NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
League-leading Gold Miners rack up records with fast start
SUDBURY – The hottest team to start the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season, in the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, has seen the 2013-14 edition of the squad already set a number of team records.
According to figures supplied by NOJHL statistician and historian David Harrison, the Gold Miners have set a new club mark for most victories, without a defeat, to start the year at five.
That run of five straight, for Marc Lafleur’s squad, also established a team-best for consecutive triumphs at any point in the season in their brief history.
Kirkland Lake also sports a new team winning streak record at home, which sits at three, while last Wednesday’s victory in Sudbury was the first time they had won their opening road game of a season.
At 5-0 the Gold Miners are presently the only unbeaten and untied team among the eight clubs that comprise the league.
GAME TIME: Another eight-game slate is in store as week 3 competition gets underway tonight in Copper Cliff as the Sudbury Nickel Barons entertain the visiting North Bay Trappers at 7:30 p.m.
The contest will be the first of a home-and-home between the two sides as they’ll meet again Friday at 7 p.m. with West Ferris Arena in North Bay serving as the venue.
Also on tap Friday sees Kirkland Lake looking to extend their multiple winning streaks as they host the Elliot Lake Bobcats in a 7:30 p.m. start at “The Joe.”
Another highly anticipated match-up that night will feature a pair of 3-1 teams hitting the ice at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie as the Soo Thunderbirds take on the Espanola Rivermen.
This game is actually a rematch of last year’s NOJHL final with the Rivermen franchise having been the 2012-13 league champions before relocating from North Bay to Espanola in the off-season.
It will be a rubber game of sorts as while the Thunderbirds fell in seven games of the NOJHL final last season, they bounced back to eliminate the then Trappers at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, which was hosted by North Bay.
Saturday has the Bobcats competing in the middle contest of a three-game weekend road trip as they pay a visit to Iroquois Falls to tangle with the Abitibi Eskimos. The opening face-off in that one is set for 7:30 p.m. at Jus Jordan Arena.
That same evening the Blind River Beavers will be at home to Sudbury at 7:30 p.m. before they wrap-up their week Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. vs. the T-Birds.
The final game on the weekly docket also goes Sunday as Elliot Lake pays a visit to West Ferris Arena to take on the hometown Trappers at 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
North Bay @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland)
Friday, Sept. 20
Sudbury @ North Bay 7 p.m. (West Ferris)
Elliot Lake @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Espanola @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Saturday, Sept. 21
Elliot Lake @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Sudbury @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Sunday, Sept. 21
Soo @ Blind River 2 p.m. (Community Centre)
Elliot Lake @ North Bay 3:30 p.m. (West Ferris)
STATS PACK: A number of NOJHLers have some notable statistical marks heading into week 3 play.
Steve Babin of Kirkland Lake has points in each of his first five games accumulating seven in total to sit second overall in league offensive numbers.
The Elliot Lake Bobcats trio of Andrew Paulshaj, Brett Wagner and Aaron Carmichael all have modest three-game point streaks on the go.
Goaltenders Marc Audet of Kirkland Lake and Alex Chandler of Espanola had the first two shutouts of the young season after just 14 total games played. There were only eight shutouts posted by NOJHL netminders all of last season.
ONLINE ACTION: Each and every NOJHL game this season is available online on a pay-per-view basis via FASTHockey.
Fans can view the games through the FASTHockey link on the league website at www.nojhl.com.
NOJHL 3 STARS: The most recent NOJHL “3 Stars” of the week were Brennen Dubchak (Espanola), Jeremy Picard-Fiset (Kirkland Lake) and Anthony Miller (Soo) as the trio all played pivotal roles in seeing their respective club record multiple victories this past week.
BRENNEN DUBCHAK, (F), ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – Saturday saw the soon to be 20-year-old forward, who hails from Kenora, Ont., become the latest skater in the NOJHL to register a hat-trick already this season while also adding an assist in a 5-0 blanking of Blind River.
Dubchak erupted in the first period in that triumph over the Beavers by striking shorthanded for the game-winning goal before adding two more at even strength along with drawing a helper before the opening stanza was complete to help lead the Rivermen to their third consecutive win.
