Thunderbirds take on Crunch tonight at GFL Memorial Gardens

By Matt Stefano

It’s Friday and it’s game day!

NOJHL action takes place in downtown Sault Ste. Marie tonight as your Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Cochrane Crunch at the GFL Memorial Gardens, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

The Thunderbirds are entering tonight’s game with a record of 29 wins, 5 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 63 points and first place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.

The Birds, who are coming into tonight’s game with 29 wins, are also currently riding a 9-game winning streak.

The Crunch, meanwhile, are currently having their worst season in franchise history, as they are entering tonight’s game with a record of 2 wins, 33 losses, 1 overtime loss and 2 shootout losses, good for only 7 points and last place overall in the NOJHL’s standings.

Tonight will also be Cochrane’s first visit to the Soo in 868 days.


The last time the Thunderbirds and the Crunch met was back on October 18, 2019, when the Thunderbirds defeated them by a score of 4-3 at the Soo PeeWee Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

That night, forward Nick Smith led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with three goals, including a pair of shorthanded tallies while goaltender Dakota Meyer made 34 saves for the victory.


The Thunderbirds, who are entering tonight’s game with 9 straight wins, will be looking to extend their winning streak to 10 straight games tonight against the worst team in the league.

If the Thunderbirds get their 10th victory in a row tonight, they will be just the second team in the NOJHL to reach 10 consecutive wins this season, joining the Hearst Lumberjacks.


When the Cochrane Crunch take to the ice tonight at 7:00 p.m. against the Soo Thunderbirds, it will also be the first time this season that defenceman Mark Hill will face his former team (Soo Thunderbirds).

Hill, who was traded from the Thunderbirds to the Crunch last June, will be making his first visit to the Soo tonight since the trade.

So far this season with Cochrane, Hill has put up 2 goals and 9 assists in 35 games played.

The 19-year-old defenceman is also leading all Crunch players in penalty minutes this season, with 52.

As a member of the Thunderbirds last season, Hill had 0 goals and 3 assists in 11 games played.


The Thunderbirds, who are entering tonight’s game on 9-game winning streak, picked up their 9th straight win back on Wednesday night in the Soo, thanks a 6-2 victory over the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes.

And the biggest part of Wednesday night’s win, was because of the play of forward Cole “Dell” Delarosbil.

In Wednesday night’s 6-2 victory against the Beavers, Delarosbil scored three goals, including a shorthanded tally, good for his first career hat trick.

Delarosbil, who scored 3 times on Wednesday night, gave himself his 4th, 5th and 6th goals of the season.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native is now just one goal away from setting his career-high for most goals scored in a single season.


When the Cochrane Crunch first entered the NOJHL in 2014, the club was guided under former Soo Thunderbirds forward and Sault Ste. Marie native Ryan Leonard, who served as the club’s head coach, general manager and team owner.

Leonard, who served as the Crunch’s head coach, general manager and team owner from 2014-2020, led the club to 6 straight winning seasons, including a Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy title (NOJHL Playoff Champions) in 2018.

Under Leonard, the Crunch had an overall record of 200 wins, 106 losses, 4 ties, 14 overtime losses and 6 shootout losses.

Following his six seasons behind the bench with the Crunch, Leonard then went on to become the head coach, franchise owner and general manager of the CCHL’s Renfrew Wolves in the 2020-2021 season.

Since Leonard left, the Crunch have only won a total of 6 games, including 4 during the 2020-2021 season.

(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Dharan Cap credit to Bob Davies)



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