Rarely is there a time over the course of the junior hockey season that fans in Sault Ste. Marie get shut out.
With Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League all playing games within a few miles of the International Bridge, chances are that at least one of them is home on a given weekend.
Case in point is this weekend.
The OHL Greyhounds are on the road but the NOJHL Thunderbirds are home for games on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon while the NAHL Eagles have home contests slated for Friday and Saturday evenings.
To be sure, if you like junior hockey and live on either side of the Canada-United States border at Sault Ste. Marie, there's a game in play at some point on the weekend.
The Greyhounds head out on the OHL highways this week in good shape.
With five wins in seven starts, the Hounds sit atop the OHL's West Division, which is a nice change for a team that has missed the playoffs two seasons in a row and three times in the past four years.
Of note, Chris Buonomo is settling in at home as a stay-at-home defenceman who figures to provide season-long security and stability for the Greyhounds.
Buonomo's recent acquisition from the Barrie Colts brought his hockey-playing career back to where it started in Sault Ste. Marie. This is Buonomo's fifth season in the OHL after the Peterborough Petes drafted him from the AAA midget Soo North Stars in 2008.
To be sure, Buonomo gives the Greyhounds a much-needed veteran blueliner especially with fellow overager Colin Miller and third-year defender Ryan Sproul on the injury list.
While not considered a National Hockey League prospect like drafted defencemen Miller (Los Angeles Kings) and Sproul (Detroit Red Wings), the 5-foot-11, 190 pound Buonomo has a reputation as a solid, steady defender who rarely gets caught out of position and makes very mistakes while keeping the game simple.
The reigning NOJHL and Central Canada champion Thunderbirds are in a three-way race for first place with the Sudbury Nickel Barons and North Bay Trappers.
With just a single regulation-time loss in 10 starts, the Thunderbirds are contenders despite having lost most of their 2011-12 championship team to graduation or relocation.
But general manager Kevin Cain has rebuilt the Thunderbird engine for the third year in succession and the team is motoring along and clicking on all cylinders.
Long-time assistant coach Warren Lavoy has moved up to head coach and with assistance from NOJHL mainstay Dennis Bolton, the Birds are perched where they are accustomed to being -- at or near the top.
Bolton spent the past four NOJHL seasons as the top assistant with the Soo Eagles and was ready to head to the NAHL with them this fall before getting an offer from Cain that he couldn't refuse.
Thus, the ageless Bolton remains a part of the NOJHL as a definite asset to the Thunderbirds.
After a 0-3-1 start to their first NAHL season, the Eagles have since gone 5-1-1 and head into weekend play in fourth place in what is a tight, eight-team North Division.
Fans of the Eagles may want to flock to Pullar Stadium to watch their team play this Friday and Saturday with the Johnstown Tomahawks coming to town for a pair of 7:30 p.m. starts.
That's because after this weekend, the Eagles are away for eight straight games and won't play at the Pullar again until November 17.