Yet another Soo Thunderbirds grad will be a part of the men’s hockey program at Sault College when the Cougars take to the ice for the 2022-2023 season.
Russell Oldham will play hockey and study Sports Administration at Sault College beginning this fall. The 2001 birth year forward played parts of two seasons in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League for the Thunderbirds.
During the 2021-2022 campaign, the 6 foot, 195 pound Oldham tallied six goals, nine assists, 15 points in 34 regular season games and then netted three goals, two assists, five points in 14 playoff outings as a member of the Thunderbirds NOJHL championship team.
Oldham’s commitment to Sault College follows an earlier pledge by another recent Thunderbirds grad in 2001 birth year forward Colby Arbour. The 6 foot, 185 pound Arbour potted six goals, 14 assists, 20 points in 36 regular season matches for the Thunderbirds in ’21-22 before adding two goals, five assists, seven points in 14 playoff contests for the NOJHL champs.
Oldham and Arbour will join three returning Sault College forwards who previously graduated from the Thunderbirds — Caleb Wood, Noah Boman and Ty Zachary. Also slated to be back on board with the Cougars in 2022-2023 is defenseman Jordan Ritchie, a local product who has prior NOJHL experience with the Elliot Lake Wildcats and Espanola Express.
Wood netted nine goals, 10 assists, 19 points in 11 games for the Sault College men in 2021-2022. Meanwhile, Boman had three goals, six assists, nine points in 12 games, Ritchie produced three goals, three assists, six points in a dozen outings, while Zachary also saw action in 12 matches and helped out with three goals, zero assists, three points.
“We expect big things from all of these local kids,” Cougars manager of hockey operations Mark Hebert relayed to Hockey News North. “They bring a lot to the team. They possess skill, leadership, strength and they have had several years of combined junior A experience. It is nice to be getting some good players from the NOJHL to Sault College. And we are looking ahead to what we hope is a full season of hockey in ’22-23.”
As the only Canadian men’s team in the expansive American Collegiate Hockey Association, Sault College plays at the Division 2 level. The Cougars won the Division 3, ACHA championship in 2019 before Covid interrupted parts of each of the past three seasons.
ALSO NEW TO THE DEN
At any rate, in addition to the aforementioned Russell Oldham and Colby Arbour, several other student-athletes have made commitments to the Sault College men ahead of the 2022-2023 season. They include the following notable performers.
• A lanky defenseman — and young, with a 2004 birth date — Austin Griffin skated in the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League for the Listowel Cyclones and in the Provincial Jr. C Hockey League for the Hanover Barons in 2021-2022. From Durham, Ontario, Griffin will study Sports Administration at Sault College.
• Another defenseman, Branden Kipling, most recently played with the Meaford Knights of the Greater Metro Hockey League. Hailing from Selkirk, Manitoba, Kipling’s school interests include Indigenous Social Service and Sports Administration studies.
• Some really good use of his contacts by Cougars chief scout and recruiter Charly Murray resulted in the commitment of a pair of hard plugging players to Sault College from provinces west and east of Ontario. No strangers to each other, they were teammates with the Dryden Ice Dogs of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League during the ’21-22 season. And now, defenseman Chase Muswagon and forward Pineshish Whiteduck are slated to be teammates again in ’22-23, this time at Sault College.
“These are two young men who we did our homework on and came highly recommended to us,” Murray said of Muswagon and Whiteduck. “From the hockey end, I am confident that both Chase and Pineshish will be among our key players this coming season as we hope to bring another ACHA championship to Sault College. And you and I both know that the Dryden Ice Dogs have a very good reputation as an extremely reputable junior A program that is always at the top or near the top of the standings out there in the Superior league.”
Both Muswagon and Whiteduck played conclusive, effective roles in helping Dryden to a third place finish during the 2021-2022 SIJHL regular season and through two rounds of the playoffs. And in addition to their solid hockey playing abilities, Muswagon and Whiteduck both check the boxes as individuals of good character and good academic standing.
Muswagon has enrolled in the Fish And Wildlife Conservation Program at Sault College while Whiteduck will study Business. Indigenous peoples, Muswagon hails from The Pas, Manitoba and Whiteduck calls Maniwaki, Quebec home.
• And yet another newcomer to Sault College for the upcoming ’22-23 school term is goalie Cedric Jaubert. Hailing from Papineauville, Quebec, Jaubert has previous ACHA Division 2 experience with the Detroit-based Adrian College Bulldogs. Now 23 years old, Jaubert is a big goalie at 6-foot-4.
HALL IS ALL FOR FALL
From the coach’s corner there are good vibes. As he prepares and gets ready for the ’22-23 campaign as the head coach of the Sault College men, Mike Hall said he is looking forward to the fall and a season that won’t be affected by Covid. Naturally, Hall is anticipating a ’22-23 season in which Sault College can once again play host to home games now that the Canada-United States border is open — and American teams are willing to head this way.
The Cougars did manage to play 15 regular season games — including four across the St. Mary’s River against the Lake Superior State University Lakers ACHA club team — but not a single one was on home ice as part of posting a winning record of 8-4-3 over the course of the ’21-22 term.
“Hopefully the challenges of the past three years are in the past,” Hall relayed to Hockey News North. “All I can say is that I feel good about where we are headed as the Sault College men’s hockey program and members of the ACHA.”