Game preview: Thunderbirds meet Beavers for the fifth time this season

By Matt Stefano

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

The Thunderbirds are entering tonight’s game with a record of 12 wins, 2 losses, 1 overtime loss and 2 shootout losses, good for 27 points and are currently in first place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.

The Beavers, meanwhile, are currently sitting in fourth place in the NOJHL’s West Division with a record of 8 wins, 6 losses and 2 overtime losses, good for 18 points.

Tonight’s game will also be fifth meeting of the season between these two teams.


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

The Thunderbirds have also outscored the Beavers 17-11 overall.

During this regular season series against the Beavers, forwards Tyson Doucette and Kenny Belanger Jr. have led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with 4 points each.


Since being sent down from the Soo Greyhounds to the Soo Thunderbirds in October, Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson has turned out to be a star in the NOJHL.

Gibson, who is a 2021 4th round pick of the Soo Greyhounds, currently leads all NOJHL defensemen in scoring with 19 points in just 11 games played.

The Windsor, Ontario native also leads all NOJHL blueliners in goals with 9 and power play tallies with 6.

Gibson, who has 9 goals this season, has already tied the Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals by a rookie defenceman in a regular season, joining Caleb Boman (2015).


Sticking with rookies, Thunderbirds rookie forward and Ottawa 67’s prospect Cooper Foster is entering tonight’s game with some good numbers.

Foster, who is only 16-years-old, currently leads the Thunderbirds in scoring with 21 points, including 5 goals and 16 assists.

His 16 assists are also the most among all NOJHL skaters.


When it comes to playing on the man advantage, the Soo Thunderbirds have had no problems putting the puck in the net.

The Thunderbirds are entering tonight’s game with the best power play in the entire NOJHL, operating at 28.3%.

They also lead all NOJHL teams in power play goals with 28.


To trade news now, the Blind River Beavers completed a transaction with a team from the OJHL earlier this week.

Back on Tuesday, the Beavers acquired 2004-birth-year forward Andrew Tsotsos from the OJHL’s Markham Royals in exchange for a player development fee.

Tsotsos, who is the newest member of the Beavers, had 0 points in 7 games played this season with Markham.


This past Monday, the Thunderbirds added a third goalie to their roster as they picked up 2004-birth-year netminder Nolan Chartrand as a free agent.

Chartrand, who is currently in his rookie season in the NOJHL, started this season with the Elliot Lake Red Wings, where he had a record of 4 wins and 7 losses.

The Red Wings, who currently have a record of 4 wins and 15 losses, got all 4 of their wins this season with Chartrand in net.

Chartrand, who is the newest member of the Soo Thunderbirds, was also drafted in the 7th round (130th overall) by the Barrie Colts in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.


The last time the Soo Thunderbirds had a Barrie Colts prospect on their team, was back in the 2015-2016 season, when they had goaltender Connor Ryckman.

That season (2015-2016), the Thunderbirds also went on to win their fourth Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in franchise history.

(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Samuel Lake credit to Bob Davies)


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