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Road to the RBC Cup: Powassan Voodoos Stepping Up As Possible Contenders

By Sam Laskaris on February 23, 2017

Former minor pro player Scott Wray has quickly built the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League's Powassan Voodoos into a league contender. (Courtesy of the NOJHL)

If the Powassan Voodoos keep winning more than their share of hockey games they just might find themselves challenging for a national title soon.

The Voodoos, members of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, have managed to emerge victorious in 41 of their first 50 regular season contests this year.

And with their 84 points, courtesy of their 41-7-1-1 mark, they are sitting not only atop the league’s East Division but first overall in the standings of the 12-team circuit.

It’s possible the Powassan squad can continue to rack up Ws and even advance to the RBC Cup, the national Junior A championship.

This year’s Canadian tournament will be staged May 13-21 in Cobourg, Ont.

The fact the Powassan side is enjoying so much success this season is somewhat remarkable, considering this is just the third year of existence for the franchise.

Even Voodoos head coach/GM Scott Wray has been caught off guard by his club’s fortunes.

“Going into this year we had a lot of new faces and a lot of young players,” he said. “We thought we’d be around .500.”

Life, however, has a funny way of playing out sometimes.

Take Wray for example. After he completed his 15-year minor professional hockey playing career in 2014, he turned his attention to coaching.

He applied to be an assistant coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion.

Though he didn’t get that Battalion job, he was offered the opportunity to assume the coaching/managerial duties for the Voodoos, North Bay’s affiliate club that was about to commence its inaugural NOJHL season.

As expected, Powassan had its share of first-year struggles, winning just 15 of its 53 regular season matches.

The Voodoos then posted a 40-win campaign last season. And they’ve already improved upon that total this season and have a pair of contests remaining before their playoff schedule commences.

In order to advance to the Canadian tourney, the Voodoos would have to first win their league title. Then they would also have to capture the Dudley Hewitt Cup.

The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Trenton Golden Hawks will be hosting this national qualifying tournament from May 2 to 6.

Besides the host Golden Hawks, the four-team event will also include the NOJHL champions, the OJHL champs (or finalists if Trenton wins) and the winners of the Superior International Junior Hockey League playoffs.

Wray though isn’t keen to talk about how far the Voodoos can go this season.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” he said. “I’m focused on our next game.”

Wray and the Voodoos have experienced the unpredictability of the postseason during their first two NOJHL campaigns.

Despite their 15-win season in Year 1, the Voodoos managed to prevail in a pair of playoff series before bowing out in the East Division final.

And then last year, despite placing atop the East standings, Powassan was knocked out in its opening playoff round.

“Anything can happen,” Wray said. “We have to worry about one shift at a time.”

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By Sam Laskaris| February 23, 2017
Categories:  Events

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