THUNDER BAY -Sports – It’s just three weeks away until the start of the 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Jr. A hockey championship in Wellington, Ont.
Joining the host Wellington Dukes at the five-day event, which runs April 29 – May 3 at Essroc Arena, will be the respective champions of the Northern Ontario, Ontario and Superior International Junior Hockey Leagues.
While the NOJHL, OJHL and SIJHL representatives have yet to be decided, the game schedule for the four-team Dudley-Hewitt Cup is now set.
The first three days of competition will feature round robin play with two games per game starting at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Day 1, April 29, will feature the SIJHL taking on the OJHL in the opener while the NOJHL title holder will meet Wellington in the night cap.
Day 2’s first contest on April 30 features the NOJHL vs. the OJHL followed by Wellington and SIJHL.
Day 3 action on May 1 will have the SIJHL tangling with the NOJHL and will conclude with the OJHL squaring off against the Dukes.
After round robin play the first place finisher will advance directly to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup final Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
The second and third place clubs will meet in the semifinal Friday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. with the winner of that match-up moving on the championship game the following evening.
Meanwhile the fourth place squad will be eliminated from further competition.
2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup schedule
SIJHL vs. OJHL 2:30 p.m.
NOJHL vs. Wellington 7:30 p.m.
NOJHL vs. OJHL 2:30 p.m.
Wellington vs. SIJHL 7:30 p.m.
SIJHL vs. NOJHL 2:30 p.m.
OJHL vs. Wellington 7:30 p.m.
Semifinal: 2nd round robin vs. 3rd round robin 7:30 p.m.
Final: 1st round robin vs. Semifinal winner 7:30 p.m.
Winner advances to RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A championship May 10-18 at Vernon, B.C.
WHO WILL ADVANCE: Each of the three leagues that will head to Wellington are all down to the final two in the pursuit for their respective league championships.
SIJHL: The battle for the Bill Salonen Cup begins this weekend as the Fort Frances Lakers host the Minnesota Iron Rangers for games 1 and 2 Friday and Saturday at Ice for Kids Arena.
Fort Frances finished in top spot in the SIJHL standings during the course of the regular season and also tabbed fifth overall in the final CJHL top 20 rankings.
After a quarter-final bye they punched their ticket in the SIJHL championship series after defeating the English River Miners in four straight games while the No. 3 seeded Iron Rangers upended the Thunder Bay North Stars in six contests. Minnesota swept Wisconsin in their quarter-final series.
Nolan Miles, who has picked up back-to-back Pizza Hut player of the week laurels in the league for the Lakers, tops all SIJHL skaters in postseason scoring with 12 points, including nine goals.
Teammate Brent Aiken is next with 11 points on four tallies and seven assists.
Minnesota has been led by the tandem of Thomas Fazio and Evan Erickson as they have recorded 10 points apiece between them in as many playoff games.
Devin Tappenden has gone 4-1 in the playoffs and leads all SIJHL netminders in average at 2.00. He sits second in save percentage at .916.
Iron Rangers goalkeeper Alex Reichle is 5-0 with a 2.85 average and .913 save mark so far in the postseason.
SIJHL final for the Bill Salonen Cup
Fort Frances Lakers vs. Minnesota Iron Rangers
Game 1: Friday, April 11 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)
Game 2: Saturday, April 12 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)
Game 3: Wednesday, April 16 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 4: Thursday, April 17 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 5*: Saturday, April 19 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)
Game 6*: Monday, April 21 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 23 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)
* – if necessary
NOJHL: The quest for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy begins Saturday as the Soo Thunderbirds entertain the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in game 1 at Essar Centre at 7:30 p.m.
Both clubs have been nearly flawless in advancing to the finals with the Thunderbirds reeling off eight straight wins after dropping their playoff opener as they knocked off Blind River in five outings before handling Abitibi in the minimum four outings required.
The Gold Miners have been spotless posting back-to-back sweeps in the postseason disposing North Bay in quarter-final action before dumping Espanola in four straight games in semifinal play.
Offensively the T-Birds have been led by rookie defenceman Owen Headrick who has a team-high 11 points to pace the squad. His totals also top all D-men in the NOJHL.
