Another Sault native is starting his junior hockey career at home!
The Soo Thunderbirds have announced on Tuesday that they have signed 2005-birth-year forward Cooper Foster.
“It feels great to sign with the Thunderbirds and I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Foster said.
Foster, who stands 5’11 and weighs 166 pounds, spent last season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds, where he was coached under current Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson.
“Last year I had a great experience playing for the Jr. Greyhounds and coach Henderson,” Foster said. “Coach Henderson always pushed me to my limits and showed me what I needed to do to be able to play at the next level. He also created a good team environment on and off the ice and did the most for our team even during the COVID lockdowns and that’s something I’m very thankful for.”
Following his season with the Jr. Greyhounds, Foster was then drafted by the Ottawa 67’s in the 2nd round (32nd overall) in the 2021 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, which was held on his birthday back on June 4.
“I was speechless when I heard my name called during the draft. Especially for such a great team and organization that the 67’s are,” Foster said. “Hearing my name get called was a dream come true. Especially on my birthday, which made it a day I’ll never forget.”
After being drafted by the Ottawa 67’s back on June 4, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native then ended up signing with 67’s this past July.
“Signing with the 67’s is something I’m very thankful for,” Foster said. “It’s exciting to be part of an organization that has great players and a great coaching staff.”
The 16-year-old also played in two preseason games with the 67’s this year, where he had 0 points and 2 shots on goal.
“I had a great experience with all the players and coaches during my preseason with the 67’s,” Foster said. “During my time on and off the ice, I got a better feeling of how the game and lifestyle is of the OHL and that definitely benefitted me as a player.”
Foster, who will now be playing this season with his hometown the Soo Thunderbirds, will also be reunited with five of his former Soo Jr. Greyhound teammates this year, including blueliners Kolby Fellinger, Creo Solomon, Michael Beltrano, forward Sam Lake and goaltender Noah Metivier.
“Walking into the Thunderbirds dressing room and seeing some familiar faces just makes everything more exciting,” Foster said. “Playing with my former Jr. Greyhound teammates this year on the Thunderbirds will be easy, because we already have some good chemistry on the ice.”
Foster, who just turned 16-years-old back on June 4 (The day he got drafted by the 67’s), will also be the youngest player on this year’s Soo Thunderbirds roster.
“Cooper had a great camp in Ottawa,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson. “The main thing for him at this point is to play a lot and continue his development. He will be a great player for the 67’s one day and we’re happy to have him back home to help him in that journey back to the OHL.”
The 16-year-old is expected to make his debut with the Thunderbirds this Friday night at 7:30 p.m., in their home opener against the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes.