NOJHL preseason preview: Soo Eagles



Release Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2016

NOJHL preseason preview: Soo Eagles

SUDBURY, Ont. – As the lone U.S.-based club in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Soo Eagles continues to boast a strong organization and a tremendous fan base that flocks to venerable Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on a regular basis.

Under the guidance of president and general manager Bruno Bragagnolo along with head coach Jim Capy, the Eagles expect to improve on the 22-30-0-2 record they achieved last season in their first campaign back in the NOJHL following a three-year absence.

Having won a league Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy NOJHL championship in 2011, the Eagles will look to challenge once again as they strive to be among the league’s elite in 2016-17.

The 10th installment of NOJHL team preseason previews highlights the Soo Eagles.

Head Coach – Jim Capy
GM – Bruno Bragagnolo

NOJHL: Give us a recap on what you’ve seen already during on-ice sessions.

BRUNO BRAGAGNOLO: We had our main camp and had a good turnout. Most of the boys we recruited over the summer were there so we’re happy about that and we were able to sign them. There are still a couple of question marks, but overall you know when you consider we lost five players to college and six more to the North American Hockey League from last year’s team that were eligible returnees it’s been pretty good. We recruited hard all summer attending 20 or so different showcases and camps and we tried to recruit not only talented kids, but character kids as well. We think we’ve accomplished that, but we’ll find that out once we start playing.

NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?

BB: We have Landon Hubbard. I think he’s going to come back and have a good year. Also Jake Palmerio, a Canadian boy from Soo, Canada and Jake Saxton as well. I think they are all going to have a good year for us. We look to them to step up to the plate big for us. One of our goalies Jack Deines I think could have a good year for us too. They are all solid players and bring good leadership to the table for us.

NOJHL: What were you impressed with coming out of your initial camps?

BB: Yeah, we’ve been impressed with all of our D. We have all new D right now. We average about four inches bigger and about 20 pounds heavier from last year’s group overall. We wanted to increase that size on the back end there and our mobility and I think we’ve done that.

NOJHL: Who are some of those players that caught the attention of the staff?

BB: One of the newcomers I’ve been impressed with has been defenceman Matt Meininger. He played one year of junior in Canada and played last year in the North American Hockey League. He’ll do a really good job for us on the back end. Then there’s Carmen Scarfone, the Sault Ste. Marie boy, whose another D-man for us. I’ve been impressed with him and I think he’ll do a good job for us as well. We’re not sure about Nolan Makkonen as he has a tryout with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. If he makes the Storm God bless him; great. If he doesn’t, I think he’ll be playing for us. He’s another good young player with a lot of potential. There a couple other boys we’ve seen on our D. I’m pretty excited about our D-corps this year actually.

NOJHL: What are you looking to see heading into the preseason?

BB: Well, the preseason obviously we still have some question marks and we’re going to try and answer those. We’re going to try and get a couple of preseason games going here that we’ll get scheduled in the next day or two. We’ll start training camp today (Tuesday, Aug. 23) and go twice a day for seven days so hopefully by the end of training camp we’ll have a better handle, a better idea, on some of the boys that are still fighting for spots. Hopefully with a couple exhibition games it will help finalize that.

NOJHL: What are you aiming for heading into the regular season?

BB: As far as the regular season, we’re going to try and finish first in our division. That’s our goal.

NOJHL: What do you look to build on after last season’s return to the NOJHL?

BB: Building on, I think we’ve done that. We needed to build up on our D and I think we did that. We needed a bit more size, which I think we accomplished. I think we have boys that can move the puck quicker. I think last year our D didn’t move the puck quick enough and we’ve added a couple more boys back there with a bit more offensive ability. At forward I think we have more depth this year. I think we have a little more talent, a little more speed, a little more depth overall. I think we got a little more goal scoring ability this year as well.

NOJHL: Any closing thoughts heading into your second year back in the NOJHL?

BB: It’s a great league. The league has done a great job of developing players. I think we’ve done a great job of developing players; advancing 11 boys from last year’s group. We’ve reloaded here and hopefully we’re not only successful, but will give our boys an opportunity to play college or at a higher level. Basically that’s our goal here. We’re looking forward to the season.