Skip to content

Lafleur continues to succeed in his NOJHL coaching career

'As in any other year, your goal is to win the league championship, through development'
20210920 Marc Lafleur Voodoos
Marc Lafleur shows a drill to his players during Voodoos training camp in early September. Photo submitted.

There’s one thing Marc Lafleur has definitely proven in his Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League coaching career, and that’s how to win. Now in his ninth campaign as a head coach in the NOJHL, the 46-year-old Hearst, Ont., product, is off to another solid start behind the bench, if the opening month of the season is any indication. Brought on board to take over the reigns of the Powassan Voodoos, back in April, Lafleur has his new side boasting a league-best 6-0-1 record heading into October.

This includes a recent impressive three-game road trip where the Voodoos produced a trio of triumphs with hard-fought victories in Cochrane, Hearst and Timmins. Having previously guided a pair of NOJHL clubs to league championships, Powassan knew exactly what they were getting when they added him to the organization.

“Marc has always been known as one of the best, most prepared coaches in the NOJHL,” offered Voodoos general manager and director of hockey operations, Chris Dawson, when the hire was made.

Dawson knows exactly what Lafleur brings to the table:

“He is knowledgeable, respected and we always – even going back to my years with the North Bay Jr. Trappers – had to go through a Lafleur-coached team to win a championship,” reflected the Powassan GM when referring to the league title the Voodoos won in 2017 as well the Jr. Trappers NOJHL championship in 2013.

Soaring out of the gate with their impressive record of 6-0-1 to start the year, Lafleur is pleased how the transition has gone, early in his tenure with the Voodoos.

“It has gone very well, considering we are very young,” in reference to his current roster that boasts a plethora of players who were born in either 2003, 2004 or 2005.

He also went of to supply: “The learning curve has been quicker than expected.”

With a game plan etched in his mind, Lafleur boasts the same goals that he had with the previous two NOJHL teams he has coached; the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Hearst Lumberjacks.

“As in any other year, your goal is to win the league championship, through development.”

It has been a strategy that has definitely worked in the past having already won a pair of league titles; one apiece with the Gold Miners (2014) and the Lumberjacks (2019).

His pattern of preparation is unlikely to be altered, especially considering the previous success he has had behind the bench in the NOJHL. Looking back, Lafleur knows asset management played a pivotal role in his run to two league crowns.

“A big key for both years (2014 & 2019) is that we recruited good people, on and off the ice, that were eager to improve every single day,” noted Lafleur. 

That personnel and members of the staff, combined with a group of talented, highly-skilled and hardworking players that bought into Lafleur’s coaching style and philosophy paid the ultimate team dividend, in earning a championship.

No stranger to winning himself in his junior playing days, Lafleur won a Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A crown back in 1995 with the Thunder Bay Flyers.

Along with capturing that DHC title, he produced 34 goals and 75 points over two seasons in Thunder Bay, where they competed in the United States Hockey League. His efforts earned him an NCAA scholarship to Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota, where he served as the Beavers’ team captain in his senior year.

Now as a head coach, Lafleur boasts a solid NOJHL career coaching record of 265-128-28-4, which through 439 games gives him a very respectable winning percentage of .651 behind the bench. His contributions have also earned him league accolades for his efforts.

Not only has Lafleur led teams to league titles, he is a two-time recipient of the Mirl ‘Red’ McCarthy Memorial Trophy, emblematic of the NOJHL Coach of the Year. He won those awards in 2013-14 with the Gold Miners and 2018-19 with the Lumberjacks.

Lafleur is also a two-time league first team all-star honouree at coach and also has one second-team selection as well. Add in a first-team nod as a general manager, the accolades bestowed his way have been deserved.

His achievements also garnered him recognition by Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League as on four occasions, he served on the coaching staff of Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge.

Those opportunities have been beneficial in aiding in his overall coaching accomplishments.

In regard to the WJAC, Lafleur stated: “The experience helped me gain some insight on different coaching philosophies and also developed great relationships with coaches such as Jason Clarke, who is as good as they come.”

Continuing to prioritize compete-level on the ice, he focuses on game-like conditions at practice. His planning features: “Any drill that emphasizes competing and is at game speed.” Lafleur also praises the overall efforts of the NOJHL when recruiting or discussing with prospects, and their families, on any advice he would have for them if they were considering playing the everimproving 12-team loop.

“It is a great league to develop and open future opportunities,” he said. 

Much of that increased stature of the NOJHL, over the past decade, is due to the quality coaching the teams offer and Marc Lafleur is a prime example of that.

For more on the Powassan Voodoos, visit their website at or follow them on social media via @VoodoosNOJHL