Fresh from a first-round bye, Soo Thunderbirds will begin the second round of the Great North Midget Hockey League playoffs with a pair of home games this weekend.
The Thunderbirds will play host to the North Bay Trappers on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Essar Centre to open the best-of-five series.
Second-place finishers during the regular season, the Soo had 51 points from a record of 25-10-1.
North Bay finished in fourth place during the regular season with 35 points from a record of 16-17-3 before upending the Nickel City Sons in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite finishing 16 points back of the Soo during the regular season, North Bay split six games with the Thunderbirds. Of note, both teams had 2-1 road records against one another during the regular season.
The Trappers are led by GNMHL scoring leader Jeff Jordan, who had 36 goals, 39 assists, 75 points during the regular season. North Bay also features 6-foot-3, 225 pound goalie Colton Point, who was a 14th-round pick of the Erie Otters at the 2014 Ontario Hockey League draft.
The Thunderbirds have more of a balanced offense led by 31-goal scorer Brendan Gillis. Other high-scoring Thunderbirds are forwards Brad Thrower, Zach Senecal, Matt Mackay, Ryan Mulligan and defenceman Jared Fanti.
Senecal (Oshawa Generals) and Mackay (Kitchener Rangers) are both 2014 OHL draft picks.
Joey Roberts is the Soo’s workhorse goalie.
Thunderbirds head coach Jim Capy said his team is rested and ready to play following the opening-round bye.
“We have had a good stretch of practice time,” said Capy. “We are well aware of what North Bay can do but I like our depth and our compete level. We are in good physical condition and I believe we are ready for a tough series against a tough team.”
In the other GNMHL semi-final, Timmins Majors, buoyed by a first-round playoff upset of the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves, will take on the regular-season champion New Liskeard Cubs.
PHOTO: T-Birds midget coach Jim Capy. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)