Birds To The O

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By Matt Stefano

The prize has been won for our Soo Thunderbirds AAA midgets hockey club after winning the 2015 Great North Midget League title in their first season and today was a day that changed the lives for a few players as they got a different taste of the next step in their hockey lives. Today marked the 2015 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and with a few T-Bird players seeing their name selected.

T-Birds defenceman and Saulite Nolan Makkonen was selected in the 9th round (174th overall) by the 2014 OHL champions Guelph Storm after putting up 0 goals and 5 assists through 36 games along with collecting 18 penalty minutes this season.

A trio of players from the Soo Greyhounds Minor Midget AAA hockey club who also saw action this season with the Soo Thunderbirds midgets were also selected today, including forward Gage Stephney who scored 34 goals and 69 points through 62 games with the Hounds along with collecting 128 penalty minutes and was called up for a hand full of games with the T-Birds scoring 4 points (2g 2a) on September 21st in a 6-4 victory over the North Bay Trappers along with recording an assist in five playoff games and just 4 penalty minutes.

Echo Bay, Ontario native and forward Max Khull was selected by the Niagra Ice dogs in the 6th round (118th overall) after scoring 32 goals and 63 points through 53 games with the Hounds this season along with collecting 128 penalty minutes. He was also called up for two playoff games with the Thunderbirds, scoring twice in both.

Rounding out the draft was Saulite defenceman Zach Taylor, who was selected in the 15th round (289th overall) by our very own 2015 OHL regular season champions Soo Greyhounds after putting up 21 goals and 59 points through 67 games with the Soo Greyhounds Minor Midgets and was also called up for seven postseason games with the T-Birds, scoring 2 goals and 4 points with 8 penalty minutes, including 2 goals and 1 assist on March 6th in a 4-2 victory over New Liskeard. He also put up 1 assist in 4 regular season meeting with us along with 10 penalty minutes.

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Matt Stefano
Matt had graduated from Sault College in the General Arts and Sciences program in 2011 and has been working in the sports field ever since. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has worked as an Athletics Assistant in the Sault College Athletics Department during his final year of school in 2011. After graduating, Stefano worked for two years at the George Leach Centre from 2011-2013 for the Algoma University Thunderbirds Varsity Basketball Games as an Athletics Assistant. From 2013 on, Stefano has been working as the Soo Thunderbirds communications person and has also been volunteering with Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie since 2014, doing Soo Thunderbirds TV Segments.