Rock, Walleye, Centennial Cup
May 5, 2023
They are two well deserving championship teams from the north regions of Ontario that will be up against the best junior A clubs in the nation. Timmins Rock of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Kam River Fighting Walleye of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League are part of the 10-team, Centennial Cup, Canadian Jr. Hockey League national championship tournament that is slated for May 11-21 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
Let us take a good look at how the NOJHL and SIJHL champs got to where they did and some of the key components of their regular season and playoff success from the 2022-2023 campaign.
The Rock finished first overall during the 2022-2023 regular season, topping the 12 team NOJHL with 95 points from a record of 45-8-5. Timmins then won 12 of 15 playoff games to win the NOJHL championship. The Rock began the playoffs by ousting the French River Rapids in five games before sweeping the Powassan Voodoos in four straight. Then, in the NOJHL championship series, the Rock spotted the Soo Thunderbirds a two games to one lead before winning the next three matches to upend the reigning NOJHL champions. Timmins won the championship in Game 6 on the road, defeating the Thunderbirds by a 4-2 score.
Key players for what is a well balanced, puck possession Timmins crew are forwards Nicolas Pigeon, Brady Harroun, Nicholas Frederick, Nolan Ring, Lucas Piekarczyk, Ethan Pool, Justin Charette and Harry Clark, defensemen Kenyon Nyman, Brandon Rossetti and Felix Cadieux-Fredette and goalie Patrick Boivin. Pigeon led the NOJHL in points, Harroun topped the league in goals and it says here that Nyman was the best defensemen among any of the 12 teams.
Notably, Harroun, Piekarczyk, Pool, Nyman and Rossetti were all acquired by Timmins head coach/general manager Brandon Perry by way of four separate summer time trades with the Red Lake Miners of the SIJHL. Red Lake won the 2021-2022 SIJHL championship. And Boivin, as perhaps the best goalie in the NOJHL, was obtained by Timmins in an off season deal with the Blind River Beavers.
KAM RIVER FIGHTING WALLEYE
The Fighting Walleye was the pacesetter during the 2022-2023 SIJHL regular season by finishing atop the seven team league with 83 points from a record of 40-11-3. After a first round bye, Kam River then won eight of 12 playoff games, upending the Wisconsin Lumberjacks in five and then taking down the Thunder Bay North Stars in a dramatic seven match set. The Fighting Walleye dropped the first two games of the championship series to the North Stars before winning four of the next five to knock off its cross-town rivals in what was a hotly-contested final.
Key players for the Fighting Walleye are forwards Jeremy Dunmore, Ethan Lang, Max Leduc, Riley Borody, Ryan Doucette and Noah Kramps, defensemen Jack Cook and Kyle Lamoureux and goalie Eric Vanska. A rising young star, Leduc was picked by the London Knights in the 11th round of this year’s Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft after being bypassed by all 20 teams a year ago. As for Doucette, he was a key off season acquisition by the Fighting Walleye from the Blind River Beavers of the NOJHL.
Notably, both Kramps and head coach Geoff Walker were with Red Lake when the Miners won the 2021-2022 SIJHL championship. Thus, along with the aforementioned five Timmins players who were with Red Lake last season, the Miners will be well represented at the Centennial Cup tournament with six of their former skaters and their old coach.
Meanwhile, of further note, this year’s SIJHL champs from Kam River have a crackerjack general manager in place in Kevin McCallum. Not only is McCallum a top recruiter but he is a shrewd trade artist. And part of the Kam River coaching staff is 53-year old Vern Ray, who was a serviceable OHL defenseman over four seasons with both the Ottawa 67’s and Cornwall Royals.
What you think about “Rock, Walleye, Centennial Cup”
Will they both go 0-4 again this year as last?
Likely. I think it’s time to merge the two leagues to get more competitive on a national scale.
Don’t forget about Kyle Trottier who also went to the Centennial Cup last season with the NOJHL champion Soo Thunderbirds.
Yes sir. Thanks for the reminder.
@Blake Ward – That is a terrible idea on all levels. Financially, and logistically. NOBODY wants to have 18 to 22 hour bus rides. Imagine having to go from Red Lake to Powassan. Just ludicrous.