By Matt Stefano
As the Soo Thunderbirds get set to begin their West Division final series matchup against the Soo Eagles tonight at the John Rhodes, the team has announced yesterday their award winners for the 2021-2022 regular season.
The team held its 2021-2022 awards ceremony last night at Giovanni’s restaurant on Great Northern Road.
This year’s award winners were Noah Metivier (Rookie of the Year), Dharan Cap (Hardest Working Player), Chris Carr (Staff Award), Kyle Trottier (Players Player), Colby Arbour (Most Improved Player), Andrew Gibson (Defenceman of the Year), Cooper Foster (Top Scorer & MVP) and Noah Zeppa (Scholastic Player of the Year).
JOEY MANCUSO AWARD – ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: NOAH METIVIER
For the first time three seasons, a Soo Thunderbirds goaltender was named as the team’s Rookie of the Year.
This year’s Joey Mancuso Award for the Thunderbirds Rookie of the Year was awarded to rookie goaltender Noah Metiver.
During his first season with the Thunderbirds, Metiver had a record of 20 wins, 3 losses, 2 shootout losses, 2 overtime losses and 6 shutouts.
Metivier, who recorded 6 shutouts during the regular season, also set the new team record for most shutouts by a Soo Thunderbirds goaltender during a regular season, passing Frank Novello (2000-2001), John Kleinhans (2011-2012) and Brandon Gordon (2016-2017), who all held the previous record with 5.
The 18-year-old became the first goaltender to win the Joey Mancuso Award since Colin Ahern did back in 2018-2019.
ZOLTAN KOVACS SENIOR MEMORIAL TROPHY – HARDEST WORKING PLAYER (DONATED BY BRIAN GUALAZZI AND ALAN JONES): DHARAN CAP
Since coming over to the Soo Thunderbirds in a trade from the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders back in November, Thunderbirds forward Dharan Cap has averaged almost a point-per-game this season.
The 19-year-old forward from North Vancouver, British Columbia, finished the regular season with 10 goals and 24 points 28 games as a member of the Soo Thunderbirds.
THUNDERBIRDS STAFF AWARD: CHRIS CARR
For the second time in five years, Chris Carr was the winner of the Thunderbirds Staff Award.
Carr, who is also known as “The Super Star,” has done double duty for the Thunderbirds once again this season, working as both the team’s assistant equipment manager and the team’s camera operator for their home games broadcasted on HockeyTV.com.
This marks the second time in the trophy’s five-year history that Carr was the recipient of this award.
PLAYERS PLAYER AWARD (DONATED BY SOO SPORTS EXCELLENCE): KYLE TROTTIER
In just his first season with the Soo Thunderbirds, rookie defenceman Kyle Trottier was the recipient of this year’s Players Player Award.
Trottier, who signed with the Thunderbirds during the 2021 offseason, served as one of the club’s alternate captains this season for their road games.
MICHAEL DOAN AWARD – MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: COLBY ARBOUR
For the fifth straight season, a Soo Thunderbirds rookie was the recipient of the Michael Doan Award for the Thunderbirds Most Improved Player.
This year’s Most Improved Player Award was awarded to rookie forward Colby Arbour.
In 36 games during the regular season, Arbour found the back of the net 6 times and set up 14 others, good for 20 points.
The 20-year-old rookie also scored an overtime goal in the Thunderbirds 3-2 overtime victory against the Timmins Rock back on February 19 at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
Arbour becomes the fifth straight rookie to win the Thunderbirds Most Improved Player Award, following Tyson Doucette (2020-2021), Cooper Smyl (2019-2020), Max Techel (2018-2019) and Nolan Ford (2017-2018).
DEFENCEMAN OF THE YEAR: ANDREW GIBSON
Since signing with the Soo Thunderbirds during the 2021 offseason, rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds prospect Andrew Gibson has been a star this season on the blueline.
This season, Gibson led the Thunderbirds in goals with 21 and finished second in team scoring with 51 points.
Gibson, who scored 21 goals, also became the first defenceman in Thunderbirds history to finish first in team goals at the end of a regular season.
JOE ROCCHETTA MEMORIAL AWARD – THUNDERBIRDS TOP SCORER: COOPER FOSTER
For the second straight season, a player with the first name Cooper was the recipient of the Joe Rochetta Memorial Trophy for the Thunderbirds top scorer during the regular season.
Last season it was Cooper Smyl, and this season it was Cooper Foster.
Foster, who signed with the Soo Thunderbirds back in September, led the Thunderbirds in scoring during the regular season with 60 points, including 18 goals and 42 assists.
The Ottawa 67’s prospect also had a 5-point-game (1 goal and 4 assists) in the Thunderbirds 6-2 victory over the Elliot Lake Red Wings back on October 20 at the John Rhodes.
SOO GREYHOUND AWARD – MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: COOPER FOSTER
This year’s Soo Greyhound Award for the Thunderbirds Most Valuable Player was awarded to rookie forward Cooper Foster.
Foster, who doesn’t turn 17-years-old until June 4, was the youngest player on the Soo Thunderbirds roster this season, and still finished first in team scoring with 60 points.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native also became the first rookie to be named the Thunderbirds Most Valuable Player since Jake Kovacs (2019-2020).
JOHN L. COHEN MEMORIAL AWARD – SCHOLASTIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR (SPONSORED BY TRADERS STEEL): NOAH ZEPPA
For the first time in seven seasons, a Soo Thunderbirds goaltender is taking home the John L. Cohen Award for the team’s Scholastic Player of the Year.
This year’s Scholastic Player of the Year Award was awarded to Soo Thunderbirds goaltender Noah Zeppa.
Zeppa, who signed with the Thunderbirds as a free agent during the 2021 offseason, attended Algoma University this year in Sault Ste. Marie, where he majored in Psychology.
This year at Algoma, Zeppa also had an average of 84.4%.
Zeppa, who is 19-years-old, becomes the first Thunderbird goaltender to win the team’s Scholastic Player of the Year Award since Brian Kment (2014-2015).
(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Cooper Foster (Centre) with head coach Cole Jarrett (Left) and assistant coach Jamie Henderson (Right))