Showdown between junior hockey leagues set for this weekend in Spooner
SPOONER, Wis. - The inaugural Superior - Northern Showdown featuring clubs from the Superior International Junior Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League meeting up in a first-ever event between the two groups gets underway Fr...
SPOONER, Wis. - The inaugural Superior - Northern Showdown featuring clubs from the Superior International Junior Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League meeting up in a first-ever event between the two groups gets underway Friday in Spooner, Wis.
Taking place at the Ice House in Spooner, Wis. the SIJHL will be represented by their two-time defending league champion Minnesota Wilderness along with last season's finalist, the Fort Frances Lakers.
Representing the NOJHL is the reigning NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Soo Thunderbirds along with the Elliot Lake Bobcats.
Action in the Superior-Northern Showdown begins Friday when Sault Ste. Marie meets Fort Frances at 3:30 CT/4:30 p.m. ET followed by Elliot Lake and Minnesota at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET.
Two more tilts will go Saturday, Jan. 5 as the Bobcats tangle with the Lakers at 3:30 CT/4:30 p.m. and the T-Birds take on the Wilderness at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET.
One other contest will also be featured on Sunday, Jan. 6 as the Bobcats will meet the Wilderness for a second time with this match-up being held in nearby Hayward, Wis. at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET.
This first-ever event between the NOJHL and SIJHL presents an opportunity for both leagues to showcase their players to the many NCAA division I and D-3 schools that are situated in the Northern Wisconsin/Minnesota region.
"This is a tremendous opportunity that allows both the SIJHL and NOJHL to showcase the talent on some of our top teams," said SIJHL President/Commissioner Ron Whitehead.
"With our two-time defending champion Wilderness and last year's finalist Lakers going up against the champs of the NOJHL in Sault Ste. Marie, who also won last season's Dudley-Hewitt Cup in Thunder Bay, and an ever improving Elliot Lake squad, the scouts and fans should be witness to some highly entertaining hockey this weekend," added Whitehead.
The NOJHL too is pleased to be teaming up with the SIJHL in a dual-effort to showcase their talent.
"Being part of an event such as this offers tremendous potential and opportunities for all the competing players as well as both the NOJHL and SIJHL," offered NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca.
"Going up against stiff competition in two strong SIJHL clubs will not only provide the Thunderbirds and Bobcats the chance to showcase their talents to the NCAA schools at a high level, but it should also be some pretty good hockey in an inter-league format, much like the Dudley-Hewitt Cup is every year," added Mazzuca.
Each of the four games in Spooner will be available online through a pay-per-view basis on FASTHockey the official web stream provider of both the SIJHL and NOJHL at www.fasthockey.com .
Games, including Sunday in Hayward, can also be followed through each respective league website with live online scoring.
The following is a breakdown on each of the competing clubs:
MINNESOTA WILDERNESS: Not only are the Wilderness the top team in the SIJHL at the moment they are also among the elite in the entire 128-team Canadian Junior Hockey League. ... Winners of 17 consecutive games, they presently boast an impressive 29-3 overall record and are currently ranked No. 2 in the CJHL while holding down the second best winning percentage in the CJHL at .906. ...Their 53 goals against is the fewest of any squad in the CJHL with goaltenders goaltenders Gordie Defiel and JoJo Jeanetta sitting one-two nationally in goals-against average at 1.59 and 1.66 respectively. ... The Wilderness presently have five skaters in the top 10 in SIJHL scoring including Mike Dietrich who leads the league offensively with 49 points in 27 games, including 19 goals. He is riding an eight game point streak and has also gotten on the score sheet in 24 of his past 25 outings. ... Jake Larson (25-17a-42pts), Jordan Shockley (12g-27a-39pts), Michael MacKinnon (12g-22a-34pts) and Jeremy Johnson (16g-17a-33pts) are third, fourth, seventh and tied for 10th in SIJHL offensive numbers. ... They are led by SIJHL coach of the year Rod Aldoff, who played NCAA hockey on defence at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, before going on to a long professional career in both North America and Europe. He recently coached Team West to victory at the recent CJHL Prospects Games that were held in conjunction with the World Jr. A Challenge in Nova Scotia.
FORT FRANCES LAKERS: Guiding the Lakers fortunes is their head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan. ... A three-time SIJHL coach of the year recipient, Strachan played in the NCAA at Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where he was part of two national championship clubs in the early 1990s. ... Sitting with a 17-12-1-1 record the Lakers' leading scorer is the latest player of the week in the SIJHL in forward Jordan Christianson. He is fourth in the league in assists with 26 and sixth overall in points with 38. Colton Spicer is knotted for 10th in league numbers with 33 points on 20 tallies and 13 helpers. ... Both of their netminders in Jameson Shortreed and Tanner Hamilton sit in the top five in SIJHL goals-against average. Shortreed was also one of the goalkeepers for Canada West in the 2010 World Jr. A Challenge. ... Notable Fort Frances alumni include goaltender Ryan Faragher (St. Cloud State, WCHA) as well as forwards Mitch Cain (Bemidji State, WCHA) and Joe Basaraba (Minnesota-Duluth, WCHA).
SOO THUNDERBIRDS: The Thunderbirds currently sit in top spot in the NOJHL standings with a 15-5-3-3 overall record. ... They were also tabbed 12th overall in the most recent CJHL Top 20 rankings compiled in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting. ... After the graduation of Royal Bank Cup most valuable player John Kleinhans the T-Birds have a pair of first-year netminders in Joel Horodziejczyk and Steven Dombrowski who have both excelled. ... Horodziejczyk leads all NOJHL goalkeepers in goals-against average at 2.27 and sits second in save percentage at .921. ... The T-Birds edged the Wilderness 4-3 in overtime in the Dudley-Cup opener in Thunder Bay last season. ... They are 11th overall in the CJHL in winning percentage at .733. ... The Soo has four players among the top 10 in NOJHL scoring. Darcy Casola (20g-26a-46pts) sits fourth, Adam Ritchie (18g-23a-41pts) is fifth, Greg Sartoretto (12g-22a-34pts) is sixth while Derek Battagin (9g-21a-30pts) is knotted for ninth. ... The head coach of the Soo Thunderbirds is Warren Lavoy, who is in his first year in that role after serving as an assistant the previous campaign. ... The T-Birds general manager is Kevin Cain.
ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS: Elliot Lake is in their first year in the NOJHL. ... Steve Gaul leads the Bobcats offensively with 19 points. ... Brad Holman is next with 18. ... Six of the nine goals Nicholas Tassone has scored this season have come on the power play. ... When scoring first in a game the Bobcats are 6-2-1, but a mere 1-18 when their opposition strike first. ... Elliot Lake has scored the fewest goals in the league so far this season at 73 while their 143 against is the second most given up in the league. ... The head coach and general manager of the Bobcats is Ryan Leonard.