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NOJHL NOTEBOOK: Trappers control own fate in quest for first

02/27/2013, 7:00pm EST
By NOJHL Communications

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL COMMUNICATIONS
MEDIA RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

NOJHL NOTEBOOK: Play this week features 8 games

SUDBURY -- As the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League nears the completion of the 2012-13 regular season it is the North Bay Trappers who control their own destiny in their efforts to capture the seasonal crown.

The Trappers currently lead the Soo Thunderbirds in the race for top spot in the NOJHL standings by four points with each club both having four games remaining on their respective schedules.

Now any combination of points gained by the Trappers or points lost by the Thunderbirds totaling five will give North Bay their first regular season title since the 2008-09 campaign when the then Skyhawks accomplished the feat.

In the past decade five different NOJHL squads have captured the regular season title including four by North Bay and three by the T-Birds.

The Abitibi Eskimos, Soo Indians and Sudbury Northern Wolves are also part of that group with one season triumph each.

However, finishing first during the regular season is never a guarantee that you’ll also win the league playoff championship.

In fact, of the previous five seasonal winners, only two of them have gone on to capture the postseason trophy.

That being the Thunderbirds in 2011-12, who also went on the win the Dudley-Hewitt Cup as well as the 2009-10 Abitibi Eskimos.

NOJHL regular season winners the past 10 years.

YEAR REGULAR SEASON WINNER
2011-12 Soo Thunderbirds#
2010-11 Soo Thunderbirds
2009-10 Abitibi Eskimos#
2008-09 North Bay Skyhawks
2007-08 Soo Thunderbirds
2006-07 Soo Indians#*
2005-06 Sudbury Northern Wolves#
2004-05
 North Bay Skyhawks#
2003-04
 North Bay Skyhawks#
2002-03
 North Bay Skyhawks#

# Also won NOJHL playoff championship
*Tied with Sudbury Jr. Wolves for top spot with 54 points each, but Soo earned first place by virtue of more wins.

WEEKLY SLATE: It is a relatively light docket in terms of league play this week in the NOJHL as only five games are on the docket.

Action gets underway as Sudbury hosts Abitibi with the Nickel Barons trying to put a bit more space between them and fourth place Kirkland Lake while the Eskimos try and put an end to a 10-game winless drought.

That contest gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at McClelland Arena.

This will be the eighth and final regular season meeting between the two sides with Sudbury having won five of the first seven games with seven different skaters each being credited with a game-winning goal.

Ryan Wildman tops the Eskis in scoring vs. the Nickel Barons with five points while Darcy Haines’ 15 points tops his side.

Friday’s lone encounter is the first of a home-and-home between Blind River and Elliot Lake with Centennial Arena serving as the venue before the scene shifts to the Blind River Community Centre on Saturday.

Each match-up gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

The Bobcats have taken four of the first six togethers between the two sides to date as they prepare to wrap-up their season set.

Corey McEwen and Samuel Wilbur have paced the Beavers offensively vs. Elliot Lake to date with nine points apiece.

Henry Berger has been the top point man for his side vs. Elliot Lake with seven while the trio of Stephen Gaul, Nicholas Tassone and John Follmer has registered six points apiece.

The two remaining games this week feature another home-and-home set between the Trappers and Eskimos which go Saturday in Iroquois Falls at 7:30 p.m. before shifting to North Bay’s Memorial Gardens Sunday at 7 p.m.

It’s been all Trappers after the first half dozen meetings with North Bay coming away victorious in all six contests.

Brennen Dubchak has three game-winning tallies to his credit against Abitibi while Brandon Janke has a pair.

North Bay’s Trevor Hunt has been the leading point producer against them so far this season with 10.

Dubchak and Janke are however close behind with nine points apiece.

Offensively Wildman’s four points leads the Eskimos.

After NOJHL this week there will only be seven games remaining in the 2012-13 regular season schedule.

MAKE-UP DATE: The Jan. 30 contest that was to have seen Kirkland Lake visiting Sudbury, but was postponed due to adverse weather conditions, has now been rescheduled.

This game will now take place on the final day of the regular season, which Wednesday, March 13 with the opening face-off set for 7:30 p.m. at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff.

The make-up match-up will mark the conclusion of regular season play.

PLAYOFF FORMAT: All seven NOJHL member clubs will qualify for the postseason with the first place finisher earning themselves the regular season title along with a first-round bye. Each playoff series will be best-of-seven affairs.

