NOJHL Notebook: Season opener tonight



Release Date: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

NOJHL Notebook: Season opener tonight

SUDBURY – The 2014-15 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season kicks off tonight as the Sudbury Nickel Barons host the Mattawa Blackhawks in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena.

Thursday evening the Cochrane Crunch will make their NOJHL regular season debut as they welcome Mattawa to the Tim Horton Event Centre at 7:30 p.m.

The first Friday action on the NOJHL schedule features the defending champion Kirkland Lake Gold Miners hosting the Blackhawks, who finish up a three-game road trip, at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in a 7:30 p.m. face-off.

That same night the Crunch will be back on home ice as they will welcome the Powassan Voodoos for their initial NOJHL match-up.

Opening week play will then wrap-up Saturday as Powassan heads to Iroquois Falls to tangle with Abitibi at 7:30 p.m. at Jus Jordan Arena.

FASTHockey: Each and every NOJHL regular season and playoff game will be available online, on a pay-per-view basis, via the FASTHockey link on the league website at

Games will also be scored live online throughout the season on the NOJHL website,, courtesy of the league’s statistical provider Sport Ngin.

WAITING GAME: Three of the nine NOJHL clubs will have a little extra time to tinker with and formulate their rosters as they will not see their first regular season game action until late next week.

The expansion Elliot Lake Wildcats will make their debut Friday, Sept. 12 as they host Mattawa in a 7:30 p.m. start at Centennial Arena.

Meanwhile the final two teams in the league to take to the ice, the Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds, will tangle on Sunday, Sept. 14 with that match-up slated for 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.

PRESEASON PLAY: The hottest team in league preseason play was the Cochrane Crunch.

They came away victorious in all four exhibition contests they took part in and outscored their opponents 33-7 in the process.

The Crunch trio of Cody Gratton, Aviv Milner and Reed Gregory combined for 27 points in the preseason with 10, 9 and 8 points respectively.

Cochrane netminder Troy Paquette was an impressive 3-0 with a stingy 0.72 goals-against average and a stingy .972 save percentage.

Meanwhile the defending NOJHL champion Kirkland Lake Gold Miners were a solid 3-1 in four exhibition encounters with the Abitibi Eskimos.

Pacing the Gold Miners offensively was newcomer Tyler Romain, who lit the lamp four times and dished out three assists.

Steven Babin, Tristan Hazlett, Joel Fortin and Alexi Rivet supplied four preseason points apiece.

Meanwhile Ryan Kerr and Ryan Attwood were five-point men for the Eskimos.

PLAYOFFS: All nine NOJHL clubs will qualify for the postseason.

In the league’s western division the No. 1 seed there will take on the No. 4 team in one divisional semifinal while No. 2 will take on No. 3 in the other.

Meanwhile in the NOJHL east the fourth and fifth place sides meet in a best-of-three qualification series with the winner there meeting the No. 1 seed in the division semifinal.

Like the west, No. 2 squares off with No. 3 in the other divisional semifinal.

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The NOJHL postseason will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship.

The 2015 DHC will be hosted by the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, April 28 through May 2 at Ice for Kids Arena.

Joining the NOJHL winners and host Lakers will be the title holders of the SIJHL, or league finalist should Fort Frances, repeat as SIJHL champions, and the champion of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

RBC CUP: The Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion will then head to Portage la Prairie, Man., May 9-17 to compete in the 2015 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A event.

Serving as host of the RBC will be the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

They will be joined by the Dudley-Hewitt winner as well as the recipient of the Fred Page Cup eastern Canadian tournament as well as the winner and finalist of the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup.

ON TAP: Upcoming NOJHL games.

Sept. 10
Abitibi @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Elliot Lake @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland)
Sept. 11
Sudbury @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Sept. 12
Cochrane @ Powassan 7:30 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Mattawa @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Sudbury @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Sept. 13
Sudbury @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Sept. 14
Blind River @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes)