Previews of Thorold Blackhawks and Niagara Falls Canucks

Thorold reload for 2014

By Bill Potrecz, The Standard

It was an off season of change for the Thorold Blackhawks, both on and off the ice.

The Blackhawks hit the ice for the 2014/15 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season Wednesday at home versus Fort Erie with an almost entirely different roster and new coaching staff.

Former Port Colborne coach Bryan Kelly takes over as head coach from Ed Pizzo and will be joined by holdover Dave Brennan, and newcomers Peter Gallardi and ex-Thorold coach and owner Dan Timmins.

Kelly, who will also act as general manager, came on board mid-way through last season as the GM and admitted it was a tough situation.

“This year it’s totally different,” Kelly said. “Last year with the circumstances it was a very difficult situation. We came in and steered the ship as best we could.”

With the coaching staff in place, Kelly worked hard over the summer to recruit after the Hawks lost several key players from last season, either due to graduation or promotion to another level.

Gone to Trenton of the Ontario Junior Hockey League are captain Kevin Lavoie (24-33-57), forward Christian Defelice (11-10-21) and all-star rearguard Matt Pizzo (6-28-34). As well, Kyle Tanev (18-27-45) has moved to B.C and Carl Grecco (3-9-12) to Hamilton.

“It was great for the organization having players promoted over the summer to either junior A or out west, but as general manager and coach it puts a lot of pressure on us to reload the cupboard but I think we’ve done that really well,” Kelly said.

Kelly did a good dealing of wheeling and dealing in the summer, shipping goaltender Brandon Polasek to the Caledonia Corvairs for rearguard Greg Christmas and defenceman Kevin Millejours (3-8-11) to the Niagara Falls Canucks for gritty winger Vito Scaringi, who had 24 points and 148 minutes in penalties in 24 games last season.

“The biggest trade of summer was Vito Scaringi from the Falls,” Kelly said.

Kelly also brought in several newcomers including defencemen Tyler Sehovic, a 19-year-old from Trenton, and 18-year-old Justin Whitwell. Goaltender Josh Asterino was picked up from the Grimsby Peach Kings to team with returning veteran Ian Shorthouse between the pipes, while up front Chris Molnar (Buffalo), Alex Panov (Ancaster) and Anthony Postiglione (North Bay) are among the most notable newcomers.

“I really liked the guys we picked up,” Kelly said. “We had a really good summer.

“Tyler Sehovic is better that I thought. He’s dynamite. He’s going to be a top D in our league.”

The Hawks will also feature three local 16-year-olds, all drafted by Ontario Hockey League clubs: Defenceman Connor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie) and forwards Mitch Mendonca (Belleville) and Kyle Langdon (Niagara). Teams are permitted two 16-year-olds unless they acquire an 16-year-old card.

“We have three local stud 16-year-old thoroughbreds who are going to be given a chance to develop and be looked upon as go-to guys,” Kelly said.

As well, defenceman Ryan Sarris could be back. The 17-year-old draft pick of the IceDogs is still in OHL camp, although he has yet to play due to mononucleosis. Nick Sacco (3-2-5) and Francesco Gigliotti (2-4-6) are also back up front.

Overall, Kelly is pumped about the direction of the organization.

“I think it’s too early to tell (our identity) but I know what our program is always going to be,” he said. “I know every year we’re going to play a certain way and follow a system and play the game the right way and be competitive. Regardless of who are wearing the 21 jerseys, that is how we are going to play.”

The Hawks finished last season in fourth place with a 24-18-8 mark before being eliminated in the second round by the eventual Sutherland Cup champion Corvairs.

“We’re OK. We’re in good shape,” Kelly said.” I think right where we want to be. We’ll be knocking on the door and be right about where we were last year.”

The Hawks are also in Niagara Falls Friday.



NF junior hockey roundup

By Bernie Puchalski

It’s go time for the Niagara Falls Canucks junior B hockey team.

“We made our final cuts yesterday (Sunday) after the game and we’re ready to start our season now,” Canucks head coach/owner Frank Pietrangelo said.

Pietrangelo can’t wait for his first season as the Canucks head bench boss.

“It has been a long couple weeks and we had a lot of kids here,” he said.

The Canucks started their training camp with upwards of 60 kids trying to crack the roster.

“It’s not easy to evaluate everybody in such a short period. You want to be fair to the kids and give them a good look, but at the same time there’s rules as far as 16-year-old cards and imports,” Pietrangelo said. “Every time you make a decision, it’s one thing after another.”

The Canucks concluded the exhibition this past weekend with a pair of games against the Welland Junior Canadians. Zack Lansfield scored a hat trick in a 5-4 shootout win at home Friday and then the Canucks lost 6-0 in Welland Sunday night.

“It was probably just the line-up,” Pietrangelo said, of the disparity between the two games. “We dressed a lot of the younger guys and we had eight kids out of the line-up.

“It’s not making excuses. It’s just training camp and in this situation, you try to give all the kids a chance.”

The Canucks open their regular season Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gale Centre against the visiting Thorold Blackhawks.

You all know that I am a die-hard Rockets fan, but I am also a die-hard GOJHL fan, having been watching Jr. B hockey since I was 10 years old. I will only watch the GOJHL and during the hockey season, you never know what arena RG is gonna show up at. I'm bringing you the games, news, and updates of the GOJHL. RG is on Facebook at and you can find me on Twitter at If you hear of anything about any of the teams in the GOJHL, or have questions about anything, feel free to post it. If I don't know the answer, I know how to find it.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login