By Matt Stefano
On Tuesday, February 17th, four members of the Soo Thunderbirds hockey club visited Miss Vance’s grade one class at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Elementary School as part of the “Forest Of Reading Program.” Captain Anthony Miller, Brandon Grandinetti, Connor Dea and Nick Tassone who himself is an Our Lady Of Lourdes graduate, read a book called “The Highest Number In The World” by Roy MacGregor.
“It was an absolute pleasure returning to my old elementary school,” Said Thunderbirds top scorer Nick Tassone. “It brought back some great memories and reminded me a lot of where it all began.”
From 9am-10am in the Lourdes gymnasium was a story read to the students about a girl named Gabe Murray who grew up having a passion for hockey and wanted to wear number 22 because of her idol Haley Wickenheiser but was given number 9 once the team jerseys were handed out.
“The book we read to the children was a great lesson for them being young inspirational athletes and allowed them to realize it’s not about the number on your shirt, but about the player wearing the shirt.”
When Gabe felt like giving up hockey because she didn’t want to wear number 9, her grandmother gave her great advice to all the great players she grew up following in hockey who wore number 9. As we know great names like Gordie Howe and Mike Modano had their number nine jerseys retired in the NHL, but one interesting fact that stood out was that former Soo Thunderbirds captain and all time leading scorer Jerry Petingalo, is the only T-Bird to have his number 9 jersey retired and like Tassone, Petingalo is also a graduate of Our Lady Of Lourdes.
“I remember Jerry Petingalo when he was at Lourdes”, added Tassone. He was a few years older than I was an excelled as an athlete throughout his time at Lourdes. It’s great to see that such a recognized Thunderbird alumni graduated from the same school as me and I hope to leave a memorable mark when I complete my time with the Thunderbirds just like he (Jerry) did.
The Thunderbirds who came off a 5-0 win to the Sudbury Nickel Barons at the Rhodes on Family Day currently sit twelfth in the nation this week and are in action on Saturday, February 21st when they travel to Powassan to take on the Voodoos at 7:30 from the Powassan Sportsplex.