(Supplied by the Powassan Voodoos)
Week one of the NOJHL season has come and gone, and the Powassan Voodoos emerged with a record of 2-1.
The victories included 3-2 and 11-1 advantages over the Rayside Balfour Canadians in a home and home, while the loss was a 4-0 score versus the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. Different ends of the spectrum for sure, but second-year head Coach Max Gavin likes what he has seen so far.
“Good first week. We had some highs and lows and I think the guys have realized you aren’t going to go 56-0 in Junior “A” hockey. Last year three points separated first from fifth and I think it will be the same again.”
The NOJHL East division can be a murderer’s row sometimes with teams such as the Cochrane Crunch, Timmins Rock, Kirkland Lake, and the Hearst Lumberjacks always being tough outs. The Voodoos will have their first big test of the 2019-20 season this weekend with a three-in-three trip through northern Ontario.
“It’s a good bonding time for the guys, and we will get to see more of the top teams in our division and see where we stand.”
There has been a lot of change over the past offseason with the Voodoos. No more is the team affiliated with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion, so some players that were the property of the Battalion are no longer with the team, including their goaltending tandem of Christian Cicigoi and Joe Vrebetic. The two, along with another former Voodoo in David Campbell, look to have cracked the Battalion’s roster this season.
“Congratulations to Joe and Cheech for making the Battalion, and they’re going to be missed but these guys are ready to step in,” Gavin said.
“These guys” are referring to Owen Say, Luke Greenwood, and Kieran Carter-Crawford. All three are vying for playing time in the blue paint, with Say getting two starts (both victories against Rayside), and NOJHL star of the week, while Greenwood has the other start.
“Owen, Luke, and Kieran have all battled hard,” Gavin stated. “Luke is coming from a high-end program in Chicago and Owen played in a Junior “B” loop that is really a Junior “A” loop with the talent that’s in there. All three have been great.”
Other changes for the Voodoos is former Captain Eric Allair has moved on, but the team has brought back Parker Bowman after two seasons with the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. Bowman, who was named captain, helped Powassan to the NOJHL title in 2017 and was named playoff MVP that season.
“We always have to thank the alumni and same thing goes for Eric. He was a good leader for us, and I have to thank him a lot as a first-year coach. With Parker, I think he brings an element that is much needed for this group. We couldn’t be more excited to have a guy like that leading the way.”
Gavin, who as mentioned is entering his second season at the helm, says he learned a lot in his first season in green.
“The biggest thing is really focusing on the team rather than results early on. Last year we started off 10-0 and we were ranked top in the country and I was so focused on winning that we got into bad habits and we were getting outshot a lot. This year we are focusing on how we are playing and what we are doing rather than results. If you do the right things now and correct the things you are not doing, the results will come when it matters most.”
The Voodoos head North this weekend with games against the Crunch, Lumberjacks, and Rock.