By Randy Russon

For The Community Press

Hearst Lumberjacks are on their most impressive run of the 2018-2019 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.

With a record of 5-0-2 in its last seven outings, Hearst now has a mark of 16-12-5 on the season. While still in fifth place in the East Division of the NOJHL, the Lumberjacks are only nine points behind first place Cochrane and have five games in hand on the Crunch.

In the most recent victory for the Lumberjacks, Alec Johnson tallied twice during regulation time and then scored the only marker in the shootout as Hearst Lumberjacks pulled out a 5-4 decision over the visiting Powassan Voodoos in front of 733 fans at Claude Larose Arena.

Johnson now 8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points in just 15 games from his blue line position. 

Johnson, who has a 1999 birth date, began the current season with the Jamestown Rebels of the North American Hockey League before returning to Hearst. He had 14 goals, 22 assists, 36 points in 51 games for the Lumberjacks in 2017-2018.

Lumberjacks coach/general manager Marc Lafleur gave his take on the recent success that Hearst has enjoyed.

“First off, the coaching staff is very happy with the team not having lost a regulation time game in the past seven and earning 12 of a possible 14 points in that time frame,” Lafleur began.

“Some of the bigger reasons are our improved  defensive zone coverage and being better at getting in the shot lanes as well as creating scrums in the offensive zone through a strong fore check and winning those puck battles.

“Our division is so close in terms of standings that if we can continue our win streak in the near future, it could lead to a huge battle at the top,” Lafleur added.


There is good news for student-athletes who play for Hearst and other NOJHL teams as part of the Canadian Jr. Hockey League. 

That is, the CJHL has entered partnership with GradeSlam, an on-demand, chat-based tutoring service, which is available across all subject areas to provide unlimited one-on-one online tutoring for any subject, at any time, for its players who wish to receive educational assistance throughout the remainder of the 2018-2019 season and beyond.

Sessions are conducted via chat, creating a learning environment that allows students to interact freely and personally with their tutor.
It works on any device and students are free to use the service as often as required.

“The CJHL is proud to enter into this partnership with GradeSlam, to assist with educational enhancements for all players within our 10 leagues and 133-member teams,” said president Brent Ladds.

“GradeSlam has an excellent reputation, in student one-on-one, and on-line tutorial assistance for student athletes, and with the CJHL’s emphasis on player education within our program, it is a solid investment in our goal to provide athletes with unique experiences and more options for sound futures, while developing athletic and academic discipline in a high-performance setting,” added Ladds.

GradeSlam’s educators aim to make students better learners by providing contextualized feedback on precisely where the student went wrong in the learning process and guiding them towards a deeper understanding of the problem.

With instant messaging, file sharing and whiteboard drawing all built into GradeSlam’s tutoring platform, students should feel confident that the help they need is always right at their fingertips, literally.

“While the CJHL has a reputation of producing top tier athletes, their commitment to academic support demonstrates their focus on preparing each player to prosper both on and off the ice,” stated GradeSlam chief executive officer Phil Cutler.

“The unanimous support of all 10 leagues and its 133 teams is a clear indication to players and parents across the country that the CJHL is more than just an elite hockey league, it is preparing each player for a lifetime of success. GradeSlam could not be prouder to be the academic piece of this puzzle.”