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Thunderbirds regular season review

By Matt Stefano

With the 2017-2018 regular season officially in the books, the Soo Thunderbirds are now gearing up for the postseason.

Despite having one of the youngest teams in the NOJHL this season, the Soo Thunderbirds have finished the regular season tied for the third most wins in the league with 36, and have surrendered the fewest goals against in the NOJHL this season, only giving up 134 goals against.

BEHIND THE BENCH

This season, the Thunderbirds have finished 3rd overall in the NOJHL and were led under a new bench boss in John Parco.

Parco, who was hired by the Thunderbirds last July, took over for former Soo Thunderbirds head coach Jordan Smith, who was named associate coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves for the 2017-2018 season.

Following the regular season, Parco became the fourth coach in franchise history to be named the NOJHL’s coach of the year, joining Jim Capy (2001), Toots Kovacs (2005) and Jordan Smith (2014 & 2015).

He was also named to the CCM Hockey 1st All-Star Team.

SMITTY LED THE WAY

During the 2017-2018 regular season, the Thunderbirds were led in scoring by second year forward Nick Smith, who scored 35 goals and 69 points.

In a home game against the Espanola Express at the John Rhodes back on October 18th, Smith scored 5 goals, which tied a team record for most goals in a single game, joining Derek Mackay, David Borrelli and Matt Dias.

Smith, who scored 8 power play goals on home ice this season, also tied the Thunderbirds record for most power play goals at home in a single season, joining Fred Coccimiglio (2001), Brett Perlini (2007) and Nick Minardi (2009).

GORDO IN GOAL

Third year goaltender Brandon Gordon, who is the oldest player in the NOJHL this season, was named to the CCM Hockey 1st All-Star Team.

In his three year career with the Thunderbirds from 2015-2018, Gordon set a trio of team records, including most career wins, most career shutouts and most career games played by a goaltender.

Gordon also shared the NOJHL Team Goaltending Award with Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Eric Schuch.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Thunderbirds trainer and equipment manager Jay Thomas was the only member of the club to be named to the CCM Hockey 2nd All-Star Team.

Thomas becomes the first Thunderbird trainer to be named to the CCM Hockey 2nd All-Star Team since Gerry Liscumb (2003).

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR

Following the 2017-2018 regular season, Thunderbirds first year owner and president Darren Smyl was this recipient of this year’s Joe Drago Trophy for the NOJHL’s director of the year.

Smyl becomes the first member of the Thunderbirds to win the Joe Drago Trophy since Kevin Cain (2014).

(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)

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