Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have solidified their goalie tandem ahead of the 2020-2021 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.
Thunderbirds general manager Trev Zachary has confirmed the acquisition of 2001 birth year net minder Alex Bugeja from the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League.
Zachary referred to the 5-foot-10, 190 pound Bugeja as “a very good goalie with focus and work ethic.”
Hailing from Vancouver, B.C., Bugeja posted a record of 10-14-3 with a 3.80 goals against average and .901 save percentage with Fort Frances last season.
Earlier this off season, the Thunderbirds made Scott Young, a twine tender with a 2000 birth date, their first goalie signing. Young spent a portion of the 2019-2020 season in Sweden.
Prior to that, the 6-foot-5, 180 pound Young played at the junior B level with his hometown Calgary Royals, backstopping them to a league championship in 2018-2019.
The Thunderbirds are coming off of a 2019-2020 season in which they finished in third place in the West Division of the NOJHL with a record of 30-19-7.
Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds have been holding daily afternoon skills and conditioning practices under the watchful eyes of new head coach Denny Lambert and assistant coaches Gary Roach, Micky Sartoretto, Jeremy Stevenson and Aidan Wright.
The 50-year old Lambert played three Ontario Hockey League seasons with the Soo Greyhounds and later coached them for eight years, both as an assistant under Craig Hartsburg and as the head master.
In between playing for and coaching the Greyhounds, Lambert skated in more than 500 National Hockey League games as a journeyman left winger. A model for perseverance and for never giving up on his hockey dreams, Lambert reached the top despite never being drafted into the OHL or the NHL.
Now, Lambert takes over a Thunderbirds team that is coming off of three straight winning seasons under head coach John Parco, who has since taken a high ranking executive job with the Italian Ice Hockey Federation.
Meanwhile, this edition of the Thundedrbirds still has roster openings as Lambert and general manager Trev Zachary continue to look at potential additions to the lineup of the Soo’s NOJHL team.
Notably, of the players who have signed to play with the Thunderbirds for the upcoming season, no less than 11 of them are local products.
They are, forwards Michael Chaffay, Tyson Doucette, Parker Morgan, Avery Rebek, Kurtis Rogers, Brock Santa Maria, Cooper Smyl, Caleb Wood and Ty Zachary and defensemen Kaden Dundas and Connor Toms.