A showdown of undefeated teams is this week's showcase game in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. Meanwhile, tradewinds are blowing in the North American Hockey League. And there's always talk from ESPN's Hockey North Show.
SUDBURY V. NORTH BAY
The top two teams in the NOJHL will face off on Friday night in North Bay when coach Tom McCarthy and his Trappers play host to the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
Sudbury is perfect through five games this season with a 5-0 record while North Bay is but a point off the pace with a mark of 4-0-1.
Low-key coach Dave Clancy has made his return to the NOJHL and Sudbury a good one thus far. The veteran bench boss, who has coached in Sudbury for a number of years at a number of levels, has a knack of being easy to play for but demanding at the same time.
Leading the way on ice for the Nickel Barons through five games is second-year forward Darcy Haines, who has 12 points, including eight goals.
As Clancy has his style of coaching, so does McCarthy over in North Bay. McCarthy is known for his fiery, combative nature but like Clancy, is a respected player's coach.
Forward Brennen Dubchak, formerly of the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League, is the Trappers scoring leader with 3-5-8 totals.
The expansion Elliot Lake Bobcats, off to a 1-4 start in their first NOJHL season, have added several newcomers to their roster, including the well-travelled Kyle Rowe, a 6-foot-2, 215 pound forward who was a fifth-round pick of the Soo Greyhounds at the 2010 Ontario Hockey League draft.
The Bobcats are home to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners on Friday night and will be out to try to build on their first-ever NOJHL win, which was a home-ice decision over the Blind River Beavers last weekend.
Jamestown Ironmen have made a couple of moves, dealing 5-foot-8 sparkplug forward Jeff McFarland to the Brookings Blizzard in exchange for offensive-oriented defenceman Dylan Zink, while adding German national team forward Huba Seseki.
McFarland, who is a 1992 birth year, netted three goals in six games for the Ironmen this season after scoring 23 times for Jamestown during the 2011-12 campaign.
Zink, who is also a 1992 birth year, had three points in four games for the Blizzard this season after producing 22 points in 50 games for it in 2011-12.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Warriors, who have scored only nine goals in five games thus far this season, have acquired forward A.J. Marcinek from the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings. Marcinek, a 1994 birth year, had a goal in four games for the K-Wings this season.
And while sources say the Soo Eagles have been talking trade with both the Janesville Jets and Fairbanks IceDogs, no one will confirm that more than one member of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons have asked to be moved.
From what I have been hearing, more than one NAHL general manager has inquired about Eagles rookie forward Dallas McLaughlin, who scored 36 goals while playing for the Soo in the NOJHL last season. Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo offered a polite "no comment" when I asked him if McLaughlin is part of any trade talks.
HOCKEY NORTH SHOW
Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 1400 Radio -- http://:stream.1400espn.net -- I host the Hockey North Show along with sidekick Brad Coccimiglio.
The HNS deals mainly with the NOJHL and the North Division of the NAHL but we also talk up the OHL, mostly the northern teams, namely the Soo Greyhounds and Sudbury Wolves.
Because exchanging banter and information, the HNS also features weekly guests.
Guests in the two shows we have done so far include Soo Eagles coach-GM Bruno Bragagnolo and veteran forward Jared VanWormer as well as Elliot Lake Bobcats vice president of hockey operations Chad Vresk.
Future guests will include personnel from the NOJHL's Soo Thunderbirds, North Bay Trappers and Elliot Lake Bobcats as well as from the NAHL's Eagles and Michigan Warriors, including coach Moe Mantha and players.
The plan is also to have Juniorhockey.com's hard-hitting, hard-nosed columnist Stephen Heisler on as a future guest on the HNS.
ESPN 1400 is also home to two other shows that deal with junior hockey.
State of Hounds Hockey with host Gerry Liscumb Jr. follows the Hockey North Show on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. And on Wednesday's at 6 p.m., John Bell hosts the Soo Eagles Hockey Show.