NOJHL makes Thunderbirds pay the price

Soo Thunderbirds will pay a heavy price for a series of off-ice transgressions that led to a full-fledged investigation by the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

The misbehaviour included alleged incidents of coaches and players drinking alcohol to excess on the team bus following at least two road trips.

The initial investigation resulted in indefinite suspensions issued to head coach Preston Mizzi and his primary assistant Jamie Henderson on April 26, just after the Thunderbirds had returned from winning the Dudley Hewitt Cup, Central Canada Jr. A championship in Thunder Bay and prior to the team departing for the Royal Bank Cup national playdowns that were held in Humboldt, Sask.

I have confirmed that the NOJHL has concluded its investigation into the alleged incidents and imposed several sanctions on the Thunderbirds including:

* Mizzi is suspended for two years effective June 6, 2012 up to and including June 6, 2014.

* Mizzi is to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie, to be completed before re-instatement.

* Mizzi must complete the Hockey Canada Coaching Program Development 2 Clinic before re-instatement.

* Henderson is suspended for one year effective June 6, 2012 up to and including June 6, 2013.

* Henderson is to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie before re-instatement.

* Henderson must complete the Hockey Canada Coaching Program Development 2 Clinic before re-instatement.

* All members of the Thunderbirds hockey operations department, including general manager Kevin Cain, will have to complete an in-person Hockey Canada Speak Out Clinic to be held in Sault Ste. Marie before the first scheduled game of the 2012-13 NOJHL season.

* The Thunderbird organization will be placed on probation for one year as of June 6, 2012.

* The NOJHL fines the Thunderbirds $3,000, which includes the cost of the league-ordered investigation.

39 thoughts on “NOJHL makes Thunderbirds pay the price

  1. Beavers1

    Whats that old saying – You play, you pay!

    Lets see now if the Thunderbirds will “play by the rules” and accept the consequence of there actions!

    RR – as for your other Blog about attendance being down in Blind R I expect you will see an increase in fan support with the new Coach who as you say is “fan friendly”.

  2. Cassio

    I for did not think the League would have the balls to stand up to the champs from the Soo.
    I think it sends the right message to kids, parents and any one who is involved in Hockey and that being that if you break the rules there is a big price that goes with it.
    Great reporting the facts RR! You sure as hell are not a “homer.”

  3. Randy Russon Post author

    Golf tournament a tribute to Paul Theriault

    Friends of Paul ‘Turk’ Theriault are honouring the retired junior hockey coach with a tribute golf event, slated for July 16 at the Wooden Sticks Golf Club in Uxbridge, just east of Toronto.

    The tournament has been slugged ‘A Tribute to Turk’.

    Details on the event are included on a special website: http://turkgolf.pointstreaksites.com/view/turkgolf

    A concussion that Theriault suffered about 40 years ago while playing hockey for the Lake Superior State Lakers has surfaced with irreversible effects that have severely limited his abilities.

    Organizers of the tournament are hoping that as well as recognizing Theriault contributions as a coach, including 14 seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with Soo Greyhounds, Oshawa Generals and Erie Otters, the golf tournament will help to offset the financial cost of Paul’s continuing and increasing need for therapy and care.

    The planning for the event is progressing under the direction of Scott McCrory and Norm Schmidt, two of Theriault’s former Oshawa players.

    Theriault closed out his coaching career two years ago in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with the Soo Eagles.

  4. Trapperfan

    Yep I agree Beaver 1, in my opinion there was no other recoarse for an incident like this. Holding the front line management of the Soo Thunderbirds eam accountable shows that responsibility of actions on and off the ice isn’t just put on the players, but on the team as whole. We want quality kids to come and play in this league and showing that the rules are followed will go a long way.

  5. Posted on behalf of Jamie Henderson Post author

    ED. NOTE: Jamie Henderson, suspended assistant coach of the Soo Thunderbirds, has asked that the following message from him be posted.

    During a long hockey season the best part of my day would often be walking into the rink. The opportunity to coach with one of your best friends, the challenge of improving and the relationships formed with a team of young men chasing a championship and looking to create history are all part of what makes coaching a passion of mine.

    Make no mistake about it, the 2011-12 Soo Thunderbirds had one goal starting back in August of last year at training camp, to win the Dudley Hewitt Cup. Along the way however, many more important things came to fruition. A group of 22 young men shared in some adversity, turmoil, family heart ache, good times and bad times. As a result, the single greatest thing that could happen to a team did. They became a family, they stuck together and in the end learned that in life there are many more important things that winning a hockey game!

    These lessons helped lead those young men to the most successful season in the history of their organization.

    As a volunteer coach, many of you can relate to this, you put in countless hours often with little recognition. Passion for sport and the joy of winning make the opportunity to work with young men or women worthwhile in the end.

    A hockey season never really ends. As most of you know, for a successful team in can be from August until April or May. It is certainly difficult in life to avoid making mistakes but what is most important is how we react, learn and move on from them.

    As a staff we certainly were not perfect and I accept my part in any mistakes that were made this year. It is something that will stick with me for a long time and will drive me to be a better person and role model in the future.

