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NOJHL Team-By-Team Previews: Soo Thunderbirds

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NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
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Release Date: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012

NOJHL Team-By-Team Previews: Soo Thunderbirds

SUDBURY – Leading up to the start of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s regular season, which gets underway Wednesday, team-by-team previews are being presented. This team prospectus features the defending champion Soo Thunderbirds.

SOO THUNDERBIRDS

P.O. Box 39
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
P6A 5L2

General Manager/Director: Kevin Cain

Head Coach: Warren Lavoy (1st season)

Website: www.tbirdhockey.ca

Last season’s record: 37-11-2 (1st Western Division – 1st overall)

Playoff record: 12-2 (Won NOJHL championship)

OUTLOOK: The Soo Thunderbirds enter the campaign as the defending NOJHL and Dudley-Hewitt Cup champions. Warren Lavoy, who served as an assistant coach last season, moves up to take over as the new head coach of the club in 2012-13. While few players return from last season’s two championship team general manager Kevin Cain doesn’t consider 2012-13 a rebuilding season. He sees positive signs in his goaltending and offense while still working on his defensive core. He also sees North Bay as the team to beat this season.

CAIN’S QUOTE: “I don’t use the phrase rebuilding,” the T-Birds GM offered. “It’s a matter of making a few changes here and there, and we have potential to be really good,” stated Cain. “I expect North Bay will be the class of the league, but we definitely have a chance to compete and return to the Dudley Hewitt Cup.”

KEY RETURNEES

GREG SARTORETTO: A key member of last year’s NOJHL playoff and Dudley-Hewitt Cup championship team, Sartoretto is an experienced forward with potential to be an offensive star this season. Along with his ability to put the puck in the net, buoyed by his 58 points in 52 games last season, the 20-year-old forward is known for laying everything out and doing what has to be done to win games.
 
JOEY COUTURE: Couture was picked up midway through last season to add depth to the Thunderbirds lineup. Entering his final year of junior hockey the forward not only developed a noticeable on-ice presence, but also evolved into a key character guy and team leader.
 
DARCY CASOLA: No stranger to playing a physical game, whether it is grinding in the corner, or getting in front of a puck, the veteran forward enters his third campaign with the club knowing what he has to do to get his job done. Casola scored 10 times in 42 outings.

NEW PLAYERS
 
ADAM RITCHIE: Acquired in an off-season deal from the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL, the 20-year-old forward is expected to play a dominant role with the Thunderbirds. “Given the opportunity to play games, we anticipate he’ll be one of our top guys,” said Cain. “He has potential to have a really big year.”
 
STEVEN DOMBROSKY & JOEL HORODZIEJCZYK: The T-Birds will be looking at a pair of new goaltenders to try and fill the workload covered by first team all-star and Royal Bank Cup most valuable player John Kleinhans. Steven Dombrosky played last season for the Soo Michigan Indians AAA midget side while Joel Horodzieczyk, who is also new to the NOJHL, manned the pipes for the Nickel City Sons of the Great North Midget League. “We lost Johnny, but we gained two solid guys,” explained Cain. “Both are technically sound and will push each other to get better. We have a pair of legitimate goalies, and we’re expecting big things from both.”