THE COCHRANE CRUNCH
Cochrane returns to game action here at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup for the first time since March 10 when they fell in the first round of the NOJHL playoffs to the rival Timmins Rock.
The Crunch dropped that best-of-three play-in series 2-0, suffering a 5-2 setback in Timmins before being edged 2-1 in overtime on home ice.
In regular season play, the squad finished fifth in the tightly-contested NOJHL’s East Division with a 31-20-1-4 record.
Their 67 points however was just six points out from first place, in the closest divisional race in NOJHL history.
BACK AGAIN: Cochrane is making their second straight appearance in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Championship.
The club won the NOJHL title in 2018 and represented the league in the DHC in Dryden, Ont., where they finished fourth overall in the standings following a trio of narrow defeats.
BEHIND THE BENCH: Leading the squad is the squad’s president, head coach and general manager Ryan Leonard.
Not only did Leonard lead Cochrane to the NOJHL championship last season, he was named league Coach of the Year back in 2015-16.
That same campaign he was tabbed a first team all-star laurels behind the bench and was a second team honouree as GM. He also earned second team GM accolades in 2017-18 as well.
FORWARDS: A well-balanced attack saw 10 Cochrane forwards produce 20 or more points for the club during the course of the regular season.
Leading the way were a trio of 40-plus point men in Nicholas Flanders, Austin Whelan and Zach Hayes.
Flanders led the squad with 44 points on 18 tallies and 26 helpers while Whelan was right behind him with 43, including a team-high 29 markers.
Hayes meanwhile finished with 15 goals and 25 assists.
DEFENCEMEN: First-year rearguard Ethan Emanuel paced the Crunch D-corps offensively with 32 points in 54 outings as he scored five times and helped set-up 27 others.
Eli Hernandez was next as he had a goal and 16 helpers in 34 contests.
GOALTENDERS: Netminder Zach Wickson boasted a 19-9-0-1 record in regular season action with Cochrane and sported a 2.55 goals-against average along with a .919 save percentage and two shutouts.
Meanwhile the club’s other stopper, in Bradley Dobson, appeared in 20 games overall and went 8-4-1-2.
CRUNCH NOTES: Austin Whelan tied for fourth in the NOJHL this season in goals with 29. … Whelan also paced all league skaters in shorthanded tallies with five. … Those five points tied him for top spot in man-down offensive production. … Netminder Zach Wickson was tied for seventh in goals-against average among qualified NOJHL goalkeepers at 2.55. … His 19 victories were the fifth most in the league in 2018-19. … Trent Grimshaw tied for ninth in rookie scoring this season as he scored 15 times and doled out 22 assists. … Defenceman Ethan Emanuel led all rookie blueliners in helpers with 27. … 11 of his assists came on the power play, which also paced rookie D-men. … He was also tops in shorthanded assists and points among defencemen with three. … Emanuel’s offensive contributions were the seventh-most among all league rearguards. … The club’s lone penalty shot this was taken by Shadow Reuben and was against fellow Dudley-Hewitt Cup counterpart, Nicholas Tallarico of the Hearst Lumberjacks, but he was thwarted on his attempt by the netminder. … The Crunch had an 18-7-1-2 record on home ice during the regular season and were 0-1 in their brief playoff run in 2019. … Cochrane appeared in 11 overtime contests overall and went 4-1-2-4. … In 56 games during the year, they scored first on 28 occasions. … When notching that initial marker, the sported a record of 22-3-0-3. … In head-to-head meetings with Hearst, the Crunch won six times in 10 get togethers against a trio of defeats and one shootout setback. … Special teams saw the squad finish 12th in the NOJHL. … They scored 33 times in 245-man advantage opportunities, which was a success rate of 13.5%. … The club was second overall however on the penalty kill and were just off the league lead. … In all, Cochrane boasted a P.K. rate of 86.3%. … They only allowed 37 power play goals in the 270 times they were down at least one skater. … Their 11 shorthanded markers were the second-most in the NOJHL this season. … They allowed just five shorthanded goals, which was just one off the fewest given up by any club. … In all they fired 2,110 shots on net while giving up 1,796. … When leading after one period of play, the Crunch went 15-3-0-2. … When ahead after 40 minutes Cochrane was nearly flawless finishing at 23-0-0-1 overall. … In one-goal games, the team was a solid 13-6-1-4. … They were 22-11-1-2 when outshooting an opponent. … At the Tim Horton Event Centre, the Crunch were perfect when having the lead at the intermissions. … They went 7-0 when up after 20 minutes and doubled that to 14-0 when leading after two periods of play. … Jacob Stos wrapped up the regular season with points in six straight at home. … Nicolas Flanders had a five-assist game back on November 30th. … That tied him for the most helpers in a single contest all season long. … A two-shorthanded assist night for Ethan Emanuel back on October 19th tied him for the most in that category in one outing this season. … Zach Hayes’ five power play goals led the team. … Austin Whelan and Jacob Stos paced the club in game-winning goals with five apiece. … Whelan’s efforts on the ice also saw him named the NOJHL’s Top Defensive Forward for 2018-19. … Local connections on the Cochrane roster are forwards Baldino Aiello (Thunder Bay), Hunter Buzzi (Ignace) and Owen Perala (Nipigon).