A look at the Onaping Falls Huskies and NOBHL Showcase Results
As has been the custom over the past few
years, the Northern Ontario
Bantam AAA Hockey League opened regular season play with a
"Showcase Weekend", bringing all five teams together for a single
round robin of play in one location. Based on the ten games played to
date, there have been a few interesting trends.
First and foremost, the teams, like all
other minor hockey teams across the country, are trying to adjust to
the "new standards" of rule enforcement as officials begin to call the
game strictly by the book. Many infractions that had been allowed to
gradually work their way in as an accepted part of the game,
especially on the defensive side of the puck, have now been
Defensemen are being forced to keep both
hands on their sticks and keep their sticks away from opponents as
hooking and slashing calls run rampant in the early going. While fans,
coaches and players may find it frustrating initially, the "new
standards" are here to stay and the teams that evolve most quickly to
the now-acceptable style of hockey are sure to reap the benefits.
While league-wide parity is still
something of a pipe-dream within the ranks of the NOBHL, early signs
this season point to a much more closely contested loop. No team went
through their opening four games with an unblemished 4-0 record,
although the Sudbury Wolves 3-0-1 record finds them sitting in
first place with 7 points, one better than the Soo Greyhounds
and two up on North Bay Hilltop Variety Blades.
Although the Timmins Technosub Rangers
currently sport an 0-4 mark, the goal differential (goals for less
goals against) is only ten goals after four games, or an average of
2.5 per game. By comparison, the Rangers allowed a whopping 122 more
goals against than they scored one year ago, with Timmins allowing
opponents to reach double digits on eight separate occasions during
their 2005-06 campaign.
Onaping Falls Huskies
After icing a team that many thought
could contend for a franchise-first league title last year, Onaping
Falls Huskies long-time head coach Dave Berthelot enters
this season in a rebuilding mode, returning just two members of the
'05-'06 squad. Following is a "by position" look at the Bantam
With the decision of Minor Bantam Max
Bouffard not to return to the Huskies for a second year, Onaping
has turned to former Sudbury Minor Bantam product Carter Frattini
and Rayside 1st year bantam Eric Fraser to take on the
challenge this year.
returns for a second season to anchor the blueline after picking up
nine points in 29 games one year ago. Nickel Centre products
Michael Szymanski and Michael Rollins join Sheldon
McGinn and Brett Dusick as Berthelot continues his tendancy
towards big, physical defensemen.
Berthelot and company are hoping that
lightning can indeed strike twice. Their decision to keep Minor Bantam
Jamie Haines in the fall of 2004 paid off big time one year
later as Haines recorded 31 goals and 32 assists in finishing 6th in
league scoring in 2005-06.
Back to the well as Berthelot signs
Valley East native Darcy Haines (the younger brother) with two
years of bantam eligibility at his disposal. But make no mistake - the
Huskies offense will be lead by returning captain Joshua Patrick,
who should receive support from a pair of long-time Walden Minor
Hockey linemates in Adam Ritchie and Liam Deacon.
Valley East Minor Hockey does their part
by providing the likes of Shane Violette, Brett Wilson and
Benoit Roy to the Onaping roster while Sebastien Leroux, Ryan
Chretien, Shawn Leonard and Craig Riehl round out the
The injury bug wasted little time in
biting the Huskies as Chretien, Deacon and Leonard are all on the
shelf. Leonard is expected back hopefully for the Thanksgiving weekend
set in North Bay, Chretien perhaps a week later while Deacon is still
a month away from returning.
The Huskies kick-started the 2006 season
with an appearance at the
Toronto Red Wings Early Bird Tournament as the team was
tagged with four consecutive losses. Onaping Falls fell to the
Toronto Marlboros (4-1), the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-2), the
Brampton Battalion (5-4) as well as the Buffalo Regals
(3-2) before returning to Greater Sudbury.
The event also drew fellow NOBHL entries
as both the Greyhounds (4-0 in round robin before losing 7-2 to the
Marlboros in championship Q-F action) and the Blades (2-1-1 in round
robin and eliminated 7-0 by York Simcoe in consolation Q-F action)
participated as well.
The tournament was captured by an
extremely impressive North York Jr Canadians team, beating
Detroit Honeybaked 4-1 in the final. The Canadians are among the
25 Bantam Division entries that will also be in Sudbury in early
November as part of the
2006 Big Nickel Tournament that will also include fellow
quarter-finalist Toronto Red Wings, Markham Majors, Toronto Marlboros
and Sault Ste Marie.