Game Preview: Thunderbirds back at the Rhodes tonight for game five of the COVID Cup

By Matt Stefano

Game five of the COVID Cup series between the Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers takes place tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

In this series against the Beavers, the Thunderbirds have a record of 2 wins, 1 loss and 1 shootout loss.

The Thunderbirds won the first two games of this series on home ice, before dropping the next two games in Blind River.


The Blind River Beavers have had trouble staying out of the penalty box this season as they enter tonight’s game with a league-leading 266 penalty minutes.

And when you look at their past two seasons, it’s been no different.

In 2019-2020, the Beavers led the NOJHL in penalty minutes with 851.

And in 2018-2019, they finished tied with the Soo Eagles for the most penalty minutes in the league with 804.

But when you look at individual players in the league this year, there is one player on the Thunderbirds who happens to be leading all players in penalty minutes.

Thunderbirds defenceman Jacob Doucette enters tonight’s game with 32 penalty minutes, which is currently the most among all NOJHL players.

In his rookie season with the Espanola Express back in 2018-2019, Doucette also led all NOJHL rookies in penalty minutes with 87.


This season, Thunderbirds defenceman Cam Dutkiewicz has been putting more pucks in the net than any other blueliner in the league.

The Timmins, Ontario native currently leads all NOJHL defencemen in goals with 8 and power play tallies with 6.

This month, Dutkiewicz also had a three-game goal streak which lasted from March 7 – March 18.

Dutkiewicz, who found the back of the net in three consecutive games, became the first Thunderbird defenceman to have a three-game goal streak in a regular season since Owen Headrick did back in 2013-2014.


He just turned 17 years old back on March 13, but he’s still putting up more points than any other defenceman in the NOJHL.

Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Connor Toms currently leads all NOJHL blueliners in scoring with 16 points in 16 games.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native also leads all NOJHL blueliners in power play assists (7) and shortanded goals (2).


Beavers forward and NOJHL’s leading scorer Jacob Kelly enters tonight’s game on a 7-game point streak.

In his last 7 games, Kelly has put up 3 goals, 7 assists and 10 points.


He’s only played eight games with the Beavers this season, but he’s also on an eight-game point streak.

Beavers forward Thomas Michaud enters tonight’s game with 8 goals and 13 points in 8 games played.

Eight goals, eight games and an eight-game point streak? Not bad!


Beavers rookie forward Devin Mauro has more points than any other rookie in the NOJHL.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product leads all NOJHL rookies with 19 points in 18 games.

Not only is the sixteen-year old leading all rookies in scoring so far, but he’s also entering tonight’s game on a five-game point streak.


The COVID Cup is a seven-game cohort series between the Soo Thunderbirds and the Blind River Beavers.

The winner of a game earns two points and the team who loses in a shootout gets one.

The team who wins a period receives one-half point and the team with the most overall points at the end of the series will be crowned the COVID Cup champion.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)


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