The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League announced Friday its regular season schedule for the upcoming 2012-13 campaign.
Featuring a combined slate of 168 contests, each NOJHL club will play a balanced 48-game schedule competing in 24 home and 24 away contests.
This season each of the NOJHL member clubs will now compete in a single seven-team conference and will go up against each other a total of eight times during the course of the regular season, squaring off four times apiece at home and away.
The shootout has also been removed as a tiebreaker and is being 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.
Game action will commence Wednesday, Sept. 5th as the newly minted Sudbury Nickel Barons host the Blind River Beavers at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff.
Two nights later the first-year Elliot Lake Bobcats make their NOJHL debut as they entertain the North Bay Trappers at Centennial Arena.
One other game on the docket that evening features the defending league and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion Soo Thunderbirds hosting Blind River at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
As for the other two squads in the league, the Abitibi Eskimos welcome Sudbury to Jus Jordan Arena on Sept. 8th while Kirkland Lake Gold Miners take to the ice the following evening squaring off against the Eskimos.
Regular season action concludes Wednesday, March 13 with the Thunderbirds paying a visit to Blind River.
As for the playoff format, it will see the first place club 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. The finalists then meet up to play for the NOJHL championship.
The league will also have some additional postseason hockey for fans to enjoy as the North Bay Trappers host the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship April 30th – May 4th.
Joining the Trappers at the DHC will be either the NOJHL winner or finalist depending on how North Bays fares in the playoffs along with the champions of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League.
The Dudley-Hewitt trophy title holder will then move on to the Royal Bank Cup May 11th -19th in Summerside, P.E.I.