By Matt Stefano
It’s been sixteen years since a Soo Thunderbird got drafted by an Ontario Hockey League team, but that all changed on Saturday, April 4th, when the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection took place on www.ontariohockeyleague.com.
With twenty Ontario Hockey League teams participating in the 15-round draft, it wasn’t until round 13, when a name from the Soo Thunderbirds popped up on the website.
Thunderbirds forward Jake Kovacs was drafted by the Barrie Colts in the 13th round (249th overall).
Kovacs, who entered the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League as a 15 year in the 2019-2020 season, led the Soo Thunderbirds in scoring with 27 goals and 58 points in 55 regular season games.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product recorded his first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League goal on September 8th, 2019, when the Thunderbirds defeated the Espanola Express by a score of 3-1 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
Kovacs recorded his first career hat trick on November 15th, 2019, in a 6-2 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake.
He then recorded a career-best four-point game on January 10th, 2020, when he scored once and set up three others in an 11-3 victory over the Elliot Lake Wildcats at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake.
Kovacs, who turned 16 years old back on September 25th, 2019, was the only player in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League to be drafted by an Ontario Hockey League team this year.
He also became just the fourth player in Soo Thunderbirds history to be drafted by an Ontario Hockey League team, joining Patrick Jarrett (Mississauga IceDogs, 2000), Jeff Whitfield (Sarnia Sting, 2001) and Matt Dias (Sudbury Wolves, 2004).
During Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Soo Jr. Greyhounds defenceman Connor Toms was selected by his hometown Soo Greyhounds in the 3rd round (44th overall).
Toms, who is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, led all Jr. Greyhound defencemen in scoring during the 2019-2020 regular season with 9 goals and 26 points in 39 games.
He also suited up for a pair of games with the Soo Thunderbirds during the 2019-2020 regular season.
If the last name Toms sounds familiar to all you hockey fans, Connor is the son of former Soo Greyhounds forward Jeff Toms, who played with the Hounds from (1991-1994), helping them win a J. Ross Robertson Cup in 1992, followed by a Memorial Cup title in 1993.
(Photo by Bob Davies)