By Matt Stefano
The Soo Thunderbirds have just completed their 22nd season in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and have been crowned 2021 COVID Cup champions.
And yes, their 22nd season in the league was a different season due to COVID, but it was also a season that saw some good numbers.
Here’s a look at numbers 1-22:
1. This season, the Thunderbirds were the No. 1 team in the NOJHL’s West Division.
The Thunderbirds finished in first place in the West with 28 points.
2. Rookie defenceman Connor Toms led all NOJHL blueliners in shortanded goals this season with 2.
3. Second-year forward Cooper Smyl led the Thunderbirds in game-winning this season with 3.
Smyl, who had 3 game-winning goals this season, also finished tied with Timmins Rock forwards Harry Clark, Josh Dickson and Derek Seguin for the most game-winning goals in the league.
4. In his first and only season with the Thunderbirds, goaltender Scott Young had 4 wins in 9 games played.
Young picked up his 4th win of the season in the Thunderbirds 7-5 victory against Blind River back on March 28, in game 7 of the COVID Cup series.
5. This season, Thunderbirds goaltender Alex Bugeja had a five-game winning streak, which lasted from November 29 – February 24.
No Thunderbird goaltender had a winning streak that even lasted that long in 2019-2020.
6. Defenceman Cam Dutkiewicz had 6 power play goals this season, which was the most among all NOJHL blueliners.
He also became the first Thunderbird defencenan to have 6 power play goals in a season since Steven Bellini (2018-2019).
7. Second-year forward Brock Santa Maria had a 7-game point streak this season, which lasted from February 24 – March 14.
No other player on the Thunderbirds this season had a point streak that lasted 7 games.
8. This season, the Thunderbirds had a total of three 8-goal games.
Their first 8-goal game was back on Tuesday, December 15, in an 8-1 win over the Espanola Express at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
That game, rookie defenceman Connor Toms led the way offensively with 3 assists while goaltender Scott Young picked up his first NOJHL win, making 30 saves.
Their second 8-goal game then came on Sunday, March 14, in an 8-4 victory over the Blind River Beavers in game one of the COVID Cup series at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
That game, Cam Dutkiewicz (2g 2a) and Michael Chaffay (0g 4a) combined for eight points while goaltender Alex Bugeja made 37 saves for the victory.
Their last 8-goal game of the season would then come on Thursday, March 25, in an 8-1 win over the Blind River Beavers in game five of the COVID Cup series at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
That game, defenceman Warner Young recorded his first career hat trick and set up another while goaltender Alex Bugeja made 34 saves for the victory.
9. Is the number of goals that defenceman Cam Dutkiewicz scored this season.
His 9 goals this season was also the most among all NOJHL defencemen.
10. The Thunderbirds defeated the Blind River Beavers 10 times in 17 meetings this season.
11. Rookie forward Tyson Doucette finished the 2020-2021 season with 11 points.
Doucette, who had 11 points this season, found the back of the net five times and set up six others.
12. Is the number that defenceman Jacob Doucette wore on the back of his jersey this season with the Thunderbirds.
Cooper Smyl wore No. 12 in his rookie season in 2019-2020, before switching to No. 61 in his sophomore year in 2020-2021.
13. Is the number of wins the Thunderbirds had this season.
Their 13 wins this season was also the most in the NOJHL’s West Division.
14. That’s how many assists rookie defenceman Connor Toms had this season with the Thunderbirds.
His 14 assists were also the most among all NOJHL blueliners.
15. Is the number rookie defenceman Connor Toms wore on the back of his jersey in his first full season with the Thunderbirds.
16. This season, the Thunderbirds had two sixteen-year old players on their roster.
Those two sixteen-year olds were defenceman Connor Toms and forward Tyson Doucette.
17. Second-year forward Cooper Smyl led the Thunderbirds in goals this season with 17.
His 17 goals this season was also the second most among all NOJHL players.
18. That’s the number of points rookie defenceman Connor Toms put up in his first full season with the Thunderbirds.
His 18 points this season was also the most among all NOJHL rookie defencemen.
19. Defenceman Cam Dutkiewicz put up 19 points this season, which was the most among all NOJHL blueliners.
20. Cooper Smyl and Noah Boman were the only two Thunderbirds to have 20-point seasons in 2020-2021.
Smyl finished first in team scoring this season with 24 points while Boman finished second with 23.
21. That’s the number of games the Thunderbirds played during their 2020-2021 season.
Despite only playing 21 games, the Thunderbirds still finished 7 games above the .500 mark.
22. Is the number of years the Thunderbirds have been in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
And during those 22 years, the Thunderbirds have won 4 Copeland Cup McNamara Trophies (2009, 2012, 2015 & 2016), 2 Dudley Hewitt Cups (2012 & 2015) and 1 COVID Cup (2021).
The COVID Cup was the newest trophy introduced to the NOJHL for at least this season.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)