Happy New Year OJHL fans! We are well into 2014 now and it’s time for another North Division Review. I realized while writing this and looking back at my last review I had mentioned that the first 2014 edition would come out last week, my bad. I started a new internship at CBC Sports and Hockey Night in Canada Radio so time was needed to make some adjustments. But here we are and we’re back for an exciting two months of hockey as we near the OJHL Playoffs!

Entering the new year, the Aurora Tigers were one of the hottest teams in the league, collecting points in 15 of their last 17 games dating back to November 15 when they started a 10-game win streak. Currently the Tigers sit comfortably in first place in the North Division with an 18 point lead over second place Pickering Panthers. With their sudden surge the Tigers now find themselves in the race for first place in the North-East Conference and top spot in the Overall League standings. At the time this article was written, only the Kingston Voyageurs had more points than the Tigers!

Meanwhile it has become a 3 team race for that second divisional spot and 7th seed in the North-East. Pickering, Newmarket, and the Stouffville Spirit are separated by only 5 points and it looks like only 2 of those teams will make it to the playoffs, anything can happen between now and February 22, the final day of regular season play!

North Division Week Review:

Because of my failure to write last week and I never mentioned one back in December, there is no game to review this week, instead with the CJHL Trade Deadline come and gone we’ll review a couple of moves made by the North Division teams:

Aurora Tigers

Departed: Arran MacDonald (Released by Team)

Pickering Panthers

Acquired: Mason Evans (Trade from Buff), Nick Clark (Trade from North York)

Departed: Corey Helliwell (Traded to North York)

I did say a couple. The Pickering Panthers made the most noise in the North on deadline day, shipping off their 20 year old defence man in Helliwell and acquired two 1995 born D-men in Evans and Clark. Not only was it an upgrade to the defensive core, but it’s an upgrade that will help the Panthers beyond this season with Clark hopefully sticking around, (Evans is already committed to Connecticut in D3 for 2014-15). Evans is quick, puck moving defence man  while Clark adds some size to the back end, the two newcomers were paired together in their first game Friday versus the Tigers.

North Division 3 Stars (from Dec 23 - Jan 5):

3. Curtis Warren - Aurora Tigers

- a goal in each of his last 3 games, the Barrie ON native has picked up his play in 2014.

2. Michael Walker - Pickering Panthers

- the leader in the locker room, Walker has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.

1. Kevin Entmaa - Aurora Tigers

- Entmaa gets the honours as the second goaltender to earn 3-star status and the first to be named number 1. His numbers during the Tigers impressive run of late have him second in wins (19), first in goals against average (2.05) and third in save percentage (0.931). The goaltending was the question mark for the Tigers at the beginning of the season, and Entmaa has answered those questions.

North Division Game of the Week:

- Newmarket Hurricanes at Pickering Panthers - Friday January 17, 2014 - 7:30pm EST

The battle for second place. Depending on how these two teams do during the week leading up to Friday, this match up could mean sole possession for Pickering or a leap frog by Newmarket into the second seed. The Panthers will be coming back from a big game in Buffalo at the First Niagara Centre on Wednesday, while Newmarket is in Trenton Monday night facing the Golden Hawks and will have more rest than the Panthers.