Opening round action will run from March 15-27 with the No. 2 seed meeting the No. 7 squad, No. 3 taking on No. 6 and No. 4 vs. 5.

From the three remaining clubs along with the first place finisher will square-off in semifinal play from March 29 through April 10.

The regular season title holder will take on the lowest remaining seed in one series with the other two squads meeting in the other.

From there the two surviving teams will vie for the NOJHL crown April 12-24.

Should the Dudley-Hewitt Cup host North Bay Trappers advance to the league final, then the other club in the final will also represent the NOJHL at the Dudley-Hewitt. The DHC winner then moves on to the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I.

NOJHL playoff format (All series best-of-seven)

Round 1 Quarter-finals (March 15-27)

Series A: Second place vs. Seventh place
Series B: Third place vs. Sixth place
Series C: Fourth place vs. Fifth place
Bye: Regular season winner

Round 2 Semifinals (March 29 – April 10)
Series D:
First place vs. Lowest remaining seed
Series E: Winner of round one with highest standing vs. the other winner

Round 3 NOJHL Final (April 12-24)
Series F: Semifinals winners meet for the NOJHL championship

Dudley-Hewitt Cup @ North Bay (April 30 – May 4)
North Bay Trappers; NOJHL champion or finalist; OJHL champion; SIJHL champion

Royal Bank Cup @ Summerside, P.E.I. (May 11-19)
Summerside Western Capitals (Host)
Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner, Fred Page Cup winner, Western Canada Cup winner and finalist.
   
2013 DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup is now less than two months away with the NOJHL’s North Bay Trappers will serve as the host team for the five-day event.

Joining them will be the NOJHL champion or finalist along with the title holders from the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

Dudley-Hewitt Cup tickets packages for all eight games remain on sale at the Trapper's Box Office daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult packages are $95 while students and seniors go $75 and children just $50 and you can reserve your seat by calling by calling 705-474-3770.

You can learn more on the event by visiting the official DHC website at www.dudleyhewittcup.com.

CJHL TOP 20: The North Bay Trappers and Soo Thunderbirds both garnered recognition in the most recent Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings announced earlier this week.
 
In the weekly compilation put together by the CJHL, in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, North Bay, who lead the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League standings, moved up to notches to 16th overall while the second place Thunderbirds slipped out of the top 20, but still received Honourable Mention laurels.

The Trappers boast an NOJHL-best record of 31-7-3-3, including having one 10-1 in their past 11 outings.

As for the T-Birds, they have sport a 29-9-3-3 mark, sitting four points in arrears of rival North Bay with each side having four games remaining in the regular season.

Overall the top three sides nationally remain the same for yet another week.

The Brooks Bandits (AJHL) were slotted in the No. 1 slot once again followed by the Minnesota Wilderness (SIJHL) at No. 2 and the 2013 Royal Bank Cup host Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) at No. 3.

The following are the CJHL Top 20 teams, as of Feb. 25, listing their overall ranking, their position last week, as well as the league they are a member of.

1. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (1)
2. Minnesota Wilderness (SIJHL) (2)
3. Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) (3)
4. Dauphin Kings (MJHL) (4)
5. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (8)
6. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) (5)
7. Yorkton Terriers (SJHL)(6)
8. Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) (10)
9. Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL) (11)
10. Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) (7)
11. Melville Millionaires (SJHL) (14)
12. Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL) (12)
13. Truro Bearcats (MHL) (13)
14. Surrey Eagles (BCHL) (NR)
15. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (9)
16. North Bay Trappers (NOJHL) (18)
17. Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL) (15)
18. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (NR) 
19. Ottawa Jr. A Senators (CCHL) (19)
20. Collège Français de Longeueil (LHJAAAQ) (20)

Honourable Mention: Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL); Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL); Georgetown Raiders (OJHL); Saint-Jerome Panthers (LHJAAAQ); Amherst Ramblers (MHL).

The CJHL Top 20 weekly rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the team plays, winning percentage, win-loss record, and total points accumulated along with goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc.

The CJHL is an amalgamation of 10 Jr. A hockey leagues across Canada.

More information on the CJHL can be found by visiting the league website www.cjhlhockey.com.

TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTEBOOK

ABITIBI ESKIMOS – Abitibi will try and put the brakes on their 10-game win skid tonight as they visit Sudbury. … From there the squad has a home-and-home this weekend vs. league-leading Sudbury, including Saturday night at home in a 7:30 p.m. start at Jus Jordan Arena, which will mark their final regular season home game. … They have gone 0-9-0-1 in those last 10 outings. … The slump has seen the Eski’s slip into the cellar in the NOJHL standings, now one point behind sixth place Elliot Lake. They do however have two games in hand on the Bobcats. … Peter Poulin-Roy leads the club offensively with 38 points while Ryan Wildman is next with 37. … The club plays their last four games on the road.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS – Both of the Beavers contests this week are against Elliot Lake. … Blind River currently leads the Bobcats by four points in the race for fifth in the league standings.  … They have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games. …The club continues to feature two players among the top 10 in NOJHL scoring. Samuel Wilbur sits fifth overall while Corey McEwen is knotted for sixth overall. Wilbur has 48 points on 19 tallies and 29 assists with McEwen having 19 markers and 27 helpers. … After this week Blind River has three games remaining in regular season play.

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS – The ever-improving Bobcats are 6-5 in their past 11 outings having moved into a sole possession of sixth place in the NOJHL standings. … The club is 11-8-2 when scoring first in a game so far this season, but only 2-21 when the opposition strikes first. … The club has scored the fewest goals in the league to date at 131 with their 218 against being the second most given up in the league. … Henry Berger’s 32 points lead the team … Steve Gaul is nearby with 31 while Brad Hollman is third on the squad with 28. … John Follmer has points in two straight.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS – The Gold Miners are idle this week and do not return to game action until March 8 when they host Sudbury at The Joe in a 7:30 p.m. start. … They then wrap-up regular season play March 13 in Sudbury. … Captain Connor McNally and Steven Babin share the team scoring lead with 37 points apiece. … Of the team-high 21 goals Babin has scored, 14 have come on the power play, which leads the NOJHL. … McNally has a modest three-game point streak on the go. … Among netminders who have played 1,700 or more minutes Chris Komma sits third in goals-against average in the NOJHL at 2.59. His three shutouts tie him for the league lead. He has also played the most minutes in the NOJHL at 2,181:43. Komma’s 20 victories are the second most in the league.

NORTH BAY TRAPPERS – North Bay moved up two notches in the CJHL ranking this week moving to No. 16 nationally.  … The Trappers have gone 10-1 in their past 11 games. …They boast the best winning percentage in the league as .773. … Greg Dodds leads all NOJHL goalkeepers in wins (26), goals-against-average (2.25) and save percentage. (.930). … Brennen Dubchak tops the Trappers offensively with 46 points. That ties him for sixth overall in league scoring. … Trevor Hunt is second on the club and is ninth in the NOJHL with 44 points. … Cole Klippenstein tops all NOJHL D-men in goals (15) and points (32). … North Bay is 12-0-2 when Graham Pickard picks up a point in a game. … After Saturday road game vs. Abitibi the Trappers final three regular contests will all be played on Memorial Gardens ice.

SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The Thunderbirds are one of two NOJHL clubs who do not see game action this week. … They trail league-leading North Bay by four points in the race for first overall. … The Sooearn Honourable Mention status in the latest CJHL Top 20 rankings… Darcy Casola leads the squad and is third in NOJHL scoring with 63 points. … Teammate Adam Ritchie is next on the team and also sits fourth in league offensive production with 56 points while Brandon Warmington is eighth and Anthony Miller 10th respectively with 45 and 42 points. … Joel Horodziejczyk is second in league average at 2.44 and save percentage at .917. Steven Dombrowski has won his last 11 starts in net.

SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – Sudbury looks put a little breathing space between them and fourth place Kirkland Lake with a home ice win this evening vs. slumping Abitibi. … Sebastien Leroux and Darcy Haines remain first and second in league scoring with 80 and 74 points respectively. … Leroux has only been held pointless six times so far this season and leads all skaters in the league in point-per-game average at 1.86. … Haines leads all skaters in the league in goals with 35 and sits second point-per-game prowess at 1.76. … He is also tied for fifth overall in power play tallies with eight. … Martin Jolicoeur has moved to 12th in NOJHL scoring with 39 points in 40 games. … Michael Muzyka is fifth in the NOJHL in goals-against average at 3.30. … Netminding partner Alex Laino sits sixth overall in GAA at 3.61. … Laino has gone 10-2 in his last dozen decisions. … The club’s Jan. 30 home tilt vs. Kirkland Lake that was postponed due to weather now goes March 13, which will mark the end of the regular season in the NOJHL.

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