by Matt Stefano
Tuesday night hockey takes place tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie as the Soo Thunderbirds take on the Blind River Beavers in their fourth straight meeting, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
This will also be game four of the six-game cohort series between these two clubs.
BEST IN THE WEST
The Thunderbirds enter tonight’s game as the top team in the NOJHL’s West Division with a record of 7 wins, 3 losses and 1 shootout loss, good for 15 points.
The Soo moved two points ahead of the Espanola Express for first place in the West Division, following a 7-2 victory over the Blind River Beavers on Sunday afternoon in Blind River.
LIVING IN A BOX
The Beavers enter tonight’s game sitting tied with the Cochrane Crunch for the most penalty minutes in the NOJHL, with 166.
Beavers rookie defenceman and London Knights 2020 5th round pick Mason Chitaroni also leads all NOJHL rookies in penalty minutes with 20.
Did you know?
The Beavers were also the most penalized team in the NOJHL last season with 851 penalty minutes.
FINDING THE BACK OF THE NET
The Thunderbirds have had no problems scoring goals this season as they enter tonight’s game with a league-leading 50 goals.
SCORING UP A STORM
He’s a Guelph Storm prospect, and he’s currenlty leading the NOJHL in scoring.
Beavers forward and Guelph Storm 2018 13th round pick Jacob Kelly enters tonight’s game as the top scorer in the NOJHL with 22 points in 11 games.
HATS OF TO SMYL
On Sunday afternoon in Blind River, Thunderbirds second-year forward Cooper Smyl recorded his first career hat-trick, helping the Soo to a 7-2 win over the Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River.
Smyl was also named one of this week’s NOJHL Eastlink TV 3 Stars of the Week.
POINTS PER GAME
Beavers forward Noah Minns enters tonight’s game with the best points per game in the NOJHL, coming in at 2.25.
So far this season, the twenty-year old Barrie, Ontairo native has put up 5 goals, 13 assists and 18 points in 8 games played.
LIKE A BROCK
Thunderbirds forward Brock Santa Maria has been playing some solid hockey as of late.
The eighteen-year old recorded his first career two-goal game in the Thunderbirds 6-5 shootout win over the Beavers last Friday night in the Soo, before recording one assist in the Thunderbirds 7-2 victory over the Beavers on Sunday afternoon in Blind River.
Santa Maria, who put up 7 goals and 19 points in 50 games last season, enters tonight’s game with 4 goals and 7 points in 9 games played here in 2020-2021.
BEWARE OF CATO
Matt Cato has been on fire ever since joining the Beavers back in January.
In 3 games played with the Beavers this season, the seventeen-year old has 3 goals.
The Whitby, Ontario native recorded his first career two-goal game against the Thunderbirds last Friday night in the Soo, before scoring one goal against the Soo on Sunday afternoon in Blind River.
Cato, who came over to the Beavers in a trade from the OJHL’s Whitby Fury back on January 11, was also drafted by the Kitchener Rangers in the 1st round (17th overall) in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Under-18 Priority Selection.
TWO FOR TY
Sunday afternoon’s game in Blind River saw a strong performance from Thunderbirds rookie forward Ty Zachary.
The eighteen-year old recorded his first career two-point game, scoring once and adding a helper in Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 win over the Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River.
LEADING ALL ROOKIES
Beavers rookie forward and Sudbury Wolves 2020 11th round pick Devin Mauro currently leads all NOJHL rookies in scoring with 13 points in 11 games.
Mauro, who had one goal for the Beavers in last Friday night’s game in the Soo, moved one point ahead of Espanola Express forward Luke Bibby for first among NOJHL rookies in scoring.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native also leads all NOJHL rookies in power play goals with 3.
TOMS ON DEFENCE
Thunderbirds rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds 2020 5th round pick Connor Toms enters tonight’s game as the top scoring rookie blueliner in the NOJHL with 12 points in 11 games.
He also leads all NOJHL rookie blueliners in shorthanded goals (1), game-winning goals (1), power play assists (5) and points per game (1.09).
NO GOALS ALLOWED
Entering tonight’s game, the Thunderbirds have given up the least goals against in the NOJHL’s West Division, only letting in 33.