SUDBURY –- With the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s 2011-12 campaign having been completed, it is time to look back on another eventful season.
The first installment in the NOJHL Year in Review features a look back at the regular season and some of the highlights that occurred along the way.
BACK-TO-BACK: For a second consecutive year the Soo Thunderbirds claimed the James Aspen Trophy, which goes each season to the NOJHL’s regular season title holder.
The Soo boasted a league-best record of 37-11-2 for 76 points after going 38-9-3 in 2009-10.
They also captured the William Sidney Jones Memorial Trophy as Western Division champions while the Sudbury Cubs earned the nod in the Eastern Division finishing up with 64 points on a 29-15-6 record.
TOP SCORER: No player in the past 20 years put up better offensive totals in the NOJHL than Jordan Carroll of the Sudbury Cubs.
Scoring an incredible 70 goals while setting up 66 others saw the Sudbury captain amass 123 points while skating in all 50 games his club played.
Carroll’s tallies not only led the NOJHL, but the entire 133-team Canadian Junior Hockey League as well.
Marc-Alain Begin of the Abitibi Eskimos was no slouch either piling up 123 points in just 39 contests finishing second overall in NOJHL scoring.
His 92 assists were the most in the league and his 3.15 points-per-game were also tops in the NOJHL.
TOP NETMINDER: Helping backstop the Thunderbirds to the regular season title was goaltender John Kleinhans.
He wrapped up his junior career as goaltending champion pacing all NOJHL goalies in wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts at 26, 2.86, .912 and five respectively.
LEADING THE WAY: The NOJHL began the regular season by unveiling and implementing a nationally recognized Concussion Safety Program, which was put in place for the 2011-12 campaign.
The league became the first of the 10-member CJHL to institute such a policy helping lead the way in player safety in Jr. A hockey.
NEW LOOK IN THE LAKE: The 2011-12 regular season saw a change in Kirkland Lake as the Blue Devils ceased operations only to see the league grant a new franchise in the community that would start up as the Gold Miners.
LEAVING THE NEST: The regular season that was marked the final one in the NOJHL for the Soo Eagles of Sault Ste. Marie. Mich.
The Eagles have left to join the Northern American Hockey League where they will take to the ice in 2012-13.
ALL-STARS: Stellar efforts throughout the campaign featured 18 individuals recognized for their impressive accomplishments both on and off the ice.
The following is a breakdown of the NOJHL’s first and second all-star team representatives:
NOJHL 1ST ALL-STAR TEAM
GOALTENDER: JOHN KLEINHANS, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—The Thunderbirds netminder led the NOJHL in goal-against average (2.86), save percentage (.912), wins (26) and shutouts (5).
DEFENCE: COREY JACKSON, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—Named top defenseman in the league, Jackson registered a career-high in goals, assists and points with 11, 25 and 36 respectively. He paced all defensemen on his team in offensive production.
DEFENCE: CORY SELLERS, NORTH BAY TRAPPERS—The 20-year-old blueliner helped anchor the Trappers defensive corps while also picking up 26 points in 48 games, including five goals.
CENTRE: JAMIE HAINES, SUDBURY CUBS—The Sudbury forward finished third in NOJHL scoring with 107 points. His 68 assists were the second most in the league. Haines led all skaters in game-winning goals with nine.
LEFT WING: JORDAN CARROLL, SUDBURY CUBS—The NOJHL most valuable player was a force all season long. His 136 points were the most the NOJHL has seen in 20 years. He led the entire 133-team Canadian Junior Hockey League in goals with 70. Carroll established new team single season records in goals, assists and points and had a 41-game point streak to finish the season.
RIGHT WING: MICKY SARTORETTO, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—Paced the Thunderbirds offensively with 97 points, which was the fourth highest total in the league. 20-year-old Sault Ste. Marie product finished in the top 10 in power play goals with 10 and game-winners with seven.
COACH: TOM MCCARTHY, NORTH BAY TRAPPERS—NOJHL coach of the year led the Trappers to a league-best seven-win improvement in his first season at the helm in North Bay.
MANAGER: KEVIN CAIN, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—Built and managed the team that won a second consecutive NOJHL regular season crown and was ranked 8th nationally in the final CJHL top 20 rankings.
TRAINER: JIM WHALEN, SUDBURY CUBS—Recognized for his efforts and dedication on the Cubs’ staff.
NOJHL 2ND ALL-STAR TEAM
GOALTENDER: KEN APPLEBY, KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS—Rookie netminder was one of the youngest players in the entire league. Appleby represented the NOJHL at the Central Canada All-Star Challenge.
DEFENCE: DEREK DIAZ, SOO EAGLES—Named a league all-star for a second straight season he is the only player in the NOJHL to do so. The 20-year-old rearguard racked up 43 points in just 40 games for the Eagles, which was a career high.
DEFENCE: DJORDJE LEPOSAVIC, NORTH BAY TRAPPERS—The New Westminster, B.C. product had 32 points in 43 games for North Bay and registered nine multiple-point games for the Trappers.
