Sunday, February 11, 2007

Indians take over first place in NOJHL


Three straight wins last week have lifted the Soo Indians into first place in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.

With seven games to play in the regular season, the Indians have 54 points from a record of 26-13-2. The Indians are two points ahead of second-place Sudbury, though it should be noted that the defending champion Jr. Wolves hold two games in hand.

"Going into last week we set a goal of doing what we could to try to finish in first place," said Kevin Cain, the Indians' even-mannered head coach. "We played pretty well in all three games and took three steps towards our goal. If we don't finish in first place it won't be a setback or anything...we're just trying to improve as a team and keep the positive environment that we have."

The Indians have a 9-4 record -- including a 5-0 mark on home ice -- since an early January coaching change put Cain in charge of the bench.

"It's not about one coach or one player," Cain added. "Win or lose, the coaching staff and players are in this together. We'll win or lose as a team. You need togetherness just to try to move forward."

The Indians began last week with a 5-4 overtime win over the crossriver Soo Thunderbirds before scoring a pair of weekend victories on home ice, 6-3 over the Blind River Beavers and 6-2 over the North Bay Skyhawks.

Scott Pulak scored twice for the Indians in the win over Blind River and Sean Reid, Shane Bailey, Chris Cooper and Sam Yearsley added singles. In the triumph over North Bay, six different Indians scored goals -- Ky Moje, Chris MacKay, Isaac Viau, Sean Farley, Nick Zilka and newcomer Justin Maciuk.

Rookie forward Mike Connolly picked up assists in all three contests last week to extend his point-scoring streak to seven games.

Goalie Brennan Poderzay earned his 14th win of the season in the triumph over Blind River and Elliott Hogue notched his 12th of the campaign in the victory over North Bay.

Next home game for the Indians is on Saturday Feb. 24 when they play host to the Thunderbirds at 7 p.m. at Pullar Stadium. The game was originally slated for Sunday the 25th at Big Bear Arena, but Indians' assistant general manager Tony Talentino said the team wants to "explore the opportunity to play a game downtown at the Pullar."

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