By Matt Stefano
After closing out the year 2022 with a record of 21-9-2-1, the Soo Thunderbirds will now play their first game of the year 2023 tonight at 7:00 p.m., as they will take on the Espanola Paper Kings, who will make their first ever appearance to the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Espanola Paper Kings, who are formerly the Espanola Express (2015-2022), are entering tonight’s game with a record of 16-12-2-2, good for 36 points and are currently sitting in fourth place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.
Tonight will also be the Thunderbirds first game since December 17.
Prior to the Christmas break, Soo Thunderbirds forward Dharan Cap recorded 18 goals, 20 assists and 38 points through 31 games played.
Heading into tonight’s game, the 2002-birth-year forward is also leading all Thunderbird players in goals, assists and points so far this season.
Heading into tonight’s game, Espanola Paper Kings forward Lucas Signoretti is currenlty leading the Paper Kings in scoring with 14 goals and 31 points through just 17 games played.
Signoretti, who is a 2004-birth-year forward, also spent last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, where he notched 3 goals and 5 assists in 58 games played.
NEW BIRD IN THE NEST
When the Thunderbirds hit the ice tonight for their first game of the year 2023, tonight’s game will also mark the debut of newly signed defenceman Ranon Joseph.
Joseph, who signed with the Thunderbirds as a free agent this past Monday, played in 11 games this season with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, where he had 0 goals, 1 assist and just 2 penalty minutes.
The 19-year-old, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 207 pounds, is now also the biggest player on this year’s Soo Thunderbirds roster.
(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)