CENTRE: GREG SARTORETTO, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—Versatile Thunderbirds centre had 17 goals and 23 assists during the course of the regular season. The 19-year-old local product set career marks in tallies, helpers and points.
LEFT WING: MATT AMADIO, SOO THUNDERBIRDS—The 20-year-old winger amassed 78 points, including 30 goals, to finish eighth overall in NOJHL offensive production and had 24 multiple-point outings for the T-Birds.
RIGHT WING: MARC-ALAIN BEGIN, ABITIBI ESKIMOS—Finished the regular season with 123 points in just 39 games he led the league in point-per-game average at 3.15. Begin topped the NOJHL in assists with 92 the highest total in the CJHL.
COACH: PAUL GAGNE, ABITIBI ESKIMOS—Veteran Abitibi bench boss earns an all-star coaching nod for a third time in five seasons for his efforts guiding the Eskimos.
MANAGER: PAUL GAGNE, ABITIBI ESKIMOS—Honoured for a third time in five years for his efforts building and managing the Eskies.
TRAINER: ROGER GAGNE, ABITIBI ESKIMOS—This marks his second season in succession earning all-star recognition.
THE TROPHIES: Excellence at their position earned a group of well deserving players, coaches, executives and teams NOJHL accolades by being named league award winners.
The following are each of the NOJHL regular season award winners for the 2011-12 season:
Carlo Cattarello Trophy Most Valuable Player: Jordan Carroll, Sudbury Cubs
Top Defenceman: Corey Jackson, Soo Thunderbirds
John Grignon Trophy: Rookie of the Year, Josh Hicks, Soo Thunderbirds
Onaping Falls Huskies Trophy Most Gentlemanly Player: Kurtis Barbarie, Soo Thunderbirds
Gilles Laperriere Trophy Most Improved Player: Tyler Brown, Blind River Beavers
Mitch Tetreault Memorial Trophy Top Defensive Forward: Brad Edwards, North Bay Trappers
Best Overall Team Player: Micky Sartoretto, Soo Thunderbirds
Joe Drago Trophy Director of the Year: Albert Giommi, Soo Thunderbirds
Red McCarthy Trophy Coach of the Year: Tom McCarthy, North Bay Trappers
Team Goaltenders Award: John Kleinhans & Remo Febbraro, Soo Thunderbirds
Wayne Chase Memorial Award Top Goals-Against Average: John Kleinhans, Soo Thunderbirds
Jimmy Connors Memorial Award League Scoring Champion: Jordan Carroll, Sudbury Cubs
Scholastic Player of the Year: Jordan Carroll, Sudbury Cubs
Molson CJHL Player of the Year Nominee: Jordan Carroll, Sudbury Cubs
James Aspen Trophy Regular Season Champions: Soo Thunderbirds (37W-11L-2OTL-76PTS)
William Sidney Jones Memorial Trophy Western Division Champions: Soo Thunderbirds (37W-11L-2OTL-76PTS)
Gary Hall Memorial Award Eastern Division Champions: Sudbury Cubs (29W-15L-6OTL-64PTS)
CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS: The regular season title winning Soo Thunderbirds finished in the top10 in the closing Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 rankings of the season.
The Thunderbirds ended up in the No. 8 slot overall in the final listings that were compiled in consultation with NHL Central Scouting and presented by PlayingUpHockey.com.
Winners of 36 games in succession the Penticton Vees of the BCHL justifiably concluded the rankings as the No. 1 team overall in the CJHL.
The Spruce Grove Saints of Alberta wound up in the second spot followed by the Royal Bank Cup host Humboldt Broncos held on to third.
The Wisconsin Wilderness of the SIJHL were tabbed fourth overall while the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the AJHL rounded out the top five.
The rankings each week were based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the team plays, winning percentage, win-loss record, and the total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc.
Final CJHL Top 20 rankings for 2011-12
1. Penticton Vees (BCHL)
2. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
3. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
4. Wisconsin Wilderness (SIJHL)
5. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL)
6. Nepean Raiders (CCHL)
7. Woodstock Slammers (MHL)
8. SOO THUNDERBIRDS (NOJHL)
9. Portage Terriers (MJHL)
10. Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL)
11. Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
12. Newmarket Hurricanes (OJHL)
13. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL)
14. Cobourg Cougars (OJHL)
15. Dauphin Kings (MJHL)
16. Cornwall Colts (CCHL)
17. Surrey Eagles (BCHL)
18. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL)
19. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)
20. Les Cougars du College Champlain - Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ)
The weekly rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including the league in which the teams play, winning percentage, win-loss record, along with their total points accumulated, goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc. The CJHL is comprised of the 10 Junior A hockey leagues across Canada.
COMING UP: The next installment of the NOJHL Year in Review will be a breakdown on the league playoffs.
Also featured will be the Soo Thunderbirds run at both the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A championship in Thunder Bay and the Royal Bank Cup in Humboldt, Sask.