It has carried on as a commitment to a local players tradition that was initially established when the Soo Thunderbirds joined the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League as a new team in 1999 under franchise founder Sam Biasucci.
No less than 16 local players are on the current roster of the Thunderbirds, who are in first place in the West Division of the NOJHL with a record of 10-2-2 through 14 games.
And how much of an impact have the local players had on the fortunes of the Thunderbirds thus far this season? Well, enough that of the Thunderbirds top 10 scorers, no less than eight of them are Sault Ste. Marie products.
Top Thunderbird point producers are local lads Tyson Doucette (nine goals, six assists, 15 points), Cooper Foster (4-11-15), Michael Chaffay (6-4-10), Creo Solomon (4-6-10), Brock Santa Maria (3-7-10), Samuel Lake (7-2-9), Kaden Dundas (3-4-7) and Colby Arbour (1-6-7.) Of note, Solomon and Dundas are defensemen.
There is also youth involved as Foster has a 2005 birth date, Doucette, Solomon and Lake were all born in 2004 and Dundas has a 2003 birth date.
Then there is 2004 birth year goalie Noah Metivier who is among the best at his position in the league with a 5-1-1 record, 1.73 goals against average and .944 save percentage.
Jamie Henderson, who is the Thunderbirds general manager and assistant coach, said the local look of the team is intentional and in keeping with tradition.
“If a local boy can play at this level then we are always interested in having as many Sault Ste. Marie kids as we can,” noted Henderson. “This group of local players has a good age mix and there is a lot of talent among them.”
Defenseman Kaden Dundas and goalie Noah Metivier are just two of 16 homegrown products on the Soo Thunderbirds. (photo by Bob Davies)