It has been a struggle through the first month of the 2018-2019 Great North Midget Hockey League regular season for both the Soo Major Thunderbirds and the Soo Minor Thunderbirds.
The Soo major midgets have a record of 1-6-0 through seven outings while their minor midget brethren have a 0-4-1 mark in five contests to date.
Still, the head coaches of the two midget teams from Sault Ste. Marie are keeping the faith.
“We are a work in progress, that is for sure,” said Alex Cruise, who is the rookie bench boss of the Major Thunderbirds. “I always say a loss is only a loss if you don’t learn from it. We are trying.”
And Jamie Henderson, who is in his second season as the commander of the Minor Thunderbirds, noted that “we have to keep grinding … we have to keep getting better.”
A lack of discipline has had a negative affect on the Major Thunderbirds thus far this season.
In their seven contests to date, the Soo major midgets have spent a stunning 210 minutes in the penalty box, which is an average of 30 minutes per game in the sin bin. The 30 minutes in penalties per game is by far the worst in the nine member Great North loop.
Conversely, the Minor Thunderbirds have spent only 37 minutes in the penalty box in five outings for a per game average of 7.4 — which is the lowest, by far, in the Great North.
The goals for/goals against numbers for the two teams are obviously — considering the respective team records — not flattering. In fact, both teams are having trouble scoring.
The Major Thunderbirds have scored only 11 goals while allowing 37 in seven games. The Minor Thunderbirds have scored only 13 goals while giving up 45 in five outings.
Of the goalies who have seen action for the two teams, Noah Zeppa of the Major Thunderbirds has the best goals against average — 4.14 — despite being under constant siege while his team is playing shorthanded, so often.
Offensively, three players have scored two goals apiece to lead the Major Thunderbirds — forwards Michael Chaffay and Nick Jameus and defenseman Michael Barone.
As for the Minor Thunderbirds, Theo Smith tops the goal scoring chart with four tallies followed by Dylan Szabo, who has dented the twine three times.
What is notable — and rather admirable — when communicating with Cruise and Henderson is that both coaches, while holding themselves and their players accountable, are also maintaining a positive, reasonable outlook. (That, in spite of the fact that the Major Thunderbirds and Minor Thunderbirds have both played without full rosters through the first month of the season.)
Which, if nothing else, speaks to good character and good example that has been set forth by Cruise, Henderson and their respective coaching staffs.
PHOTO: Soo Major Thunderbirds defensemen Beau Neveau (left) and Jordan Ritchie (right) in recent action against the Timmins Majors. (Photo by Timmins Daily Press.)