SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League final for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy, between the Timmins Rock and Soo Thunderbirds, begins Thursday evening with a 7 p.m. start at McIntyre Arena.
Here’s a glance at the best-of-seven affair that will provide the winner, not only the NOJHL title, but a trip to Portage la Prairie, Man., to compete in next month’s Centennial Cup, Canadian Jr. A championship.
HOW THEY ARRIVED: The regular season-winning Rock collected series wins over the French River Rapids (4-1) and Powassan Voodoos (4-0) to claim the league’s East Division crown, in just one game over the minimum.
As the for the Thunderbirds, the defending NOJHL champions, persevered over the Blind River Beavers (4-1) and the Greater Sudbury Cubs (4-1) in a pair of five-game triumphs to capture NOJHL West honours.
Rock: Brandon Perry
Thunderbirds: Cole Jarrett
Rock: Playoffs: 8-1 – Regular season: 46-10-2-0 (1st NOJHL East/1st Overall)
Thunderbirds: Playoffs: 8-2 – Regular season: 36-15-3-3 (3rd NOJHL West/5th Overall)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: It was pretty evenly matched between the two teams in their three regular season meetings this season.
Each side won once on home ice by identical 4-2 scores, while Sault Ste. Marie pulled out a 3-2 overtime decision when the clubs met back in October at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury.
Oct. 4 @ NOJHL Showcase @ Sudbury (3-2 Thunderbirds – OT)
Oct. 14 @ Soo (4-2 Thunderbirds)
March 19 @ Timmins (4-2 Rock)
Game 1: Thursday, April 20 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 2: Friday, April 21 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 3: Sunday, April 23 @ Soo 6 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 4: Monday, April 24 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 5*: Wednesday, April 26 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 30 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, May 2 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
PLAYOFFS: The one and only time a Timmins-based team won the NOJHL championship was back in 1994-95 when the then Timmins Golden Bears skated to the title. … Nolan Ring and team captain Nicolas Pigeon share the team lead in playoff scoring with 13 points apiece. … Ring has scored four times, including a game-winner, and dished out nine assists, while Pigeon has a trio of markers and 10 helpers to his credit. … Teammate Brady Haroun is right behind them with a dozen points, including a club-best seven tallies. … Nicholas Fredericks’s trio of man advantage markers are the second-highest total in the league. … Lucas Lowe’s seven playoff points are the second-best total among rookies. … Ethan Pool enters the final with goals in four consecutive games. … Felix Cadieux-Fredette tops all Rock defencemen in offensive production in the post season with 10 points in nine outings, having scored twice while setting up eight others. … That ties him for second among all league blueliners. … Kenton Nyman and Christophe Petit are next on the squad with six points each. … Nyman’s five power play assists tie him for second among all players. … Goaltender Jacob Brown is 4-0 in the playoffs with a NOJHL-best 1.75 goals-against average and is also first in save percentage at .930. … Meanwhile, netminding partner Patrick Boivin sports a 4-1 record with a 2.14 GAA and a .914 save mark. … Timmins is 4-0 when scoring first in the postseason. … They are 5-0 on home ice to date and 3-1 on the road. … They have also won six playoff games in a row. … The Rock sit third on the power play so far in the playoffs at 26%, with 13 goals on a league-high 50 opportunities. … They are also third on the penalty kill at 86.7. … The Rock lead the way in shorthanded goals with three. … When leading after 40 minutes in the playoffs, Timmins is a perfect 6-0. … Their 23 third-period goals are the most of any team.
REGULAR SEASON: A banner campaign for Timmins saw them win both the league’s East Division title and the NOJHL’s overall regular season crown by going 45-8-3-2 and registering 95 points. … The Rock were led offensively by the tandem of NOJHL MVP Nicolas Pigeon and fellow 1st Team All-Star forward Brady Harroun. … Pigeon paced all league skaters in offensive numbers with 107 points. … He also led all players in assists with 81, while his 44 points on the power play topped all players. … As for Harroun, he became the first NOJHLer since 2016 to notch 50 goals in season. … His 50 tallies were the most in league play, as were his nine game-winning markers and 20-man advantage efforts. … Harroun’s 96 points trailed only Pigeon as he finished second overall in scoring. … Pigeon wrapped up the regular season with points in 21 straight contests while Harroun had a 20-game run to conclude play. … Nicholas Frederick’s three shorthanded markers tied him for second-highest in the league. … Kenyon Nyman, who also earned 1st Team NOJHL All-Star status, paced all league defencemen in assists and points with 49 and 60 respectively. … He was also tops in power play points among blueliners with 30. … Brandon Rossetti’s four game-winners tied for the league lead among defencemen. … Goaltenders Jacob Brown (1.49) and Patrick Boivin (1.98) both had solid seasons for Timmins, finishing one-two in the league in terms of goals-against average. … Brown was second in save percentage (.925), while Boivin (.920) sat sixth. … Brown’s seven shutouts led the NOJHL and Boivin, who led the league in wins (27) shared second with six shutouts to his credit. … The Rock scored the second-most goals on the season with 273 and allowed the fewest with just 111 against. … Timmins went 36-3-1-1 when scoring first in a game this season. … Special teams played a big part in the Rock’s success during the campaign as they led the NOJHL in power play success at 27.5% and were second on the P.K. at 84.5%. … The Rock were 40-1-0-2 when leading after two periods of play.
