KIRKLAND LAKE - The Commissioner of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is very much looking forward to the 2014-2015 season.
The Northern News recently conducted an interview with Robert Mazzuca and he spoke glowingly about the new year, and much that has happened with the league since presenting the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
“Its going to be a good year”, stated Mazzuca.
With the edition of Powassan and the re-introduction of a team in Elliot Lake, there are now nine teams in the NOJHL loop, which according to the commissioner is the most in league history.
As to why a team was placed back in Elliot Lake after their former squad packed up and moved to their new location in Cochrane, Mazzuca said “the Bobcats asked for relocation and the board approved it.
(Then) Elliot Lake Mayor Rick Hamilton called and asked about the possibility of another team.”
Mazzuca went on to say the process was then lead by the mayor and the town’s council and the new team was born. He added this club is a not-for-profit organization.
With a team now in Cochrane, a squad still in Elliot Lake and a new team in Powassan Mazzuca says there could be some great rivalries created.
The northern third of the league will see great match ups between, the Miners, the Eskis and the Crunch. Centrally there no doubt will be big games for fans in North Bay, Powassan, Mattawa and Sudbury. Then there are the western teams, The Soo, Blind River and Elliot Lake.
Mazzuca is also very pleased with the number of former NOJHL players who will be playing in the college ranks this season.
In total there are over 30 players who will be moving on and playing at a high level this upcoming season and he says this speak volumes about the league.
“We always get knocked because of our (geographic) location up here.
“Its more than a myth that no one comes up here (to scout).”
He added the teams themselves can take a lot of the credit for the placement rate of the players.
He added its great for the league because “we do move kids” to the next level.
Meantime the league announced they have appointed Matt Davie to serve as director of officiating, effective immediately.
A long-time veteran official, Davie began officiating in back in 1992 in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association with the Copper Cliff Minor Hockey Association.
Currently a Level 5 official he has refereed in the NOJHL dating back to 1998.
A move to Toronto in 2000 saw him officiate in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and Greater Toronto Hockey League through to 2007.
Heading back to Northern Ontario Davie returned to the ice in the NOJHL and has also officiated at multiple levels of the game in his career from the OUA, World under-17, OHF provincials, the OHL Cup as well as in both the TELUS Cup Canadian national midget event in Sault Ste. Marie and the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Jr. A championship in North Bay back in 2013. He has also served as a Referee Supervisor with the NOHA and GTHL since 1998.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to work with the NOJHL,” commented Davie on his new position.
“We have a fantastic league here in Northern Ontario. The teams are very competitive and the hockey is top notch,” he added.
“I look forward to working with Robert Mazzuca (NOJHL Commissioner) and Dan McCourt (NHL Officiating Manager), in continuing to develop young officials within our league across Northern Ontario.”
Davie looks to offer insight and build on his experiences in working with the league officials.
“I hope by sharing my experiences and knowledge of officiating with our league’s officials, we will continue to improve officiating across the North and improve the game itself.”
Davie assumes his role with the NOJHL taking over from Glen Campbell who held the position the past number of seasons.
The NOJHL would like to thank Glen for his steadfast efforts in working with the officials on behalf of the league and wish him well in the future.
As for reflecting back to last season, Mazzuca said “I was thrilled and proud to see what Kirkland Lake did.”