So-so first half for Soo Eagles

December 23, 2015

They have the best record of any of the three expansion teams in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the coaches of the Soo Eagles are expecting more improvement when play resumes in the 2016 portion of the season.

With a record of 12-18-1, the Eagles are in fourth place in the West Division and eighth overall in the 12-team NOJHL.

With 25 points, the Eagles are well ahead of the other two NOJHL expansion teams. The Espanola Express has 13 points thus far and the French River Rapids have three.

At any rate, the Eagles resume play on Saturday, January 2 when they take on the cross-river Soo Thunderbirds in a 7:30 p.m. match at the Essar Centre.

The Eagles have lost all six games to the Thunderbirds thus far this season and have six more still to play against the league leaders.

Take away the Eagles six games with the Thunderbirds to date and the Michiganders are a .500 team with a 12-12-1 record.

Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo, who is in his sixth season at the helm of the Michigan Soo squad — which returned to the NOJHL last fall after three years in the North American Hockey League — has noticed the improvement in his first-year team.

“If I were to give an overall grade for the first half of the season it would be about a C minus,” said Bragagnolo. “Having said that, if I were to grade our last three weekends before the Christmas break, I would give us a B minus.

“I have noticed a lot of good changes in the team’s personality on and off the ice over the last three or four weekends.” Bragagnolo continued. “Call it maturity maybe? All I know is that the staff and the players are looking forward to the second half and to finish as high in the standings as we can.”

But actions speak louder than words, said Bragagnolo.

“We still need to take that next step and start winning some games against some of the very good veteran teams in our league. We also need to improve our power play if we expect to beat some of the teams that are ahead of us,” he noted.

Bragagnolo said there is no questioning how hard the Eagles are working as a team but that the players need to gain from their experience to date.

“The boys have a great work ethic, we just have to keep getting better at the little things, which I believe we will. The players have to start to understand that with a half season under their belts they are no longer rookies,” Bragagnolo said firmly.

Meantime, Eagles co-coach Jim Capy, who is in his fourth go-round as an NOJHL coach spanning 10 seasons with the Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers and the erstwhile Soo Indians, said he is seeking more consistency in the second half of the season.

“Inconsistency would be the best way to describe our first half,” Capy related. “We have shown flashes of becoming a very good team at times but just haven’t been able to sustain it over the course of entire games.”

Still, Capy said the inexperience of the Eagles as a team cannot be overlooked.

“It’s easy to be critical as coaches but we sometimes forget that we are an expansion team lacking a lot of Jr.A experience,” Capy noted. “So for that reason, we continue to preach patience. We have set some goals for the second half that we believe are attainable and will make us a factor in the playoffs.”


Evan Ketner leads the Eagles in scoring heading into the second half of the season with 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points.

Following Ketner is Nate Harris with 12-9-21 totals, then it’s Alex DiBacco at 8-11-19, Sam Rappaport at 4-14-18, Jake Saxton at 8-8-16, Roman Gaudet at 6-10-16, Landon Hubbard at 5-8-13, Reed Gregory at 9-2-11, Gordie Helmuth at 3-7-10 and Jake Palmerio at 6-3-9.

Hubbard is a Michigan Soo product while Palmerio hails from the Canadian side of the St. Mary’s River.

Of the three goals who have tended twine for the Eagles this season, Jack Deines has the best numbers with a 7-4-0 record, 2.84 goals against average and .916 save percentage.

What you think about “So-so first half for Soo Eagles”

  1. Soo Eagles are a lot better than their record, particularly their work ethic and structure. It shows they are well coached. Stats can be deceiving. Nobody should take them lightly.

  2. The Power Play is one ofa the things that hurts this Team … … … can the Coaches not see this PP is not working ??? ??? ???

  3. I have to agree this team is better than their record states..

    Same goes for Espanola for that matter.

    I have no idea who makes the schedule, but these two teams must have the hardest schedules thus far. Espanola has played Cochrane, Kirkland Lake, Timmins, EL, and Powassan it seems once or twice a week.

    Same goes for the Eagles, they seem to play the TBirds all the time…at least 6 times this year, and they’ve played French River, Iroquois Falls and Espanola a grand total of three times

    As for Espanola, they’ve hardly played either Soo team, Blind River, Iroquois Falls and RBC. You’d think they’d play their division rivals more right? I’m getting a tad tired of seeing Powassan and Tyler Peters playing chicken and trying to get into Aaron Roschinsky’s head to be honest with you. Funny thing, the next Express home game is against the Voodoos again..sigh.