His four-point performance ties him for the highest single-game output in the NOJHL so far this season and he also nabbed a share of the early league-lead in shorthanded efforts.
JEREMY PICARD-FISET, (D), KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – With the Gold Miners off to a flying start and scoring the most goals in the NOJHL so far while also allowing, on average, the fewest markers against, much of that credit goes to Picard-Fiset, the Kirkland Lake defenceman who has been a vital cog in each of those categories.
The 19-year-old Barraute, Que., native notched his first goal of the 2013-14 campaign, in a shutout victory over Sault Ste. Marie Friday and then set-up the deciding tally in a triumph over Abitibi Sunday, which marked the second time he has assisted on a game-winner this season in helping the Marc Lafleur-coached side start off 5-0.
His five helpers have Picard-Fiset sharing the NOJHL assist lead and he is furthermore knotted for third in overall points with six.
ANTHONY MILLER, (F), SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The efforts of the Thunderbirds’ veteran forward helped his club take two of three on a tough weekend road trip.
Following a shutout loss to league-leading Kirkland Lake Friday, Miller led his team to victory Saturday over Abitibi dishing out three assists, including setting-up the game winner in a 5-2 win over the Eskimos.
Miller, who hails from Sault Ste. Marie, then capped off his weekend in fine style for his hometown club by scoring on a wonderful individual effort in the second overtime to lift the T-Birds to a dramatic 3-2 decision in North Bay.
This marked the second time in as many outings he has notched the game-winner against the Trappers, putting him in a tie for the league lead in that department with two. Miller, who has had a hand in each of his team’s three wins to date, is also tied for third in total points in the NOJHL with six.
NOJHL SHOWCASE: The NOJHL is slated to host a league Showcase Weekend Jan. 10-11 in Espanola.
A total of four league regular season games, which will count in the NOJHL standings, will be played at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
The goal is to further showcase the players of the NOJHL in one location to further assist NCAA, CIS, CHL and NHL scouts allowing them access to all league members clubs in one venue.
NOJHL SHOWCASE GAMES
Friday, Jan. 10
Elliot Lake vs. Espanola 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 12
Kirkland Lake vs. Blind River 1:30 p.m.
Abitibi vs. Soo 4:15 p.m.
Sudbury vs. North Bay 7:15 p.m.
CENTRAL CANADA CUP: Over the Christmas break the NOJHL will be sending an all-star team that will compete in the Central Canada Cup Challenge Dec. 27-29 in Terrebonne, Que.
There the NOJHLers will go up against similar all-star squads from the Maritime, Quebec, Central Canada and Ontario Jr. Hockey Leagues.
This marks the second time in three years the league will take part in the event.
DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The NOJHL champion will move on to represent the league at the 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship.
That four-team event will be hosted by the OJHL’s Wellington Dukes and will run April 29 – May 3 at the Essroc Arena in the Wellington and District Community Centre.
ROYAL BANK CUP: The DHC title holder will then move on to represent the region at the 2014 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship with that tournament being hosted by the BCHL’s Vernon Lakers May 10-18 in Vernon, B.C.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS – The Eskis lone game of the week is Saturday as they take on Elliot Lake at Jus Jordan. That contest will be the fourth of five straight on home ice. They are 0-2-1-0 in the first three. … Last season’s leading goal scorer Aaron Kerr was acquired by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL for a player development fee. … Zach Innes and Brennan Roy share the team scoring lead with three points apiece. … Brady Clouthier tops the clubs in goals with two, including one game-winner. … Netminder Sylvain Morin leads all goalies in the NOJHL in minutes played at just under 247 and saves made with 257. He is also fourth overall in save percentage at .924 among those who have played 60 minutes of more so far this season.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – The Beavers will get a double dose of NOJHL action this weekend as they host Sudbury Saturday and Sault Ste. Marie Sunday at the Community Centre. This will conclude five straight on home ice before having their next three contests on the road … The club enters play this week with a 2-2 record as they sit in fourth place in the league standings. … Tyler Shanush and Sean Gruenhagen share the team point lead with five each. Shanush is also tied for the NOJHL-lead in game-winning goals with two and is knotted for third spot in overall tallies with four.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The Bobcats have played the fewest regular season games of any NOJHL squad to date at three. They’ll double that number this weekend with road games at Kirkland Lake, Abitibi and North Bay this weekend. … Elliot Lake with then play four straight and six of seven after that at home on Centennial Arena ice. … Andrew Palushaj and Brett Wagner are both averaging two points-per-game early on with six in total after three outings to lead the team. The duo sit tied for third in league scoring. … Palushaj’s five goals to date are the second most of any skater in the league. … Wagner and Aaron Carmichael share top spot in assists in the NOJHL at five. … Goaltender Etienne Roy has played the third most minutes of any stopper at nearly 184. He is also third in shots faced at 114.
