Another week, another player from the north signed up. As Hockey News North was first to report, Sudbury area product Anthony Bertrand is the latest lad from the north region to sign with the Elliot Lake Vikings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
To be sure, the Vikings, who are now under local ownership after being operated by out of town personnel the past two years, have certainly added to their northern talent pool.
Earlier this off season — and much to the excitement of the majority of hockey fans in town — long-time local resident Jef Jarmovitch took over operation of the Elliot Lake Red Wings. Jarmovitch immediately rebranded the NOJHL franchise as the Elliot Lake Vikings. Notably, junior hockey made its debut in Elliot Lake in 1965 and from then until 1997, the team was known as the Vikings.
Meanwhile, with the start of the 2023-2024 NOJHL regular season less than two weeks away, the new look Vikings stand to return one established skater from the former 2022-2023 Red Wings team who is a local Elliot Lake product.
• Noah Aboflan. Aboflan, who was born in 2005, netted eight goals, eight assists, 16 points as an NOJHL rookie in ’22-23. A forward with considerable skill, Afoblan began the ’22-23 season with the Blind River Beavers before being traded to Elliot Lake. Prior to moving up to the NOJHL in ’22-23, Aboflan was a star forward with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League.
And among the newcomers to the Vikings for the ’23-24 season are six players with northern Ontario roots. In alphabetical order, they are as follows.
• Anthony Bertrand. A 2007 birth year forward, Bertrand connected for nine goals, four assists, 13 points in 23 games for the Sudbury U16 Nickel Capital Wolves of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League in 2022-2023.
• Cam Boville. Boville, who has a late October, 2006 birth date, stands in at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. An up and coming youngster with a huge upside, Boville ventured from his Sault Ste. Marie home to tend goal for the Peterborough Under 16 AAA Petes in 2021-2022 and returned to that area of the province in 2022-2023 to stop pucks for the Clarington Under 18 AAA Toros. Besides just recently being signed by Elliot Lake, Boville has also been invited to the training camp of the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
• Carter Carriere. A 2007 birth year defenseman with skill and smarts who will be one of the youngest players in the NOJHL, Carriere played the ’22-23 season with the Sudbury Under 16 Nickel Capital Wolves of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League. In 31 games, playoffs included, for Nickel Caps, Carriere connected for six goals, 10 assists, 16 points.
• Connor Desbois. Desbois will be following in his father’s footsteps when he hits the ice for the Vikings this coming season. Desbois, an Elliot Lake product who is a 2006 birth year forward, is the son of Kevin Desbois. The older Desbois was a defenseman with the old Elliot Lake Vikings of the NOJHL from 1994 to 1996. The younger Desbois has spent the past two seasons with the Sudbury Nickel Capitals of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League. In total, the 5-foot-7, 160 pound Desbois produced 10 goals, eight assists, 18 points in 58 games, playoffs included, for the Nickel Capitals.
• Sam Keene. Keene, who hails from the Thunder Bay area, is somewhat on the small side at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds. Keene, who has a 2005 birth date, is committed to move across the northern regions of Ontario from the Thunder Bay Under 18 Kings to Elliot Lake and be one of the goalies for the Vikings this coming season.
• Sam Verbonac. A defenseman, Verbonac is poised to suit up for the Vikings following a trade with the Huntsville Otters of the Provincial Jr. C Hockey League earlier this summer. Verbonac, who has a 2005 birth date, is a Sault Ste. Marie product who, prior to heading to Huntsville, was a steady defender for the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League.