bragagnolo said of Hill, who had a 6-5-1 record with a 3.66 goals against average and .902 save percentage with Detroit last season. “We like him and we asked him if he wanted to come here so we could take a close look at him.”

Bragagnolo said he is not 100 per cent certain whether the Eagles will carry three goalies but added that Hill “has a good work ethic and a good attitude and he seems to be a good team player.”

What you think about “No excuses, says Soo Eagles coach”

  1. Mr. Russon: Thanks for your excellant coverage of the ‘Soo Eagles’ and ….. I luv this Website!!

  2. Jestad, Hofelitch, Wynn and Skinner are all injured altho they could be back this Weekend as per Mr Russons Hockey North Show.

  3. Coach Bruno thank you for being so honest its why so many fans respect you / and the Organisation / and the good Local people that support and help out / such as Paul and Genie Shirley and Cathy and of coarse Big Bad Johnny Bosbous. Thanks Coach for having such a Team of polite respect-full young men.

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