Local resident, former NOJHL scoring star returns to roots as assistant coach in Espanola

Espanola Express has a new assistant coach in Shawn Dubois, a former high-scoring NOJHLer. jpg, EP

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One of the highest scoring — and, pound for pound, toughest — forwards to ever skate in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is returning to his roots.
Sault This Week has confirmed that 51-year-old Shawn Dubois has joined the Espanola Express as an assistant coach under new bench boss Brent Hughes.
A local resident who is originally from the nearby, Highway 17 town of Blind River, Dubois now works in the Espanola area as a sales person.
Dubois, who has coached minor hockey in the Espanola and Manitoulin Island area, said the opportunity to be an assistant coach in the NOJHL in the town where he and his family reside, was “too good of an opportunity to pass up. I am looking forward to working with Brent (Hughes) and the Express.”
Hughes, from his end, noted that Dubois “is well respected and known throughout the community here so obviously we are excited and looking forward to working with him.”
During his NOJHL playing days that spanned parts of three seasons, Dubois was both a scoring machine and a terror as a 5-foot-7, 170-pound whiz kid.
In just 112 NOJHL games, Dubois scored a remarkable 166 goals, 133 assists, 299 points while racking up 447 minutes in penalties while starring for both the Elliot Lake Vikings and Sudbury Cubs.
He also played briefly in the Ontario Hockey League with the North Bay Centennials and legendary coach Bert Templeton.
Dubois joins an Espanola team that is poised to move up the NOJHL ladder this coming season under the 38-year-old Hughes — who is fresh from three straight winning campaigns as an assistant coach with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League — and 44-year-old president and general manager Jason Rapcewicz.
A small market franchise, Espanola is coming off a 2019-2020 season in which it posted a record of 17-34-5 in sneaking into the West Division playoffs for the first time since its inaugural 2015-2016 NOJHL campaign as the Express.
Meanwhile, barring the unforeseen, following are a collection of incoming and returning players who could play significant roles in the Express posting its first winning season in franchise history in 2020-2021 with Hughes at the helm as the new head coach and Dubois alongside as the assistant coach.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Luke Bibby. A 15-year-old left winger who was chosen at the 2020 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft, Bibby was a 13th round pick of the Owen Sound Attack from the Brantford 99ers under-16 team. Bibby was a point per game performer for Brantford during the 2019-2020 campaign, totaling 24 goals, 18 assists, 42 points in 42 games, regular season and league playoffs included. At 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, Bibby has a late 2004 birth date, having been born on Oct. 29.
Wade Bolton. A big defenceman with a 2003 birth date, Bolton spent the 2019-2020 season with the Central Ontario Wolves midgets. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bolton was an 11th round pick of the Mississauga Steelheads at the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
Josh Boucher. A 2001-birth-year forward, the 6-foot, 175-pound Boucher came through with 10 goals, 16 assists, 26 points in 55 games for the Express last season after playing high school hockey the previous campaign. He hails from Lively, which is just outside Sudbury.
Carson Boutin. A 2002-birth-year goalie, the 6-foot, 185-pound Boutin finished the 2019-2020 season in Espanola after beginning it with the Cochrane Crunch. Boutin had a 3-1-0 record with a 1.56 goals against average and .945 save percentage with Cochrane. And, facing a whopping 636 shots in 932 minutes of play in Espanola, Boutin had a 4-7-0 record with a 4.32 goals against average and .895 save percentage. He is from Iroquois Falls.
Robert Brisson. An Eastern Ontario product from the town of Embrun, Brisson appeared in 26 games for Espanola in 2019-2020 and had three goals, seven assists, 10 points from his blue line position. A 6-foot-1, 190-pounder with a 2002 birth date, Brisson also has 16 games of prior NOJHL experience with the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
Bradley Brunet. A 2003-birth-year forward, the 6-foot, 165-pound Brunet got into 45 games for the Express in 2019-2020 and produced eight goals, four assists, 12 points. A Sudbury product, Brunet is an Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Cole Delarosbil. A late blooming, 2001-birth-year forward, Delarosbil was limited to just 27 games as a rookie last season due to a broken ankle. But despite playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Delarosbil nonetheless managed six goals, three assists, nine points. Known for his relentless work ethic and year-round commitment to fitness and conditioning, Delarosbil is a Sault Ste. Marie product.
James Eng. A 2001-birth-year forward from the Greater Toronto Area and acquired during the summer in a trade with French River, the energetic Eng netted six goals, 15 assists, 21 points in 56 NOJHL games for the Rapids last season.
A.J. Favot. A smart, puck moving defenceman with a 2002 birth date, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Favot netted four goals, 20 assists, 24 points in 51 games for the Express last season. He was particularly effective on the Espanola power play, netting 16 points, including 15 assists. To be sure, Favot figures to be among the top defencemen in the West Division this season. Like Brunet, Favot is an OHL draft pick of Niagara who also calls Sudbury his home.
Devon Savignac. Skilled and smart and a 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward with a 2003 birth date, Savignac potted 22 goals, 13 assists, 35 points in 49 games for the rival Blind River Beavers last season. The 22 goals that Savignac tallied for the Beavers as a 16-year old rookie last season were the second most on Blind River, trailing only league scoring champion Caleb Serre. Recently acquired by Espanola from Blind River in a trade of major significance, Savignac is an OHL draft pick of the North Bay Battalion who hails from Sudbury.
Cameron Walker. A 5-foot-11, 165-pound, all around forward with a 2003 birth date, Walker produced 11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points in 55 games for the Express last season. A Sudbury product, Walker is an OHL draft pick of the Kingston Frontenacs.
William Whelton. A 2003-birth-year defenceman who played in 53 games as a 16-year-old rookie for Espanola in 2019-2020, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Whelton managed a goal, five assists, six points while also seeing duty on the forward lines. He is from Whitby, Ont.
Owen Willis. A 2018 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft pick of the London Knights, Willis is a newcomer to the Express. Willis, who has a late 2002 birth date, was London’s 13th round pick in 2018. A big goalie, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Willis tended twine for the Toronto Titans under-18 team in 2019-2020.

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