By Pat Payton
All the action in the GOJHL these days has been off the ice.
The 25-team Jr. 'B' League officially shut down on Jan. 5 and games aren't expected to resume until Jan. 26 at the earliest. The three-week shutdown came after the province returned to Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopening in response to the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant that has caused record-breaking Covid case counts in the past few weeks.
One of the biggest news stories coming out of the Western Conference is the brand new coaching staff in London. Last week, the Nationals announced that David Matsos, a former Ontario Hockey League coach with Hamilton and Sudbury, is the team's new head coach. New assistants are Dennis Maruk and Rumun Ndur, who once served as an assistant coach (defence) with the St. Marys Lincolns.
Just two days earlier, the first-place Nationals (18-4-1-1) parted ways with head coach Colin Martin and assistants Adam McKee and Ryan Shipley. In a recent London Free Press article, Nats' owner Paul Duarte told the newspaper that Martin, McKee and Shipley all resigned. "We've parted under mutual circumstances," Duarte told the daily newspaper.
However, there have been reports that Martin was fired, and McKee and Shipley left the team as a result. Martin, who played with the Lincs from 2007-09, is apparently exploring legal options.
Matsos, meanwhile, was a member of the 1993 Memorial Cup champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and went on to play in the American League and the United Kingdom. He joined the Windsor Spitfires as an assistant coach in 2010, and was an associate coach with Hamilton when it won an OHL title in 2018. He now lives in St. Thomas.
Maruk, a former London Knights' centre, and Ndur both played in the NHL. Maruk starred with the Knights back in the early-to-mid 1970s, and went on to play 888 Big League games â€“ scoring 356 goals. He coached one season in the East Coast League.
Ndur, who was born in Nigeria, played 69 games in the NHL with three different teams. The big defenceman was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres.
â€“It's official, the Nationals have lost centre Zach Power to Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The 20-year-old Power, from Glencoe, was leading the entire GOJHL in scoring with 17 goals and 54 points in 22 games.
â€“The GOJHL Showcase scheduled for Jan. 21 to 23 in Pelham has been postponed because of the shutdown. Teams from all three conferences play two games at the annual event, which is normally held at the start of the season and draws scouts from the NHL, U.S. colleges, the OHL and Canadian universities.
Lincs were scheduled to play Stratford and Welland that weekend.
â€“St. Marys native Rourke McEwan, who is a member of the U18 Huron-Perth 'AAA' Lakers, has been named a league all-star. The 17-year-old defenceman has 14 points in 21 Alliance League games. McEwan also played for the Lincolns as an affiliate player earlier this season.
â€“Former Lincs' defenceman Cody Sol (2007-08) is now a member of the Glasgow Clan of the 10-team British Elite Hockey League.
Sol, a 30-year-old from Woodstock, has spent most of his minor pro career in the East Coast League in the U.S. It's his first season playing pro overseas.
â€“Last week, the Ontario Hockey League's Owen Sound Attack traded defenceman Andrew Perrott, 20, to the Windsor Spitfires for several draft picks.
In return, Owen Sound gets a second-round pick in 2022, a third-round pick in 2023, a sixth-round pick in 2024, and a third-round pick in 2025.
At the time of the trade, Perrott sat second on the Attack in points with a goal and 21 assists in 23 games. An overager, he is the oldest son of Lincolns' assistant coach Nathan Perrott.