Thunderbirds take on eighth best team in Canada this afternoon

By Matt Stefano

The Soo Thunderbirds will play their first home game of 2020 this afternoon at 2:00 p.m., when they take on the Timmins Rock at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

The Thunderbirds enter this afternoon’s game with a record of 20 wins, 13 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 45 points and third in the NOJHL’s West Division.

The Rock, who are currently ranked No. 8 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Rankings, enter this afternoon’s contest with a record of 27 wins, 5 losses, 1 overtime loss and 1 shootout loss, good for 56 points as they sit in a three way tie for first place in the NOJHL standings with the Powassan Voodoos and the Blind River Beavers.


This past Friday, the Thunderbirds opened up the year 2020 with their 20th win of the season, thanks to a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory over the Espanola Express in Espanola.


In one meeting against the Rock this season, the Thunderbirds have dropped a 3-2 decision to them in Timmins back on September 29th at McIntyre Arena.

Brendan Boyce, Karter Renouf (power play) and Tyler Gilberds had the goals for the Rock while Tyler Masternak made 25 saves for the victory.

Former Thunderbirds co-captain Nick Smith led the way offensively that game, scoring once and setting up another while former Thunderbirds goaltender Colin Ahern gave up 3 goals on 33 shots in the loss.


This season, the Timmins Rock have been getting some solid goaltending by both of their goaltenders.

Entering this afternoon’s game, rookie goaltender Vance Meyer has the lowest goals against average in the NOJHL, averaging a 1.50 goals against average while third year netminder Tyler Masternak has the second best goals against average in the league, coming in at 1.84.

Masternak also leads the league in shutouts with 5 while Meyer sits second with 4.

Last season, Masternak also set the new NOJHL record for most shutouts in a regular season with 6.

Masternak, who is a 2016 eleventh round pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit, was named the NOJHL’s Goaltender Of The Month for December.


He comes from Newberry, Michigan, and this season he’s been a standout among American players in the league.

Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Warner Young currently leads all American rookies in the league in points with 24.

His 24 points is also the most among American defenceman in the league this season.


The Thunderbirds need to be ready fire those pucks in the net this afternoon, due the fact that the the Timmins Rock have given up the least goals against in the league with 60.

(This Thunderbirds game preview is sponsored by Giovanni’s Restaurant)

(Photo by Bob Davies)

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