By Matt Stefano
For the second consecutive week, the Soo Thunderbirds are ranked 16th in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 Weekly Rankings and tonight they will play their first home game of the New Year against the Timmins Rock at 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds are returning home from a three-game road trip this past weekend, but only played one full 60 minute game.
The Thunderbirds first game of their three-game road trip began in Kirkland Lake last Friday, but was suspended with under 6 minutes to go in second period due to a carbon monoxide leak inside the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
That game ended up in a 1-1 tie.
The following night in Powassan, the Soo picked up a big two points as they defeated the top team in the NOJHL 3-1 at the Powassan Sportsplex and have moved up to 53 points on the season, sitting 6 back of the Voodoos for first overall in the NOJHL standings.
This past Sunday, their final game of a three-game road trip in French River was cancelled due to inclement weather and road closures.
Tonight’s game against the Rock, is a make-up game from October 27th after it was postponed due to a highway closure.
HEAD TO HEAD
In one meeting against the Rock this season, the Thunderbirds blanked them 1-0 at McIntyre Arena back on September 10th, 2017.
Forward Nick Smith scored his first goal of the season while goaltender Brandon Gordon stopped all 26 shots directed his way.
MEET YOUR NEW CAPTAIN
Fans in the stands will witness a new player wearing the “C” on his chest for the Thunderbirds tonight as second year forward Noah Solinger will play his first home game as the team’s newly named captain.
Solinger was named as the Thunderbirds new captain on December 30th, 2017, after the Soo traded captain and defenceman Ryan Mulligan to the Blind River Beavers in exchange for a player development fee.
To date, Solinger has 8 goals and 20 assists through 35 games.
BABER GETS NOTICED
Rookie forward and Saginaw Spirit prospect Camaryn Baber was named the NOJHL’s CCM Rookie Of The Month for December.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product had 1 goal and 10 points in 7 games during the month of December and currently sits second in team scoring with 9 goals and 30 points through 31 games.
He also leads the Thunderbirds in penalty minutes with 39.
TWO NEW BIRDS
With the trade deadline officially behind us, the Soo has added two American born players to their roster yesterday as they picked up 1998 birth year defenceman Braden King from the Cochrance Crunch in exchange for a player development fee, along with signing 1998 forward Spencer Van Tiem from the Odessa Jackalopes.
There are a couple of things to talk about regarding milestones and records in the Ontario Hockey League.
First, in milestone news!
This past Sunday afternoon at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, former Soo Thunderbird Keegan Stevenson, who is in his first season with the Guelph Storm, scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal against his hometown Soo Greyhounds.
Now to record news!
Sticking with the same game that took place this past Sunday in Guelph, former Soo Thunderbird and current Soo Greyhounds assistant captain Boris Katchouk scored his 13th career shorthanded goal, which tied Steve Gatzos (1978-1981) for most shorthanded goals by a Soo Greyhound.
Katchouk and the Hounds defeated Stevenson and the Storm 7-3.