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Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL)

04/26/2015, 7:00am CDT
By SIJHL Communications

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP

DHC MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL)

FORT FRANCES, Ont. – The second of four Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship team previews is on the winners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Soo Thunderbirds.

Sault Ste. Marie’s initial contest at the Dudley-Hewitt will be at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET Tuesday vs. the Dryden GM Ice Dogs of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

The Soo and Dryden will joined by the host and two-time SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup title-winning Fort Frances Lakers along with the defending Dudley-Hewitt Cup and back-to-back Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Toronto Patriots.

Here is a look at the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy champion T-Birds.

TEAM: SOO THUNDERBIRDS
 
LEAGUE: NOJHL

GENERAL MANAGER: Kevin Cain

HEAD COACH: Jordan Smith

THE THUNDERBIRDS: Representing the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League at this year’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup in Fort Frances are the Soo Thunderbirds.

It is nothing new for Sault Ste. Marie to be competing in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup having been a NOJHL representative at five of the past seven Central Canada Jr. A Championships.

Ironically this also marks the third straight occasion that the Thunderbirds will play in the DHC when the Superior International Junior Hockey League has served as host of the four-team tourney.

They finished fourth in 2009 in Schreiber, Ont., before rebounding to win it all in 2012 as they captured their first Dudley-Hewitt Cup crown in Thunder Bay.

Guided by two-time NOJHL coach of the year Jordan Smith, Sault Ste. Marie secured their second consecutive NOJHL regular season title and from there were all but dominant in the 2015 NOJHL playoffs rolling through three postseason series winning 12 times while only losing twice.

In quarter-final play they blasted the Blind River Beavers in four straight outscoring them 41-1 in the process.

Moving on the NOJHL West Division final they met an impressive Elliot Lake Wildcats and proceeded to tame them in five games.

Advancing to their fourth straight league Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy final, Sault Ste. Marie took on an upstart first-year Cochrane Crunch.

After the high-scoring Crunch took the series opener, the Thunderbirds reeled off four consecutive victories to win the best-of-seven final 4-1.

THE PLAYERS: Leading the Thunderbirds in the postseason were forward Matt Caruso and defencemen Owen Headrick as they shared the team point lead with 20 each.

Caruso had a league-best 14 goals along with six assists while Headrick topped all NOJHL defencemen with 12 tallies and eight helpers.

Picking up at least one point in his last 10 outings, Headrick also went on to be named the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs.

Thunderbirds captain Anthony Miller and Jaren Bellini were next on the squad in offensive production with 17 points apiece. Matt Pinder picked up 16 points followed by rookies Nicolas Sicoly and Boris Katchouk, who were both 15-point men.

Caleb Bowman led all T-Birds defencemen in scoring during the course of the regular season with 32 points in 49 outings scoring nine times and setting up 23 others.

David Radke was next with 27 points, including a pair of goals, which were both game-winners.

Despite missing most of the first four-plus months due to an upper-body injury, Headrick still averaged a point-per-game for his club with 13 in as many outings and followed that up with his impressive MVP run in the playoffs.

Headrick (Lake Superior State, WCHA) and Radke (Colorado College, NCHC) have both committed to NCAA D-I programs.

Goaltending was also a key to the Soo’s success as netminders Mario Culina and Brian Kment combined to register a NOJHL-leading seven shutouts along the playoff trail.

Culina topped all league netminders in both average and save percentage at 1.23 and .945

Kment finished second with a goals-against average of 1.73 along with a .925 save mark.

During the course of the regular season, the Thunderbirds connected at a 20.7% clip on the power play while going 81.7% while on the penalty kill.

In the playoffs they upped both percentages firing at a 26.8% success rate while on a man advantage and had an 84.4% rate while shorthanded.

FASTHOCKEY: Each Dudley-Hewitt Cup contest will be available online via pay-per-view at fasthockey.com.

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP WEBSITE: More information on the 2015 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, including ticket packages, can be found on the official event website at www.centralcanadianchampionship.com.

Additional news, statistics, schedules and other relevant material is also posted on the website with other relevant information being added leading up to the event.

RBC CUP: The Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner will advance to represent the central region at the 2015 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 9-17, in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Serving as host will be the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Joining the Terriers and Dudley-Hewitt title holders will be the champion and finalist of Crescent Energy Western Canadian Championship as well as the winner of the Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian Championship.

More information on the RBC Cup can be found at www.hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.

Dudley-Hewitt Cup
April 28 - May 2
Ice for Kids Arena
Fort Frances, Ont.

Competing teams
HOST: Fort Frances Lakers (Bill Salonen Cup champion)
SIJHL: Dryden GM Ice Dogs (Bill Salonen Cup finalist)
NOJHL: Soo Thunderbirds (Copeland Cup - McNamara Trophy champion)
OJHL: Toronto Patriots (Buckland Cup champion)

Schedule (All start times Central Standard Time)
Tuesday, April 28
Soo vs. Dryden 2 p.m.  
Toronto vs. Fort Frances 7:30 p.m.  
Wednesday, April 29
Toronto vs. Dryden 2 p.m.
Fort Frances vs. Soo 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 30
Soo vs. Toronto 2 p.m.
Dryden vs. Fort Frances 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 1
Semifinal: 2nd Round Robin vs. 3rd Round Robin 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 2
Final: 1st Round Robin vs. Semifinal Winner 7:30 p.m.
 

Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL)

04/25/2015, 3:00pm CDT
By SIJHL Communications

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP

DHC MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dudley-Hewitt Cup team preview: Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL)

FORT FRANCES, Ont. – The Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship in Fort Frances is just three days away.

