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Timmins goalie heading to national championship

From Cheechoo earning a hall of fame spot to RM's volleyball team, and visions of showcasing an event like OFSAA at a bigger local venue — Mully has a lot to share this week

A few kudos this week.

A huge kudos to Moose Factory native Jonathan Cheechoo, for his recent induction into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame. The personable Cheechoo is a well-deserved inductee for his efforts both on and off the ice. 

Local hockey fans first came to know of Cheechoo's gifted skill level while he played AAA Bantam here in Timmins. After a terrific year with Kap in the GNML, Jonathan spent a year in Jr B with Kitchener before being selected in the OHL draft by the Belleville Bulls. With the Bulls he was part of an OHL championship team and played in the CHL Top Prospects game. San Jose selected Cheechoo in the NHL draft where he became one of the game's best players. The 2005-06 season saw him score 56 goals and win the Maurice Richard trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer. Jonathan played in the AHL, NHL and KHL All-Star games, a feat few pro players have ever achieved. His humility, caring for others and great sense of humour are just a few of his many admirable character traits. 

Congratulations, Jonathan. You and your efforts are more than worthy of an NAIAHF induction.

Kudos to TH&VS for their thrilling 45-41 opening game victory over Ottawa's Notre Dame at the OFSAA  Boys A Basketball Championships on their home court. A raucous crowd of supporters filled the TH gym to spur the locals on to victory. Diane and I thoroughly enjoyed not only the game, but the vibrant atmosphere on display. By the time you read this the Blues will have played game they as they strive to get to the playoff round. (Editor's Note: TH won their second game 44-41 against École secondaire L'Heritage. Their next game is tonight — March 7 — at 6:30 p.m. at Timmins High.)

RELATED: Timmins High keeps OFSAA dreams alive in close first game
SEE: Loud crowd cheers on the Blues

A few of us were talking about how cool it might be to showcase an event like the OFSAA's at a venue like the Mac (or maybe the 'Splex). A few other cities put the old hardwood down in their local arena to showcase playdowns. I know it might take away from the host school's playing in their school gym, but would it not be electrifying to be able to play before a packed crowd in a setting like the Mac? Just a thought!

Kudos also to the Roland Michener girl's volleyball team who are in Welland for the OFSAA A championships. After winning the NEOAA championship, Michener is the 14th seed at OFSAA. The team is currently in the midst of the playdowns and we wish them all the success they deserve at the event.

Hats off to Queen's Gaels Women's basketball team as well. The Gaels are headed to the U Sports National Championship tournament as the overall third seed. The 23-2 Queen’s club first sees action on Thursday. And that's notable for us because a key component of Queen's success is Timmins native Emma Weltz. Emma is a fifth-year guard with the Gaels and is majoring in nursing. The O'Gorman alumni has two previous OFSAA participations to draw experience from to help her deal with the pressures of a championship tournament. One of those OFSAA's was a silver medal with her O’Gorman teammates.

Queen’s looks to parlay their strong season and seeding to a national championship. Here's hoping!

Congrats to former Olympian Charmaine Crooks on her appointment to interim president of Canada Soccer. Crooks has made increasing financial support to our women’s team a priority. And that priority received a huge boost with an announcement from sponsor GE Appliances. GE announced it is adding a significant financial contribution (on top of its current commitment) to help allay the concerns over women's funding. Earlier last week Canada Soccer revealed a new deal had been reached with the women’s team.

Last week I lamented about the endless speculation being aired about potential NHL trades and how the banter started around Christmas. But a lot of the trades, when they actually did happen, were dandies. So with most of the big names off the board before Friday's deadline, I still tuned in to TSN's deadline coverage. I wasn't disappointed. Hockey's most likeable coach, Bruce Boudreau, was a revelation. His panel contributions were epic TV. The skit featuring him giving "motivation" to the on-air personalities was a gut buster. If he doesn't return to coaching (he will) he is a made-for-television guy who will be a force in the genre .

Back to the trades. A few teams just seemed to make trades to appease their fan base. They made deals to make it look like they were making their teams better. We will have to wait and see which teams made the right moves, but Boston, Jersey, Ottawa and the Rangers made huge additions. Toronto made some real shrewd moves (see Ryan O'Reilly), but how many defencemen do they need? And the Rangers getting Tarasenko was a sweet add. He has looked real good. Patrick Kane, however, has looked a little out of sorts, but that could quickly change. What I worry about for the Leafs and Rangers is will some of the moves upset overall team chemistry? It's a worthy notion.

Toronto did have to get more playoff ready. Especially needing hard to play against forwards and an upgrade to the back end. Up front they certainly got the aforementioned. And McCabe could be a good fit on D. New York's younger players have been a big part of this year's success. Did they really need to add Kane (who truly is a superstar) who takes some of the ice time away from those young guys? I'm not sure. There are still about 18 games left for each team to adjust to the changes. Chemistry is not an easy commodity to acquire. The hope is these two teams will improve that chemistry. If not there may be a lot of unhappy campers.

Edmonton absolutely improved with Ekholm on defence. He is just what they need there.

But the road in the east will go through Boston, Jersey and Carolina. Will Toronto's and New York's changes get them through? Personally, I think not.

And finally, the NEHC conference women's championship was won by Norwich. Madison Brunet and her teammates are now off to the DIII National Women's Championships where they meet Colby in game one. Madison got to experience the treat of having her family in attendance for the NEHC championship game.

Later skater.

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