SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s fourth divisional semifinal begins Saturday night as the Hearst Lumberjacks host the Powassan Voodoos at Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
Here’s a look at the best-of-seven affair:
Lumberjacks: Marc-Alain Bégin
Voodoos: Peter Goulet
Hearst: 43-13-2-0 (2nd NOJHL East/4th Overall)
Powassan: 37-20-1-0 (3rd NOJHL East/6th Overall)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The four-game season set between the two sides saw each club come away victorious twice with each team winning a game in the other club’s home arena.
Two of the contests were decided by just one goal, including an overtime encounter, with the Voodoos outscoring the Lumberjacks by a 13-11 count.
Oct. 29: @ Hearst (2-1 Voodoos – OT)
Nov. 25: @ Powassan (5-3 Lumberjacks)
Jan. 27: @ Powassan (6-3 Voodoos)
Feb. 25: @ Hearst (3-2 Lumberjacks)
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Hearst Lumberjacks vs. Powassan Voodoos
Game 1: Saturday, March 25 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 2: Sunday, March 26 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 3: Tuesday, March 28 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 29 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 5*: Friday, March 31 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 2 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 4 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
THE LUMBERJACKS: Holding the home ice advantage to begin the series, Hearst went 8-2 in their final 10 games to finish 13 points clear of the Voodoos in the standings. … The Lumberjacks saw four of its players finish in the Top 15 in league scoring. … Leading that group was veteran forward Zachary Demers, whose 83 points placed him fourth in the NOJHL. … Demers provided 20 tallies, while his 63 assists were the second-highest in the league. … The 23-man advantage helpers for the second team all-star tied him for third among all skaters. … He wrapped up the regular season on a 13-game point streak, collecting 31 points in total in that span. … Emile Pichette was next on the squad with 70 points. … That knotted him for sixth overall in the NOJHL. … He was fourth-best in goals with 34. … Two others that also performed at over a point-per-game clip for the Lumberjacks were Riley Klugerman and Tyler Patterson, who had 63 and 60 respectively, to put them 12th and tied for 13th in offensive numbers. … Patterson’s 11 power play goals was fourth in the league. … Andrew Morton shared seventh in rookie scoring this season with 44 while Jett Mintenko was knotted for 15th with 34. … Mathieu Comeau, the 2022-23 recipient of the David Harrison Trophy as the NOJHL’s Most Gentlemanly Player has now played two full seasons without picking up a penalty. … Comeau has also produced offensively with 95 points in 105 career games. … Adam Shillinglaw will lead Hearst defenceman in the series. His 39 points from the back end tied him for eighth among league blueliners. … Shillinglaw’s 36 helpers tied him for third-best by NOJHL D-men and his three shorthanded assists saw him share top spot among rearguards. … Netminder Ethan Dinsdale tied for third in wins with 22. … His goals-against average of 2.76 was ninth-best in the NOJHL and he was eighth in terms of save percentage at .915. … Kaleb Papineau meanwhile had a record of 14-4-0-0 in 23 appearances with a 2.80 GAA and a save mark of .910. … Hearst led the NOJHL in goals scored with 277 and sat fourth in allowing the fewest markers against at 155. … Hearst scored first in games 36 times and went 33-3-0-0 in that category. … The Lumberjacks boasted the second-best power play during the regular season at 26%. … They were fourth on the penalty kill at 84.1%. … Nearly invincible when leading after two periods, Hearst was 31-1-0-0.
THE VOODOOS: Powassan’s Alex Little, who was named the league’s top defenceman and a 1st Team NOJHL All-Star, topped all league defensemen in goals with 21 and point-per-game average at 1.07. … The Voodoos’ captain also finished second in points among rearguards with 58, in 54 games played, marking a 30-point improvement over last season, while establishing personal single-season bests in goals, assists and points. … Little’s totals placed him in a tie for 15th among all players. … Second team all-star Tucker Shields was next on the squad with 55 points in 57 games. … Of his 26 tallies, eight of Shields’ goals were game-winners, which was just one off the overall league lead. … Ryan Patrick’s 41 points put him 10th among first-year junior players. … Jack Kelly’s 17 goals were the ninth-most among rookies. … Second team all-star on defence, Mitch Wilkie, contributed 42 points from the back end for Powassan, which was the sixth-highest total among league blueliners. … Nicholas Liotino’s six power play goals led all NOJHL D-men. … Netminder Kannon Flageolle tied for third in wins this season with 22. … His 2.71 average was eighth in the league and sat 10th in save percentage at .913. … Daniel Dirracolo added 14 victories of his own while sporting a 2.71 GAA. … His .921 save mark was fifth in the NOJHL. … Powassan was sixth in league play in both goals-for and goals-against at 225 and 171 respectively. … The Voodoos went 27-6-0-0 when scoring first in a game. … The club was sixth overall on the power play at 21.1% and ninth on the P.K. at 79.1%. … Their eight shorthanded markers tied them for fourth in the league. … Very good at holding a lead when ahead after two periods of play, NOJHL Coach of the Year Peter Goulet’s squad were a solid 25-1-0-0. … The Voodoos had 10 players provide two, or more, game-winning goals on the campaign.
UP NEXT: Awaiting the winner of the series will be either the Timmins Rock or French River Rapids in the best-of-seven East Division Final.
WHERE TO WATCH: All NOJHL playoff games can be viewed online via HockeyTV.com.
Photo credit: Northern Lights Photography