NOJHL team season preview: Rayside-Balfour Canadians

SUDBURY, Ont. – With a new ownership group in place and an experienced managerial and coaching staff on board, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians will look to challenge throughout the upcoming Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season.

Taking over as the club’s new general manager, Jeff Forsyth boasts a strong resume of hockey-related experience in coaching, scouting and evaluating talent throughout Greater Sudbury and northern Ontario.

Meanwhile, back for his second year bench the bench, head coach Dan Cuomo, looks to improve on the 31-20-2-3 record the Canadians recorded last season.

Having a strong nucleus of returning players, along with some touted newcomers as well as a solid defensive corps and goaltending to rely on, Rayside-Balfour aims to be among the league’s elite come playoff time.

With some feedback and insight from coach Cuomo, here’s a look at what you can expect to see from the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in 2019-20 in this latest addition of NOJHL team previews.

NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2019-20 season?

DAN CUOMO: I expect us to be a very competitive team. We have a good returning core, plus we have added some very good players.

NOJHL: What have you seen from your club early on as you near the start of another season?

DC: We are a good skating club that likes the quick transition game. I think we should be a tough team to play against, home or away. We must work on our discipline and stay away from unneeded penalties.

NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you look to be play a pivotal role for the team in 2019-20?

DC: We have a young team with only have two ’99 birthyear players in Ben Hatanaka and Zach Snow. I am expecting big years from both. Hatanaka was second in scoring for us last season scoring 12 times and adding 29 assists up front. As for Snow, he’ll help anchor or defence and he also set career highs in goals, assists and points last season.

NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you expect to perform well in the league?

DC: We have signed three 16-year-old players. l am looking forward to watching them perform and grow during the year. Zach Giroux was drafted in the third round by Flint of the OHL. He played last year for the minor midgets in Sudbury where he had 55 points in 24 games. Mitchell Martin played for the same team and was drafted fourth round by the Kitchener Rangers. He had 33 points in 24 games. Also, Oliver Smith played midget in Mississauga and was drafted in the ninth round by the Barrie Colts.

NOJHL: For the first time in league history, nine teams in the league had 25 or more wins last season. How do you feel this equality has helped your organization in being in such a competitive league?

DC: It is great having such a competitive league. There are no easy nights. The East division was a lot closer than our division. The Thunderbirds ran away with the West last year. We finished second last year and our goal, of course, is to finish first.

NOJHL: What other goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?

DC: Our goal is to win a championship. I was happy with our road record, but we need to win more at home.

NOJHL: What are one or two highlights in your time with the team?

DC: Winning on the road in round one of the playoffs vs. the Soo Eagles was good. However, losing all our home games in round two was tough.

NOJHL: Do you have any other thoughts or comments you’d like to provide to conclude things?

DC: This year we are under new ownership and our expectations are high for the 2019-20 season.