THE HEARST LUMBERJACKS
Hearst is fresh off capturing their first-ever league championship after defeating perennial NOJHL power, the Soo Thunderbirds, in a thrilling seven-game series that went the distance.
In the Lumberjacks initial playoff series, they rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Timmins Rock in another seven-game set.
They then claimed their East Division playoff crown by sweeping the Powassan Voodoos in four straight outings.
In the regular season they claimed their initial NOJHL East Division title by finishing with 73 points and a 33-16-6-1 overall record.
This mark’s Hearst’s first Dudley-Hewitt up appearance.
BEHIND THE BENCH: Lumberjacks head coach and general manager Marc Lafleur is no stranger to the DHC though. He led the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners to a pair of the events in his days as coach and GM of that NOJHL side.
The two-time NOJHL Coach of the Year, including this season, also won a Dudley-Hewitt Cup in his playing days.
Back in 1995 he helped the Thunder Bay Flyers claim a Central Region crown and help his club advance to the Canadian Junior A Championship.
MR. MVP: Much of the Lumberjacks success this season can be credited to goaltender Nicholas Tallarico.
His efforts during the campaign saw him named the NOJHL’s Most Valuable Player for both the regular season and the playoffs.
The Vancouver, B.C., product played the second-most minutes in the league season at 2,479 as he helped backstop the Hearst to their first-ever East Division title.
Tallarico also tied for second in wins with 24, was third in goals-against average at 2.49, fifth in save percentage at .921 and third in shutouts with three.
His 1,304 shots faced was the most of any NOJHL netminder among those in the Top 15 in GAA.
He also produced a league-best 12 playoff wins in1,134 minutes of action, starting all 18 games his club played in the postseason.
FORWARDS: The Hearst duo of Jake Desando and Max Griffioen finished third and fourth respectively in NOJHL scoring.
Desando racked up 75 points, leading the Lumberjacks in both goals and assists with 30 and 45.
Griffioen meanwhile tallied 29 times and dished out 43 helpers along the way.
Bradley Golant also finished among the Top 20 point producers in the league with 50 in 42 contests as he notched 19 markers and helped set-up 31 more.
Postseason play saw Max Johnson lead the Lumberjacks with 25 points on a dozen markers and 13 assists. Golant was next with 23, including nine goals.
DEFENCEMEN: Alec Johnson led the squad offensively from the back end. He produced 43 points in just 33 games while scoring 12 times and assisting on 31 others.
Maxim Lacroix was a 31-point man in 34 outings for Hearst to finished second among blueliners.
Troy Daniels was the top point getter from the back end in the playoffs as he had 15 points in 18 games on a trio of tallies and a dozen assists.
GOALTENDERS: Along with Tallarico’s efforts, Tomi Gagnon went 9-6-1 in his time between the pipes.
HEARST HIGHLIGHTS: Max Johnson’s three game-winning goals tied him for first overall in the playoffs. … Hearst was second in the league in goals scored with 210 and fourth in fewest goals allowed at 159. … Desando’s 30 goals were the third-most in the NOJHL while Griffioen was knotted for fourth with 29. … Desando was second in assists with 45 and tops in power play helpers at 26 and man advantage points at 37. … Dawson Waddell was second in the league in shorthanded goals with four. … Nicholas Tallarico tied for second in wins with 24. … Hearst was 24-4-2 when scoring first. … They had a 4-5-1 record vs. Cochrane this season. … The club was second-best on the power play at 21.7% and fourth on the penalty kill at 85.8%. … They went 20-3-2 when ahead after one period and 23-2-2-1 when leading after 40 minutes. … At one point this season, Jake Desando had goals in six straight, while Max Griffioen had points in 13 in succession. … They were 15-2-2 in their final 19 games in the regular season then went 12-6 in the playoffs en route to the league championship.