Call it a cross-border transaction. Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have made a player exchange.
Kenny Belanger, a highly regarded, 2004 birth year forward, has been acquired by the Michigan-based Eagles from the Thunderbirds in a cash deal, Hockey News North has confirmed. Regular season and playoffs included in 2021-2022, the 6-foot-2, 170 pound Belanger netted 12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points in 56 games as a rookie with the NOJHL champion Thunderbirds.
He is a son of Ken Belanger, who played in 260 National Hockey League games as a left winger and feared enforcer.
At any rate, the youngster heads from the reigning NOJHL champion Thunderbirds to the Eagles. And Eagles general manager Bruno Bragagnolo is happy to now have Belanger on his side.
“He is a good player with good potential,” Bragagnolo told Hockey News North. “We got to see a lot of him last season. And (Eagles head coach) Doug Laprade really likes the kid and likes what he can potentially add to our lineup. We are happy to add Kenny to our team, no doubt about that.”
Belanger, from his end, commented on leaving the Thunderbirds for the cross-border Eagles.
“I want to thank the entire Thunderbird organization for a great experience in my first year of junior,” Belanger began. “It was great being able to live and play for my hometown this past season. I have made some great friends and really enjoyed the atmosphere around the rink, at every practice, team building event and road trips. I felt it was a truly fantastic experience and season for our team and I was very happy to be a part of it. Our team had a great group of players and I have made many great memories with them and lifelong friendships.”
During the upcoming 2022-2023 regular season, the Thunderbirds and the Eagles will face each other a total of 12 times.
“It will be absolutely different playing against the Thunderbirds this upcoming season as I’m joining the Eagles, but I am looking forward to my next steps with the Eagles organization and what opportunities may be ahead of me,” Belanger noted. “I want to thank Mr. Bruno Bragagnolo and coach Doug Laprade for this opportunity and I am looking forward to showing the Eagles organization my work ethic both on and off the ice, and my passion to play the game.”