NOJHL playoff picture

March 20, 2014

Two teams have advanced to the second round of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoffs, two others have been eliminated and the remaining four are on ice tonight.

Second-seeded Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and third-seeded Espanola Rivermen both swept their opening-round playoff series in four games, sidelining the seventh-seeded North Bay Trappers and sixth-seeded Sudbury Nickel Barons, respectively.

Elsewhere, first-seeded Soo Thunderbirds play host to eighth-seeded Blind River Beavers tonight in a set that is stunningly tied at 1-1 while fourth-seeded Abitibi Eskimos and fifth-seeded Elliot Lake Bobcats resume hostilities this evening in a nasty series that is likewise tied 1-1.

While the Kirkland Lake sweep of nomadic North Bay was no shocker, Espanola taking the broom to Sudbury was somewhat of a surprise.

Most observers were calling for Espanola to prevail over Sudbury — but in six or seven games, not four.

In the end, though, the Nickel Barons could not contain the Rivermen rifles in allowing Espanola to pull the trigger 24 times in silencing Sudbury by 6-3, 5-2, 6-2, 7-6 scores.

Led by the likes of Corbin Bean, Brad Edwards, Brandon Janke and Blake Peavey, Espanola simply had too much firepower for Sudbury to handle.

As for the potential upset-in-the-making involving first-place Soo and last-place Blind River, do the Beavers really have what it takes to beat the Thunderbirds three more times?

Probably not.

But outside of a few die-hard Beavers fans, how many really expected the Soo-Blind River series to be tied at one after two?

What you think about “NOJHL playoff picture”

  1. The Barons/Rivermen series was a great series to watch.
    I’m positive that if the Barons had had coach Young from the beginning of the season we would have seen a much higher seeded Sudbury team. The Barons played with heart until the very end and never resorted to goon play as they are sometimes guilty of. Props to Kadhyn Butterfly for that beauty snipe from the blueline. He certainly proved last night why he is the most improved player in the NOJHL.
    Good luck to the Barons players who are moving on and in particular captain Dusick, who stayed the course and didnt give up when I’m sure there were times he probably felt like it this season.
    Looking forward to the next series and glad the Rivermen have a bit of time to rest and heal from this series . I also don’t think Blind River really has much of a chance to beat the Soo but what their game one victory shows us is that in playoffs everything is possible and that even Goliath has a weak spot.
    If there is a team out there that can upset the Goldminers ,its the Rivermen. Once they get their rifles firing, they are difficult to stop. If all goes well for this fan, we will see a Soo vs Espanola final.

  2. Pretty good crowd in Walden last night considering the weather. Probably a good thing both teams fans were seperated from each other. The Barons played their best game of the series with a few of the usual suspects omitted from the line up. Rivermen were streaky last night but in the end they prevailed. Looks like a well timed rest now for a bit to heal some wounds.

  3. I am not surprised that both Goldminers and Riverman won there series in four games. Both have very skilled teams. As for the T-Birds and Beavers. Both games so far have been great games to watch. The T-Birds have outplayed the Beavers but It really does not show it on the scoreboard. I do not think the Beavers can win 3 more games but I could see it going 6-7 games. The Beavers seemed to have there number for some reason. Sundays game was really chippy and the refs really didn’t have control of the game from the drop of the puck. A lot was missed. We will see tonight. Also the Bobcats vs Eksis series is also looking to be a great series to watch. Both teams showed some bad blood after the last game and both coaches received 4 games for the after the game fights. Hoping for a great game tonight. Looking forward to the rest of the playoffs. My picks are the Soo in 6 and the Bobcats in 6….

  4. Rivermen- Barons series was a great series to watch. Espanola fans outnumbered Sudbury fans at least 3-1, was loud and electric! Kudos to the Nickel Barons, who never gave up and kept themselves close the entire game. Also I would like to congratulate the Barons on keeping their cool and sticking to hockey, instead of the dirty rough stuff that was expected from them, when they were down by three with a couple minutes to go in the third. The Barons showed their class and pushed hard to come within one. Good luck to the 20 year olds moving on and to the remaining team for next year. As for the Rivermen bring on round 2 they are ready!!!!!

