Noah Aboflan is no stranger to travel, having suited up for seven teams since the 2019/20 season in a variety of leagues in northern Ontario.
The 18-year-old Elliot Lake native Aboflan joined the Pelham Panthers in early January and is hoping he has finally found a home.
“My advisor had good connections with Zac (Pelham coach Zac Rinaldo) and thought it was best for me and I thought it was a great fit too,” Aboflan said.
Aboflan had no problems packing up and moving south.
I’ve been doing it since I was 15 in Sault Ste. Marie,” he said. “It’s a little father than that so I didn’t find it too hard.
“I just think it’s the best thing for my next step in me growing as a player and as a person. I’ve already learned so much and I keep learning every day.”
Aboflan quickly made his presence felt with the Panthers, scoring in his first game and has proven to be a solid addition with three goals and eight points through seven games.
“It meant everything to me (to get off to a quick start) and I just want to keep getting better and keep proving my point to everyone,” he said.
Aboflan joined the Panthers from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“I find this league more skilled; there are better players,” he said. “I enjoy playing here better.”
Rinaldo loves what Aboflan brings to the table.
“I like his mindset,” Rinaldo said. “He’s a very determined, very passionate kid about the game. When he gets his feet going he has very strong, powerful, fast strides and at the same time he can slow himself down to create space and inside of that space he is very gifted with his hands and his vision.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement still so I’m very excited to tap into that Pandora’s box we still need to unlock.”
Rinaldo loves that aspect of coaching.
“If I can polish that player up, those small details go such a long way. That’s what I’m in it for. I’m in it for the passion of the game and the development of the young players,” he said. “The player has to do the work. For the most part Noah has done a really good job of buying into what I’m trying to teach him. We just have to keep growing his game and growing him as a person.”
The Panthers dropped a pair of games over the weekend, 6-3 at Strathroy Saturday and 5-3 to St. Mary’s Sunday afternoon at home.
Liam Wicks had two goals, one on the power play and the other shorthanded, versus St. Mary’s while Max Schaubel also scored.
Aiden Thomson made 30 saves for the Panthers.
Wicks, Aiden Cupelli and Brendan Grenville scored in the loss at Strathroy.
The Panthers, who have lost three straight, sit in sixth place with a 13-26-1-1 mark, one point behind Welland.
“We got outworked (in Strathroy),” Rinaldo said. “I took pride in hard work when I was a player so I was very disappointed in the work ethic and the urgency. We capitalized on our chances but they wanted it more and the game slipped away through our fingers because of our work ethic.”
Rinaldo said Sunday’s game produced a better, albeit uneven, effort.
“I thought we played a strong game, a great first period. I thought we let the second period slip away and then we had a great third period. Unfortunately, we only played 40 minutes of hockey when there should be 60 minutes of play.”