By Matt Stefano
Playoff action begins this Thursday as your Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Blind River Beavers in game 1 of the NOJHL’s West Division semifinal series!
The Thunderbirds, who finished the regular season in third place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 78 points, will take on the Beavers, who finished in second place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 89 points.
This will also be the second straight year that the Thunderbirds and the Beavers will meet in the West Division semifinal series.
HEAD TO HEAD
In ten meetings against the Beavers during the regular season, the Thunderbirds have defeated them five times and have also lost to them five times, including twice in overtime.
During the regular season, the Birds have also outscored the Beavers 29-24 overall.
THE BEST THEY’VE EVER HAD
The 2022-2023 season was a record-setting season for the Blind River Beavers.
The Beavers, who finished the regular season with 42 wins and 89 points, set new franchise records for most wins and most points during a regular season.
Their previous record for most wins during a regular season, was 37, which they had back in 2019-2020, and their previous record for most points during a regular season, was 78, which they also had in that same season (2019-2020).
TRUE NORTH VANCOUVER
This season with the Soo Thunderbirds, North Vancouver, British Columbia products Dharan Cap and Daniel Beaupre both finished in the top four in team scoring.
Cap, who is from North Vancouver, finished first in team scoring this season with 30 goals and 68 points in 55 games played.
Cap also led the Thunderbirds this season in power play goals with 13, power play assists with 13 and opening goals of a game with 7.
Beaupre, who is also from North Vancouver, recorded 43 points this season with the Soo, and finished tied for fourth in team scoring with Wyatt Marlow.
This season, Beaupre also led the Thunderbirds in insurance goals of a game with 4.
MINNS HAS DONE IT AGAIN
After leading the Blind River Beavers in scoring last season (2021-2022), Blind River Beavers forward Caleb Minns has once again finished first in team scoring again this season (2022-2023).
This season, Minns finished first in team scoring with 84 points, including 31 goals and 53 assists in 58 games played.
Minns, who finished first in team scoring for the second straight season, became just the second player in Beavers history to lead the Beavers in scoring back-to-back seasons, joining Thomas Laplante (2003-2004 & 2004-2005).
With postseason action set to begin this Thursday night in Blind River, the Soo Thunderbirds will also be entering this year’s postseason as the defending NOJHL champions.
Last year, the Soo Thunderbirds won the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy, after eliminating the Hearst Lumberjacks four-games-to-three in the 2022 NOJHL final.
And when you look at this year’s Soo Thunderbirds roster, the club has a total of nine players back from last year’s championship team, including Youssef Chaouachi, Samuel Lake, Ethan Novello, Dharan Cap, Michael Chaffay, Brock Santa Maria, Kolby Fellinger, Kaden Dundas and Noah Zeppa.
WHEN DO THEY PLAY?
The full schedule of the NOJHL semifinal series between the Birds and the Beavers can be found right here: https://www.soothunderbirds.com/stats/schedule/5/34/all-months
(Photo of Soo Thunderbirds forward Jackson Truchan credit to Bob Davies)