By Matt Stefano
Cole Delarosbil is coming home!
The Soo Thunderbirds have announced today that they have acquired forward and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Cole Delarosbil from the Espanola Express in exchange for a player development fee.
Delarosbil, who stands 6’1 and weighs 190 pounds, played the past two seasons with the Espanola Express from 2019-2021.
“We’re really excited to welcome Cole to our program and bring him home for his final season of junior hockey,” said Soo Thunderbirds general manager Jamie Henderson. “He will provide some great leadership for our young group with his team-first mentality and strong work ethic.”
In two seasons played with the Express, Delarosbil found the back of the net 11 times and set up 5 others in 38 regular season games.
“Being able to come home and play junior is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Delarosbil. “Spending the last two seasons in Espanola was a great experience and I’ve made many friends over there for life. That being said, having the opportunity to wear my hometown jersey and being able to have my family come to my games will be really nice.”
Last season with the Express, the 2001-birth-year forward scored 5 times and set up 2 others in 11 games.
The Express, who started their 2020-2021 season with a record of 5 wins, 4 losses and 3 shootout losses, then had the remainder of their season cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the Greater Sudbury Area.
“Last season was difficult for a lot of guys to say the least. We practiced daily for months and worked really hard, so only getting the opportunity to play twelve games was disappointing. However, the league was still trying its best to let us play. Realistically, the COVID cases weren’t going down, so playing a full season was impossible,” said Delarosbil.
In his rookie season with the Express back in 2019-2020, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native scored 6 goals and set up 3 others in 27 regular season games.
“My rookie season had its ups and downs. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle the first game after Christmas that season and that really discouraged me. But I still had a goal to return at the start of the playoffs. Then after eight weeks of rehab, I went from not being able to walk to playing full contact hockey,” said Delarosbil.
In 2019-2020, Delarosbil also helped the Express to their best regular season in franchise history.
Despite finishing in 10th place in the NOJHL’s 12-team loop that season (2019-2020), the Express still set franchise records for most wins in a regular season with 17 and most points in a regular season 39.
“That season we had a great group of guys on and off the ice who just wanted to win. A few of our older guys really contributed to those 17 wins, but we still worked together as a team. I still wish I could’ve dressed in more games, but even with the injury I had, I still made it to as many games as possible. I even thought we had the potential to win a few more games with the talent we had,” said Delarosbil.
Before entering the NOJHL as an 18-year-old in 2019, Delarosbil played the 2018-2019 season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Thunderbirds Major AAA club, where he had 9 goals, 12 points and 104 penalty minutes in 32 regular season games.
In the 2019 postseason, he also led the Major AAA Thunderbirds in goals (3) and finished tied for the team lead in points (5).
“We had a good coaching staff who did a lot for us that season in AAA. We had a lot of guys who wanted to win, but we still struggled. Most games we were short-benched and we took a lot of penalties that we shouldn’t have. We wanted to win, but we never did consistently,” said Delarosbil.
During his season with the Major AAA Thunderbirds, Delarosbil also played on the same team as current Soo Thunderbirds forwards Michael Chaffay, Brock Santa Maria and Kurtis Rogers.
“I know all of those players well. Chaff shoots the puck very well, Brock skates and dangles very smooth and Rog is an all around guy who outworks everyone on the ice. I am hoping to be linemates with some of them, so we can help the Birds be successful,” said Delarosbil.
Delarosbil, who is now a member of the Soo Thunderbirds, will also be entering his final season of junior hockey this fall.
“This will be my final season. I’ve learned a lot and have improved a lot. But we are going to have a young talented group of guys coming in, so I hope my leadership on and off the ice will really help out with the success of our team,” said Delarosbil.
(Photo of Cole Delarosbil credit to Bob Davies)