By Matt Stefano
So, they meet again!
Tonight the Soo Thunderbirds will be in action for their second straight game against the Elliot Lake Red Wings, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds, who are entering tonight’s game sitting in first place in the NOJHL’s West Division (with 29 points), are coming off a 6-2 loss to the Red Wings back on Sunday afternoon in Elliot Lake.
The Red Wings, who only picked up their 5th victory of the season against the Thunderbirds back on Sunday afternoon, are currently sitting in last place in the NOJHL’s West Division, with only 10 points.
Tonight’s game will also be the sixth meeting of the season between these two clubs.
HEAD TO HEAD
In five meetings against the Red Wings this season, the Thunderbirds have defeated them 4 times and have lost to them once while outscoring them 23-14 overall.
During this regular season series against the Red Wings, rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson has led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with 11 points, including 5 goals and 6 assists.
Andrew Gibson may only be 14 games into his rookie season, but the Soo Greyhounds prospect has already set a new Soo Thunderbirds record.
On Saturday, November 13 against Espanola, Gibson scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season, which set the new Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals by a rookie defenceman in a regular season.
The previous record was held by Caleb Boman, who had 9 back in 2014-2015.
Gibson, who now has 11 goals on the season, is also the first Thunderbird blueliner to hit 10 or more goals in a regular season since Matt Busby and Caleb Boman both did back in 2015-2016.
LEADERS ON THE POWER PLAY
So far this season, the Thunderbirds have been having a lot of luck scoring goals on the power play, and a big reason for that has been because of the play of forward Tyson Doucette and defenceman Andrew Gibson
Entering tonight’s game, Doucette and Gibson are currently tied for the league lead in power play goals with 7.
KIMBLE ON THE MOVE
Back on Monday, the Elliot Lake Red Wings traded forward Cole Kimble to the PJHL’s Little Britain Merchants in exchange for a player development fee.
In ten games played with the Red Wings this season, Kimble had 9 points and 10 penalty minutes.
NEW BIRDS ON THE ICE
In tonight’s game against Elliot Lake, there will be two new faces on the ice for the Soo Thunderbirds.
Those two new faces are forward Dharan Cap and defenceman Mason Chitaroni!
Cap, who will be making his debut tonight in a Soo Thunderbirds uniform, was acquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders back on November 12.
In eleven games played with the Stampeders this season, the North Vancouver native had 1 goal and 14 penalty minutes.
Chitaroni, who will also be making his debut tonight with the Soo, was acquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade with the OJHL’s Cobourg Cougars back on November 14.
In twelve games played with the Cougars this season, Chitaroni had 1 goal and set up 4 others.
He was also drafted by the London Knights in the 5th round (99th overall) in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
With the addition of London Knights prospect Mason Chitaroni, the Soo Thunderbirds now have a total of 7 OHL draft picks on their roster.
The other OHL draft picks that are currently on the Soo Thunderbirds roster are Nolan Chartrand (Barrie Colts), Cooper Foster (Ottawa 67’s), Russell Oldham (Flint Firebirds), Noah Zeppa (Soo Greyhounds), Andrew Gibson (Soo Greyhounds) and Kenny Belanger Jr. (Mississauga Steelheads).
The last time the Thunderbirds had 7 OHL draft picks on their team, was back in the 2018-2019 season, when they had William Anderson (Erie Otters), Brady Caruso (Guelph Storm), Kobe Seguin (Soo Greyhounds), Matthew Bazarin (Erie Otters), Noah Boman (Soo Greyhounds), Gage Stephney (Oshawa Generals) and Lucas Theriault (Niagara IceDogs).
(Photo credit to Northern Exposures)