Todd Stencill gets the job done

September 1, 2015

Suffice to say that the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are in capable, experienced hands with Todd Stencill at the helm as general manager.

To be sure, the 50-year old Stencill has a tidy association with the NOJHL that dates back 20 years to when he was an assistant coach with erstwhile champion Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats.

Since then, he has been an assistant with two other NOJHL teams that were based in Elliot Lake — the Vikings and Bobcats — before being appointed GM of the expansion, community-owned Wildcats last year.

Stencill was also coach-general manager of the old Manitoulin Islanders when he returned to northern Ontario in 2005 after being out in western Canada for seven years for work purposes.

And after a one-year gig in Manitoulin — the franchise faltered and eventually folded after Stencill was let go — he spent three seasons as bench boss of the Blind River Beavers, leaving as the winningest coach and with the only playoff-series triumph in franchise history.

Since departing Blind River, it’s been all Elliot Lake as far as hockey goes for Stencill, who also works full-time as general manager of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

What he and coach Nathan Hewitt accomplished in Elliot Lake during the 2014-2015 NOJHL season was rather astounding.

The Stencill-Hewitt duo built a first-year expansion team over the course of a mere two-month span last summer and then directed the Wildcats to a strong second-place finish and berth in the West Division finals before losing to the eventual champion Soo Thunderbirds.

And as good as the Wildcats were on the ice, they were also a box-office success by finishing second in attendance in 2014-2015 with a per-game average of 508.

Now, with the 2015-2016 season approaching, the Stencill-managed Wildcats are the early favourite among some NOJHL watchers to knock the reigning champion Thunderbirds from atop their West Division perch.

In fact, with a good core from the successful 2014-2015 team back in Elliot Lake for the 2015-2016 season, the Wildcats are seen as a championship contender in the 12-team NOJHL in what has the makings of being an ultra-competitive league.

How the 2015-2016 season plays out — the reigning champion Thunderbirds, the Wildcats, Soo Eagles, Rayside-Balfour Canadians, Cochrane Crunch, Powassan Voodoos and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners are all seen as legitimate title contenders — remains to be seen but the fact of the matter is that the NOJHL has a solid presence in Elliot Lake thanks in large part to the veteran general manager.

“It’s not easy running a junior A hockey team,” says Stencill. “Winning is great but this is also a bottom-line business and you have to pay the bills to stay to business. I like what we have been able to do in Elliot Lake in a short period of time. We have great fans and supporters.”

Stencill has never been one to make any team that he has coached or managed about himself.

What he does, he does well — and with small-market teams, no less.

PHOTO: Elliot Lake Wildcats GM Todd Stencill, doing a media interview with CTV.

What you think about “Todd Stencill gets the job done”

  1. Todd is a very good man to work with, pulls no punches, always a straight shooter… the Beavers certainly missed him when he decided to leave a few years back however he went on to make his team a better contender in Elliot Lake . Todd is a friendly person and always has time to chat with fans and players. He is definitely an asset to the NOJHL.

  2. Wildcats will be knocked out by Rayside this year (in my opinion.) They also have many returning players but added some very strong newbies. They will be the team to watch.

  3. Stensil shood tell Manitoolin to Puck Off you got no team now

  4. My son had the privilege of playing for EL last year, and he has the utmost respect for both Mr. Stencill and Coach Hewitt. Both are first class in their treatment of players and their competence. I also have nothing but good things to say, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the team last year from beginning to end. Go Wildcats!!

  5. Elliot Lake has a good team lots of upfront talent but they are sound defensively as well – they upended Blind River tonight with solid D… Score was 8-2 but the Beavers skated with them – Blind River should be competitive this season – young team with lots of speed and grit – but the league is tough!!

  6. Todd is a very respected individual on and off the ice. Our time together in Blind River was one of my best in hockey. Continued success in Elliot Lake Todd.

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