By Matt Stefano
On April 30, former Plymouth Whalers defenceman and Soo native Cole Jarrett was named as the new Soo Thunderbirds head coach and co-owner.
But on Thursday, July 15, the Thunderbirds have finalized the rest of their coaching staff that will be joining Jarrett for the upcoming season.
The Soo Thunderbirds have announced on July 15 that Jeremy Rebek, Jamie Henderson, Joey Miller and Anthony Miller will be the new club’s assistant coaches for the upcoming season while Terry Barbeau will serve as the club’s goaltender coach.
For the upcoming season, the Thunderbirds have also named Cole Cloutier as the club’s new assistant general manager.
“I am looking forward to all the challenges in operating a junior A hockey club and I’m particularly excited about my role as head coach,” said Soo Thunderbirds newly named head coach and co-owner Cole Jarrett.
REEBOK IS BACK
Jeremy Rebek is no stranger to the Soo Thunderbirds organization as he served as the club’s assistant coach during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.
In his first season with the club in 2014-2015, Rebek helped lead the Thunderbirds to their third Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy title (NOJHL Playoff Champions), followed by their second Dudley Hewitt Cup title (Central Canada Junior A Champions) in franchise history.
In 2015-2016, Rebek and the Thunderbirds then went on to win their second straight Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy, before losing to the Trenton Golden Hawks in the Dudley Hewitt Cup final.
During the 2015-2016 regular season, Rebek also helped lead the Thunderbirds to a perfect home record as they went a perfect 27-0 on home ice.
Following back to back banner seasons with the Thunderbirds, the 45-year-old then went on to become head coach of the Soo Indians Under-18 AAA club.
If the last name Rebek sounds familiar, it’s because Jeremy Rebek is also the father of former Soo Thunderbirds captain Avery Rebek.
“Going into my first season, I’m very fortunate to have someone like Jeremy Rebek on staff,” said Cole Jarrett. “Jeremy’s playing experience and coaching experience will be very valuable to our staff.”
DOUBLE DUTY FOR HENDO
Jamie Henderson was named as the club’s new general manager back on April 30, but he will now also be one of the new assistant coaches for the upcoming season.
Henderson is no stranger behind the bench with the Thunderbirds as he served as the club’s assistant coach from 2010-2012.
“First and foremost, we are really excited for the quality people we have assembled as a complete staff from the coaches to hockey operations,” said Jamie Henderson. “We have people who want to see our players develop and get promoted to the next level.”
In his first season as an assistant coach with the Thunderbirds in 2010-2011, Henderson helped the club to a 38-win season, which at that time turned out to be their best regular season in franchise history.
Then, in his second season with the Thunderbirds in 2011-2012, Henderson helped lead the club to their second Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy title, followed by the first ever Dudley Hewitt Cup in franchise history.
Henderson, who has just been named the club’s new general manager this year, served as the Thunderbirds assistant general manager in 2014-2015, before being promoted to head general manager in 2015-2016.
After that, Henderson then went on to serve as the director of operations for the Lake State Lakers hockey club in 2016-2017, before going to coach in the Great North Under-18 Hockey League from 2017 – present.
“The work continues to build this team and we’ll see where we can take this program. We have some really committed people behind this organization and it’s an exciting time as we inch towards camp next month,” said Henderson.
Henderson, who is now back with Thunderbirds for his third time around, helped the club win three Copeland Cup McNamara Trophies (2012, 2015 & 2016) and two Dudley Hewitt Cup titles (2012 & 2015).
“First, Jamie has done a sensational job in his first few months in the role of GM,” said Cole Jarrett. “As we get closer to the regular season, he will assume an assistant coaching position with this team as well. I’m extremely confident in Jamie’s ability as coach after having the opportunity to coach along side him for the last two years. He has continued to grow his knowledge of the game and prides himself on consuming as much as he can to ensure him and others around him are getting better everyday.”
Cousins Joey Miller and Anthony Miller were teammates on the Soo Thunderbirds from 2012-2015, but now they will be coaching together for the upcoming season.
Twenty-six-year old Joey Miller is no stranger behind the bench with this club as he served as the Thunderbirds assistant coach from 2018-2020.
“I’m excited to be back with the Thunderbirds,” said Joey Miller. “I’m also excited to work with Cole, Jeremy, Anthony and Jamie and I can’t wait to get the season started.”
