NOJHL Notebook: Thunderbirds and Trappers proving fewer goals-against means overall success



Release Date: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

Thunderbirds and Trappers proving fewer goals-against means overall success

SUDBURY — It’s pretty much a given that keeping the puck out of your net means you’ll undoubtedly win your fair share of games with the top teams in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League standings proving that fact.

The NOJHL-leading Soo Thunderbirds have allowed the fewest goals-against of any club in the league at 51 while the second place North Bay Trappers sit No. 2 overall with only 54 goals given up so far this season.

For the defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Thunderbirds their goals-against total is the fifth lowest total of any club in the entire 128-team Canadian Junior Hockey League.

As for the Trappers they currently sit tied for seventh-best in least markers allowed at 54.

Only 16 squads across the CJHL have let in fewer than 60 tallies at this point in the season.

Off those clubs, including Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay, 11 of them are presently either in first or second place overall in their respective leagues.

Goals-against per game percentage wise sees the T-Birds ninth in the CJHL at 2.43 while the Trappers come in at 12th overall nationally.

The Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League has allowed the fewest goals so far at 34 in 22 games for a 1.55 average.

CJHL fewest goals allowed leaders: (As of Nov. 21)

Team League Place GP GA GA/G 
Minnesota Wilderness SIJHL 1st 22 34 1.55
Truro Bearcats MHL 2nd 21 45 2.14
Brooks Bandits AJHL 1st 23 46 2.00
Summerside Western Capitals MHL 1st 22 50 2.27
Soo Thunderbirds NOJHL 1st 21 51 2.43
Humboldt Broncos SJHL T-2nd 22 52 2.36
Flin Flon Bombers SJHL 1st 24 54 2.25
Trenton Golden Hawks OJHL T-2nd 23 54 2.35
North Bay Trappers NOJHL 2nd 21 54 2.57
Grand Prairie Storm AJHL 3rd 23 55 2.39
Amherst Ramblers MHL 4th 20 55 2.75
Penticton Vees BCHL 2nd 23 57 2.48
Chilliwack Chiefs BCHL 1st 23 57 2.48
Dauphin Kings MJHL T-3rd 21 57 2.71
Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners MHL 3rd 22 58 2.64
West Kelowna Warriors BCHL T-8th 22 59 2.68

WEEK 11: Week 11 in the NOJHL features six games on the slate with action getting underway tonight as the Sudbury Nickel Barons host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff.

Three tilts are scheduled for Friday including Sudbury visiting North Bay’s Memorial Gardens for a 7 p.m. face-off with the hometown Trappers.

That night’s other match-ups features the Gold Miners at home to the Beavers of Blind River and the Elliot Lake Bobcats looking to extend a season-high winning streak to three games as they host the Soo Thunderbirds at Centennial Arena. Both of those contests get underway at 7:30 p.m.

Week 11 concludes Saturday on two fronts as Blind River heads to Iroquois Falls to meet the Abitibi Eskimos while Kirkland Lake entertains North Bay. Puck drop in each of those games will be 7:30 p.m.

SHOUT OUT FOR SHUTOUTS: Two more shutouts were posted in the NOJHL this past week raising the total number of blankings so far this season to six.

Soo Thunderbirds rookie netminder Steven Dombrowski leads the league with two, including a 39-save performance Saturday in a 4-0 road victory vs. Abitibi.

North Bay puck stopper Dustin Hummel registered his first career shutout in the league Sunday kicking out all 38 attempts he faced in a 2-0 triumph over the Thunderbirds.

Off the six shutouts so far, all of them have been posted by the top three clubs in the NOJHL standings with the Soo picking up three, North Bay two and Kirkland Lake the other.

Joel Horodziejczyk (Soo), Greg Dodds (North Bay) and Chris Komma (Kirkland Lake) have accounted for those additional whitewashings.

FIVE-GAMER: A pair of NOJHLers in Sudbury’s Sebastien Leroux and Kirkland Lake’s Jordan Briand have five-game point streaks on the go.

Leroux, a 20-year-old Chelmsford product, who is currently fourth in league offensive production, has 10 points during his run on five goals and as many assists.

As for Briand, the Gold Miners forward who hails from Val d’Or, Que., he has seven points in that span, including a pair of tallies.

2013 DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The North Bay Trappers will serve as the host team for the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship tournament.

The five-day event will be held at North Bay Memorial Gardens April 30 through May 4. It will feature the Trappers along with the champions of the NOJHL, Ontario Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League taking part.

Should North Bay go on to capture the NOJHL championship, then the league finalist will round out the four-team field with a berth to the Royal Bank Cup national Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I. in May on the line.
The Minnesota Wilderness look to be early favourites to capture a third straight SIJHL title and return to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup as they league-best 19-3 record. 

Another U.S. based side in the Buffalo Jr. Sabres currently top the OJHL standings with 42 points as they are presently seven points clear of both the Trenton Golden Hawks and Georgetown Raiders who are tied for second overall.

NOJHL THREE STARS: The importance of solid goaltending was evident again last week, as one of the league’s busiest young puckstoppers grabs top spot in this latest installment of the NOJHL Three Stars of the Week for the time frame concluding Nov.18.

CORY SIMIC – ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS: For 18-year-old Whitby native Cory Simic, he likely arrived in Elliot Lake in the fall, knowing full well he would face a lot of pucks this year.

The young netminder has played a large part in a recent resurgence within the team, turning aside 86 of 93 shots that he faced last week as the Bobcats picked up back to back wins.

Pulling to win both striking distance of Abitibi and Blind River, Elliot Lake is sure to lean heavily on the services of Simic, who trails only Chris Komma (Kirkland Lake) and Greg Dodds (North Bay) in minutes played among NOJHL goaltenders.

