From both sides of the Soo to Coulee Region to Flint we go…
…Soo Thunderbirds have the best record in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and have all but clinched first place in the eight-team loop. Barring a late-season collapse, the Thunderbirds will finish first under 28-year old head coach Jordan Smith, who does not look or act like a rookie bench boss. Wise and mature beyond his years, Smith’s stay in the NOJHL doesn’t figure to be an extended one. This is an up-and-coming coach who is destined to be behind an Ontario Hockey League bench sooner than later.
…As the NOJHL Thunderbirds have assumed control of the Soo entry that will return to the Great North Midget Hockey League in 2014-2015 after sitting out this season, one of the first orders of business will be finding a suitable coach. One man that bears strong consideration is veteran bench boss Jim Capy. Capy, who stepped away from the game in 2012 after coaching for years in the NOJHL with the Thunderbirds, Soo Indians and Blind River Beavers, is known as an attention-to-detail coach. Whether Capy has any interest in returning to coaching and whether the Soo midgets might provide a good fit is a scenario worth following.
…The numbers don’t lie. With veteran goaltenders Colin Brennan and Paige Skoog handling the goaltending through the first 28 games of this 2013-2014 North American Hockey League season, Soo Eagles were in last place in the six-team North Division with a record of 9-14-5. But with Brennan out for the season with a shoulder injury and Skoog sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, the Eagles have turned to rookie puckstoppers Nathan Klebe and Landon Trutt since early December and the results have been impressive. Klebe, who came to the Eagles from the Flint Jr. Generals of the North American 3 Hockey League, has a record of 6-1-0 in a Soo uniform. And Trutt, who arrived in the Soo from the Cape Cod Islanders of the Northern States Hockey League, has a 5-1-2 record as an Eagle. Overall, the Eagles have a record of 20-16-7 going into play this weekend to soar into contention for first place in what is a very-tight North Division.
…A season ago, Coulee Region Chill won just 16 of 60 games as one of the worst teams in the NAHL. This season, Coulee Region has won 25 of 41 games to date and Chill bench boss A.J. Degenhardt is a prime candidate for NAHL coach-of-the-year honours.
…Despite the fact that Flint has had three regulars promoted to teams in the NAHL since the start of the season, the Jr. Generals have continued their NA3HL winning ways with 70 points in 39 games from a record of 34-3-2. A team of balance, the Jr. Generals have five players closing in on the 20-goal mark for the season: Nicholas Gnagni, Mark McGee, Brett Leppek, Conor Durgan and Zach Koonce.
See more: Coulee Region Chill, Flint Jr. Generals, Soo Eagles, Soo Thunderbirds