Thunderbirds score by committee

March 4, 2016

Soo Thunderbirds may be the top team in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League but they are far from an offensive powerhouse.

For example, let’s compare the first-place Thunderbirds to the Cochrane Crunch, which is second overall in the standings of the 12-team NOJHL.

Whereas Cochrane leads the NOJHL in goals with 291 in 52 games, the Thunderbirds are well back in the production department with 225 tallies in 49 games.

But as Cochrane has out-scored the Soo by a healthy margin, the Thunderbirds are a much-better defensive team than the Crunch.

While Cochrane has allowed 164 goals to date, the Thunderbirds have surrendered a league-low 83.

And what makes the Thunderbirds a tough team to play against besides their defensive record is offensive balance.

While Cochrane, as an example, has 10 players that have scored 10 goals or more, the Thunderbirds have 13 skaters who have lit the lamp in double digits.

And while the Soo lacks explosive game-breakers like the Cochrane duo of Hunter Atchison and Dustin Cordeiro, who have tallied 49 and 38 goals respectively, Thunderbirds president-director of hockey operations Kevin Cain likes what his team brings.

“We score by committee and that along with our shutdown ability is the trademark of our team,” said Cain, who along with general manager Jamie Henderson are the main men in charge of the Thunderbird hockey department.

“You look at a team like Cochrane and guys like Atchison and Cordeiro who can fill the net and that is great for them, they are a very good team,” noted Cain. “But speaking for us, I like what we have in terms of all-around balance and depth.”

As for the Thunderbirds score-by-committee lineup, Matt Caruso leads the way with 25 goals followed by Jaren Bellini with 23, Matt Pinder with 19, Joey Miller and Drake Pilon with 15 apiece, Caleb Boman with 14, Darian Pilon with 13, Matt Busby with 12, Brett Jeffries, Matt Mitchell and Mark Tassone with 11 apiece and Nathan Hebert and Zach Senecal with 10 each.

Of note, Boman and Busby are defensemen and the Pilon brothers, Tassone and Senecal are all young rookie forwards.

The Thunderbirds take a league-best record of 43-5-1 into a weekend series with the arch-rival Soo Eagles with games tonight at Pullar Stadium and on Saturday evening at the Essar Centre.

PHOTO: Matt Mitchell is one of 13 players on the Soo Thunderbirds who have scored at least 10 goals this season. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

What you think about “Thunderbirds score by committee”

  1. One of the Cochrane big scorers has no interest in defense, often making him a liability. The other has rightfully garnered NCAA interest. The T-Birds are REALLY hard to score against, especially due to their puck possession and defensive mobility. That’s the biggest difference. Anyway, the T-Birds, as a team score enough to win! Play-offs should be interesting.

    1. How can you forget to leave Coach Jordan Smith out of the lineup he is in charge of that team behind the bench no one else.

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