By Matt Stefano
After dropping an 8-4 decision to the Elliot Lake Red Wings in their first road game of the season back on Tuesday night in Elliot Lake, the Soo Thunderbirds are returning to John Rhodes ice tonight for a matchup against the French River Rapids, which will begin at 7:00 p.m.
The Thunderbirds, who are entering tonight’s game with a record of 1 win and 2 losses, will take on a Rapids team that is coming into tonight with a record of 0 wins and 2 losses.
Tonight will also be the Rapids only visit to the Soo this season.
THE BEST THEY’VE EVER HAD
The French River Rapids have never had a winning season in their 7 years in the NOJHL, but the 2021-2022 season was still their best season in franchise history.
Last season, the French River Rapids finished with an overall record of 23 wins, 24 losses and 1 overtime loss, good for 47 points and 8th place in the NOJHL standings.
Despite finishing one game below the .500 mark last season (2021-2022), the Rapids still set new franchise records, including most wins in a regular season with 23, least losses in a regular season with 24, and most points in a regular season with 47.
But that’s not all!
Despite finishing in 8th place in the NOJHL’s 12-team-loop last season, the Rapids still finished as the third-highest scoring team in the entire league, with 197 goals.
Their 197 goals last season also turned out to be a new franchise record for most goals scored by the entire team in one season.
GONE IS GODIN
One player who is not back with the French River Rapids this season is forward Dominik Godin.
After spending one season with the Rapids in 2021-2022, star forward Dominik Godin ended up signing as a free agent with the QMJHL’s Acadie Bathurst Titan for the 2022-2023 season.
Last season with the Rapids, Godin led all Rapid players in goals with 35 and finished third in team scoring with 52 points.
His 35 goals last season also set the franchise record for most goals by a Rapid player in a single season.
Starting this season in Acadie-Bathurst, Godin will also be playing on the same team as former Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Mason Chitaroni, who also signed with the Titan during the 2022 offseason.
SPIRIT PROSPECT ON THE RAPIDS
After getting drafted in the 12th round (224th overall) by the Saginaw Spirit in the 2022 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection this past summer, 2006-birth-year goaltender Kaleb Papineau has earned a spot on this year’s French River Rapids.
Papineau, who is in his first season with the Rapids, spent last season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s North Bay Trappers Under-16 team, where he had a 2.18 goals against average and 2 shutouts through 12 regular season contests.
The Saginaw Spirit prospect is the second-youngest player on this year’s Rapids team.
NEW BIRD ON THE ICE
When the Soo Thunderbirds take to the ice tonight against the French River Rapids at 7:00 p.m., tonight’s game will also mark the debut of newly signed forward Anton Petrovskiy.
Petrovskiy, who signed with the Soo Thunderbirds yesterday as a free-agent, comes over to the Thunderbirds after spending the 2022 preseason with the AJHL’s Battlefords North Stars, where he had 1 goal in 2 preseason games played.
Before that, Petrovskiy was a member of the USPHL’s Columbus Mavericks during the 2021-2022 season, where he had 8 goals and 21 points in 40 regular season games.
Petrovskiy, who is from North Worth, Florida, becomes first player from Florida to join the Soo Thunderbirds since Kevin Parra-Vaughan (2019-2020).
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)