Soo Minor Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League figure to have two players chosen within the higher rounds of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
In fact, there is at least one OHL scout who is of the notion that Soo defensemen Jack Matier and Tyler Dunbar could both be among the top 40 picks, as in the first two rounds of the upcoming, annual draft that will be held in April.
“Matier and Dunbar are both top two round guys on my list,” a scout for an Eastern Conference OHL team told me. “For sure, they could both be among the top 40 picks.”
As defensemen, Matier and Dunbar are among the scoring leaders for the Minor Thunderbirds, who have a record of 9-10-4 within the Great North with but a single game to play against league competition this season.
Matier is tied for second on the Soo scoring chart with 9 goals, 11 assists, 20 points while Dunbar is right behind with 4-12-16 totals.
Both the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Matier and the 6-foot, 175-pound Dunbar have athletic bloodlines in addition to their high skill levels.
The right-handed shooting Matier is the son of 1993 Soo Greyhounds Memorial Cup championship defenseman Mark Matier. The elder Matier went on to play professional hockey, including a number of years in the United Kingdom.
As for the left-handed shooting Dunbar, his Canadian-born dad, Alan Dunbar, played at the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey level with the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. And his mom, Kris Bullock-Dunbar, is a former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basketball standout with the Lake Superior State University Lakers — and is now the commissioner of the GLIAC.
Dunbar’s draft projection could be affected by the fact that as an American-born youngster (he hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) he might be more inclined to take the Division 1, NCCA route.
But a source close to Dunbar — who has dual citizenship and just turned 15 years of age on December 18, thus making him one of the youngest players eligible for the 2019 OHL draft — said the plum defender is intrigued at the possibility of playing major junior hockey in Canada.
Meanwhile, the head coach of the Minor Thunderbirds, Jamie Henderson, can’t say enough about the skill set, compete level, smarts, work ethic and offensive upside of the dandy defenders.
As a team, the Minor Thunderbirds are in Peterborough this weekend for the Steve Richey Tournament of Champions. The Sault Major Thunderbirds are also entered in the tournament.
PHOTO: Soo Minor Thunderbirds coach Jamie Henderson is flanked by highly-touted defensemen Jack Matier (left) and Tyler Dunbar (right.) Photo by Allana Plaunt.