NOJHL to resume play, Soo Thunderbirds take on Blind River Beavers

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SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League announced Monday, in partnership and cooperation with its member clubs as well as the various regional Public Health Units (PHUs) in the region, that regular season play will resume, in certain areas, beginning Tuesday evening.

Continuing to observe an over abundance of care and caution, it has been decided that, for the time being, and with approval from the public health groups across northern Ontario that teams who will be returning to the ice for competition, will only play those clubs in the PHU that they are a part of.  As was the case earlier in the season, stringent protocols and safety measures remain in affect for all teams and venues.

With that, the Espanola Express and French River have agreed to a current four-game schedule while the Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds have a six-match-up slate on the docket. Meanwhile, the Timmins Rock and Cochrane Crunch will also be meeting with their game schedule to be released once finalized.

Also, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions the Hearst Lumberjacks and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners will not be continuing their season, but look forward to returning for the 2021-22 campaign.   As for the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, they are currently idle, but the league is exploring other options for them to possibly play against Sudbury area under-18 programs.

Rayside-Balfour is also slated to play NOJHL games against the Espanola Express and French River Rapids in the next series of games in the Sudbury & Manitoulin Health District in March.

“We sincerely thank everyone for their due diligence and continued cooperation as we work our way through these unprecedented times,” offered NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca. “The health and safety of all our players, coaches, staff members, officials, fans and all those associated with the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League remains paramount.”

The commissioner also provided: “With the regional restrictions currently in effect, we continue to work closely with all concerned groups to further allow for the opportunity for players to hit the ice for game action, safely and with the utmost protection and care.  We thank all parties, the public health units, the NOHA and fellow partners for their combined efforts in looking to make this a reality.”

“While unfortunately their will not be a NOJHL champion crowned for a second consecutive year, development of our players and allowing them to showcase their skills to family, friends, scouts and the like, via such avenues as on HockeyTV.com and Eastlink TV, will allow those teams playing the opportunity to make their mark as we all deal with these trying times,” summarized Mazzuca.

NOJHL COHORT SCHEDULES FOR FEBRUARY & 1ST WEEK OF MARCH

French River Rapids vs. Espanola Express
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23: 6 p.m. @ French River (Noelville Arena)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24: 6 p.m. @ Espanola (Regional Rec. Complex)
  • Friday, Feb. 26: 7 p.m. @ Espanola (Regional Rec. Complex)
  • Saturday, Feb. 27: 4 p.m. @ French River (Noelville Arena)
Blind River Beavers vs. Soo Thunderbirds
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24: 7 p.m. @ Sault Ste. Marie (John Rhodes)
  • Friday, Feb. 26: 7 p.m. @ Sault Ste. Marie (John Rhodes)
  • Sunday, Feb. 28: 2 p.m. @ Blind River (Community Centre)
  • Tuesday, March 2: 7 p.m. @ Sault Ste. Marie (John Rhodes)
  • Saturday, March 6: 2 p.m. @ Blind River (Community Centre)
  • Sunday, March 7: 2 p.m. @ Blind River (Community Centre)
Cochrane Crunch vs. Timmins Rock
  • Schedule T.B.A.

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