In and out of the Eagles nest

May 13, 2024

It has been a hectic off season to date for Bruno Bragagnolo, who is the president and general manager of the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

First up, Bragagnolo had to go out and hire a new head coach following the departure of long time bench boss Doug Laprade. Then came Bragagnolo doing his part to help place several Eagles players at various National Collegiate Athletic Association and American Collegiate Hockey Association schools.

Following is a rundown of who are in and out of the Eagles nest at this stage of the off season.


He was the first choice of aforementioned president and general manager Bruno Bragagnolo to become the new head coach of the Eagles. So, suffice to say that Bragagnolo got who he wanted in Jeremy Rebek.

Jeremy Rebek

The 48-year old Rebek has spent the past three seasons as a valuable assistant coach with the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL. He also had a previous relationship with the Thunderbirds as a highly successful assistant several years ago.

Now, Rebek takes over as the Eagles head coach following the recent departure of Doug Laprade. Laprade, who had been the Eagles bench boss since 2018, has since joined the AAA Under 18 Soo Indians as head coach and part owner.

To be sure, Bragagnolo did his homework on Rebek before offering him the job as head coach of the Eagles.

“Jeremy is well respected … actually very well respected for his knowledge of the game and the way he relates to players,” Bragagnolo told Hockey News North. “He played the game at a high level for a long time and he has good contacts in the game. I like the way he sees the game as a coach. You can tell just by talking to him that he has a real mind for the game. Every one who I talked to about him can’t say enough about his hockey knowledge and him being such a smart coach. He had a lot to with the success that the Thunderbirds have had on two different stints that he had with them.”

All in all, Rebek was part of three NOJHL championship teams with the Thunderbirds as a chief strategist.

During his playing days, Rebek first left his Sault Ste. Marie home as a 17-year old in was the beginning of what would be three seasons as an overachieving defenseman with the Owen Sound Platers of the Ontario Hockey League.  A ninth round pick by Owen Sound at the 1995 OHL priority selections draft, Rebek would go on to suit up in 201 games for the Platers and total 27 goals, 113 assists, 140 points as a rock solid, 5 foot 11, 185 pound defender.

Then came a long and winding professional hockey career that would eventually lead him to Austria, Northern Ireland and Italy before finally retiring as a player at the age of 37. Those 17 years of next level hockey also included time with the Laurentian University Voyageurs in Sudbury and various minor pro outposts with teams such as the Missouri River Otters, Toledo Storm, Kansas City Blades, Mississippi Sea Wolves, Rockford Ice Hogs, Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves before heading off to see more of the world.

It was while Rebek was in Sudbury that he met his future wife, Alexandra Smith, and she would join him on his hockey journey that finally ended overseas when he was still a point per game defenseman at the age of 37. And It was while playing in Belfast, Northern Ireland that Rebek combined scoring 42 points in 42 games as an aging defenseman with getting his masters degree from the University of Ulster.


Joey Miller, who played in more than 190 games for the Soo Thunderbirds as a high scoring forward and later became an assistant coach with the NOJHL team, has himself a new gig, thanks to the cross-river Soo Eagles.

The 29-year old Miller is joining the Thunderbirds’ arch rival Eagles as an assistant under incoming head coach Jeremy Rebek.

As a gritty forward, Miller was a big producer for the Thunderbirds during his NOJHL playing days from 2013 to 2016. In 192 games — regular season and playoffs included — Miller totalled 63 goals, 85 assists, 148 points and rang up 194 minutes in penalties. 


No less than six players from the 2023-2024 edition of the Eagles have school commitments for the 2024-2025 season.

The latest to commit is defenseman Lane Janssen, who is headed to Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Marian is a Division 3, NCAA program. The 6 foot 1, 175 pound Janssen played in 93 games for the Eagles over the past two seasons and produced four goals, 47 assists, 51 points. 

Prior to Janssen, other Eagles to get school commitments during this off season are forwards Jack Paweski and Darby McCarthy, defensemen Coby Fox and Michael Starzomski and goalie Marino Ramirez. Notably, Paweski led the Eagles in scoring this past season with 71 points, including 19 goals.

Michael Starzomski

Paweski has a commitment from Dubuque University, which is a Division 3, NCAA program. McCarthy is also headed to an NCAA D3 school, Southern New Hampshire University as is Fox, who has committed to Johnson and Wales.

Meanwhile, Starzomski and Ramirez are both off to ACHA schools. Starzomski is staying at home to attend Sault College while Ramirez is bound for the University of Mary.

The aforementioned Bruno Bragagnolo, as the president and general manager of the Eagles, has overseen in the neighbourhood of 150 players from his program head to the college hockey ranks over a period of 14 years. And Bragagnolo had good words to say about the latest Eagles to fly off to school and continue to play hockey.

“Lane, Coby, Jack, Darby, Michael and Marino are not only good players but they are good kids and character individuals,” Bragagnolo relayed to Hockey News North. “The Soo Eagles wish all them well in school and in hockey … we are proud to have helped out with their development.”

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