Chitaroni to face his former NOJHL team tonight

By Matt Stefano

Wednesday night hockey takes place tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie as your Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Blind River Beavers, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Thunderbirds will also be looking to get back on the winning track tonight, following a 4-0 loss to the Powassan Voodoos back on Saturday night in the Soo.

When the Thunderbirds and the Beavers take to the ice tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes, it will also be the first time that Thunderbirds defenceman Mason Chitaroni will be taking on his former team.

“I have a lot of respect for the Beavers organization and I look forward to playing against them as it will be a good game,” Chitaroni said.

As a member of the Beavers last season, Chitaroni recorded 0 goals and 5 assists in 15 games played.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native was also the youngest player on the Beavers 2020-2021 roster.

“Last season was a fun season knowing that I could play as a 15-year-old with and against 20-year-olds,” Chitaroni said.

Last season, Chitaroni and the Beavers also finished in second place in the NOJHL’s West Division with a record of 9 wins, 11 losses, and 1 shootout loss, good for 19 points.

The Beavers were also beaten by the Thunderbirds in the COVID Cup seven-game cohort series last March.

“Last season was a tough season as we went through a COVID year, but I really enjoyed my time in Blind River and it was an exciting series as the rivalry between the Soo and Blind River goes back years,” Chitaroni said.

Following his rookie season with the Beavers, Chitaroni was then traded to the OJHL’s Cobourg Cougars back on September 29 in exchange for a player development fee.

The 17-year-old, who began playing hockey this season with the Cougars, then ended up being traded to his hometown Soo Thunderbirds back on November 13.

“Playing with the Thunderbirds this season has been exciting and rewarding at the same time and it’s a lot of fun playing in front of my hometown crowd,” Chitaroni said.

The last time the Thunderbirds and Beavers played against each other was back on November 12, 2021, which was the night before Chitaroni ended up being traded to the Soo.

That night (November 12), the Beavers blanked the Thunderbirds by a score of 5-0 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

Chitaroni, who will face his former NOJHL team (Blind River Beavers) tonight, enters tonight’s game with 0 goals and 2 assists in 10 games played with the Soo.

“I’m not out to prove anything as Blind River was great to me and tonight I’ll be just out there to play my game,” Chitaroni said.


On the January 10 trade deadline, the Blind River Beavers made one move as they acquired 2003-birth-year goaltender Patrick Boivin from the Espanola Express in exchange for a player development fee.

Entering tonight’s game, Boivin has a record of 8 wins, 14 losses, 2 overtime losses a .904 save percentage along with a 3.62 goals against average.

So far this season, Boivin has also given up the second most goals among all NOJHL goalies with 81.

In one game played with the Beavers so far, Boivin has a record of 0 wins and 1 loss.


In signing news, the Blind River Beavers added a big blueliner to their roster back on February 2 as they signed 6-foot-2, 180-pound defenceman Nate Headrick.

Headrick, who is a 2002-birth-year defenceman from Garden River, last played hockey with the St. Mary’s College Knights during the 2019-2020 season, which was the season they were crowned City and NOSSA champions.

During that successful season, Headrick also played on that same team with current Soo Thunderbirds Ethan Novello, Colby Arbour and Samuel Lake.

If the last name Headrick sounds familiar to you, it’s because Nate is also the younger brother of former Soo Thunderbirds star defenceman Owen Headrick.


Another familiar face that will be on the ice at the John Rhodes Community Centre tonight, will be former Soo Thunderbirds forward Jake Kovacs.

Kovacs, who is now a member of the Beavers, spent one season with the Soo Thunderbirds back in the 2019-2020 season, where he led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 27 goals and 58 points in 55 games played.

Following his first and only season with the Thunderbirds, Kovacs was then traded to the OJHL’s Collingwood Blues back on August 28, 2020 in exchange for a player development fee.

So far in his junior career, Kovacs has skated with four different teams, including the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL), Collingwood Blues (OJHL), Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) and the Blind River Beavers (NOJHL).


Looking behind the bench now, it was announced on Monday that Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach Anthony Miller has been named as one of the coaches for Team NOHA at this year’s OHL Cup.

Miller, who is currently in his first season as an assistant coach with his hometown Soo Thunderbirds, will be one of three coaches behind the bench with Team NOHA, joining Sheldon Reasbeck (Kapuskasing Flyers Under-18 AAA) and Steve Polybank (New Liskeard Cubs Under-18 AAA).

“It’s a tremendous honour to be named to the Team NOHA coaching staff and represent Northern Ontario,” Miller said. “I look forward to working with Brett Tomlinson (Director of Operations), Sheldon Reasbeck, Steve Polybank and the entire NOHA staff at the OHL Cup. I’m also really excited to work with such a talented group of 2006-born players from the North and help them showcase their skill at such a prestigious tournament.”

Miller, who has been named as one of the coaches for Team NOHA this year, was also named as one of the assistant coaches for Team NOHA at the 2020 OHL Cup, but that tournament ended up getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year’s OHL Cup will take place from March 30 – April 4 in Toronto, Ontario and Team NOHA’s roster will be announced on March 21.

(Photo of Thunderbirds defenceman Mason Chitaroni credit to Bob Davies)

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