NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013
Countdown to face-off – Team Preview: Sudbury Nickel Barons
SUDBURY – As puck drop to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s regular season nears, a team-by-team preview is being offered heading towards the start of the 2013-14 campaign.
The second team synopsis is of the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
Sudbury, who stormed out of the gate last season by winning their first eight games, will look to do so again in 2013-14 as they kick off the NOJHL campaign at home Wednesday vs. the visiting Abitibi Eskimos in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff.
The Nickel Barons, who finished third in the league standing a year ago with a 29-18-0-1 mark, will have a new head coach this go around as former Sudbury assistant Trevor Blanchard takes over from Dave Clancy who departed the squad to join the staff of the Laurentian Voyageurs program.
Offensively the club will have some big skates to fill with last year’s NOJHL leading scorer Sebastien Leroux graduating while league most valuable player Darcy Haines being dealt to the Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL) in the off-season.
Looking to provide some offensive numbers will be returning forward Giovanni Foschia as the ’94 picked up 25 points, including 11 goals, in 46 games last season.
The second year right handed shot is fresh off attending the Sudbury Wolves (OHL) training camp.
“He is big and strong he is a great skater,” said Nickel Barons general manager Oscar Clouthier. “We are looking for a lot of offense this year from him.”
Helping anchor the back-end for Sudbury is 20-year-old defenceman Brett Dusick.
“He is very aggressive in his play and puts up a lot of points,” offered Clouthier. “He’ll play the power play and has a real good shot from the point and we are looking for leadership from Brett.”
Between the pipes the Nickel Barons will look towards another solid season from goalkeeper Michael Muzyka.
The 17-year-old stopper, who also attended the OHL Wolves camp, had 12 wins in his rookie year in the NOJHL and finished fifth in goals-against average among those who played 1,000 minutes or more last season.
“We will be looking for Michael to improve on his last year as he will be our No. 1 goalie,” states the Nickel Barons GM. “Michael is big and covers a lot of the net and he is very aggressive in his style of play.”
Among the newcomers set to join the roster in 2013-14 are defencemen Yanic Hebert and Kyle Fransen.
Both are 1995-born D-men coming from the AAA midget ranks with Hebert having played for the Hearst Elans and Fransen with the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves.
At six-foot-one, 200 lbs, Clouthier likes what he sees in Hebert.
“He’s a big strong D with a good shot who sees the ice very well and will be a defensive asset.”
As for Fransen he sees some upside in him as well.
Kyle is a smart player and will see power play time this year. He played six games with the Sudbury Wolves last year and is a crisp passer with a decent shot.”
Another graduate of the Sudbury minor hockey system joining the squad is former ’95 Nickel Cap Wolves netminder Andrew Lefebrve.
He finished second in goals-against average in the Great North Midget League last season with a 2.18 mark and was tied for the GNML lead in shutouts with three.
“Quick and agile we expect him to be a strong support for our returning goalie,” said Clouthier when referring to the rookie puck stopper.
After the Nickel Barons season opener Wednesday vs. Abitibi they begin a home-and-home with Kirkland Lake on the road Saturday at 7:30 p.m.