By Matt Stefano
It was a different season compared to every other season, but the Soo Thunderbirds have been crowned champions.
And not only have they been crowned champions, but they also made history by winning a trophy that was never in the NOJHL until now.
On Sunday afternoon, the Soo Thunderbirds have clinched the first ever (And maybe the last) COVID Cup, thanks to a 7-5 victory over the Blind River Beavers in game 7 of the COVID Cup series at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Soo also finished the head to head series with a record of 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 shootout loss.
Points in this series also counted towards regular season standings, due to the cancellation of the 2021 postseason.
“It feels great,” said Thunderbirds graduating forward Noah Boman. “Honestly, there’s no better feeling than the way it ended. It’s been a tough season, but there’s no better feeling than to be on top.”
Boman, who won a championship title with the Thunderbirds here in his final year of junior hockey, also knew what it was like to lose a championship a couple years back.
In his first season with the Thunderbirds in 2018-2019, Boman helped lead the Soo all the way to the NOJHL finals, where they took on the Hearst Lumberjacks, in a series that went all the way to seven games.
But the Lumberjacks ended up winning game 7 of that series at the John Rhodes Community Centre to go on to win the 2019 Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy.
Boman, who then spent the entire 2019-2020 season playing in the OJHL, was then reacquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade with the Cobourg Cougars just last month, and finally had the opportunity to hoist a cup (COVID Cup) with his hometown team.
“Honestly, this is a way better feeling,” said Boman. “The boys came together. We pushed hard and we pulled it off.”
Boman, who was named the Thunderbirds MVP forward of this series, led the way offensively on Sunday afternoon with 2 goals and 2 assists.
“I was just playing the game to play the game. But the goals came and there’s no better feeling,” said Boman.
Thunderbirds leading scorer Cooper Smyl also had a big afternoon offensively for his hometown team with a pair of goals and an assist while graduating forward Caleb Wood also had a multi point game with a goal and an assist.
Rookie forward Tyson Doucette and graduating forward Parker Morgan (game-winner) had the other goals for the Thunderbirds while rookie defenceman Connor Toms chipped in with a pair of helpers.
Jacob Doucette, Dylan Parsons, Cam Dutkiewicz and graduating captain Avery Rebek also got on the scoresheet for the Thunderbirds with one assist each.
Beavers forward and NOJHL’s leading scorer Jacob Kelly had a goal and two helpers on Sunday afternoon while Noah Minns also had a three point game with a goal and two assists of his own.
Matt Cato and Thomas Michaud had a power play goal and an assist each for the Beavers while Milos Todorovic also got on the scoresheet with a goal and a helper.
Beavers captain Lucas Adams finished the afternoon with a pair of assists while Blake McNally set up one.
Blind River netminder Gavin Disano made 35 saves in the loss while Thunderbirds graduating goaltender Scott Young made 35 saves for the victory.
NOTE: As you read previously in this article, Noah Boman was named the MVP forward for the Soo Thunderbirds during the COVID Cup series.
And in case you didn’t know, here are the rest of results of the team awards that were handed out at the conclusion of this afternoon’s game.
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS
Jacob Kelly MVP (Forward)
Ethan Pegg MVP (Defence)
Cam Dutkiewicz MVP (Defence)
Alex Bugeja MVP (Goaltender)