Monday, June 12, 2006

Northern Michigan Black Bears saved


Nothing like shooting the summer breeze and writing about the northern boys of winter.

Thanks to the resolve of Charlie Perdicaro and the fact that the New York land developer loves hockey to the degree that he does, the NOJHL is still a seven-team league.

Perdicaro saved the Northern Michigan Black Bears from hibernation last Friday by purchasing the struggling franchise from owners who would have otherwise mothballed it.

It was Perdicaro to the rescue just in the nick of time, the day before the NOJHL annual general meeting.

The likeable New Yorker, as he said he would do, was quick to name NOJHL veteran Jim Capy as his coach and general manager. Capy in turn named named Don Gagnon as associate coach, Dave Murphy as director of hockey operations and the eagle-eyed Jim Yardanoff as chief scout.

Gagnon, who has coached AAA midget hockey in both Soo, Ont. and Soo, Mich., also played at a high level in both towns. He’s a former player with both the Ontario Hockey League Soo Greyhounds and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Lake Superior State Lakers.

Meantime, Perdicaro has said he’ll change the name of the franchise to either the Soo Indians or the Soo Spirit and that Big Bear Arena will continue to be the team’s home rink.

More summer breeze:

~ The new Soo, Mich. team will play the crossriver Soo Thunderbirds for the Carmen Provenzano Memorial Cup series in ‘06-07. The Provenzano Cup regular-season series was between the Thunderbirds and the Blind River Beavers in ‘05-06. Perdicaro greeted the news of the new Provenzano Cup format with enthusiasm.

“I really want to heighten the crossborder rivalry with my team and the Thunderbirds. It’s a natural promotion just waiting to happen.”

~ The first-ever Provenzano Cup golf tournament will take place on Sat. July 15 at Maplewood Golf Course in Soo, Ont. The course is owned by the family of the late Carmen Provenzano. It will be a four-person-per-team best ball tournament and the $100 entry fee per player includes 18 holes of golf, dinner and cold beverages. To register or for more information call me at 705-759-1599. Proceeds from the tournament will go to the two Soo teams.

~ The NOJHL is looking for a new commissioner as the contract of Art Yeo will not be renewed for the ‘06-07 season. Yeo resides in Sault Ste. Marie and NOJHL governors want the new commish to be more centrally located.

~ All teams will again play a 48-game schedule in ‘06-07 but the unbalanced format is gone. Teams will now play one another eight times each.

~ There’s already talk of trade between the new Soo, Mich. team and Blind River now that Charly Murray has left his job as director of player personnel with the former Black Bears for the same position with the Beavers.

~ The fact that the NOJHL is still a seven-team league is only part of the good news of late as far as I am concerned. The other good vibe comes from North Bay’s hiring of former Ontario Hockey League and National Hockey League star Darren Turcotte as head coach of the Skyhawks. Unlike so many former and current pros, Turcotte is as down-to-earth and an accomodating person as you’ll find in hockey. The man was obviously well brought up by his parents.

~ Blaine Smith, president of the Sudbury Northern Jr. Wolves, tells me his team intends to move to Sudbury Community Arena from its ‘05-06 home in Copper Cliff for the ‘06-07 season. Sudbury Community Arena is home to the Ontario Hockey League Wolves, who own the NOJHL Northern Jr. Wolves.

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