  5. Heard from the graphics vine lately that there might be some favoritism in the gold miners favor for the second round match between the rivermen and the gold miners!
    l have heard that there has been some whining going to the big cheese about making the rivermen play two games in kl before they can return home for there home games.
    I think this is favouritism in the gold miners favor…I think one and one is fair for both teams , kl is going to still going to get the extra game if it goes seven so don’t wine.
    Lets just stay to the big picture and lets play some hockey. Just because the big cheese might have his buddies in his ear, don’t just let these guys push you around and tell you how to run your league .
    In others words do your job and don’t punish the rivermen. One and one works, two and two doesn’t, it’s favouritism.

  6. Two nights in a row in KL is wrong when no other series went like that. Mr Commissioner sure SEEMS to play favourites and like have read before on here Mr.Lafleur seems to get what he wants. Is he the NOJHL poster child? Makes you wonder. . Who can blame anyone for wanting to leave the NOJHL when this stuff goes on day in day out…or so it seems.

  7. Sorry I meant to say the other two first round
    series didn’t do that even then it shows you
    who has the league in their pockets.

  8. We all know who’s best buddies with the commissioner and who’s not.
    To me I think it is obvious the nojhl is definately playing favourites here. I believe the commissioner continues to make a mochary of his league, heaven forbid if he took the leagues best interest in mind for a change, in my humble opinion of course. How many times do you need to shoot yourself in the foot before you step back and say maybe I should put the safety on, or maybe give the gun to someone who can handle it……food for thought! Does anyone else think the commissioner is doing what he can to make it as difficult as possible for the Rivermen to win? Wouldn’t that be a slap in the face if the exiting Rivermen won the title?

  9. To The Complainers….Lets get the facts straight instead of trying to play games with the credibility of our League..We (Eskies) hosted the first two games of the first round series with Elliot Lake and the following two were held in Elliot Lake..Because of the distance and expense issue… and this…. if I understand correctly… ACCORDING TO THE LEAGUE CONSTITUTION ..So lets get off Kirkland Lake’s back for a few days….IMO comments towards this community and Hockey team are very unfair at this time as well as at other times during the past year
    IF the Rivermen have decided to leave the NOJHL for greener be it..It is unfortunate for us but it is their decision and not for us to judge but only to wish them the best in their endeavours….. SO PLEASE LET STOP PLAYING GAMES and refrain from stupid attacts which have been present all year long finding fault and downgrading Franchises and highly competent persons within our League which leaves a very wrong impression of the going ons in the NOJHL and for this we are all losers especially the players who all have a goal in mind and our role as Northerners should be to assist them in reaching these goals .. …WHAT EXACTLY IS THE INTENT HERE…..let’s stop this crazy negativity of Northerners playing off Northerners instead of supporting one another and do our part in preserving JR A hockey here in the North…If we do not support and work hard on behalf of our League (in any way,shape or form)..No one else will ….and we Northerners will all lose out…

    1. I assure you no one is playing games here. IMO i have noticed that the league plays favourites and tyranically pursues others. i can see how it would seem like we are “playing games” if you were amongst the privelaged and always “seemed” to get the long straw. But for us less fortunate, we will unite and fight to have our players merely treated properly, fairly and as equals to the rest of the players in the league. We teach our children that bullying is completely unacceptable in the school yard. So why would bullying be acceptable in the leaugue, especially by the leadership who are role models? You can also count on me to continue shedding the light on all the poor decisions, favouritism and personal vendettas by the leagues officials to try and protect the poor players that constantly receive the short straw. I would expect the same from you if you weren’t in this privelaged group, but I think you are so continue drinking the koolaid and hopefully you don’t get the bazooka turned on you!

  10. Hockey Guy what are you talking about E L Played 2 nights in a row in Eskie and Eskie played two nights in a row in E L. You and your Espanola gang are at it again trying to intimidate the commissioner . As a matter of fact K L had to play 4 games in five nights …… Hockey Guy think a little before you make statements and you would not look so stupid.

  11. Good talking Timmins flash All these negative statements are all from the same crew that are upset that no one cares that they threaten to leave. I’m sure some people in the Espanola organization are not to happy with the way you guys are acting

    1. I believe everyone is misconstruing complaining with merely expressing the facts….. If we continue to sweep all the mistreatments and problems under the carpet, then the only ones to suffer are the players! Plus I find it real classy to complain about complainers(insert teapot kettle arguement here) typical of the upper echelon in the league, in my humble opinion of course!

