Thunderbirds play host to Espanola tonight

By Matt Stefano

The Soo Thunderbirds will be on John Rhodes ice tonight at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the Espanola Express at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

The Thunderbirds enter tonight’s game with a record of 23 wins, 14 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 51 points and third place in the West Division standings.

The Express enter tonight’s game with a record of 12 wins, 22 losses, 3 overtime losses and 1 tie, good for only 28 points and fifth place in the NOJHL’s West Division.


The last time these two clubs met was back on Wednesday, January 8th when the Soo fell to the Express by a score of 3-1 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

Express captain and NOJHL’s top scoring defenceman Mattias Salem led the way offensively that game with two assists while Thunderbirds rookie forward Cooper Smyl had the lone goal for the Soo.

Espanola goaltender Joel Rainville was named the Subway First Star Of The Game that night, making 35 saves for the win.


He may be the youngest player on the Thunderbirds roster, but he’s still one of the top goal scorers in the entire league.

Thunderbirds rookie forward Jake Kovacs currently sits tied for first among NOJHL rookies in goals with 20 and sits tied with four other players for fifth in league goal scoring.

The 16 year old forward is the first Thunderbird under the age of 17 to score 20 goals in a regular season since Matt Amadio did back in 2007-2008.


Thunderbirds forward Rylan Clemons has been named the team’s I.D.A. Player Of The Week.

The 19 year old forward had 3 goals and 3 assists in 3 games last week with the Thunderbirds.

Five of his six points last week, came in last Friday’s 11-3 win in Elliot Lake, where he recorded three goals and two assists.


He’s only in his first season in the NOJHL, but now he’s already in the Soo Thunderbirds record book.

Last night in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Thunderbirds rookie forward Tyler Savard scored second overtime goal of the season in a 1-0 overtime win against the Soo Eagles, which tied the Thunderbirds record for most overtime goals scored by a player in a regular season, joining Jeff Rainville (2003), Jerry Petingalo (2011), Geoff Gieni (2011) and Eric Hillock (2014).

(This Thunderbirds Game Day Preview is sponsored by Giovanni’s Restaurant)

(Photo by Bob Davies)

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