NOJHL Divisional Semifinals preview



Release Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015

NOJHL Divisional Semifinals preview

SUDBURY – Divisional semifinal play in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs get underway tonight on two fronts as the Cochrane Crunch host the Abitibi Eskimos in the opening of their West Division series while the Soo Thunderbirds welcome the Blind River Beavers to start their East Division set.

The following is a preview on each of the four best-of-seven series:

East Semifinal 1
No. 1 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 4 Powassan Voodoos
Best-of-seven series

Game action in this series gets underway Saturday at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake.

The two sides meet a total of eight times during the course of the regular season with the Gold Miners winning seven of those contests, including one that was decided in overtime.

Ryan Aubertin led Kirkland Lake offensively against Powassan registering 16 points on five goals and 11 assists.

Steve Babin was next with 14 points followed by Connor Thie and Ethan Strong, who picked up 13 points each vs. the Voodoos.

NOJHL MVP and rookie of the year Steve Harland paced Powassan in scoring vs. the Gold Miners by notching six goals and adding four assists.

Brendan D’Agostino was second with one tally and six helpers while four different skaters on the squad had four points apiece.

The Voodoos advanced to this series after taking a best-of-three set in straight games over Mattawa earlier this week.

Kyle Moore led his side with five points, including four goals. He also notched the game-winner in both contests against the Blackhawks.

Matt Young picked up each of the wins in net for Powassan in the series. He also had his club’s lone triumph vs. the Gold Miners during the season.

Josh Erickson went 3-0 for Kirkland Lake in 2014-15 while Devon Debastos was 4-1.

Special teams saw the Gold Miners go 16-50 on the power play with Powassan only 2-24.

Series schedule
Game 1: Saturday, March 14 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 2: Sunday, March 15 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 3: Tuesday, March 17 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 18 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 5*: Friday, March 20 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 22 @ Powassan 7:30 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, March 24 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
*-if necessary

East Semifinal 2
No. 2 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 3 Abitibi Eskimos
Best-of-seven series

The Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane will be the site of Game 1 of this series tonight in what should be a tightly contested affair.

Cochrane and Abitibi were as close as you could get in the final regular season standings finishing with 60 points each.

The Crunch earned home ice advantage by virtue of one more win overall.

Match-ups during the regular season were also close with each team winning five times; including both clubs picking up one overtime decision each.

The NOJHL’s leader goal scorer Cody Gratton was productive vs. the Eskimos amassing 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists.

Dustin Cordeiro was next in Crunch offensive numbers vs. Abitibi as he scored 14 times and set-up five more for 19 points.

Josh Racek followed with 14 points, which included eight markers.

The Eskimos trio of Brenden Locke, Brady Clouthier and Brennan Roy piled up 50 points between them in games against Cochrane this season.

Locke led the way with 18 followed by Clouthier’s 17 and Roy’s 15.

Clouthier supplied 11 goals along the way with Locke contributing seven and Roy six.

Brett Young and Ben Auger both had wins in net for Cochrane over Abitibi in 2014-15.

Eskimos goaltender Logan Ferrington went 3-0, but he’ll miss the first five games of the series due to league suspension.

Chet Tooker went 1-2-1 for Abitibi in five appearances vs. the Crunch.

Both teams were also even on the power play with each side going 7-47 with the man advantage. Cochrane did however score shorthanded four times.

Series schedule
Game 1: Thursday, March 12 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 2: Saturday, March 14 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan Arena)
Game 3: Monday, March 16 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 18 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 5*: Friday, March 20 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Game 6*: Saturday, March 21 @ Iroquois Falls 8 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 7*: Tuesday, March 24 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
*-if necessary

West Semifinal 1
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 4 Blind River Beavers
Best-of-seven series

Fresh off capturing their second consecutive league regular season crown, Sault Ste. Marie enters their series against Blind River as prohibitive favourites in this one. Game 1 goes tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre at 7 p.m.

The Thunderbirds dominated the season-set winning all 12 meetings, once of which was in overtime.

T-Birds forward Jaren Bellini was an offensive force against the Beavers registering points in all dozen contests the two teams played recording 29 in total on 16 goals and 13 assists.

Nicolas Tassone was next with 22 points, including 12 markers followed by Nicolas Sicoly’s 19 points on seven tallies and 11 helpers.

Nathan Hans was the top producer for Blind River vs. the Soo scoring three times and adding four assists.

Andrew Trowbridge was next with four while Chris Hrabec and Austin Lamont had three apiece.

Mario Culina went 8-0 between the pipes for the T-Birds in games with the Beavers while Brian Kment was 4-0.

The Thunderbirds were 12-54 on the power play and Blind River was 8-46.

Series schedule
Game 1: Thursday, March 12 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 2: Saturday, March 14 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 3: Sunday, March 15 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes)
Game 4: Tuesday, March 17 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Blind River)
Game 5*: Thursday, March 19 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes)
Game 6*: Saturday, March 21 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Blind River)
Game 7*: Monday, March 23 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes)
*-if necessary

West Semifinal 2
No. 2 Elliot Lake Wildcats vs. No. 3 Sudbury Nickel Barons
Best-of-seven series

Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake will be the venue for this series opener Friday as the Wildcats and Nickel Barons engage in this best-of-seven before switching to McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff for Game 2 Saturday.

While Elliot Lake went 9-2-1 in games with Sudbury, four of them were decided in overtime as the Wildcats came away victorious in each of those match-ups. One game also ended in a 1-1 double OT draw.

Spencer MacLean was the big point producer for Elliot Lake vs. the Nickel Barons this season picking up 20 overall on nine goals and 11 assists.

Cole Hepler sat second with 16 as he tallied four times and set-up 12 more.

Wildcats defenceman Nathan Campbell was third on the club picking up 14 points vs. Sudbury on five markers and nine helpers.

As for the Nickel Barons, August Jarecki topped the team in points against Elliot Lake with 12 as he found the back of the net four times and added eight assists.

Then there was Jacob Bonin, who supplied eight points, including a team-best six goals.

Christopher Rossi and D-man Kyle Fransen were next with seven points apiece.

A.J. Smith went 5-1-0-1 in games he played vs. Sudbury while Allan Menary was 3-1.

Kevin Labelle was 2-4-2-1 for Sudbury in meetings with the Wildcats, but they will be without the services of the goaltender for the first four games of this series as he serves the remainder of a suspension picked up this past Friday in a game vs. Abitibi. Jessie Morin was 0-2-1-0.

Elliot Lake was 17-62 on the power play in the season-set and the Nickel Barons were 13-58.

Sudbury did hold the edge in shorthanded tallies 2-1.

Series schedule
Game 1: Friday, March 13 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial Arena)
Game 2: Saturday, March 14 @ Sudbury 8:30 p.m. (McClelland Arena)
Game 3: Monday, March 16 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 18 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 21 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 22 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland)
Game 7*: Tuesday, March 24 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
*-if necessary

Each game of every series can be viewed online on a pay-per-view basis at

You can also following live scoring through the league website at