T-Birds Taking Home Hardware


As the Soo Thunderbirds prepare to leave for the Dudley Hewitt Cup Tournament held in Fort Frances, Ontario beginning on Tuesday, the 2015 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League champions held its annual team awards banquet last night at the Comfort Suites Hotel.


Overage defenceman Connor Dea received this award which was voted by his peers as he demonstrated a leadership role for his team to look up to and showed great character both on and off the ice.

TED BROOKS MEMORIAL AWARD (Excellence In The Community) – Connor Dea

This award marked Dea’s second of the evening as he was an asset towards taking part in community events such as helping out with Christmas Cheer at Sir James Dunn and reading to students as part of the “Forest Of Reading Program” at Our Lady Of Lourdes Elementary School.

FORTY VARCOE MEMORIAL AWARD (Most Sportsmanlike Player) – Nick Tassone and Jaren Bellini

This award was shared by our top two scorers Nick Tassone and Jaren Bellini. These two high end players have shown great sportsmanship throughout the year and for Bellini, it marked his second straight season as the recipient of this award.

JOEY MANCUSO AWARD (Rookie Of The Year) – Mario Culina

Goaltender Mario Culina had an outstanding rookie campaign with the T-Birds with twenty one wins, seven losses, a 2.24 goals against average, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts. The Saulite also set the new team record for most wins by a rookie goalie in a season and helped lead us to our third Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in franchise history as he got the start in net for the final four games of the NOJHL finals vs Cochrane and led all goalie in the postseason with a 1.23 goals against average along with a .945 save percentage.

ZOLTAN TOOTS KOVACS MEMORIAL AWARD (Hardest Working Player) – Brett Jeffries and Eric Hillock

This duo also shared last season’s hardest working player of the year award as they always showed up ready to play and gave it their all game in and game out this season. These two forwards also combined for eighty one points.

JOE ROCCHETTA MEMORIAL TROPHY (Highest Scoring Forward) – Nick Tassone

This marked the overage forward’s second award of the evening as the Saulite led us in scoring during the 2014-2015 regular season with thirty two goals and sixty eight points through fifty one games along with collecting only four penalty minutes.


The overage defenceman and Colorado College recruit who was came back to the team earlier in the season from the Janesville Jets, finished off the regular season with two goals and twenty seven points through forty four games along with collecting forty four penalty minutes.

SOO GREYHOUNDS AWARD (Most Valuable Player) – Anthony Miller

The T-Birds captain and overage forward who had three consecutive twenty plus goal seasons, has also shown he can be a great team leader, hard worker and his tremendous leadership both on and off the ice has helped this team clinch their third Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in franchise history after falling two years in a row short in the finals. His 160 career points have also put him seventh on the Thunderbirds all time scoring list. Miller also set the new team record for most career playoff goals with twenty four, passing former T-Birds captain and all time points leader Jerry Petingalo who had twenty one.

SCHOLASTIC PLAYER AWARD – Brian Kment and Brandon Grandinetti

This award was shared by goaltender Brian Kment and defenceman Brandon Grandibetti after defenceman David Radke, who clinched it back to back seasons in 2013 and 2014.

Following the awards, our five overage players including David Radke, Eric Hillock, Nick Tassone, Connor Dea and Anthony Miller were all honoured and presented with their own player picture frames.

The T-Birds begin the first game of the Dudley Hewitt Cup Tournament on Tuesday, April 28th at 2:00 vs the Dryden Ice Dogs from the Ice For Kids Arena in Fort Frances, Ontario.