June 23, 2014
The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League held its annual Board of Governors meetings over the June 20th – 23rd weekend in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. Each team had a representative from the nine team league with the Soo Thunderbirds, Blind River Beavers, Sudbury Nickel Barons, Cochrane Crunch, Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, Abitibi Eskimos’, Mattawa Blackhawks and two new expansion teams in the Powassan Voodoos and Elliot Lake in attendance.
The board of governors agreed to have two divisions for the 2014 -2015 season with the Elliot Lake, Sudbury Nickel Barons, Blind River Beavers and the Soo Thunderbirds aligning the East while the West consists of the Powassan Voodoos, Mattawa Blackhawks, Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, Abitibi Eskimos’ and Cochrane Crunch.
In an unbalanced schedule, all 9 teams will play a 52 regular season schedule. The 2015 playoff format in the West will be first versus fourth and second versus third. In the East division, the fourth and fifth teams will play a best of three series to determine who will play the first place team while second versus third will be the other series. The winner of the West will meet the winner of the East to determine the Copeland-McNamara Trophy champions for 2014 – 2015.
General Manager Dave Beauchamp of the Mattawa Blackhawks told Junior Hockey Network that “the unbalanced schedule makes it easy for us to build a very heated rivalry with Powassan. Playing the Voodoo will really draw great crowds, this rivalry should last a lifetime.”
For the second year in a row, NOJHL overtime will be 4 on 4 and then 3 on 3. The NOJHL will introduce no change icing heading into the fall of 2014.
Every team will be working hard over the summer recruiting to replace the players who are moving on because of junior A hockey graduation along with some players moving on to attend school in other parts of the country. The expansion Powassan Voodoo and Elliot Lake will especially have their hands full with trying to fill a full roster for the fall of 2014. The junior A team in Elliot Lake has brought in hometown hockey guy Todd Stencill while the Voodoo has enlisted the help of Chris Dawson of North Bay.