Voodoos forward Joe Whittet barrels down on Rapids goaltender Sebastian Woods. Powassan would win 7-0. (Supplied by Powassan Voodoos)
The schedule for the past week was a bit on the strange side for the Powassan Voodoos.
The team played three games, but only against one opponent, the French River Rapids. Powassan took all three from the Rapids, picking up a possible six out of six points. The scores for the games were 8-2 6-2 and 7-0.
“It feels great,” Head Coach Max Gavin said. “The big thing, and I know I keep repeating myself, but we are playing the right way. The guys are playing so hard and battling and taking care of their own end. Obviously wins are great this time of year but I really like where the guys are going and how they are working on and off the ice.”
And as the wins accumulate, so do the accolades for the Voodoos. Last week the team was an honourable mention on the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s top 20 list, this week they rank #11. The Canadian Junior Hockey League encompasses 10 Junior “A” circuits around Canada, much like the Canadian Hockey League is the umbrella under which the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League operate.
“Anytime you get recognition it is pretty nice,” Gavin stated. “We’re pretty focused and you try to keep the noise to a minimum but it is nice for sure.”
The next opponent on the schedule for Powassan is the Blind River Beavers who are also mentioned on the top 20. Last week they ranked #20, this week they moved up four spots to #16.
“All the credit to Kyle Brick in Blind River,” Gavin said. “He does a great job and it is tough for him recruitment wise but he does a great job getting players there.”
More individual accolades for the Voodoos this week as well with captain Parker Bowman receiving a weekly star and goaltender Owen Say picking up goalie of the month for the month of September.
Owen Say went 6-0 in his starts with a .943 save percentage to earn goalie of the month of September. (Supplied by Powassan Voodoos)
“Credit to those guys,” said Gavin. “They have been big for us. I hate to be the cliché guy, but if you look at our roster from top to bottom every guy contributes and every guy makes a difference. The great part about our team is one night it can be one guy, the next it can be another. It’s a next up mentality and the guys have really bought into that and you can see it when one guy scores, another guy wants it. When one guy throws a hit, another wants to throw one.
“Congrats to those two, well deserved and I hope it is the first of many more guys getting those type of honours.”
One player who has stepped up is Dylan Gajewski. The speedy Michigan native had yet to register in the goal column through the first nine games of the schedule but picked up three goals for the hat trick in the 7-0 victory over French River.
“We moved him from centre to wing and ever since then I think he has been more comfortable,” Gavin explained. “It gives him an opportunity to read the ice and move the plays in and out. I had been recruiting him for two years out of high school in Michigan and knew what he was capable of and I knew eventually once he got his mojo going that he would start firing.
“It’s great for him and adds another weapon for our team. As I said, look at our lineup and it’s crazy with our depth and how competitive it is and lucky for a coach because when you have the horses it is much more fun.”
Depth is certainly the theme for the Voodoos early in the season, so how does Gavin’s second-year team stack up against his first-year roster?
“It’s nothing against anybody but we are definitely deeper than we were last year. It was my job as a coach to get better over the summer and I tried to improve myself. I can tell the players tried to improve themselves. Everyone on our staff, Chris (Dawson, GM and Vice President of Hockey Operations), Brent (Tomlinson, Associate GM and Director of Scouting), Josh (Dale, Assistant Coach), Patrick (Rochefort, Assistant Coach and Goaltending Coach), everybody that is involved in this seems to have gotten better.
“It’s just a credit to everybody of the depth that we have.”
As previously mentioned, the next game will be against the Blind River Beavers, but later in the week Powassan hosts the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. The Gold Miners are the only team thus far in the season to hand the Voodoos an “L”.
“Every game is a big one,” Gavin explained. “The East Division is very tough. You look at the scores, one team beats another and the next they beat someone else so every weekend someone gets three or four points and that’s the way it is going to go.
“Blind River is obviously a good solid team and they are going to push us and we need to be ready for the push and push back. The Kirkland Lake game, it is a good test for us to see if we can bounce back and I believe we have the tools and we worked hard on our deficiencies and will be ready to go.”