SUDBURY, ON. – Ever-improving, the Powassan Voodoos continue to be a successful franchise in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Since joining the NOJHL in time for the start of the 2014-15 campaign, the Voodoos have compiled an impressive record of 179-72-17-6.
Those 179 victories are the second-most in the league in that five-year window, trailing only the Soo Thunderbirds 208 triumphs.
Guiding the franchise is general manager and vice-president of hockey operations Chris Dawson.
Under Dawson’s leadership, along with second-year head coach Max Gavin and the rest of the staff, the Voodoos will look to continue their winning ways that in the past four seasons alone, has averaged 41 wins per campaign.
Dawson offers some insight on his club, in this the first of 12 league-generated NOJHL team preview segments, heading into the start of the regular season.
NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2019-20 season?
CHRIS DAWSON: I’m really excited about the group we have assembled for the 2019-20 season. Our hockey operations group has worked really hard. We have acquired some good pieces this off-season. We hope to be the team others are chasing, not a team battling to move up the standings late in the year like last season.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on the team as you near the start of another season.
CD: I think this might be one of the older Voodoos teams we have ever assembled. I think we should have a lot of depth up front and have the ability to roll four solid lines, much like we were able to do in 2016-17 when we won the NOJHL championship.
NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you look to play a pivotal role on the squad in 2019-20?
CD: Cade Herd has been a fixture and we believe he could have a monster year in his final year of junior eligibility. Injuries cut him short last season, but he still led our team in scoring and has played at just over a point-per-game pace in his NOJHL career with 146 in 145 games. Also, I think Brett Shawana (12g-20a-32pts) really surprised a lot of people last year. We hope his relentless style of play will be contagious this season.
NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you've signed that you expect to perform well in the league?
CD: The addition of league all-stars Sam Ellwood and Gregory Trudeau-Paquet will definitely boost our offence and give us some of the best top-six depth in the league. The return of Parker Bowman from the QMJHL will be a huge boost both on and off the ice for our team. Ty Nicholson comes to us from Jr. B in Ottawa and after back-to-back 20-goal campaigns could be a pleasant surprise upfront for us. Defenceman Eric Mondoux will be a key part of our offence coming from the back-end while the versatile Noah Brant will surprise some people this fall. Eric Mondoux played for the Hamilton Kilty B’s last season and played for us the year before where he had nine goals and 20 assists in his rookie season with the Voodoos in 2017-18. Mondoux had four goals and 20 assists for 24 points in 47 games with the Kilty B's. Noah Brant netted 17 goals along with 28 assists for 45 points in 42 games with the Picton Pirates of the PJCHL last season.
Ty Nicholson is coming off a pair of 20-goal seasons with the Westport Rideaus in the CCHL2 based in the Ottawa region. Last season he had 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points in 44 games.
NOJHL: The NOJHL East standings were extremely tight last season. How do you feel that parody has helped the Voodoos being in such a competitive league?
CD: I think playing against tough competition every night can only make our players better. It is great for the league.
NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?
CD: I think our goal like every year is to hang a championship banner and win our last game of the season. That goal never changes.
NOJHL: You’ve been associated with the NOJHL for over a decade now. Do you have any closing comments to wrap things up?
CD: This will be my 11th season working in the NOJHL. Yes, we always will have our geographic challenges, but we have never had as many good quality teams in our league like last year. I hope that continues in 2019-20.