NOJHL news: Cubs welcome T-Birds to open post-season

Greater Sudbury Cubs forward Samuel Assinewai (20) looks to evade Soo Thunderbirds defender Kaden Dundas (16) during NOJHL action at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury, Ontario on Friday, April 7, 2023. PHOTO BY BEN LEESON/THE SUDBURY STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Games 1 and 2 of West Division semifinal at Countryside this Thursday and Friday

Ben Leeson – The Sudbury Star

Ethan Larmand’s second goal of the night not only proved to be the winning tally in the Greater Sudbury Cubs’ 3-2 victory over the Powassan Voodoos last Thursday, but also helped the local NOJHL club to secure second place in the West Division and home-ice advantage to open the playoffs.

Greater Sudbury will open its best-of-seven division semifinal against the Soo Thunderbirds, one of the league’s hottest teams down the stretch, at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex this Thursday.

Game 2 is also at Countryside. Both contests are scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.

Oliver Smith had a goal and an assist against the Voodoos last week, making him the first player in franchise history to hit 100 points since 2011-12, when Jordan Carroll, Jamie Haines and Nick Esposto all topped the century mark.

Smith had one more marker and an additional helper last Friday as the Cubs closed out the regular season with an 8-1 win over the French River Rapids at Noelville Arena.

A Lively product who celebrated his 21st birthday earlier this month, Smith finished third in the NOJHL scoring race with 102 points, behind only Lucas Signoretti, who had 117, and Owen Fergusson, who had 110.

Signoretti and Fergusson both play for the Espanola Paper Kings, who finished fourth in the NOJHL West and will open the playoffs with a visit to the top-seeded Blind River Beavers on Thursday at 7 p.m. Game 2, also in Blind River, is on Saturday at 7 p.m.

RBC will sponsor Thursday’s game in Sudbury and provide prizes and giveaways for fans. Volunteers from Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer will also collect donations. The first 250 to attend Greater Sudbury’s home games this post-season will each receive a free Growl Towel.

Games between the Cubs and T-Birds were close for much of the regular season, including a home-and-home series on Jan. 18 and 19. Greater Sudbury won the first affair at Countryside, 4-3, then dropped the second at John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, 3-2.

The T-Birds finished the regular season with 12 straight wins before finally tasting defeat in last game on the schedule against Hearst.

The Cubs will attempt to avenge a second-round defeat in last year’s playoffs, which saw the Soo win in five games and advance to the NOJHL final.

Games 3 and 4 of this year’s series will be at John Rhodes on March 25 and 26.

The series will swing back to Sudbury for Game 5, if required, on March 28, and to the Lock City for Game 6, if necessary, on March 30.

If the series goes the distance, Game 7 will be at Countryside on April 1.

Games 3 and 4 of the Beavers-Paper Kings division semifinal are at Espanola Regional Recreation Complex on March 24 and March 26.

Game 5, if needed, will be held in Blind River March 28. The Paper Kings will host Game 6, if required, on March 29 and Game 7, if necessary, will be at Blind River Community Centre on March 31.