Joey Miller, a former forward, played with the Thunderbirds from 2011-2016, where he scored 58 times and set up 88 others in 189 career regular season games.
He also helped the Thunderbirds win back to back Copeland Cup McNamara Trophies in 2015 and 2016 and one Dudley Hewitt Cup title in 2015.
“I was fortunate enough to play on some good teams back in the day. I’ve made some good friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Winning the Dudley Hewitt Cup was the best experience I’ve had during my playing career. Winning the Dudley has also taught me some valuable lessons as a coach and now everyone needs to by in and work together,” said Joey Miller.
Joey also holds the Thunderbirds record for most career playoff games played, with 56.
“That’s a great accomplishment, but I have to thank my teammates for that record,” said Joey Miller. “Without my teammates, that record would not exist.”
In the 2017-2018 season, Miller also served as the Thunderbirds assistant general manager, where he worked alongside former Soo Thunderbirds general manager Trev Zachary.
“I had the pleasure to coach Joey when I volunteered as an assistant at the end of my 2016 playing season,” said Thunderbirds head coach and co-owner Cole Jarrett. “It was evident that the boys loved him and easy to see why, by how he played the game.”
Anthony Miller, who is 27-years-old, will be entering his first season as an assistant coach in the NOJHL after playing three seasons with his hometown Soo Thunderbirds from 2012-2015.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be part of the Soo Thunderbirds coaching staff and being able to give back to an organization that had given me so much when I was playing for them,” said Anthony Miller.
In his first two seasons (2012-2013 & 2013-2014) with the Thunderbirds, Anthony Miller and the Thunderbirds came up short back to back times in the NOJHL final, before being crowned NOJHL and Dudley Hewitt Cup champions in 2015.
Anthony also wore the “C” on his chest in his final season with the club in 2014-2015.
“I often look back to that final season and reflect on the memories that were made,” said Anthony Miller. “Everybody, from management to players, had one goal in mind and we came together to accomplish that. The 2014-2015 Soo Thunderbirds is a season I will never forget.”
The 27-year-old also holds the Soo Thunderbirds record for most career playoff goals, with 24.
“Throughout my time with the organization, I was fortunate enough to play with plenty of great players and be coached by some phenomenal hockey minds. All the credit goes to my past teammates and coaches who helped me along the way to reach that record,” said Anthony Miller.
Miller also has coaching experience from the past as he served as the Soo Greyhounds video coach during the 2018-2019 season.
“Anthony continues to show a hunger and passion for the coaching side of the game,” said Cole Jarrett. “As a former video coach of the Hounds, Anthony gained valuable experience while making a positive impression with his focus and attitude towards the game.”
BARBS IS BACK
Terry Barbeau has worked with the Thunderbirds in the past, and now he’s coming back!
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native and long-time goaltender coach Terry Barbeau will be back as the Soo Thunderbirds goalie coach for the 2021-2022 season.
In the past, Barbeau has been a goalie coach for many teams, including the Soo Thunderbirds, Soo Greyhounds, Lake State Lakers, Saginaw Spirit and Soo Indians.
“I’m happy to add someone like Terry to our staff. I know our goaltenders will be in good hands with Terry’s professional approach to the position,” said Thunderbirds head coach and co-owner Cole Jarrett.
CLOOCH ON BOARD
Cole Cloutier has been working as a game night staff member for the Soo Thunderbirds for the past three seasons, but now he will have another role on top of that.
Cloutier, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, will serve as the new Soo Thunderbirds assistant general manager for the 2021-2022 season.
“Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be a hockey GM and I’m super grateful to get the opportunity to contribute in any way possible to this organization,” said Cloutier. “Working alongside Jamie Henderson will give me the opportunity to grow my knowledge even more with the knowledge and connections that he has.”
Cloutier, who has just been named as the club’s new assistant general manager, will still also continue to work as a game night staff member during the Soo Thunderbirds home games at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
“I’ve gotten to know Cole Cloutier over the last few years and I’m pleased that he has agreed to jump on board as our assistant GM. He will assume the game day roles he has had in the past and will work with Jamie on player promotion and analytics. Cole is a man of many talents and I feel fortunate to have him as a Thunderbird,” said Cole Jarrett.
(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)