Thunderbirds getting set to head to Estevan

By Matt Stefano

The Soo Thunderbirds are now heading back on the road to play some more hockey!

But this time, it will be in a different province.

After clinching their 5th Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in last Thursday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Hearst Lumberjacks in game 7 of the NOJHL final, the Soo Thunderbirds are now getting set to hit the road tomorrow morning to Estevan, Saskatchewan, where they will take part in the Centennial Cup tournament, which is the national junior A championship of the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

This will also be just the third time in franchise history that the Thunderbirds will be playing in this national tournament, and their first time since 2015.

In their first appearance at the Centennial Cup tournament back in 2012, which was at that time called the Royal Bank Cup, the Thunderbirds finished off that tournament with a record of 2 wins and 3 losses.

Their 3rd loss of that tournament was a 3-0 loss to the Penticton Vees in the semifinal series.

The Vees would then go on to be crowned national champions after going on to defeat the Woodstock Slammers by a score of 4-3 in the championship final.

Despite not making it to the championship final that year (2012), the Thunderbirds still had three players on their team that took home hardware at the conclusion of that tournament, including goaltender John Kleinhans, forward Micky Sartoretto and defenceman Kris Barclay.

Kleinhans, who finished the tournament with a 2.48 goals against average and a .938 save percentage, ended up being named the Royal Bank Cup tournament’s Most Valuable Player and the Royal Bank Cup tournament’s Top Goaltender.

Sartoretto, who led the Thunderbirds in scoring during that tournament with 5 points (All assists), ended up being named the Royal Bank Cup tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

Barclay, meanwhile, was awarded the Royal Bank Cup Legacy Scholarship Award.

In the Thunderbirds second appearance at the Royal Bank Cup tournament back in 2015, the Thunderbirds ended up finishing that tournament with a record of 0 wins and 4 losses, and did not end up qualifying for a playoff round.

That year (2015), defenceman Owen Headrick and forward Brett Jeffries finished tied for first in team scoring at the tournament with 2 points each.


As we know, this will be the Thunderbirds third appearance at the Centennial Cup tournament in the team’s 23-year history.

The Thunderbirds, who went 0-for-2 in their first two appearances, will now be hoping to bring home the national title in their third appearance at the tournament this year.


The Centennial Cup has been around since the year 1970, and no team in the NOJHL has ever had a chance to hoist it.



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