SUDBURY -- There is plenty of action in store for the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League the next five days as a total of eight contests are on the slate.
Weekly play gets underway tonight on two fronts in a pair of 7:30 p.m. starts as Kirkland Lake pays a visit to Iroquois Falls to take on Abitibi while Sudbury hosts North Bay.
It's been all Kirkland Lake so far heading into their final regular season match-up against the Eskimos.
The Gold Miners have won six of the first seven meetings, including four in a row.
Tanner Lafrance has one game-winning goal vs. the Eskis and has also set-up another while Ryan Wildman has been the top point producer for his club accumulating seven points on four goals and three assists.
Wednesday's North Bay - Sudbury contest will be the first of a home-and-home between the two sides as they wrap-up their season set Friday in North Bay.
Each team has won three times apiece with league-leading point producer Sebastien Leroux pacing the Nickel Barons offensively against the Trappers with eight points, including a pair of game-winning tallies. Brandon's Janke's eight points had led North Bay so far against Sudbury.
Friday's other contest features Kirkland Lake at home to Elliot Lake.
After the Gold Miners won the first three get togethers the clubs have split the last four times they have met.
Two tilts go Saturday with Elliot Lake at Abitibi and Sudbury in Sault Ste. Marie vs. the Thunderbirds. The Eskimos have won four of six against the Bobcats with the Nickel Barons having come back to take the last three games vs. the Soo after dropping the first two.
Sunday then features two other contests to wrap-up the week with the Trappers welcoming the Eskimos to Memorial Gardens in a 2 p.m. matinee and Blind River pays a visit to Essar Centre at 7 p.m. to meet the T-Birds.
The Beavers and Soo has split their first six while North Bay has won all five against Abitibi.
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.
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 in North Bay is now less than nine weeks away.
The NOJHL's North Bay Trappers will serve as the host team for the five-day event.
Joining the Trappers 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.
The tournament will be staged at North Bay's venerable Memorial Gardens April 30 through May 4 with the DHC winner advancing to represent the region one week later at the 2013 Royal Bank Cup Canadian Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I.
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.
You can reserve your seat by calling by calling 705-474-3770.
A quick glance at the other two leagues that will be competing in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup sees the OJHL down to five days remaining in their regular season.
It is going to go right down to the wire to see who will be crowned regular season champions.
With three games remaining, which are all at home, the Trenton Golden Hawks can claim top spot overall if they win each of those contests.
Trenton currently boasts the best winning percentage in the league at .760 and sit tied with the most points in the OJHL 79 with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres while also hold one game in hand.
The only other club in the league with a chance at first place is the Georgetown Raiders.
At 78 points, they'll need to win their final game and hope Trenton and Buffalo lose each of their remaining games.
Meanwhile in the SIJHL, the regular season title has long since been decided.
The surging Minnesota Wilderness have run away in claiming their third straight regular season crown in the league.
They have not lost a game in regulation time since way back on Oct. 24 and have gone a more than impressive 32-0-0-1 since then.
Currently ranked as the No. 2 club in the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Wilderness boasts an overall record of 46-3-0-1.
Last season's SIJHL finalist, the Fort Frances Lakers, have played well as of late winning five straight moving into sole possession of second place in their league standings.
CJHL TOP 20: Each week the Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings are announced and the latest listings announced Tuesday saw both the Soo Thunderbirds and North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League recognized.
The rankings produced by the CJHL, in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, sees the Thunderbirds rated No. 17 overall while the Trappers are behind in the No. 18 slot.
The two sides currently share top spot in the NOJHL standings with 62 points apiece with North Bay holding one game in hand on rival Sault Ste. Marie. That will be made up this evening as the Trappers visit Sudbury.
There was no change once again among the top three clubs in the CJHL rankings again this week with the Brooks Bandits (AJHL), Minnesota Wilderness (SIJHL) and Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) coming in at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.
Brooks have already surpassed the 100-point plateau in the AJHL sitting with 101 points on a record of 49-3-3.
The Wilderness meanwhile are red-hot having gone 32-0-0-1 in their past 33 outings while posting an overall record of 46-3-0-1. As for the RBC host Western Capitals they presently pace the MHL with a 37-7-2-0 mark to lead that 11-team loop.
