Thunderbirds play final home game of their regular season tonight

By Matt Stefano

Thursday night hockey takes place tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre as your Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Hearst Lumberjacks, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

The Thunderbirds are entering tonight’s game with a record of 36 wins, 5 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 77 points and first overall in the NOJHL standings.

The Lumberjacks, meanwhile, are coming into tonight’s game sitting in third place in the NOJHL standings with a record of 34 wins, 9 losses and 2 overtime losses, good for 70 points.

Tonight’s game will also be the Thunderbirds final home game of their 2021-2022 regular season.


In their first meeting of the season back on March 11, the Thunderbirds doubled up the Lumberjacks by a score of 4-2 at Claude Larose Arena in Hearst.

That night, Thunderbirds rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds prospect Andrew Gibson led the way offensively with a pair of goals and an assist while Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Noah Metivier made 30 saves for the victory.


The Thunderbirds, who are entering tonight’s sitting in first place in the entire NOJHL, have just clinched the NOJHL regular season title last Saturday night, thanks to a 3-0 victory over the Soo Eagles at the Pullar Stadium.

That night, the Thunderbirds got goals from Colby Arbour, Samuel Lake and Kelsey Ouellet (empty net) while rookie netminder Noah Metiver made 38 saves for the shutout.

The Thunderbirds, who have been in the NOJHL for 23 years, now have a total of eight NOJHL regular season titles, which is the most out of any team in NOJHL history.


Looking at wins now, it turns out the Hearst Lumberjacks are currently having their best season ever, wins wise.

The Lumberjacks, who are entering tonight’s game with 34 wins, have already set their team record for most wins in a regular season, breaking their previous record from the 2018-2019 season, when they had 33.

The Lumberjacks, who have only been in the NOJHL since 2017, picked up their record setting 34th win of the season back on March 25, thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Timmins Rock in Hearst.


In last Saturday’s game in Soo Michigan, Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Noah Metiver recorded his 5th shutout of the season, making 38 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Soo Eagles at Pullar Stadium.

Metiver, who recorded his 5th shutout of the season, also tied the team record for most shutouts by a Thunderbird goalie in a regular season, joining Frank Novello (2001), John Kleinhans (2012) and Brandon Gordon (2017).


When it comes to taking penalties, Hearst Lumberjacks defenceman Jaden Raad has been spending more time in the penalty box than any other player in the NOJHL.

Raad, who is in his second season with the Lumberjacks, is currently leading all NOJHL players in penalty minutes with 88.


Looking at apples now, Soo Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson is entering tonight’s game with 29 assists on the season, making him the all-time leader in assists among all Thunderbird rookie blueliners during a regular season.

Gibson, who recorded his 29th assist of the season in the Thunderbirds 4-3 overtime win against the Blind River Beavers back on March 20 in Blind River, set the franchise record for most assists by a rookie defenceman during a regular season, passing Barnabas Birkeland (2003), Steven Bellini (2018) and Warner Young (2020), who all held the previous record with 28.


Sticking with apples, Lumberjacks second-year forward Zachary Demers is entering tonight’s game with a league-leading 50 assists.

Demers, who recorded his 50th assist in the Lumberjacks 7-0 win over the Cochrane Crunch back on March 19, became the first player in Lumberjacks history to record 50 assists in a regular season.


If you are planning on attending tonight’s game at the John Rhodes, the Soo Thunderbirds hockey club would like all fans to be in their seats before 6:55 p.m. as they will be honouring rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds prospect Andrew Gibson for his accomplishments this year with the Soo Thunderbirds.

Prior to tonight’s game, Gibson will be honoured in a pregame ceremony for setting a trio of team records, including most goals by a defenceman in one season and most points and assists by a rookie defenceman.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

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