As we know, it’s the middle of August, but for some Soo Thunderbirds, it’s a time where they will be in the public eye at a different hockey level.
One thing’s for sure, T-Birds graduates Boris Katchouk (Soo Greyhounds) and Nick Sicoly (Guelph Storm) are already signed with their OHL clubs and expected to earn full time spots with them this season. Katchouk was also called up for a few games with the defending top team in the nation last season, while Sicoly, also logged some games with the Storm. Other players who will attend Ontario Hockey League camps from the T-Birds include; Andrew Barbeau (Erie Otters), Matt Busby (Windsor Spitfires), Matt Murray (Soo Greyhounds) and Mario Culina (Windsor Spitfires).
Defenceman Andrew Barbeau, who was acquired from the NAHL’s Michigan Warriors during last season, finished off the regular season with a goal and 5 points through 26 games. During the postseason, the only goal he scored was the game winner vs Cochrane on April 19th, 2015, as the T-Birds went on to clinch the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in a 5-3 game 5 finals victory.
Defenceman Matt Busby, who was selected in the 15th round (285th overall) by the Windsor Spitfires during 2013, had 3 goals and 21 points through 52 games with the T-Birds last season. The 18 year old, who committed back to the T-Birds for the upcoming season, came over as a free agent from the Espanola Rivermen prior to the 2014-2015 season. He will be joined by teammate and T-Birds goaltender Mario Culina at Spits camp.
Defenceman Matt Murray, who signed with the Junior A T-Birds this offseason, was named the GNML’s best defenceman along with being named to the all star team with T-Bird midgets trainer Bid Caverly. Murray was also called up for 6 NOJHL contests with the Soo Thunderbirds Junior A squad and notched his first career NOJHL goal vs Blind River on September 30th, 2014. While the name Matt Murray sounds familiar in Hound Town as we remember the goalie from (2010-2014), the T-Birds prospect will attend Soo Greyhounds camp as a free agent.
Goaltender Mario Culina, who had 21 wins in net for the T-Birds last season, will attend Windsor Spitfires camp with teammate and defenceman Matt Busby. The 18 year old also had last season’s best goals against average of 2.24 and suited up for Team NOJHL at the 2014 Central Canada Cup Challenge in Toronto, Ontario. He also had the best save percentage of .945 along with the best goals against average of 1.23 during the 2015 playoffs.
From the T-Bird midgets side of things, a trio of T-Bird Junior A prospects that will attend OHL camps include; Zach Senecal (Oshawa Generals), Nolan Makkonen (Guelph Storm) and Matt Mackay (Kitchener Rangers).
T-Birds Acquire Behse
With evaluation camp now a day old, and the signing of forward Mark Tassone on Sunday, the Soo Thunderbirds have added another piece to their blueline.
The T-Birds have acquired defenceman Jake Behse from the EHL’s New York Bobcats in exchange for cash.
The 18 year old, who stands 6’2 and 205 lbs played last season with the EHL’s New York Bobcats scoring 0 goals and 5 assists through 33 regular season games along with 10 penalty minutes.
The 2013 Soo Greyhounds 5th round pick (91st overall), hails from Thunder Bay, Ontario. He also picked up 2 penalty minutes through 2 playoff games last season with the Bobcats.
With the addition of Behse, the T-Birds roster now has a total of three Ontario Hockey League draft picks, along with Matt Busby (Windsor Spitfires) and Jaren Bellini (Soo Greyhounds).