    Two teams that have gotten the short end of the stick.

    1. As per the story here Brad, the Eagles have already played the Thunderbirds six times (and are 0-6) and play them six more times in the new year.

    2. Have to agree Brad. So many teams playing tough guy then run away when push comes to shove. Trust you and me no one wants a part of Roschinsky,this kid is tough just ask Mooney for who is now in the Q. I like the way Espanola is going and have proven lately with entertaining games against top teams. Haven’t seen the Eagles yet but I am sure they will improve as times goes on as well.

  4. Being an avid JR A fan, I follow the 2 local teams, TBirds and Eagles. I even followed the Batchewana Attack last year. The Tbirds are having another fantastic season and are constantly bringing in new players and trying to ensure a very successful conclusion to the regular season. I see a few new faces in the Eagles line up but not to the same calibre that the Tbirds are bringing in. I hear the talk of the Eagles being a rookie team blah blah blah but by now they should be playing better than they are. At the end of the day, you can only lay blame either on the players or the coaches and in my humble opinion, and right now blame has to be placed on the coaching staff.
    Randy you recently stated on your radio show the ineffectiveness of the eagles PP and your quite right, the Eagles PP on the road is an embarrassing 10% and that is a joke! As far as I can see, they have no set PP and Capy simply roles out the next line it appears. Who in their right mind at this level of hockey doesn’t have a set PP??
    So Mr. Bragagnolo, how can a PP get better if you don’t have one?? last time the Tbirds and Eagles played, the Eagles had numerous chances to bury the Tbirds because of the amount of penalties the Tbirds were taking and in the end, Capy got out coached again, and I will stress AGAIN!…… if there isn’t a set PP who is to blame, the players?? no its the coaching staff….also, there is no break out that I can decipher while watching this team, all I see are players getting the puck carrying it as far as they can and instead of looking at an open player pass, they dump it in and lose possession. The team is too small to dump and chase and who plays dump and chase anymore anyway?? Granted they have had their share of injuries and the lines can be difficult to maintain any consistency but what I can see there isn’t much chemistry amongst the lines.
    I don’t like to name kids names but I think I need to in order to make a point here. They had 5 kids from the attack last year, Nolan, Palmerio, Harris, Skinner and Huckins.. the Nolan kid has vanished and have no idea what happened to him (injured perhaps?) and the Huckins kid, which I was told at the rink last game was traded and not sure where to but there are 3 remaining players and not once and I can’t confirm this but Capy hasn’t put those 3 together to see what they can do together since they have some history together. Who’s fault is this, the players??? No the coaching staff… based on last year and reading your articles Randy, Palmerio can score but all I see is this kid doing is killing penalties and Skinner doesn’t seem to get any extra ice time except for his regular shift. Harris statistically is having the best year out all 3 of them and is doing well. Can’t fault a coach if a kid isn’t scoring but you can fault a coach if he doesn’t try to get the kids out of a funk….at the end of the day Randy, the coaches are there to coach the kids and get them to perform better and practice what is expected of them in a game. if a PP or a break out isn’t practiced what do you expect these kids to do during the game?
    if you watch the Tbirds, they have a prepared break out and a set PP and what do you know?? there successful and having another great year. come on Eagle coaches get with the program, not only do the kids deserve this but the fans as well. We pay good money to watch these games!

  5. Just saw where the Express traded Beauchamp to Powassan. He played well for the Express and gave them some badly needed scoring from the point, especially on the power play. I am assuming the Espanola management group are going to be bringing in some more players, as the the Express have only 5 defencemen and 12 forwards on their roster. Not enough if a couple of injuries pop up. The team has been playing much better lately.

  6. Brad, Powassan and Peters playing chicken, seriously. Any good coach tells his better players to stay out of the box. I’m sure Scott Wray has told him. His job is to score goals not spend his time in the penalty box. This goes for any team . McCarthy is not a stupid coach either and sends guys out purposely to get under the skin of the leading players. That’s why they are leading players though because they don’t get mixed up in the crap. I’m sure Peters would love to drop the gloves, I have seen him in action and beleive me the kid can throw them with the best of them and would certainly not be afraid of anyone in this league. Everyone has there role on a team I guess, your either a goon or you chose to play hockey. Espanola beat Powassan once in their own barn, usually Powassan beats this team and would have no reason to start something. Any smart player would say look at the scoreboard why would I be so stupid.

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