Sudbury Cubs at the top

April 28, 2024

Sudbury Cubs of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are led by a pledged, philanthropic proprietor in Mark Burgess whose decades-long commitment to the game as the former owner of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League is without question.

And from Burgess to his chief lieutenant Blaine Smith to the coaches and support staff and players, the Cubs of the NOJHL have now done what the Wolves of the OHL have never been able to do — win a championship.

Born as members of the OHL in 1972, the Wolves have had their share of good teams over the years, including many during a 30 year span from 1986 until 2016 when the aforementioned Mark Burgess and his family owned and operated the franchise. But all in all, under four different sets of ownership, from Bud Burke to Joe Drago to the Burgess family to current owner Dario Zurich, the Wolves have never won the OHL championship and have never participated in the Memorial Cup tournament. In fact, the Wolves currently hold the third longest Memorial Cup championship drought in the Canadian Hockey League — and the longest in the OHL.

Then there is Sudbury’s NOJHL team. In just its third year of being known as the Cubs — and with the well intentioned Burgess as the owner — Sudbury is again home to an NOJHL champion, having previously won it all in both 2006 and 2008 when the team was known as the Jr. Wolves.

This 2023-2024 edition of the Cubs was definitely well put together and well coached — and predominantly made up of players with northern Ontario roots, including no less than 14 hometown Greater Sudbury boys led by scoring leader Oliver Smith and point producing defenseman Josh Kavanagh.

As well, three standout players at three different positions — goalie Noah Metivier, defenseman Mason Chitaroni and forward Hudson Chitaroni — all played their minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie. And two productive forwards with northern roots also came through in a way big way — Samuel Assinewai from Manitoulin Island and North Bay product Marshall McCharles.

Winning the NOJHL championship this season was no fluke by the Cubs. They had the second best record of the 12 teams of the NOJHL during the regular season with 89 points from a mark of 43-12-3. Then, come playoff time, they took the measure of the Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers and Powassan Voodoos by winning 12 of 16 games to bring the NOJHL championship back to Sudbury for the first time in more than 15 years.

Take a bow, Cubs.

The 2023-2024 NOJHL champion Sudbury Cubs.

What you think about “Sudbury Cubs at the top”

  1. It will take a very good team to defeat the OJHL’s Collingwood Blues, ranked 1st overall by the CJHL in the regular season. Also tough will be the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers, ranked 4th, the CCHL’s Navan Grads, 5th and the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs, 11th. The Cubs ended up ranked 13th and will be a fine representative for the NOJHL.

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