By Matt Stefano
The Soo Thunderbirds are showing a ton of interest in the Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
After signing defenceman Michael Beltrano and forward Samuel Lake out of the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds last Friday, it was announced on Monday that the Soo Thunderbirds have inked two more players out of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds program, including 2003-birth-year blueliner Kolby Fellinger and 2004-birth-year defenceman Creo Solomon.
Fellinger and Solomon were also coached last season under Thunderbirds general manager Jamie Henderson.
“Kolby is an excellent teammate and is a team first guy. He played great over the past two seasons and became a reliable player. Creo is a physical defenceman who will make life difficult for opponents, especially as he grows more comfortable during the season. Creo worked really hard this past season on his footwork and his offensive contributions which will serve him well going forward. He’s also a character guy who will fit in with a great group,” said Soo Thunderbirds general manager Jamie Henderson.
Fellinger, who stands 5’10 and weighs 152 pounds, played the past two seasons with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds from 2019-2021.
“Signing with the Birds feels amazing and it’s a new chapter in my life and a greater opportunity for me to become a better player and an overall better person,” said Fellinger.
In his first season with the Hounds in 2019-2020, Fellinger scored 3 times and set up 14 others in 37 regular season games.
That season (2019-2020), the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native also helped the Jr. Greyhounds win the Great North Under-18 Hockey League regular season title.
“Two seasons ago, I was more of a stay at home defenceman and it was an excellent experience playing on a high skilled team,” said Fellinger. “Our team really came together as a family and next season (2021-2022) I will get to play with some of those brothers again on the Thunderbirds which is really exciting.”
In his second season with the Jr. Greyhounds in 2020-2021, Fellinger then served as an assistant captain with the club in what was also a different season due to COVID-19.
“Last season I felt that I was more confident as a player and stepped out of the comfort zone. Wearing the “A” last season was an honour because I got to be a leader and pave the pathway for the rookies. It was also a different type of season, but our coaches really came together and made sure our team stayed on the ice as much as possible. It was definitely different without a season and the competition, but it was definitely a fun season,” said Fellinger.
Solomon, who stands 6’2 and weighs 200 pounds, recorded 7 assists in 31 games while splitting time with both North Bay Trappers teams in the Great North Under-18 Hockey League during the 2019-2020 season.
“It feels great to sign with my hometown team,” said Solomon. Junior A hockey has always been a goal of mine and I’m excited to have the opportunity to play for such a respected organization. Playing for both Trappers organizations was a rewarding learning experience. I enjoyed the challenge of living away from home at 15 and my coaches, teammates and billet family helped me make the transition to a different city feel comfortable.”
After spending the 2019-2020 season in the gateway city (North Bay), Solomon then ended up playing for his hometown Soo Jr. Greyhounds last season in 2020-2021.
“I was happy to play with the Jr. Greyhounds last season. It was definitely a challenging year due to COVID, but our coaches gave us every opportunity to get better even with the lack of games. Physicality has always been a big part of my game, but my assistant coach Cole Jarrett and head coach Jamie Henderson helped me develop in different areas of the game while hitting wasn’t allowed,” said Solomon.
(Photos of Kolby Fellinger and Creo Solomon credit to Bob Davies)