By Matt Stefano
On Sunday, March 28, the Soo Thunderbirds closed out their 2020-2021 season with a 7-5 victory over the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
It was also a game that saw the Thunderbirds hoist the 2021 COVID Cup.
But that game also saw a total of seven Thunderbird players suit up for the final game of their junior hockey careers.
Those players included goaltender Scott Young, defenceman Warner Young and forwards Avery Rebek, Noah Boman, Andrew Malek, Caleb Wood and Parker Morgan.
After spending the 2019-2020 season playing hockey over in Sweden, goaltender and Calgary, Alberta native Scott Young ended up coming back to Canada and signing with the Soo Thunderbirds during the 2020 offseason.
Young, who played 9 games between the pipes this season for the Thunderbirds, had a record of 4 wins and 4 losses.
He also posted a 4.46 goals against average and a .883 save percentage.
His fourth win of the season came on Sunday, March 28, in the Thunderbirds 7-5 win over the Blind River Beavers in game seven of the COVID Cup series.
That game, Young made 35 saves for the victory.
Defenceman Warner Young has been a leader on the blueline since he entered the NOJHL in 2019.
In his rookie season with the Thunderbirds back in 2019-2020, Young led all Thunderbird defencemen in scoring with 3 goals, 28 assists and 31 points in 53 games.
His 28 assists also tied the franchise record for most assists by a rookie defenceman in a regular season, joining Barnabas Birkeland (2003) and Steven Bellini (2018).
Following the 2019-2020 season, the Newberry, Michigan native was also named the Thunderbirds Best Defenceman of the Year.
Prior to this season, the twenty-one-year old was then named as one of the Thunderbirds assistant captains for their home games.
In his second and final season with the Thunderbirds in 2020-2021, Young found the back of the net 5 times and set up 7 others in just 17 games played.
In his three full seasons with the Thunderbirds, Avery Rebek was known as “Reebok”.
But this season, in his final season of junior hockey, “Reebok” was also known as “Captain.”
Thunderbirds captain Avery Rebek played with his hometown junior A club from 2017-2021, where he put up 31 goals and 74 points in 130 career regular season games.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product suited up for 10 games as an affiliate player with the Thunderbirds back in the 2017-2018 season, before earning a full-time spot with them in 2018-2019.
In his first full season with the Thunderbirds in 2018-2019, Rebek all Thunderbird rookies in scoring with 11 goals and 22 points in 46 games.
That season, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product also led all Thunderbird rookies in power play goals with 2.
Following his rookie season with the Thunderbirds, the local forward then attended Soo Greyhounds Training Camp as a free agent during the summer of 2019.
In his second season with the Thunderbirds in 2019-2020, Rebek scored 15 goals, 27 assists and 42 points in 56 games, and also finished tied for third in team scoring with his former teammate Nick Smith.
Rebek, who was then named the Thunderbirds captain for the 2020-2021 season, had 10 points in his final season of junior hockey, including 5 goals and 5 assists in 18 games.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Noah Boman began his Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League career with the Soo Thunderbirds back in 2018-2019, where he put up 24 goals, 52 assists and 76 points in 50 regular season games.
That season, he also finished tied for first in NOJHL scoring with his former teammate Lucas Theriault.
Boman, who also had a league-leading 52 assists that season, became just the fifth player in franchise history to have a 50-assist season, joining Joey Coccimiglio (2003), Jeff Rainville (2003), Ryan Maunu (2005 & 2006) and current Thunderbirds assistant coach Micky Sartoretto (2012).
During the 2018-2019 season, the local forward also represented Team NOJHL West at the 2018 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge, which was held in Trenton, Ontario from November 19, 2018 – November 21, 2018.
In 3 games played at the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product recorded one assist.
At the end of the 2018-2019 season, Boman was then named to the NOJHL’s First All-Star Team and also shared the Thunderbirds Highest Scoring Forward Award with his former teammate Lucas Theriault.
Boman, who was then traded to the OJHL’s Brantford Jr. 99ers back on June 5, 2019, then ended up playing a full season in the OJHL in 2019-2020, where he split time with the Brantford 99ers, Markham Royals and Cobourg Cougars.
Following a full season in the OJHL, Boman was then reacquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade from the OJHL’s Cobourg Cougars back on February 24, 2021, and ended up finishing his junior hockey career with his hometown club in 2020-2021.
This season, in his final season of junior hockey, Boman found the back of the net 9 times and set up 9 others in 11 games played, and was also named the Thunderbirds top forward during the 2021 COVID Cup series against the Blind River Beavers.
Cudahy, Wisconsin native Andrew Malek began his NOJHL career with the Blind River Beavers back in 2019-2020, but ended up finishing his NOJHL career with the Soo Thunderbirds this season in 2020-2021.
In his first season with the Blind River Beavers in 2019-2020, Malek scored 16 times and set up 9 others in 45 games.
That season, the twenty-year-old forward also helped lead the Beavers to a franchise best 37 win and 78 point season.
Malek, who scored 2 goals and 3 points in 7 games with the Beavers this season, was then released by the club and picked up as a free agent by the Soo Thunderbirds.
As a member of the Thunderbirds, Malek scored 3 times and set up 3 others in 13 games and helped the Soo capture the 2021 COVID Cup against his former team, the Blind River Beavers.
In his NOJHL career from 2016-2021, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Caleb Wood split time with both Soos, including the Soo Eagles and the Soo Thunderbirds.
In the 2016-2017 season, Wood played four games as an affiliate player with his hometown Soo Thunderbirds, where he scored 1 goal and 2 assists.
His 1 goal and 2 assists came in his NOJHL debut with the Thunderbirds back on November 16, 2016, in a 6-2 win against the Elliot Lake Wildcats at the Essar Centre (Now named the GFL Memorial Gardens) in Sault Ste. Marie.
That night, Wood was also named first star of the game.
After playing four games as an affiliate player with the Thunderbirds in 2016-2017, the local forward then earned a full time roster spot with our cross-border rivals, the Soo Eagles in 2018-2019.
In two seasons with the Eagles from 2018-2020, Wood scored 39 times and set up 32 others in 105 career regular season games.
Following his second season in Sault, Michigan as a member of the Eagles, Wood was then acquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade from them back on September 6, 2020.
In 23 games this season with his hometown Thunderbirds, the twenty-one-year old forward finished second in team goals (10), second in team assists (13) and second in team points (24).
This season, in his final season of junior hockey, Wood also served as one of the Thunderbirds assistant captains for their road games.
After spending two seasons with the Sault College Cougars hockey club from 2018-2020, local forward Parker Morgan ended up signing with the Thunderbirds back on September 18, 2020.
This season with the Thunderbirds, Morgan scored 6 goals, including a pair of shorthanded markers, and set up 4 others in 21 games played.
He also finished tied for the most shorthanded goals (2) on the team this season with forward Cooper Smyl and defenceman Connor Toms.
Morgan also scored the game-winning goal in the Thunderbirds 7-5 victory over the Blind River Beavers back on Sunday, March 28, in game seven of the COVID Cup series.
This season, the Thunderbirds had a total of seven 20-year-old players on their roster, which was the most they’ve had since 2015-2016, when they had nine.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)