Game action begins Tuesday afternoon at Ice for Kids Arena at 2 p.m. CT as the Dryden GM Ice Dogs of the Superior International Junior Hockey League take on the champions of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Soo Thunderbirds, in the opener.

They’ll be joined by the host and two-time SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup title-winning Fort Frances Lakers and the defending Dudley-Hewitt Cup and back-to-back Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Toronto Patriots.

The following is the first of the four-team previews for the five-day event.

TEAM: DRYDEN GM ICE DOGS
 
LEAGUE: SIJHL

GENERAL MANAGER: Brian Bates

HEAD COACH: Kurt Walsten

THE GM ICE DOGS: An original member of the SIJHL, this marks Dryden’s fourth appearance in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in their 14-year history.

They have two Bill Salonen Cup titles to their credit while this will be their second DHC nod as a SIJHL representative.

They finished third in the 2006 event held in Thunder Bay behind the eventual champion Fort William North Stars and runner-up Sudbury Jr. Wolves.

The GM Ice Dogs earned an automatic berth to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup after they advanced to the SIJHL final as Fort Frances was already in as the host team.

Dryden finished in third spot in the SIJHL standings with a 30-21-5 record.

That marked an 18-point improvement from a year ago under new head coach Kurt Walsten, who was a finalist for league coach of the year honours.

In league semifinal action they met the second place Minnesota Iron Rangers, who finished one point ahead of them in the standings.

The GM Ice Dogs went on to defeat the Iron Rangers in six games taking that best-of-seven set 4-2.

Moving on to their seventh Bill Salonen Cup final, Dryden took on the rival Lakers from Fort Frances.

The GM Ice Dogs had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven affair at one point only to see the Lakers rally and take the final three contests and take the series 4-2.

THE PLAYERS: Leading Dryden offensively is SIJHL most valuable player Cole Golka.

He led all league skaters in offensive production in both the regular season and playoffs.

In postseason play he recorded 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists.

That followed the 89 points he piled up in the regular season, which included a SIJHL-best 47 goals.

His efforts also saw him set a new team record for goals and points in a single season.

Golka was also named a first team SIJHL CCM all-star at forward.

Next on the squad and the league in scoring was second team CCM all-star Jonathon Philley, who picked up 73 points in 2014-15 on 31 tallies and 42 helpers.

Philley added 14 more points in the playoffs, which included six goals.

Third in team scoring and finishing tied for sixth overall was forward Matt Houston.

He finished with 64 points while Blake Berg was third in club playoff numbers with 11 points on three markers and eight helpers.

Defensively CCM second all-stars in rookie defenceman Troy Williams and goaltender Tate Sproxton helped solidify Dryden’s back end along with D-man Kyle Pouncy.

Williams topped all Dryden defencemen in goals with 11 and was second in points with 34. His offensive totals paced all first-year blueliners in the league. He added six more points in the playoffs.

As for Pouncy, he led Ice Dogs rearguards in scoring in the playoffs with eight points. That added to the team-leading 42 he amassed in the regular season to lead all defencemen on the squad.

Meanwhile Sproxton led all SIJHL goaltenders in wins during the regular season with 23 and was the league-leader in minutes played at just over 2,319 while his 1,212 saves were the second-most overall.

He played all 12 playoff games for Dryden finishing with a 6-6 record along with a 2.98 average and .911 save percentage.

Special teams saw the GM Ice Dogs click at 13.3% on the power play and 89.6% on the penalty kill in the postseason.

They were at 27.3% with the man advantage in the regular season and 78.1% on the P.K.

FASTHOCKEY: Each Dudley-Hewitt Cup contest will be available online via pay-per-view at fasthockey.com.

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP WEBSITE: More information on the 2015 Dudley-Hewitt Cup, including ticket packages, can be found on the official event website at www.centralcanadianchampionship.com.

Additional news, statistics, schedules and other relevant material is also posted on the website with other relevant information being added leading up to the event.

RBC CUP: The Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner will advance to represent the central region at the 2015 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 9-17, in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Serving as host will be the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Joining the Terriers and Dudley-Hewitt title holders will be the champion and finalist of Crescent Energy Western Canadian Championship as well as the winner of the Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian Championship.

More information on the RBC Cup can be found at www.hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.

Dudley-Hewitt Cup
April 28 - May 2
Ice for Kids Arena
Fort Frances, Ont.

Competing teams
HOST: Fort Frances Lakers (Bill Salonen Cup champion)
SIJHL: Dryden GM Ice Dogs (Bill Salonen Cup finalist)
NOJHL: Soo Thunderbirds (Copeland Cup - McNamara Trophy champion)
OJHL: Toronto Patriots (Buckland Cup champion)

Schedule (All start times Central Standard Time)
Tuesday, April 28
Soo vs. Dryden 2 p.m.  
Toronto vs. Fort Frances 7:30 p.m.  
Wednesday, April 29
Toronto vs. Dryden 2 p.m.
Fort Frances vs. Soo 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 30
Soo vs. Toronto 2 p.m.
Dryden vs. Fort Frances 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 1
Semifinal: 2nd Round Robin vs. 3rd Round Robin 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 2
Final: 1st Round Robin vs. Semifinal Winner 7:30 p.m.

DHC champion advances to RBC Cup May 11-19 in Portage la Prairie, Man.

DHC INFORMATION COMPILED BY:
SIJHL/NOJHL Communications/TH Sports Media
thsportsmedia@gmail.com

Team Contacts:

Milt Strachan

Milt Strachan

President

Wayne Strachan

Wayne Strachan

Head Coach/General Manager


Fort Frances Lakers Mailing Address

P.O. Box 76
Fort Frances, Ont.
P9A 3M5
(807) 274-6889 (Phone/Fax)

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