LITTLE CURRENT—It was a full house Saturday night at the Little Current Recreation Centre as the Espanola Rivermen faced off against the North Bay Trappers, with the Rivermen taking the game 8-5. This is the first time Little Current has seen Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) action since the Islanders franchise left Manitoulin.
The former NOJHL team, based out of Little Current, moved to Kirkland Lake in the summer of 2011.
From the first puck drop it was plain to see that both teams were going to do whatever it took to win—skating hard and playing aggressively—making it a game that lived up to its hype.
Brennen Dubchak had a big night for the Rivermen offensively figuring in on their first four goals by scoring twice and setting up two others.
Brandon Janke and Corbin Bean also tallied twice in the win for the Rivermen while singles went to Robert Smythe and Blake Peavey in his first game against his former club.
Ryan Demyen had a hat-trick in a losing cause for the Trappers who faced intermission deficits of 3-2 and 5-3.
C.J. Nicholson and Erik Champagne also found the back of the net for the Trapper in the setback, while Marc Terriault saw 52 shots fired his way in securing the victory for Espanola.
Dustin Hummel started for North Bay and allowed five of the markers against in the 25 minutes of play time while Evan Cormier turned aside 25 of 28 in a losing relief cause.
“The atmosphere in Little Current was spectacular, the fans were treated to a high scoring affair, although the result is not what we wanted it was nice to see 500 plus fans cheering on both teams in a spirited affair,” said Trapper President David Beauchamp. “I want to thank the people of Little Current and both team’s volunteers from the DJ to the security staff,” added Mr. Beauchamp. “Everyone made the night a success. “It’s no secret the North Bay Trappers could be moving next season (though according to NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca, no formal relocation notification has been received at the board level) and Little Current made sure they are on our radar! Although it’s a year away our organization has decided to make our decision early in the New Year on what lies ahead. We have quite a few options in the surrounding areas of North Bay, but Little Current sure showed us they have passionate hockey fans. Our players were overwhelmed to even be signing autographs after the game for a group of minor hockey kids. It was truly a special night and the heat was even on. A game our organization won’t forget.”
Espanola Rivermen Club Governor Tim Clayden added, “last season before we made our final decision to move to Espanola, Manitoulin Island and the Town of Little Current was at the top of our list for relocation and the Islander fans proved once again that they have the avid and passionate junior hockey fans to support a junior hockey team.”
“It was fun to see so many of our fans in the rink cheering on our team and so many supporting the Trappers too, there is no doubt in my mind that Little Current will be the new home of a junior ‘A’ hockey club in the very near future, we would have a great rivalry for junior hockey fans to enjoy, the Islanders deserve a team and so does the Town of Little Current is my opinion,” concluded Mr. Clayden.