With the field of competing teams set, game action with get underway Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. when the the champions of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, the Fort Frances Lakers, taking on the title holders of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots.
Rounding out day 1 competition will be the winners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, tangling with the host Wellington Dukes at 7:30 p.m.
The following is a rundown on each of the clubs that earned their way to compete in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.
NOJHL – KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS: Like Fort Frances, Kirkland Lake enters the Dudley-Hewitt Cup fresh off their first-ever championship.
A well balanced attack, stingy defensive play and top notch goaltending allowed the Gold Miners to go 12-2 in postseason action.
After sweeping North Bay in the quarter-finals, Kirkland Lake did likewise to Espanola before facing a formidable opponent in the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy NOJHL final vs. the top ranked Soo Thunderbirds, who were not only the first place finisher in league play, but also the No. 1 ranked club in the 128-team Canadian Junior Hockey League.
In the NOJHL championship Kirkland Lake won their initial crown in six hard-fought games.
Steven Babin led the Miners in playoff scoring with 18 points and was only held pointless in one of 14 postseason contests.
Austin Rust chipped in with 14 points, including a league-high four game-winning goals and was named NOJHL playoff MVP.
In net Jeremy Pominville was stellar for Kirkland Lake going 11-2 in the second season and led all goaltenders in average and save percentage at 1.85 and .931 respecitvely.
Head Coach: Marc Lafleur
Regular season record: 43-7-1-5
Place: 2nd overall
Final CJHL Rank: 13th
Playoff record: 12-2
SIJHL – FORT FRANCES LAKERS: Battling back from a 3-1 series deficit vs. the Minnesota Iron Rangers, Fort Frances stormed back to win the final three games of the Bill Salonen Cup final to capture their first SIJHL title in franchise history.
In semifinal play the Lakers, who were their league’s regular season, swept the English River Miners in four straight games.
The also won an opening round match-up against the Thunder Bay North Stars.
Fort Frances forward Miles Nolan led all SIJHL pkaters in playoff scoring with 15 points, including a league-high 10 goals. He would go on to be named playoff MVP for his efforts.
Lucas Debenedet, who topped the SIJHL in scoring during the regular season with 112 points, had 12 playoff points, six of which came in the final two games of the final.
Jordan Cartney started in net the final three games of the final for the Lakers winning them all. He was 4-0 overall in the playoffs with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage
Head Coach: Wayne Strachan
Regular season record: 46-6-0-2
Place: 1st overall
Final CJHL Rank: 5th
Playoff record: 9-4
OJHL – TORONTO LAKESHORE PATRIOTS: Another first-time winner in their league, the Toronto Lakehsore Patriots look to keep it rolling with a triumph at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.
The Patriots began their quest for the Buckland Cup disposing of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in four games.
In quarter-final play they breezed past the North York Rangers in one game over the minimum before putting the broom to the Georgetown Raiders in the conference final.
In the OJHL championship they bested the Aurora Tigers in six games.
An offensive force in the playoffs, Toronto Lakehsore assistant captain Kevin Shier garnered the Brett Ladds trophy, emblematic of OJHL’s most valuable player in the postseason.
The 20-year-old tallied eight times and doled out 24 assists for a OJHL-best 32 points in 19 outings.
Andreas Tsogkas topped TLP in regular season play with 57 points that included a team-best 31 goals.
Seeing the bulk of the action between the pipes for the Patriots in the playoffs was Evan Buitenhuis who went 16-3 overall with a 2.04 average and .932 save mark.
Head Coach: Jason Fortier
Regular season record: 35-12-3-3
Place: 3rd overall
Final CJHL Rank: 17th
Playoff record: 16-3
HOST (OJHL) – WELLINGTON DUKES: Having not played since March 7 the Dudley-Hewitt host Dukes should be fully rested come their opening game vs. Kirkland Lake Tuesday.
Despite a first round exit to Cobourg in the OJHL playoffs where they fell in five games, Wellington cannot be underestimated as they finished with the sixth best record in league play.
They were offensively challenged in that series only scoring six times in this five games and were shutout three times.
Abbott Girduckis led the Dukes in playoff scoring with a goal and two assists.
Erick Delaurentis led the club during regular season play with 64 points. His 30 goals and six game-winners both led the Dukes.
Tyson Tecihmann had a 3.23 goals-against average and .897 save percentage vs. Cobourg.
Head Coach: Marty Abrams
Regular season record: 33-14-1-5
Place: 6th overall
Final CJHL Rank: Not ranked
Playoff record: 1-4
Fort Frances vs. Toronto Lakehsore 2:30 p.m.
Kirkland Lake vs. Wellington 7:30 p.m.
Kirkland Lake vs. Toronto Lakehsore 2:30 p.m.
Wellington vs. Fort Frances 7:30 p.m.
Fort Frances vs. Kirkland Lake 2:30 p.m.
Toronto Lakehsore vs. Wellington 7:30 p.m.
Semifinal: 2nd round robin vs. 3rd round robin 7:30 p.m.
Final: 1st round robin vs. Semifinal winner 7:30 p.m.
Winner advances to RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A championship May 10-18 at Vernon, B.C.