Talented forward Darcy Haines is next with 10 points followed by Anthony Miller with nine.
Kirkland Lake has been headed by Samuel Wilbur and Steven Babin as the duo has amassed 11 points apiece.
Damon MacEachern and Austin Rust have also contributed supplying nine points each.
In net the two NOJHL finalists feature the top two goaltenders statistically in the league playoffs to date.
The Gold Miners Jeremy Pominville has been stellar going 7-0 so far while posting a NOJHL-best 1.43 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
Sault Ste. Marie rookie stopper Brian Kment has been just as sharp registering an 8-0 record while sitting second in the league in average at 1.74 and save mark at .925.
NOJHL final for the Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Game 1: Saturday, April 12 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 2: Sunday, April 13 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 3: Thursday, April 17 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 4: Friday, April 18 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 5*: Sunday, April 20 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 22 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 7*: Thursday, April 24 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
* – if necessary
OJHL: Despite being the higher seed the Aurora Tigers are at somewhat of a disadvantage in the OJHL final vs. the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots as they’ve been bumped from their home arena.
A previously scheduled event taking over the Aurora Community Centre has forced the Tigers to play all their home games in the series at Canlan Ice Sports at York University in Toronto.
That best-of-seven set starts Thursday at Canlan York at 7:30 p.m.
Both of the OJHL finalists have been impressive in the OJHL playoffs so far with the Tigers having gone 12-3 while Toronto Lakeshore has gone 12-1.
Each team swept their opponents in their conference finals with Aurora handling the No. 1 seeded Kingston Voyageurs and the Patriots taming the Georgetown Raiders in the minimum amount of games.
Toronto Lakehsore’s Kevin Shier leads all OJHL players in playoff scoring with 25 points on eight markers and 17 assists.
Nathan Feric is next on the squad with 15 points.
Aurora’s top producer has been Taylor McLoy as he also has 15 points to his credit.
Curtis Warren and Dylan Sikura are right behind McLoy with 14 points each.
Meanwhile Patriots defenceman Michael Prapevessis is rated 108th overall in the final NHL Central Scouting draft rankings. The RPI recruit to the NCAA has a goal and 10 assists and sits second in points among OJHL blueliners.
Goaltending has been a major reason why the Tigers and Patriots have advanced to the OJHL finals for the Buckland Cup.
Aurora’s Kevin Entmaa is 10-3 and leads all stoppers in the league in goals-against average at 1.67. He is second in save percentage with a stingy .946 mark.
Evan Buitenhuis has been no slouch either having gone 12-1 in the playoffs with a solid 1.99 average and solid .928 save percentage.
OJHL final for the Buckland Cup
Aurora Tigers vs. Toronto Lakeshore Patriots
Game 1: Thursday, April 10 @ Aurora 7:30 p.m. (Canlan York)
Game 2: Sunday, April 13 @ Toronto Lakeshore 7:30 p.m. (Westwood)
Game 3: Monday, April 14 @ Aurora 7:30 p.m. (Canlan York)
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16 @ Toronto Lakeshore 7:30 p.m. (Westwood)
Game 5*: Friday, April 18 @ Aurora 7:30 p.m. (Canlan York)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 20 @ Toronto Lakeshore 6:30 p.m. (Westwood)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 22 @ Aurora 7:30 p.m. (Canlan York)
* – if necessary
CJHL RANKINGS: Of the six teams still in contention to earn a Dudley-Hewitt Cup berth, five of them were rated in the final Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 rankings of the season.
Leading the way were the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds at No. 1.
Fort Frances followed being tabbed fifth nationally while Aurora was ninth, Kirkland Lake 13th and Toronto Lakeshore were 17th.
Neither Minnesota nor Wellington cracked the final top 20.
Follow the CJHL at www.cjhlhockey.com.
DHC SITE: You can learn on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup by visiting the events’ official website at www.dudleyhewittcup2014.com.
RBC CUP: The 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion will then advance to represent the region at the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A championship May 10-18 in Vernon, B.C.
The road to the RBC Cup can be followed at www.hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.