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Blind River’s Mulligan off to Northland College as NOJHL commitment list continues to grow

SUDBURY, Ont. – While it’s the off-season, performances by players during the course of the 2018-19 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League campaign has helped to add to an ever-growing compilation of those who have signed on to move to the next level in the game.

The latest league advancement is Blind River Beavers veteran defenceman Ryan Mulligan who has committed to attend Northland College in Ashland, Wis., where the Lumberjacks compete out of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

“We have been able to watch him develop over time and know he will be a valuable piece to our blue-line and roster moving forward,” offered Northland head coach Seamus Gregory in announcing the commitment. “We knew he was a person and player we needed in the room.”

The 21-year-old Mulligan spent four full seasons in the NOJHL on the blueline with both Blind River and the Soo Thunderbirds where he dressed in 202 games and contributed 26 goals and 81 assists for 107 points in that span.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., product also suited up for 29 playoff contests where he scored once and helped set-up 15 others.

The Lumberjacks program boasted a half dozen league alumni on their NCAA playing roster during the 2018-19 campaign.

“The NOJHL has been very good to us over time, added the Lumberjacks bench boss.

“We love the league, the people and it is really one of the diamonds in Canadian Junior A Hockey.”

Meanwhile, another solid competitor in the NOJHL, in Cochrane Crunch assistant captain Austin Whelan will continue his playing career and further his education at Curry College in Massachusetts.

The Colonels are embers of the eight-school Commonwealth Coast Conference in the New England.

Whelan finished tied for fourth among all league skaters in goals this season with 29 and in 149 total NOJHL match-ups, Whelan, who turns 21 on Wednesday, scored 55 times and dished out 46 assists for 101 points.

The league’s Top Defensive forward in 2018-19, who hails from Richmond Hill, Ont., topped all skaters in shorthand goals with five.

You also had the NOJHL’s leading goal scorer Lucas Theriault sign on with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

Theriault, 19, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., also tied for the league-lead in points with 76 and produced nine game-winning markers, which led all players this past season.

His efforts earned him NOJHL Most Improved Player honours.

The following is the latest NOJHL player commitment list, which will be updated as more are finalized and made known.

BLIND RIVER BEAVERS
Ryan Mulligan, (D) Northland College (NCHA)

COCHRANE CRUNCH
Austin Whelan, (F) Curry College (CCC)

ELLIOT LAKE WILDCATS
Chris Pederson, (D) Albertus Magnus (NCAA D-III)

ESPANOLA EXPRESS
Chase Lammi, St. Lawrence (ECAC) (2022-23)

FRENCH RIVER RAPIDS
T.B.A.

HEARST LUMBERJACKS
T.B.A.

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS
T.B.A.

POWASSAN VOODOOS
Connor Punnett, (D) Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

RAYSIDE-BALFOUR CANADIANS
Chase Stillman, (F) Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

SOO EAGLES
Joseph Benedetto, (G) Lawrence University (NCHA)
Mikey Butcher, (D) Wisconsin-Stevens Point (WIAC)

SOO THUNDERBIRDS
Lucas Theriault, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Spencer Van Tiem, Milwaukee School of Engineering (NCHA)

TIMMINS ROCK
T.B.A.