By Matt Stefano
Two OHL draft picks have officially signed with the Soo Thunderbirds!
The Soo Thunderbirds have announced on Monday that they have signed North Bay Battalion draft pick Declan Gallivan and Saginaw Spirit draft pick Candon O’Neill for the upcoming season.
Gallivan and O’Neill are also both 2007 birth-year blueliners and are both Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Declan Gallivan and Candon O’Neill to our program,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson. “We felt as a program it was important, and with only two cards available for 2007-birth-year players, we wanted to provide an opportunity for local players who are drafted by OHL teams.”
Gallivan, who was drafted by the North Bay Battalion in the 7th round (141st overall) this past April, spent the 2022-2023 season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds, where he led all Great North Under-18 Hockey League blueliners in goals with 9, and set up 16 others in 28 regular season games.
This past season, the 6-foot-tall and 190-pound defenceman also played 12 games (Including 7 in the playoffs) as an affiliate player with the Soo Thunderbirds, where he recorded 2 goals and 3 assists.
“There’s no other team I’d rather sign with,” Gallivan said. “The Thunderbirds brought me in as an affiliate player last season and now I’m ready to take on a bigger role.”
O’Neill, who was drafted by the Saginaw Spirit in the 12th round (236th overall) this past April, spent the 2022-2023 season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds, where he led all Great North Under-18 Hockey League defencemen in scoring with 27 points (3 goals and 24 assists) in 28 regular season games.
This past season, the 5-foot-10 and 165-pound defenceman also played 6 games (Including one in the playoffs) as an affiliate player with the Soo Thunderbirds.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play at the next level in my hometown, supported by my family and friends,” O’Neill said. “When I played on the Thunderbirds as an affiliate player last season, the guys from last season’s team were great role models and they showed me what’s needed to consistently and effectively play junior hockey.”
“I am also thankful to coach Cole (Jarrett) and GM Jamie Henderson for having the confidence to sign me as a 16-year-old, and I’m ready and willing to work this summer and be at my best for the upcoming season.”