Soo Thunderbirds general manager Trevor Zachary has confirmed the signed commitments of 10 players ahead of the 2020-2021 season.
Included in the group of 10 are confirmations from six local skaters — four returnees and two newcomers — who intend to wear the blue, orange and white jerseys of the Thunderbirds for the next Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League season.
The returning local veterans are forwards Avery Rebek, Cooper Smyl, Brock Santa Maria and Kurtis Rogers.
Local newcomers to the Bird house are forwards Michael Chaffay and Ty Zachary.
Rebek netted 15 goals, 27 assists, 42 points for the Thunderbirds in 2019-2020.
Next up, Smyl produced 16-15-31 totals, Santa Maria came through with 7-12-19 statistics and Rogers chipped in with 11-3-14 numbers.
Rebek has a 2000 birth date, Rogers was born in 2001, while Smyl and Santa Maria both have 2002 birth dates.
As for Chaffay and Zachary, they both spent the 2019-2020 season with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League and were among their top point producers.
Chaffay was second on the Jr. Greyhounds and fifth in league scoring in 2019-2020 with 34 goals, 19 assists, 53 points.
And Zachary was fourth on the Jr. Greyhounds scoring chart and 15th in league scoring in 2019-2020 with 11 goals, 28 assists, 39 points.
Both have 2002 birth dates.
Another newcomer, Russell Oldham, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound front line skater, has also landed in the Bird nest via the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Of note, Oldham is also a 2018 Ontario Hockey League under-18 draft pick of the Flint Firebirds.
Oldham, who has a 2001 birth date, put up his share of points in the GOJHL while playing for the St. Thomas Stars and the Komoka Kings of the southwestern Ontario based loop in 2019-2020.
Totaling up the numbers between St. Thomas and Komoka this past season, Oldman hit for 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points in 49 regular season games.
Meanwhile, three out of town performers have confirmed their return to the T-Birds for the upcoming term. They are forwards Colton Hayes and Will Josephson and defenseman Dylan Parsons.
Hayes netted 14 goals, 19 assists, 33 points for the T-Birds in 2019-2020 while Josephson had 6-22-28 numbers and Parsons came through with two goals, 13 assists, 15 points in just 29 games.
Hayes has a 2000 birth date while Josephson and Parsons were both born in 2001.
Doing the math, with nine forwards signed, the Thunderbirds still have a few openings on the front lines. And with one only defenseman inked and not a single goalie under signature, there are opportunities aplenty for players at those two positions.
The Thunderbirds will have an all-new coaching staff for the 2020-2021 season led by Denny Lambert, the former National Hockey League grinder who also played for and coached the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
Lambert will be assisted by Jeremy Stevenson, Micky Sartoretto and Aidan Wright.