By Matt Stefano
There is a new trophy to be won this year in the NOJHL.
And it’s called the COVID Cup.
This afternoon, the Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Blind River Beavers in game one of the COVID Cup series, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Soo and Blind River are the only two teams left in the NOJHL’s West Division.
The Thunderbirds enter this afternoon’s game with a record of 8 wins, 5 loses and 1 shootout loss, good for 17 points and first place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
The Soo is also leading the NOJHL in goals with 60.
The Beavers, meanwhile, are coming in with a record of 7 wins, 6 losses and 1 shootout loss, good for 15 points as they sit in second place in the West.
ABOUT THE COVID CUP
The COVID Cup will be a seven-game series between the Beavers and Thunderbirds, and the winner of each game will receive two points while the team who loses with end up with zero.
One point will be awarded to the team that loses in a shootout and half a point will go to the team who is winning at the end of a period.
Most Valuable Player and team awards will be announced at the end of the seven-game series.
AGAINST THE BEAVERS
In ten meetings against the Beavers this season, the Soo has a record of 5 wins, 4 losses and 1 shootout loss.
The Thunderbirds have also outscored the Beavers 40-37 overall.
So far this season, Thunderbirds defenceman Cameron Dutkiewicz has been lighting the lamp more than an other blueliner in the NOJHL.
Dutkiewicz, who came over to the Thunderbirds in a trade from the Renfrew Timberwolves back in September, is currenlty leading all NOJHL blueliners in goals with 5.
The Timmins, Ontario native also leads all NOJHL defencemen in power play tallies with 3.
FROM ONE LEAGUE LEADER TO ANOTHER
After losing captain and NOJHL scoring champion Caleb Serre to graduation one season ago, the Beavers then went out and acquired another player in a trade back in November who is currently leading the NOJHL in scoring this season.
Beavers assistant captain Jacob Kelly, who came over to the Beavers in a trade from the Aurora Tigers back in November, is currently leading the NOJHL in scoring with 17 points in 14 games.
Kelly is also learning under former Beavers captain and Beavers newly named assistant coach Caleb Serre, who joined the Beavers coaching staff back in December.
BEAVERS IN THE BOX
So far this season, the Blind River Beavers have had trouble staying out of the penalty box.
The Beavers enter tonight’s game with the most penalty minutes in the NOJHL with 215.
And 24 of those penalty minutes belong to their rookie defenceman Mason Chitaroni.
Chitaroni currently leads all NOJHL rookies in penalty minutes with 24.
Beavers forward Noah Minns currently sits tied with Timmins Rock forward Zach Smith for first in league assists with 17.
Minns also has the best points per game in the NOJHL, coming in at 2.30.