NOJHL Concludes Spring General Meeting
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
SUDBURY - The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League concluded its spring general meeting over the weekend in Sudbury with the NOJHL announcing they will be moving forward with a number of changes for the upcoming 2012-13 season.
The following is a breakdown on some of the items that were discussed and approved heading into the upcoming campaign:
SUDBURY SOLD: One of the main topics of discussion was that of the status of the Sudbury Cubs franchise.
During the meetings the NOJHL Board of Directors approved the sale of the franchise to Sudbury businessman Mike Mooney, who takes over the club from Bill Scott.
Mooney is no stranger to the league having played in the NOJHL in the mid-80s with the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens.
Among the first few orders of business for Mooney was to announce the team is being renamed and will now be called the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
The new Sudbury owner has also hired Oscar Clouthier, who will serve as the club's general manager.
"Michael Mooney has purchased the franchise from Bill Scott and will be operating in Sudbury playing out of the McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff," stated NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca.
"It's been a long process, which gone on for a few months, but it has now been successfully completed," added Mazzuca.
"We thank Bill Scott for his contribution to junior hockey in Sudbury and we wish Mike Mooney and Oscar Clouthier the best of luck in the future."
WELCOME ABOARD: The NOJHL is also pleased to welcome the addition of the Elliot Lake Bobcats into the league starting in the 2012-13 campaign.
They will make up the seventh team in the league for the season.
Serving as owner, general manager and head coach of the club is Ryan Leonard.
THE FORMAT: The NOJHL has decided to remove the two-division format and will now compete in a single seven-team conference and play a balanced 48-game schedule for the upcoming season.
Each club will go up against each other a total of eight teams during the regular season playing four times apiece at home and away.
The shootout has been taken out as a tiebreaker and will be replaced by a one four-on-four, five-minute overtime period followed by, if necessary, a second five-minute OT session with the sides skating three players aside.
Should a winner not be determined, the game will end as a tie with each side earning a point.
As for the playoff format, it will see the first place regular season champion receiving a first-round bye.
From there the remaining six sides will face each other in quarter-final play with the regular season winner joining the remaining three squads in semifinal action.
"You talk to the people in Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie and you were seeing each team, including the Soo Eagles at the time play each other 12 to 14 times, so it's really not what the fans want to see and what the players want, so we think this is a more balanced approach," offered Mazzuca.
"While it's more costly for our teams, due to the travel, we figured it was more balanced for the league and more beneficial for the fans," stated the NOJHL commissioner.
The league is also looking at some other innovative changes that they hope will be approved by the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.
In discussing some of the new ideas on the table, Mazzuca provided these thoughts.
"We are trying to be innovative trying to make it more exciting and entertaining for the fans."
"We are looking at ways to improve the game on and off the ice with the anti-doping and the concussion programs introduced last season and we are now trying to put a schedule together to get all the league trainers certified for first responders sports medicine course, which the same level of training that Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League teams have."
LEAVE OF ABSENCE: The NOJHL has also approved a leave of absence for the Soo Eagles franchise, which departed in the off-season to join the North American Hockey League.
Commissioner Mazzuca is hoping that franchise will be re-located to another community in Northern Michigan for the start of play in the fall of 2013.