PLAYOFFS: The Thunderbirds are no strangers to winning NOJHL championships. … Not only are they the defending league title holders, the T-Birds have won it all five times since 2008-09. … They are a perfect 6-0 on the road in the playoffs and 2-2 at home. … The Sault Ste. Marie duo of Dharan Cap and Jackson Truchan share the NOJHL playoff scoring lead with 15 points apiece. Cap’s eight goals pace all league skaters. … Teammate Justin Mauro is right behind them with 14 points, with his 11 assists being the most of any NOJHLer. … Truchan and Mauro share the overall lead in power play points with seven apiece. … Truchan also paces all NOJHL rookies in offensive numbers. … Defenceman Kaden Dundas tops all players in power play markers with four. … His 10 points tie him for second by all league D-men. … Sault Ste. Marie netminder Landon Millers leads all goalkeepers in playoff wins with eight. … He has also played the most minutes at 602. … When scoring first so far in these playoffs, the Soo have yet to lose, having gone 5-0. … The Thunderbirds sit second overall on power play proficiency at 26.7%. … As for the penalty kill, they are first in the league at 89.5%. … The Soo has 17 first period goals in the 2023 postseason, the most of any team. … When holding a lead after two periods of play, the Thunderbirds are spotless at 7-0.
REGULAR SEASON: The NOJHL’s Top Defensive Forward award recipient, Dharan Cap also led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 68 points, including getting 30 goals. … His totals placed him ninth in league scoring. … First-year forward Jackson Truchan provided 57 points and veteran Youssef Chaouachi was third on the squad with 47 points. … Seven of Chaouachi’s 17 goals were game-winners, which tied him for third in the NOJHL. … Among rookies, Truchan placed second in scoring, was tops in tallies with 26 and ended up second in power play goals with eight. … Truchan and Wyatt Marlow provided five game-winning markers each. … A solid defensive core saw Brodie McConnell-Barker (35), Kaden Dundas (33) and Austin Fellinger (32) all contribute offensively as well for the Soo. … Likewise, D-man Ranon Joseph was over a point-per-game producer from the back-end with 23 in 14 games played, including notching a pair of game-winning goals. … Rookie netminder Landon Miller finished sixth in the league in average at 2.29 and tied for third in save percentage at .923 and won 14 times. … Fellow first-year goalkeeper Kolton Bourret had 19 wins, a GAA of 2.92, along with an .894 save mark. … When notching the game’s opening tally, the Thunderbirds went 26-5-3-1. … The Soo was seventh in the league while on the man advantage with a success rate of 20.3%. … While shorthanded, the T-Birds held a P.K. rate of 80.9%, which was sixth in the NOJHL. … The Soo notched the fifth-highest goal total on the campaign with 229 and gave up the fifth fewest at 161. … The Thunderbirds were a solid 25-0-3-1 when holding the lead after 40 minutes of play.
FORMER THUNDERBIRDS: Two key members of last season’s NOJHL championship team with the Thunderbirds are being highly touted by NHL Central Scouting.
The league’s top defenceman award recipient in 2021-22, Andrew Gibson, was tabbed 31st among North American skaters in the final NHL Draft Rankings, released Monday.
Meanwhile, the NOJHL’s MVP in 2021-22, Cooper Foster, was slotted 88th in the listings heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, this June in Nashville, Tenn.
UP NEXT: The NOJHL title holder will move on to the Centennial Cup, May 11-21, in Portage la Prairie, Man.
WHERE TO WATCH: All contests in the NOJHL final can be streamed live, and on demand, via HockeyTV.com.
Photo credit: Thomas Perry / Timmins Daily Press