NOJHL Notebook: Training camp time

Release Date: Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015
NOJHL Notebook: Training camp time
SUDBURY – It’s just over three weeks until the start of the 2015-16 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season and each of the 12 member clubs are busily preparing for the upcoming campaign.

All of the NOJHL teams have either already begun or are close to starting their respective training camps as well as preseason exhibition contests.

Here is an initial training camp preview of each of the NOJHL squads:

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Under new head coach and general manager Brad Barton, the Beavers open things up on the ice with a two-day evaluation camp Aug. 28-29.

Those players selected from there as well as those signed and other prospects will take part in the club’s main training camp, which runs Aug. 30 through Sept. 3.

Preseason games
Sept. 1 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Sept. 4 @ Espanola 7 p.m. (Espanola R.C.)
Sept. 5 vs. Espanola 7:30 p.m. (Blind River C.C.)

COCHRANE CRUNCH – The Crunch, last season’s NOJHL finalist, start their second season in Cochrane Aug. 20-21 at the Tim Horton Event Centre with a two-day camp for Ryan Leonard’s group.

It will feature dryland training as well as a pair of practices and a trio of inter-squad games before moving on to preseason action and further on and off-ice training.

Preseason games
Aug. 23 vs. Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Aug. 24 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 26 vs. Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Aug. 27 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Sept. 3 vs. Timmins 7:30 p.m. (Kapuskasing)
Sept. 4 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)

ELLIOT LAKE WILDCATS – Coming off an impressive first season in the NOJHL in 2014-15 under Nathan Hewitt the Wildcats are another team looking to improve on their initial success.

Finishing near the top of the standings in 2014-15 ending up third overall, Elliot Lake will hit the ice at Centennial Arena with Day 1 of training camp on Aug. 24.

Four days later they will commence preseason play with the first of a home-and-home vs. the Espanola Express.

Preseason games
Aug. 28 vs. Espanola 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Aug. 29 @ Espanola 2 p.m. (Espanola R.C.)
Sept. 1 vs. Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Sept. 5 vs. Soo Eagles 1 p.m. (John Rhodes)
Sept. 5 vs. Soo Thunderbirds 8 p.m. (John Rhodes)

ESPANOLA EXPRESS – Back in the NOJHL after a one-year absence Espanola are on track to begin training camp, which gets underway Thursday evening.

Under the guidance of veteran bench boss and 2011-12 NOJHL coach of the year Tom McCarthy, the Express will look to be a contender from the onset of the season.

Their first home preseason game goes Sunday, Aug. 29 with a 2 p.m. matinee against Elliot Lake.

Preseason games
Aug. 28 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Aug. 29 vs. Elliot Lake 2 p.m. (Espanola R.C.)
Sept. 4 vs. Blind River 7 p.m. (Espanola R.C.)
Sept. 5 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Blind River C.C.)

FRENCH RIVER RAPIDS – One of the new clubs in the NOJHL this season is the French River Rapids.

At the helm of the Rapids organization as head coach and general manager is former NHLer Moe Mantha.

A veteran of 656 NHL games over 15 seasons, Mantha also adds over a decade of coaching experience as his team commences their tenure in the NOJHL.

Their main training camp begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26 in Verner.

Preseason games
No games scheduled

IROQUOIS FALLS ESKIS – Hockey is back at Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls as the new-look Eskis kick off their initial three-day training camp tonight, Thursday and Friday with practices and inter-squad games.

Joining the Eskis in their first year following relocation from Mattawa is new head coach Corey Bricknell.

As a player he saw action in four seasons in the OHL before going on to play six years professionally.

Their exhibition opener is Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Cochrane.

Preseason games
Aug. 23 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Aug. 27 vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Aug. 28 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 29 vs. Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – A busy 2015-16 season for the Gold Miners has already begun with the club’s training camp well underway.

Kirkland Lake head coach and general manager Marc Lafleur is actively formulating on a roster, which will see the club serving as the host team of the 2016 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship, May 3-7 of next year.

The Gold Miners will commence league preseason play Friday as they welcome the Timmins Rock for the NOJHL exhibition opener at 7:30 p.m. at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.

Preseason games
Aug. 21 vs. Timmins 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 22 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)
Aug. 24 vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 26 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Aug. 28 vs. Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 29 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)

POWASSAN VOODOOS – Looking to build on an impressive inaugural campaign in 2014-15 that saw them advance all the way to the division final, Powassan aims to soar to never heights in this their second season in the NOJHL.

Back for a second year behind the bench as head coach, Scott Wray will see his club will start their training camp Aug. 21 at Pete Palangio Arena in North Bay.

General manager Chris Dawson has been active in the off-season signing a solid nucleus or returnees and new players, including last year’s NOJHL most valuable player, rookie of the year and leading scorer Steve Harland.

Preseason games
No games scheduled

RAYSIDE-BALFOUR CANADIANS – The return of the NOJHL in Rayside-Balfour resumes Thursday at Cambrian Arena with the start of a three-day main camp.

On-ice sessions go Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9-11 p.m.

The Canadians have moved up the road from Copper Cliff with a name change from the Sudbury Nickel Barons, but still have their management staff in place, including head coach Jason Young.

Preseason games
Aug. 28 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)
Aug. 29 vs. Timmins 7:15 p.m. (Countryside-Sudbury)

SOO EAGLES – NOJHL hockey returns to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., following a three-year absence.

Under the guidance of head coach and general manager Bruno Bragagnolo, the Eagles held their initial training camp Aug. 12-14 at Big Bear Arena.

They have exhibition contests Sept. 5-6 across the bridge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., as they take on the Elliot Lake Wildcats and rival Soo Thunderbirds respectively at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

Preseason games
Sept. 5 vs. Elliot Lake 1 p.m. (John Rhodes)
Sept. 6 @ Soo Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes)

SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Thunderbirds will once again come into the season as one of the favourites in league play.

Two-time NOJHL coach of the year Jordan Smith is back to lead the T-Birds.

After holding a three-day evaluation camp earlier this month the Thunderbirds will get their first taste of exhibition game action Sept. 5-6 with match-ups vs. the Elliot Lake Wildcats and cross-border rival Soo Eagles.

Preseason games
Sept. 5 vs. Elliot Lake 8 p.m. (John Rhodes)
Sept. 6 vs. Soo Eagles 7 p.m. (John Rhodes)

TIMMINS ROCK – With a new home and under the tutelage of veteran NOJHL coach Paul Gagne, the Rock have already begun their main training camp.

A busy preseason slate has Timmins schedule to play six exhibition contests, including kicking things off with a weekend home-and-home with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Friday and Saturday.

Preseason games
Aug. 21 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Aug. 22 vs. Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)
Aug. 28 vs. Rayside-Balfour 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)
Aug. 29 vs. Rayside-Balfour 7:15 p.m. (Countryside-Sudbury)
Sept. 3 vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Kapuskasing)
Sept. 4 vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre)