It's that ever so wonderful time of year when the nightly chatter of the nearby arenas is filled with the latest scuttlebutt on who will end up where. We'll try and do our best to clarify the gossip and confirm signings at a variety of levels as they occur. Following is the latest from a handful of local teams:Sudbury Nickel Capitals
By all accounts, this team will be noticeably better than the squad that limped into the Great North Midget League playoffs one year ago. Not surprising, the team has endured a great deal of turnover, with some expected jumps from Bantams, some surprises and some eyebrow raising cuts.
The following players are confirmed to be signed as of Monday, August 29th: Luc Comtois, Vern Cooper, Kyle Tarini, P.J. Taus, Matt Lecours, Jake Trudeau, Michael Demarco, Brook Albion, Jordan Kuruliak, Dale Pidutti, Taylor Pigeau, Mark Baskcomb, Jacob Johnston, and Lenny Talarico.
One of the more difficult choices awaiting head coach Steve Boyd and staff will be between the pipes with Joey Delwo, Mario Diotte, Alain Valiquette and Andre Frappier still in camp. The Caps are looking to have the goaltending situation finalized by the end of the week at the latest.
Among the players released were veterans Chad Mallette, Max Mimeault and Brandon Amirault as well as Matt Bortolotto who played with the Nickel Capitals two years ago, suiting up with the Sudbury Northern Wolves last year. Late cuts included Matt Bouchard, Justin Arnold (who showed well in an exhibition game in North Bay according to team management) with the team still unsure of the status of returning forward Matt Herrington who remained absent from training camp over the weekend.
Sudbury will play an exhibition game in New Liskeard on Friday night before kicking off the regular season with a double header at home the following weekend against Kirkland Lake and New Liskeard.Valley East Cobras
The class of the local Great North contingent last year with a fourth place finish, Valley East promises to be an interesting mix of key returning veterans and minor midgets who have showed well in the early going. Head coach Rick Poitras expects that local bragging rights may well come down to a Sudbury/Valley East battle.
Unlike Sudbury, the Cobras have finalized their netminding tandem as graduating bantams Tyler Beskorowany and Shawn Sirman provide a solid (albeit young) 1-2 punch. On the blue-line, Valley East has signed Kyle Fisch, Alain Prevost, Gilles Pickard, Christian Belanger and Matt Arbour, although the latter may see some duty up front.
At forward, the Cobras return a group that includes Garrett Hamel, Scott Faulkner and Rob Seguin with a rookie crew of Justin Hogan, Tyler Ryan, Serge Brouillette, Calin Beaudette, Alex Fiset and Matt Demore. With a couple of positions still to be decided, Sudbury's Matt Bortolotto was in camp on Tuesday night along with a handful of other hopefuls.
The Cobras will play a pair of exhibition games this weekend, facing Rayside-Balfour in Walden on saturday and hosting the Junior Sabrecats on Monday evening at 8:00 p.m. at Ray Plourde Arena in Val Caron.Sudbury Northern Wolves
After last Sunday's exhibition game against the Seguin Bruins, the following players were confirmed as signed by GM Mike Rowlandson: Jordan Prevost, Matt Chuipka, Ryan Mathes, Jesse Graham, Jamie Dallaire, Nick Heins, Brian McGarry, Brendan Biederman, Brodie Wilson, Justin Jodouin and Darren Rowlandson.
The Northern Wolves continue their exhibition schedule with a visit to Espanola Thursday night to tangle with the Manitoulin Wild. The NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) returns to the Espanola Recreation Complex after an absence of two years. The game will feature three Espanola natives among the Wild roster with Riley Polden in net, defenceman Devin Bond and forward Ryan Piche.Bantam AAA hockey
The Onaping Falls Huskies swept a pair of games from the North Bay Blades on Saturday in Walden, blasting the Blades 8-3 in the opener. Jamie Haines and Nick Esposto paced the Huskies with two goals each while Stephane Demore, Curtis Bowles, Brandon Labelle and Josh Patrick adding singles.
Nicholas Huard scored twice in a losing cause for North Bay with Cameron Leggett rounding out the Blades attack. While Huskies coach Dave Berthelot confirmed that there are but a handful of signings to be completed, the team did release Minor Bantam Liam deacon, who appears set to sign on with the Sudbury Wolves Bantam AAA squad.
The team, which appeared to be floundering at one time with just twelve skaters in camp, have seen their numbers improve gradually with Monday's practice at Cambrian Arena featuring a full lineup. Coach Brian Dube sees his team speed as a strength with work to be done on the defensive aspect of the game.