It’s a tight battle between the three local teams in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL), as they fight for playoff positioning.

The win by the Clarence Castors over the Vankleek Hill Cougars on Saturday evening (October 29) put the two teams in a tie for third place in the NCJHL with 12 points, a total matched by the St-Isidore Eagles with their 8-7 win on Sunday evening over the Metcalfe Jets. With a 6-5 win over the Metcalfe Jets the same evening, Clarence pulled two points ahead of the other two teams from Prescott-Russell.

All three area teams have strong lineups this season. The defending NCJHL champions have now won five straight games after a mediocre start to the season.

As usual, there is no clear favorite to win the league championship this year. The top six teams in the NCJHL all have the ability to rise to the top. That’s one of the reasons I love Junior C hockey.

Former Hawkesbury Hawk debuts as NHL linesman

Former Hawkesbury Hawks Ryan Jackson made his National Hockey League (NHL) debut last Sunday (October 30), as a member of the officiating crew in Chicago during the Blackhawks 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Jackson worked as a linesman during the game. The 27-year-old rookie official was joined on the ice in his NHL debut by linesman Jonny Murray and referees Wes McCauley and Francois St. Laurent.

While playing as a defenseman for the Hawks during the 2015-2016 season, Jackson recorded two goals and 16 assists in 53 games. He added three goals and an assist in 10 playoff games that season.

Jackson grew up in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, where he began skating at a young age. His older brother played hockey and his father was an NHL referee at the time. Jackson played hockey throughout his high school days and eventually earned a scholarship to play at Pomfret School in Connecticut, prior to joining the Hawks. After his one season in Hawkesbury, he attended Manhattanville College, playing four seasons of NCAA III hockey.

After playing the 2021 season with the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League, Ryan realized his playing days were numbered and made a commitment to officiating. He attended the 2021 NHL Exposure Combine, where he landed a job as a linesman in the American Hockey League for the 2021-2022 season. After the 2021-2022 AHL season came to a close, Jackson was hired to a minor leagues contract by the NHL during that offseason.

I remember Ryan well, as I did stats on him while he was with the Hawks. Very, very happy to see him make the NHL as an official.

Bears’ Ty Campbell on NHL’s radar

The great early season play of Ty Campbell, a 17-year-old defenseman with the Central Canada Hockey League’s Smiths Falls Bears, has attracted the interest of NHL scouts.

The 2005 born defenseman, from Nepean, Ontario, was named to the NHL Central Scout Watch List for the 2023 NHL draft last week. After 10 games Campbell, who has committed to Clarkson University, was sitting in fourth place in scoring among CCHL defensemen, with two goals and six assists for eight points – on pace for a 32-point season.

Pinto breaks Senators’ rookie goal streak record

Ottawa forward Shane Pinto topped three Senators’ team legends by scoring in his fifth straight game to set a new record for longest goal streak by a first-year-player in the team’s history.

Pinto’s goal against the Arizona Coyotes on October 22 marked the fifth game in a row that the Senators rookie found the back of the net. He broke the record of four goals in four straight games, which had been jointly held by Senators legends Alexei Yashin, Daniel Alfredsson and Mark Stone.

With his early season play, the Senators forward has inserted himself in the NHL Rookie of the Year conversation. Matty Berniers of the Seattle Kraken and Calen Addison of the Minnesota Wild are currently considered the leading candidates for the Calder Trophy given to the league’s top rookie.

Known as Vankleek Hill’s Sports Authority, MacKenzie Hinton writes regular sports updates on his popular Facebook page. Mac is the statistician for the Vankleek Hill Cougars and Alexandria Glens Junior hockey clubs. His column appears weekly in The Review.