The following are the CJHL Top 20 teams, as of Feb. 19, 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. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) (9)
6. Yorkton Terriers (SJHL)(5)
7. Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) (6)
8. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (8)
9. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (7)
10. Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) (10)
11. Yarmouth Jr. 'A' Mariners (MHL) (11)
12. Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL) (12)
13. Truro Bearcats (MHL) (13)
14. Melville Millionaires (SJHL) (16)
15. Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL) (HM)
16. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (NR)
17. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (15)
18. North Bay Trappers (NOJHL) (18)
19. Ottawa Jr. A Senators (CCHL) (NR)
20. Collge Franais de Longeueil (LHJAAAQ) (19)
Honourable Mention: Surrey Eagles (BCHL), Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL), Nipawin Hawks (SJHL), Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) and Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)
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.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS - It has been tough sledding for the Eskimos as of late as they have dropped seven consecutive contests. ... They'll try and break out of their slump this evening as they host Kirkland Lake as Jus Jordan Arena. ... The Eski's are tied for sixth in the NOJHL standings with 26 points apiece. They do however hold three games in hand on the Bobcats. ... Peter Poulin-Roy leads the club offensively with 36 points in just 26 games. He is also presently sporting a four-game point streak, in which he has registered one goal and six assists. ... Zach Innes also has a four-game point streak. ... After two straight at home the squad will play six of their last seven regular contests on the road.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS - A big road win over North Bay this past Sunday helped the Beavers cement their hold on fifth place in the NOJHL standings as they are now five points clear of both Abitibi and Elliot Lake. ... The club's lone contest this week is on the road Sunday evening at Sault Ste. Marie, who they have split their season series with, winning three games apiece. ... The duo of Samuel Wilbur and Corey McEwen remain fifth and sixth respectively in NOJHL scoring. Wilbur has 48 points on 19 tallies and 29 assists with McEwen having 19 markers and 27 helpers. ... McEwen has a five-game point streak on the go and points in 18 of his past 20. ... Teammate Brandon Bazinet is knotted for 13th in league scoring with 36 points. ... The Beavers play three of their next four on the road.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS - The Bobcats are 5-4 in their past nine outings having moved into a share of sixth place in the NOJHL standings. ... The club is 10-9-1 when scoring first in a game so far this season, but only 2-20 when the opposition strikes first. ... The club has scored the fewest goals in the league to date at 123 with their 208 against being the most given up in the league. ... Henry Berger's 31 points lead the team ... Nicholas Tassone's hat-trick Sunday vs. Kirkland Lake gives him 15 tallies on the year, which is second most on the club behind Berger's 16.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS - The two games on tap this week sees the Gold Miners at Abitibi tonight before returning home to host Elliot Lake Friday at The Joe. ... They will they have only two regular season games remaining after that. ... Steven Babin leads the squad offensively with 33 points. Of the 19 goals he has scored, 13 have been on the power play, which leads the NOJHL. ... Among netminders who have played 1,700 or more minutes Chris Komma remains third in goals-against average in the NOJHL at 2.62. His three shutouts tie him for the league lead. He has also played the most minutes in the NOJHL at 2,061:43. Komma's 18 victories are the second most in the league.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS - North Bay can move into sole possession of first place in the NOJHL standings with a win or an overtime point vs. Sudbury tonight. ... They boast the best winning percentage in the league as .763. ... The Trappers were once again tabbed 18th nationally in the latest CJHL rankings. ... Greg Dodds leads all NOJHL goalkeepers in wins (24), goals-against-average, (2.27) and save percentage. (.929). ... Brennen Dubchak tops the Trappers offensively with 42 points. He is seventh overall in league scoring. ... Trevor Hunt is second on the club and shares 9th overall with 39 points. ... Cole Klippenstein tops all NOJHL D-men in goals (15) and points (32). ... North Bay is 11-0-2 when Graham Pickard picks up a point in a game. ... After tonight's road contest at Sudbury the Trappers will play five of their remaining regular season home games at home on Memorial Gardens ice.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS - Two home games are in store for the Thunderbirds this weekend as they host Sudbury Saturday and Blind River Sunday. ... The Soo was rated 17th in the latest CJHL Top 20 rankings... Darcy Casola has points in five consecutive outings and continues to pace the club offensively with 61 points. He remains third in NOJHL scoring. ... Three other T-Birds are also in the top 10 in league offensive production. Adam Ritchie (56pts), Brandon Warmington (40pts) and Anthony Miller (39pts) are fourth, eighth and tied for ninth respectively. ... Joel Horodziejczyk is second in league average at 2.38 and save percentage at .918. Steven Dombrowski has won his last 10 starts in net.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS - Sudbury kicks off a home-and-home with North Bay tonight at McClelland Arena. They visit the Trappers Friday before heading to Sault Ste. Marie Saturday... Sebastien Leroux and Darcy Haines still sit one-two in league scoring with 75 and 69 points respectively. ... Leroux has only been held pointless five times so far this season and leads all skaters in the league in point-per-game average at 1.92. ... Haines leads all skaters in the league in goals with 32 and sits second point-per-game prowess at 1.82. ... He is also tied for fourth overall in power play tallies with eight. ... August Jarecki is riding a seven-game point streak. ... Michael Muzyka is fifth in the NOJHL in goals-against average at 3.37. ... Netminding partner Alex Laino sits sixth overall in GAA at 3.66. ... Laino has gone 9-1 in his last 10 decisions. ... The club's Jan. 30 home tilt vs. Kirkland Lake that was postponed due to weather now goes March 13.