Don’t look now, but the St-Isidore Eagles are on the rise in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) standings.

The Eagles won their sixth game in a row on Sunday evening (November 13) – a 5-4 home victory over the Morrisburg Lions – to move into a tie for first place in the NCJHL. Cedric Hughes had two goals and an assist, Alexi Gaudreau had a goal and two assists, while Colin Leclerc and Justin Sabourin added singles in the win. St-Isidore netminder Mathieu Sauvé won his fifth game against only one loss on the season and now sports a 3.31 Goals Against Average (GAA).

I was at Sunday’s game in St-Isidore and it was easy to see why the Eagles have been winning. It was a great game, with the Eagles dominating on special teams and scoring two power play goals.

Sunday’s game was the second in two days for St-Isidore, as the team won 5-1 on the road against the Almonte Inferno on Saturday night (November 12). Hughes scored twice in that game as well, while Justin Cloutier, Justin Duschesne and Vincent Garreau added singles. Tristan Trudel earned his fourth win of the season in net and lowered his GAA to 3.14.

The Eagles should extend their winning streak this Thursday, as they travel to Metcalfe to face the 1-13 Jets. But after that the schedule will get tougher.

The Eagles are at home to face the 9-5 Clarence Castors at the St-Isidore Arena on Sunday, November 20. Game time is 7:30 p.m. On Friday, November 26, St-Isidore is on the road to face the South Grenville Rangers, who are tied with them for first place in the NCJHL standings. The next day (November 27) the Eagles play host to the Gatineau-Hull Volant, who are also tied for first place.

Three games in eight days against three of the league’s top teams will be a real test for St-Isidore.

Sudbury Wolves name Derek MacKenzie as new head coach

Former Florida Panthers assistant coach Derek MacKenzie has been named as the 31st head coach of the Sudbury Wolves. MacKenzie replaces former head coach Craig Duncanson, who was relieved of his duties on October 31 after the team suffered back-to-back losses.

MacKenzie is expected to take over the reigns behind the bench beginning November 18, as he works through some logistics of moving back to Sudbury, however, will begin to work virtually with the coaching staff and players immediately. Assistant coaches Rick Dorval – the former head coach of the Hawkesbury Hawks – and Gary Ricciardi remain on staff. Both were hired this past off-season.

Derek MacKenzie is the son of Sudbury Wolves Assistant General Manager Ken MacKenzie, who served as the interim head coach after Duncanson was let go. The younger MacKenzie played 257 games through four seasons for the Sudbury Wolves between 1997 and 2001, accumulating 95 goals and 158 assists for 253 points.

In 1999, MacKenzie was drafted in the fifth round of the National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers and had an 18-year professional hockey career spanning across the AHL and NHL, including time with the Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. During his 611 NHL games, the 41-year-old Sudbury native scored 51 goals and added 74 assists, for 125 points and 337 penalty minutes. He served as an alternate captain of the Florida Panthers from 2014-16 and captain from 2016-18.

After suffering an injury in 2018 and retiring, MacKenzie assisted the Panthers coaching staff in an unofficial capacity before he was officially named an assistant coach with the Panthers in 2019. MacKenzie coached along side Sudbury native Andrew Brunette in Florida from 2019-2022, where they helped lead the Panthers to the best record in the NHL during the 2021-2022 season.

Former Hawk Kovacevic scores first NHL goal

Congrats to Hawkesbury Hawks alumni Johnny Kovacevic on getting his first NHL point for the Montreal Canadiens, in their 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, November 9.

Kovacevic played 30 games in the CCHL for the Hawks during the 2015-2016 season, recording six goals and 20 assists. He added another seven assists in 10 playoff games that year. He also played 73 games in the CCHL for the Ottawa Junior Senators.

The 25-year-old rookie, who stands 6’5” and weighs 218 pounds, had a cup of coffee with the Winnipeg Jets during the 2021-2022 season, but mostly played with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose while in the Winnipeg organization from 2019 to 2022. Acquired by Montreal over the summer, Kovacevic has played 14 games for the Habs so far this season and has recorded a plus/minus rating of +5.

Keep it going, Johnny!

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.