SUDBURY -- With a month to go in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season it appears it will go right down to the wire before the opening round playoff seedings are finally determined.
All seven NOJHL member clubs will qualify for the upcoming postseason with the first place finisher earning themselves the regular season title along with a first-round bye. Each playoff series will be best-of-seven affairs.
Opening round action will run from March 15-27 with the No. 2 seed meeting the No. 7 squad, No. 3 taking on No. 6 and No. 4 vs. 5.
From the three remaining clubs along with the first place finisher will square-off in semifinal play from March 29 through April 10.
The regular season title holder will take on the lowest remaining seed in one series with the other two squads meeting in the other.
From there the two surviving teams will vie for the NOJHL crown April 12-24.
Should the Dudley-Hewitt Cup host North Bay Trappers advance to the league final, then the other club in the final will also represent the NOJHL at the Dudley-Hewitt. The DHC winner then moves on to the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Jr. A championship in Summerside, P.E.I.
NOJHL playoff format (All series best-of-seven)
Round 1 Quarter-finals (March 15-27)
Series A: Second place vs. Seventh place
Series B: Third place vs. Sixth place
Series C: Fourth place vs. Fifth place
Bye: Regular season winner
Round 2 Semifinals (March 29 – April 10)
Series D: First place vs. Lowest remaining seed
Series E: Winner of round one with highest standing vs. the other winner
Round 3 NOJHL Final (April 12-24)
Series F: Semifinals winners meet for the NOJHL championship
Dudley-Hewitt Cup @ North Bay (April 30 – May 4)
North Bay Trappers; NOJHL champion or finalist; OJHL champion; SIJHL champion
Royal Bank Cup @ Summerside, P.E.I. (May 11-19)
Summerside Western Capitals (Host)
Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner, Fred Page Cup winner, Western Canada Cup winner and finalist.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)