ESPANOLA RIVERMEN – Winners of three straight the Rivermen sit tied for second in the NOJHL standings with Sault Ste. Marie at six points apiece. … They’ll look to add to their victory total and move into sole possession of second spot as they take on the Thunderbirds Friday at Essar Centre. … That contest will mark the fifth of six in succession played on the road before the club returns to Espanola for their highly anticipated home opener, Friday, Sept. 27 vs. Sudbury. … Alex Chandler made his first NOJHL start a memorable one as the Toronto native stopped all 24 shots he faced to shutout Blind River on Sept. 14. … Brandon Janke leads the Rivermen in scoring with six points, which also ties him for third overall in the league. … The trio of Brennen Dubchak, Duane Wainman and Robert Smythe are all next with five. … Corbin Bean is tied for the league-lead in game-winning goals with two.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – Of the 10 Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues that have already begun their regular seasons, the Gold Miners are one of four CJHL teams that is unbeaten and untied after playing a minimum of four games. Fort McMurray (AJHL) and Sherbrooke (LJJAAAQ) are also 5-0 while Penticton (BCHL) is 4-0. … Kirkland Lake will look to extend their franchise best five-game win streak Friday when they host Elliot Lake at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in their only contest of the week. … Mathieu Lecompte and Steven Babin sit one-two in NOJHL scoring with nine and seven points respectively. Lecompte also leads the league in goals with six and sits tied for first in power play tallies with two where he is joined by fellow forward Tanner Lachance. … Babin meanwhile is knotted for top spot in assists with five. Teammate Jeremy Picard-Fiset is also one of five NOJHLers pacing that category. …Netminder Kenny Fitzgerald is second in goals-against average overall at 0.90. He is also second in save percentage at .967 while Jessie Morin is third at .944.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – The new version of the North Bay Trappers picked up their first point of the season in their last outing, a hard-fought 3-2 setback in double overtime vs. Sault Ste. Marie. … Despite having gone 0-3-0-1 the Trappers have been highly competitive having only lost by a combined seven goals in those first four outings. … Rookie Zach Turner leads the team offensively with five points. … Ryan Demyen is next with four points. Both he and Turner share the club lead in tallies with three apiece. … The Trappers have a busy week with three games in five nights on tap starting this evening in Sudbury.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The Thunderbirds will face a stiff test Friday when they entertain the also 3-1 Espanola Rivermen at Essar Centre. … The squad then heads to Blind River for a Sunday matinee. … Home ice has been good to the Soo as they only had three defeats, including one in overtime, all of last season. They are 1-0 at Essar Centre so far in 2013-14. … Gavin Burbach and Anthony Miller share the team lead offensively with six points apiece. That ties them for third overall in the NOJHL. … Of the three victories the squad has to date Anthony Miller has scored the game-winner twice and assisted on the other. … Rookie netminder Brian Kment won his first career start on Sunday at North Bay. He picked up his first victory last season in a 25-minute relief stint against Elliot Lake.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – The Nickel Barons will look to extend their modest winning streak to two games tonight as they host North Bay in the first of a Wednesday-Friday home-and-home set against the Trappers. Sudbury’s other game this week is Saturday at Blind River. … The team had netminder Michael Muzyka and forward Dylan Callaghan join the club this week after the duo were reassigned by the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. … Ryan Punkari tops the team offensively with six points in four games. His five assists ties him for the overall league lead in that department. … August Jarecki is second in scoring with four points. …Eight of the Nickel Barons next 13 games will be played at home.