NOJHL Notes: Past & Present

SUDBURY, Ont. – Some news and notes on the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, heading into the New Year:

POINT PARADE: Timmins Rock captain Nicolas Pigeon wrapped the 2022 portion of the NOJHL schedule with points in 18 consecutive games.

In that span he scored eight times and dished out 22 assists along the way, as he raised his overall league-leading point total to 56.

Pigeon’s run is the highest in NOJHL so far this season and best since back on September 24 through November 25, 2016 when Gary Mantz of the Powassan Voodoos posted a 20-game point streak, where he notched 17 goals and helped set-up 16 others in helping his side eventually go on to win a league championship in the 2016-17 campaign.

A season earlier, Cole Hepler (Elliot Lake Wildcats) and Zachary Kercz (Timmins Rock) had point streaks of 22 and 20 games respectively.

Meanwhile, back in 2014-15, Steve Harland of Powassan reeled off points in 31 consecutive contests, where he tallied 34 times and added 37 helpers along the way.

You also had Brennen Dubchak etch his name on the game sheet in 27 straight outings with the Espanola Rivermen in 2014-15. During that span he had 17 goals and 34 assists.

Then there was the stellar 41-game point streak Jordan Carroll posted for the Sudbury Cubs from Oct. 1 – Feb. 29, 2012 in which he piled up 108 points, including 56 tallies.

TALLY TOTALS: The first two NOJHL skaters to reach the 25-goal mark on the season are Brady Harroun (Timmins Rock) and Pierson Sobush (Greater Sudbury Cubs).

The duo have both found the back on the net on 25 occasions and have a six-tally lead on their nearest rivals in the quest for the most in league play.

Harroun, along with Tucker Shields (Powassan Voodoos) share the NOJHL lead in game-winning goals with six apiece.

PUCK STOPPERS: The Timmins Rock tandem of Jacob Brown and Patrick Boivin are currently the only two netminders with goals-against averages under 2.00.

Brown boasts a league-best 1.71 mark while Boivin, who is tops in wins with 16, sits at 1.91.

Members of the Sault Greyhounds gather around goaltender Tony Esposito after wrapping up the first-ever NOJHL regular season title, back on March 16, 1963. Photo credit: The Sault Star

60 YEARS OF THE NOJHL: With the 2022-23 campaign marking 60 years since the NOJHL began competition, much has transpired over the past six decades.

In its inaugural season, the Sault Greyhounds, backed by goaltender, and future Hockey Hall of Fame Honoured Member, Tony Esposito captured the league’s initial regular season title.

Esposito did it in style with a 5-0 shutout of the North Bay Trappers on March 16, 1963 to clinch the crown.

It was a different story in the playoffs however as the upstart Espanola Eagles, led by Mirl (Red) McCarthy swept North Bay in four straight to lay claim to the initial league championship.

The Trappers had advanced to the final after upsetting the front-running Greyhounds.

The Espanola Eagles celebrate after winning the first-ever NOJHL championship back in April of 1963. Photo credit: North Bay Nugget

WHO’S HOT: The start of the unofficial second half of the league season probably can’t come soon enough for four teams.

These sides went into the holiday break on a roll with the Timmins Rock (9-0-1-0); Greater Sudbury Cubs (9-1-0-0); Hearst Lumberjacks (9-1-0-0) and Soo Thunderbirds (8-2-0-0) all playing .800 hockey, or better in their past 10 games.

PLAY-BY-PLAY: Calling NOJHL games on HockeyTV has seen Timmins Rock broadcaster Shawn McArthur be behind the mic in three different league venues so far this season.

Not only has he done Rock home games at McIntyre Arena, he has also worked contests at the most recent NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury.

McArthur even stepped in to call a contest in Kirkland Lake earlier in the campaign.

It’s believed current Gold Miners’ head coach Rick Witty holds the mark for most arenas in a single-season, having broadcast from.

This includes Joe Mavrinac Community Complex (Kirkland Lake); Tim Horton Events Centre (Cochrane); Jus Jordan Arena (Iroquois Falls) as well as Big Bear Arena (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.) and Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex (Sudbury) for NOJHL Showcase events.

Then there was another former NOJHL broadcaster, in Mark Pare, who did games on HockeyTV in eight different rinks during his time associated with the league from 2013 through 2018.

This included the North Bay Memorial Gardens (2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup); West Ferris Arena (North Bay Trappers / 2013-14); Mike Rodden Arena in Mattawa for Trappers games in 2014; Mcintyre Arena for various Timmins Rock match-ups during 2016-17; Cochrane Crunch play-by-play at both THEC and JJA from 2016-18.

Pare also called the NOJHL Showcase event in Espanola in 2014 as well as providing colour commentary with Witty back in 2016 for the DHC, at ‘The Joe’ in Kirkland Lake.

QUICK FACTS: Caleb Minns (Blind River Beavers) has played 150 games in his NOJHL career, registering 125 points on 47 goals and 78 assists. … Jake Dubinsky (Cochrane Crunch) leads the league in saves, so far this season, with 916. … Two of the five goals rookie Braden Twigg (Elliot Lake Red Wings) has supplied to date have been game-winners, which ties him for the club lead. … Lucas Signoretti’s (Espanola Paper Kings) 1.82 point-per-game average is the highest in the NOJHL. He has 31 points in his first 17 outings. … Josh Russell (French River Rapids) is just one-point shy of matching a career single-best of 24. He’s already surpassed the tally total with nine. … Defenceman Kyloe Ellis (Greater Sudbury Cubs) leads all league rookies in offensive production with 34 points, in as many games played, with seven goals and 27 assists. … His helper totals also pace all first-year skaters. … No current active NOJHL player has recorded more points than Zachery Demers (Hearst Lumberjacks). Demers has 126 in just 84 contests on 30 goals and 96 points in regular season play. … Christian Genova (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners) is his club’s current active leader in games played with 95. … Blueliner Alex Little (Powassan Voodoos) presently paces his team in offensive production with 29 points in as many contests, with eight markers and 21 helpers. … Jack Mortson (Soo Eagles) has scored 19 times in his past 29 contests to lead his club in goals. … Wyatt Marlow (Soo Thunderbirds) has scored at least once in each of his past five home games while the T-Birds will enter 2023 riding a seven-game winning streak. … Brady Harroun (Timmins Rock) leads the league in man advantage markers with 10, while the Rock pace the NOJHL in power play proficiency, clicking at a success rate of 26.5%.

Photo credit: Northern Exposures Photography