  12. Very well put Timminsflash – I can’t believe some of the negativity of that group – seems that 99% of what comes out of them is negative. Maybe by their premise, last year in the 2nd round of the playoffs, Kirkland Lake should’ve complained to the league that they had to play first 2 back-to-back games in North Bay against Clayden’s crew….. UNBELIEVABLE stuff they complain about!!!! When the Espo team joins this new league they’re talking about, will they expect the team to go 1 and 1 traveling down to Detroit or Alpena or wherever???? Where does this kind of thinking come from? As well, the very vast majority of playoff formats begin with 2 at home of higher seed, then 2 at home of the opponent. ANYBODY who has ever been exposed to hockey playoff action knows this!!! As you ask Timminflash, “what exactly is the intent here?”

  13. We have already lost out thanks to mistakes
    made by league administration. Ask Sudbury
    how much they will miss Espanola

  14. Hockey Guy. I would think that when Espanola goes to KL they will play back to back and the same for K L when they travel to Espanola. It shows that you have no
    experience in Hockey playoffs.

    1. Just as much or more than you. This is a ploy by kl and the league
      but when the league dies you guys will have no one to blame but

  15. Hockey Guy. Ask the rest of the league what they think about you. What mistake has the league make? Dear owner stop trying to intimidate the Commissioner. your tactics does not work anymore.

    1. Heaven forbid the espanola ownership group puts their players ahead of their pocket book! It’s hard on a team to play like that on the road….. The ownership group simply wants all players to eat properly, sleep properly and exist comfortably in their own nurturing billet homes. But no lets beat them up for caring too much about all the players not just theirs. To be fair the cost would really not be that different when you factor in hotel rooms, meals for the weekend, bus driver and bus for the whole weekend and other various expenses, I think the costs are about the same, if not cheaper! so why wouldn’t everyone want to keep the best interests of the players in mind, I just don’t get it! I guess to argue for the same of arguing?

  16. why spend all that bus time going back and forth anyways! 2 and 2 is preferred by most teams and over the years, anytime time there has been significant travel involved its 2-2-1-1-1

    I know i wouldnt complain, steal one in Kl and ur goin home for two games with the home crowd behind ur back!

    hope the excuses arent coming out already!

  17. Is this not a league where education is supposed to be the major thing.
    So two games away would one take away from school time for the
    players that are in school. Also wouldn’t it better for them to be sleepng
    in their own beds. You don’t think that a night in a motel plus extra
    meals is a major cost as well. Apparently frost bite has settled in
    your grey matter up there.

  18. Right on Eskisfan Hockey fan is trying to look for excuses in case they loose its too bad that even if he cant play the sport he should try to be one. Maybe if you have time you could spend a couple of hours explaining to Hockey fan the way the game is played. Even in the NHL were Money is not a problem they play 2 -2 -1 – 1 – 1

  19. Lol too funny this is not the NHL it is tier 2 junior a in which education and player well being is supposed to be number one.

  20. Education, exactly Hockey Guy, that’s why we don’t want the players spending the week back and forth from Town to town. Once again you showed your inexperience in these matters. Can someone in Espanola sit down with you and explain it.

    1. I don’t think that even made sense art1, you just supported the guys statement you are arguing with!

  21. Hey Hockey Guy Soo and Blind River are playing back to back games could we get your intelligent comments please .

    1. hey OHL fan – maybe stick to the OHL. Blind River & the Soo are 90 miles apart. A real genius you are…NOT.

  22. Yeah and every game was not back to back. Thanks beavers fan finally
    someone that has not had their brain frozen. Good luck tonight to the

  23. So art you would rather have kids away got two
    days in a row and away from their school work
    even more. You should go jump in one of those
    frozen tundra lakes you have

  24. what makes more sense, a team leaving in a friday, playing friday night and saturday an missing one day of school or leaving on a friday, miss that day, come back, play, sunday at home, return wednesday or tuesday, miss school, get home at 4am and try to go to school the next day? and what coach buses are free? its the back and forth travels miles where the cost comes, not paying the driver’s room.

    brain freeze alright! wow!