SAMUEL WILBUR – BLIND RIVER BEAVERS: If the Blind River team defense can catch up to the club’s offensive acumen, the Beavers might be in line for a move up the standings.

The mill town boys scored nine goals in a pair of games last week, though allowing an even dozen spelled a pair of defeats for coach Doug McEwen and his crew.

Still, Saginaw native Samuel Wilbur now finds himself among the league top ten scorers after racking up a goal and five helpers last week.

The 19 year-old former member of the Tri City Icehawks increased his season output to nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 20 games to date.

GAVIN BURBACH – SOO THUNDERBIRDS: The league-leading T-Birds continue to enjoy offensive production from a variety of sources, with recently-acquired Gavin Burbach jumping into the mix this week.

Already with NOJHL experience under his belt from his time spent with the Soo Eagles, Burbach recorded a hat-trick to lead his new teammates to a 6-2 win over Kirkland Lake Friday night on the road.

The 19 year-old forward joins a lineup that already boasts the presence of four of the league’s top 10 scorers in Adam Ritchie (36 PTS), Darcy Casola (34 PTS), Greg Sartoretto (25 PTS) and Derek Battagin (25 PTS).


ABITIBI ESKIMOS – One game awaits the Eskimos this week as they welcome Blind River to Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday … The club will be looking snap a mini two-game losing streak in that game. … Abitibi remains fifth in the league standings with a 6-12-0-1 overall record. … Richard Therrien continues to pace all skaters in the NOJHL in goals with 20. He is fifth in total points in the NOJHL with 32. … After this week Abitibi will be away from Jus Jordan Arena for six of their next seven contests, which includes five on the road and one neutral site contest in Cochrane.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – The Beavers final three games in November will all be played on the road with contests vs. Kirkland Lake, Abitibi and Sudbury. … The club is winless in their past four. … Blind River sits sixth in the league standings with a 4-12-1-3 mark. … The Beavers are fourth in the league in goals scored with 76, but have allowed the second most against at 98. … With six points in his last two games Samuel Wilbur now leads the club offensively with 21 points. That leaves him tied for ninth in NOJHL scoring. Corey McEwen is right behind with 20 points.

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – Winners of two in succession the Bobcats will look to extend their streak Friday in their lone game of the week as they host league-leading Sault Ste. Marie at Centennial Arena. Despite their recent success the club is still seventh in the NOJHL standings with a 5-13-0-1 mark. … They have scored the fewest goals in the league so far this season with 52 and have allowed the most markers against at 101. … Nicholas Tassone and Steve Gaul share the team scoring lead with 12 points apiece… When scoring first in a game the Bobcats are 4-0-1, but only 1-13 when the opposition nets the opening tally in a contest. …Elliot Lake plays three of their next four at home.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – The Gold Miners begin a three-game in four-night stretch this evening in Sudbury. … Kirkland Lake remains in third place in the league standings with a 12-7-0-1 overall record, including 6-2 in their past eight. …. The club has allowed third fewest goals against to date with 61. … Connor McNally is averaging close to a point-per-game with 18 in 19 outings to lead the club. … Jordan Briand is next with 17 and also has a five-game point streak on the go. … Chris Komma is fourth in NOJHL goals-against average at .2.75 and in save percentage at .900 while playing the most minutes overall at 1003:34. … He has the second most wins in the league to date with 10.

NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – North Bay has two games on tap this week as they host Sudbury Friday and visit Kirkland Lake Saturday. … The Trappers were listed 18th in the most recent CJHL rankings. …They have allowed the second fewest goals in the NOJHL this season at 54. That is the tie for the seventh-lowest total in the entire 128-team NOJHL. … Goalkeeper Greg Dodds is second in goals-against average in the league at 2.38. He is tied for top spot in save percentage at .921. … Brandon Janke leads the team offensively and is sixth in NOJHL scoring with 27 points. .… Brennen Dubchak is 10th with 21 points in as many games.. … Cole Klippenstein leads all NOJHL D-men in points with 17. … North Bay is 7-0-1 when Graham Pickard picks up a point. … North Bay will host the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup.

SOO THUNDERBIRDS – Despite having a nine-game winning streak snapped in their last outing the Thunderbirds are still an impressive 13-1-1 in their past 15 games. The Soo were tabbed 10th in the latest CJHL Top 20 rankings. The T-Birds have allowed the least goals in the NOJHL at 51. That is also the fifth-best total in the 128-team CJHL
Rookie netminder Joel Horodziejczyk leads all NOJHL netminders in goals-against average at 2.05. He is tied for first in save percentage at .921… Another first-year netminder in Steven Dombrowski has won his last seven starts and sits third in GAA at 2.64 and fourth in save percentage at .912. … Adam Ritchie leads all NOJHL skaters with 36 points. Darcy Casola sits tied for third with 34 points. Derek Battagin (25pts) and Greg Sartoretto (25pts) are knotted for seventh overall in the league.

SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – Sudbury takes to the ice twice this week as they host Kirkland Lake tonight before heading to North Bay Friday. … Darcy Haines is coming off a four-point night in his last game and sits second in league offensive production with 34 points. His 16 goals tie him for the second most in the NOJHL. … Sebastien Leroux is fourth in league scoring with 34 points. … Leroux has a five-game point streak on the go and has been held of the score sheet once in 19 games so far this season… The club is third overall in goals scored with 83 while allowing the fourth most at 82. … Michael Muzyka remains fifth in the NOJHL in goals-against average at 3.58. … Sudbury plays four of their next six on home ice. …The Nickel Barons have gone 3-9 in their past 12 games after starting the year 8-0.