Vikings of Northern Ontario

June 15, 2024

Make that four highly regarded northern lads among the veteran players who have thus far made approved commitments to return to the Elliot Lake Vikings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for the 2024-2025 season.

Sam Verbonac

They are Sault Ste. Marie product Sam Verbonac, Sudbury skaters Carter Carriere and Anthony Bertrand and Espanola resident Matt Kallo.

Verbonac, who has a 2005 birth sate, played in 25 games for Elliot Lake in 2023-2024 and had four assists from his defense position.

Carriere, who is also a defenseman, has more youth on his side with a 2007 birth date. He skated in 32 games for the Vikings in ’23-24 and produced two goals, nine assists, 11 points.

As for Bertrand, the 2007 birth year forward was a staying force for Elliot Lake in ’23-24. He played in 51 games and had eight goals, 15 assists, 23 points.

Carter Carriere

Meanwhile, Kallo, a steady defenseman with a 2005 birth date, has also opted to return to Elliot Lake for another season after originally planning on going to college in Sudbury. In 46 games in ’23-24, the lanky defenseman netted two goals, four assists, six points. Between Elliot Lake and the Blind River Beavers, Kallo has skated in 99 career games in the NOJHL.

Jef Jarmovitch, who is the president and director of hockey operations for the Vikings of the NOJHL, confirmed the commitments of the four players to Hockey News North and gave his take on the returning foursome.

“After an injury riddled season we are happy that Sam Verbonac is healthy and ready to go. Sam is a veteran leader on the back end.

Anthony Bertrand

“As for Carter Carriere, a concussion ended his rookie season with us early. He is eager to get back on the ice. The smooth skating defenseman will be a big part of the Vikings defense group and power play in the coming season.

“Over to Anthony Bertrand, he had a productive rookie season for us and put up some good numbers. The 2023-2024 Vikings’ rookie of the year recipient will be a big part in our offense in Elliot Lake for the coming season.

“As far as Matt Kallo goes, he just recently told me that he is not ready to pack it in. The return of Kallo is a big addition to our back end. He will also be a part of this season’s leadership group,” Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North.

Matt Kallo

The Vikings will head into the ’24-25 season with Mike Nesbitt as the newly hired head coach and general manager. Originally from Oshawa, the 48 year old Nesbitt has spent the past several seasons as the head coach and GM with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings of the Vancouver Island Jr. Hockey League.

Nesbitt is the hand picked choice of Jarmovitch to take the helm in Elliot Lake, which finished last overall among the 12 teams of the NOJHL in ’23-24 under the coaching of both Chris Keleher and Jon Campbell. And Jarmovitch said that he and Nesbitt are well in tune with each other.

“Speaking to Mike, we are both on the same page in regards that the Vikings aren’t in a rebuilding mode. With the return of key younger players as well as a newly recruited mix of veteran and young players, we are hoping to bring exciting hockey back to Elliot Lake,” said Jarmovitch.

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