Defensive systems are gradually sinking in within the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Goals were down almost 1.5 per game as the league wound down toward the Christmas break. Still, a handful of scorers managed to break free just long enough to work their way into the NOJHL Three Stars of the Week (for the week ending Dec. 23).
Martin Jolicoeur (Sudbury Nickel Barons): The Sudbury Nickel Barons have looked as good lately as they have since their season-opening win streak thanks, in part, to the continued production they are receiving from 19 year-old forward Martin Jolicoeur.
The Sudbury native was held to just six points in his first 16 games, but has bounced back to register 16 points in his last 10 games, moving into fourth place in team scoring. Jolicoeur scored three times last week as the Barons ran their win streak to five games with victories over both Abitibi and Sault Ste Marie.
Dustin Jesseau (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners): The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners are hoping for a second half surge, a run that could challenge the front-runners from North Bay and the Sault, with a pair of recent acquisitions expected to be key. Unhappy with his situation in Iroquois Falls, Aurora native Dustin Jesseau has settled in nicely in Kirkland Lake, picking up eight points in four games.
The well-travelled 20-year-old forward was shipped from the Eskimos to the Estevan Bruins in early November, making his way back to Northern Ontario in early December. Jesseau enjoyed a four-point outing as the Gold Miners whooped Elliot Lake 8-0 Dec. 21 at home.
Zach Pease (Blind River Beavers): Eighteen-year-old forward Zach Pease and the entire roster of the Blind River Beavers were pleased to get things back on track last week. Snapping a personal five-game scoreless skid, Pease recorded three assists in a 4-3 overtime win over the Soo Thunderbirds as the Beavers chalked up their first win in four games.
Making his way north after toiling with the Ontario Hockey Academy last year, Pease now has 17 points in 22 games to his credit, good for eighth place in the Blind River scoring parade, despite not joining the team until late September.