  25. Hey Espo complainers – if the shoe was on the other foot and your Rivermen finished higher in the standings than KL and got the nod to host the first 2 games, would we be hearing any of your whining? Wouldn’t even hear a peep out of you! Got the best interests of all the players in mind…….RIGHT…………..!

    1. Lets just let history speak for itself! The Rivermen were willing to work with the Barons over arena scheduling conflicts and allowed them to have the first game of the series, even though the Rivermen finished above them in the standings, so there is no need to speculate what they would or wouldn’t do in that situation.

  26. Hey Beaver All the reason not to have back to back games. Its when you have a long road trip that you should have back to back your just has smart as Hockey Fan probably the same brain

  27. It may be very wise for the Governors to attend all of the games between the Gold Miners and Rivermen and potentially the finals between Espanola and another league incumbent to ensure that the process ensures fairness and integrity for the League championship process…

    In closing it is beyond my scope of understanding that the transfer of the Espanola Franchise to a U.S. League can be helpful to the schooling of their young junior players…Please enlighten me….

    In concusion..Good Luck to all remaining teams involved in the playoffs, and may the championship of our great northern JR A League be decided in Good sportsmanship, honesty and Integrity and always with the welfare and advancement of all the players involved being the number ONE priority….

  28. No dale it is only right and to bad you don’t
    have a clue about the behind the scenes crap. Art
    probably a good thing you have three letters
    in your name you should be able to figure out

  29. You actually don’t know enough about the new
    league to comment. For sure they won’t be going
    7.5 hours due north.

  30. If you are than that really makes sense as I think you guys have the commissioner in your back pocket. Go bobcats

  31. All I can say is all you far northerns can stick, I am truely sorry but i think you all have the brain freeze. Maybe you should ask Mr. Bazooka to come for a hot tub this weekend it might help you both out, and you can keep him there because he’s not welcome in espo. Go Rivermen Go

    P.S Maybe save him a pair of those pom poms too.

  32. Chestypipes, the only reason they did that was to get their two homes game at home on the weekend. But the Power situation could of change that, I don’t remember. Good game in Eskie land tonight. Good crowd. only trouble we lost to a determine team. Oh well we have to get them Tomorrow .

    1. Congratulations to the beavers…..a real class act from the players right through to the faithful fans. You are winners in my books!

  33. Here is a good one for all you Mazzuca lovers he has scheduled a game for April 3 in Espanola against the Goldminers. Funny thing is though the arena is and has already been booked by another group that night. The arena was not contacted to see if the ice was available,WTG fearlesss leader. With this kind of management the league championship should be called the Titanic Cup as it is sinking.

    1. Is it true that Mazucca publicly announced the playoff schedule less two hours after the match ups were finalized without contacting the Rivermen or at least the arena to make sure these Ice times were available? How is that even close to good leadership? I personally will speculate he called his buddy Lafleur to make sure everything was good for him before he announced anything. Is it true that even the director of leisure services for the Espanola arena even made an attempt to contact the commish to explain that the Rivermen have no control of ice times in Espanola and that there is already bookings for that date? Can anyone confirm that the commissioners response was an email stating the appeal procedure including a large fee$ for the process, and also claimed that if there was no game in Espanola that night, the Rivermen would forfeit the loss? To me I believe these actions are totalitarianist and tyrannical and just plain absurd! When will all the leagues antics stop? Don’t you find your actions embarrassing Mr Mazucca?

  34. mazzuca doesn book games, respective GMs do and if a GM did without contacting the municipality, well shame on him!

  35. Hockey Guy…. You got your way with no back to back games, now its the schedule its one excuse after another. Teams are usually sent the propose schedule before its official and I’m sure its was done in this instance, so check with your manager maybe he’s hiding stuff from you ha ha. Can’t please you, you must of been spoiled as a child. maybe the league should give you the trophy as a sending off present to the US league, I’m on my way to B R , come over to the game tonight and we can talk between periods. look for a Eskie Jersey with No:27 on the back. Come and cheer for a good team

  36. A good team but not a great team eh art. The league made the schedule without any approval from Espanola so believe what you want I will believe what i know.

  37. Oh and the schedule was finalized and sent out without really any consultation. And aren’t you going to Elliot Lake to watch the bobcats kick it.

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