Up north in the O

October 20, 2014

Two of the three northern teams in the 20-member Ontario Hockey League — Soo Greyhounds and North Bay Battalion — are among the early contenders this 2014-2015 season.

Then there is the OHL’s other northern Ontario team, the Sudbury Wolves, who are in last place overall and may be looking at a coaching change.

In Sault Ste. Marie, the Greyhounds have a record of 8-2 and are off to one of their best starts in years led by goalie Brandon Halverson and 17-year old forward Blake Speers, who leads the Soo in scoring.

But this is a season of powerhouse teams in the OHL and the Greyhounds are merely one of them.

In the Western Conference, as the Hounds are 8-2 the Erie Otters are 8-0-1 with the OHL’s top two scorers in Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome. And let’s not forget about the 6-2 Guelph Storm.

In the Eastern Conference, the Oshawa Generals are 9-1-1 and the Belleville Bulls are 8-2.

Back up north, there’s the Stan Butler-coached Battalion of North Bay, which has a record of 4-1-3.

Personally, I like any team that is coached by Butler who, to me, ranks as one of the most-underated coaches over the 39 years that I have been covering the OHL.


At the bottom of the OHL standings is Sudbury, which after a season-opening win, has lost nine straight games.

There are rumbles in Wolves country that the job of head coach Paul Fixter is on the line and there just may be some merit to those rumours.

Let’s face it, Wolves general manager Blaine Smith put together a skilled, veteran-laden team for Fixter in 2013-2014 but Sudbury went out meekly and weakly in the first round of the playoffs.

So what does Fixter have to say about the Wolves having the OHL’s worst record at 1-9 thus far this season?

“We have to score some goals and our power play has gone dry. Guys are getting the opportunity to play, young and old alike, and it’s up to them to produce. Last place is a terrible place to be but we have to start winning if we want to get out of last place.”

Understatements, to be sure.

PHOTO: North Bay Battalion coach Stan Butler.

What you think about “Up north in the O”

  1. North Bay have had two of the best Coach’s in OHL history with first Bert Templeton and now Stan Butler.
    Good Article RR and yes the Woofers are in big truble.

  2. Come on now Mr Russon, we both know the Wolves will be in the thick of things come the seasons end, were just giving the other 19 clubs a head start ! will catch up later lol. Anyway nice to see the Hounds and Battalion doing well, and to think Nurse on his way back to the Hounds WOW.

  3. The Soo might just be the best team in the OHL this season. They are certainly talented and well coached.
    Stan Butler teams have always been good but usually pretty boring. I’ve seen the Battalion play twice this year and the people of NB are for sure treated to some exciting hockey.
    As for Sudbury, ouch! what a gong show that has become. They are simply coached and don’t have enough talented players. #19 did the right thing to quit and focus on school but he’s not the reason the team is so bad. Whose going to replace Fixter? that’s not going to cost much? Right now, the best hockey to watch in Subury is the Laurentian Voyageurs Mens team in my opinion.

  4. I agree with you RR that Smitty did put together a good team in Sudbury last season and it was Fixter who blew it. If the Wolves can find a good Coach to step in like the Soo did with Keefe 2 years ago then I say they need to make the coaching change.

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