    You sometimes don’t appreciate things until they are taken away from you. Well that certainly wasn’t the case for me and my good friend. We shared laughs, tears and a burning desire to give those kids the best opportunity to become men, to become better people and to win a championship with their brothers. We made mistakes, yes, but the safety and well-being of each of those players was always a major concern for both of us. The relationships with their brothers on the team and their families always came before wins and losses.

    When you spend roughly 1,600 hours from August to April volunteering your time, you better be with a team or people who you enjoy to be with. For the past two seasons I have been lucky enough to do so with my good buddy ‘Mizz’ and some young men who I would be proud one day if my kids grew up to be like them.

    I am a better person for the experiences I have been through and will always have only great memories from the past two seasons. When things don’t end the way you want them to sometimes you don’t get to say bye to some important people.

    To the parents, friends and supporters who were amazing this year I would like to thank you and we will always be grateful for what you did for our team. To the players, we shared many ups and downs but no one can take anything away from what you accomplished and in the end you made history! Thank you for giving us your absolute best, for making us proud and giving us memories that will last a lifetime.

    Jamie Henderson

  6. Beavers1

    This is nicely said by Soo Coach Jamie Henderson! You have shown much class and charactor by stating this! I as a fan of NOJHL am rather impressed!
    Hopefully the rest of the Thunderbirds Org will display as much class including the Head Coach, G.M. Owner etc.

  7. American Eagle

    If the safety and well being of your players was a concern Coach Henderson then you and Mizzi shoud not have let your players drink on the bus and then drive home after???!!!???!!!
    Having said this I have one question: Where was the General Manager Mr. Cain when all of this bullshit on the bus was going on???”
    My team the Eagles are going to the ‘NA’ but i will still cross ovver and watch the Zoo Birds cause I love the ‘NO’

  8. Cue For Treason

    Lets just hope the Soo Thunderbirds are sold and that this franchise gets their act straightned out. The League needs the TBirds so the Beavers and Elliot Lake can beat ‘em up next season L-O-L.

  9. BirdsFan1

    maybe Tony Porco from SIS will by the Team and run it with Toots as GM and Caricato as Coach.
    Nice appology from Jamie btw.

  10. Thunderbird Grad

    If Sam Biasucce takes over the Team again then you can bet that Capy will be Coach & GM. I would rather see Toots and Patty and Richie D run the show again with Jonesey and Eagan.

  11. billy syms

    I almost shed a tear reading Hendo’s “we are not perfect and we make mistakes speech.”
    Let’s put things in perspective.
    The only thing this year accomplished in this entire fiasco, is it has cost the Soo Thunderbirds hockey club a reputation that it had built over the last 10+ years. So much of an embarassment that it is for sale.
    In all of my years of being involved with that organization, I have never been more digusted with the lack of respect for the organization and ownership that you (Henderson) and your best friend (Mizzi) have shown.
    To the players: Best of luck in whatever you do.
    To you two suspended coaches: I know some 50 year olds who wore the Thunderbird organization on their sleeves…and everyone can relate to that.

  12. Michigan Warriors Fan

    Randy: Just red your article on juniorhockey.com that mention MIKE RUSIN formarly of old Flint Generals. Thank You for this as MIKE RUSIN is still a legend here in Flint. I am now a Warriors fan & lov your coveraage of the N.A.H.L. Sincerely, Perry Robinson.

  13. Cheryl

    FYI the beer the boy,s were drinking on the bus was not supplied by the coaches it was supplied by some of their own parents & by some members of the management. The only thing the coaches were crucified for was allowing them to drink on the bus .As for Billy Sims people who live in glass should,nt throw stones. Would you like to hear more Billy Simms or Ted Brooks?

  14. billy syms

    Hey Cheryl, if that is what your real name is. You spelled my last name wrong. (Twice)!

  15. BirdsFan1

    Isn’t Preston’s Mom name Cheryl? Maybe just coincidense.

    Billy Sims speaks the trueth & as we all know the trueth hurts!

  16. Love of NOJ

    Nice comment Jaime and you are right, the TBirds are a very very tight group and I for one am very proud of all they accomplished!! While mistakes were made, for the most part it was an extremely successful year IMO and am grateful to the volunteers who give countless hours, including the coaches. Thank you!

  17. Randy Russon Post author

    Beavers hire a new GM

    Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have named local resident Rusty Joncas as their new general manager.

    Joncas, who was an assistant coach with the NOJHL team last season, joins a new-look hockey department in Blind River which also includes first-year head coach Doug McEwen and first-year assistant coach David McCaig.

    McCaig just finished a four-year NOJHL playing career with the Beavers during the 2011-12 season.

    The Beavers have also unveiled their Board of Directors for the 2012-13 season.

    Returning for a a a a another season as president is Stuart Campbell.

    Campbell will be joined by some familiar and new faces on the Beavers board including office administrator/treasurer LeeAnn Blondeau, secretary Deb Nelson and directors Elva (Gramma Beaver) Morningstar, Mary-Ellen Morningstar, Linda Makela, Collin Gosselin, Linda Lamorie, Stacey Clark and Kerry Joncas.

  18. Randy Russon Post author

    FROM THE WOODSTOCK SLAMMERS WEBSITE

    Slammers add veteran Dylan Connolly

    Wed. Jun. 13, 2012

    The Woodstock Slammers have acquired veteran defenseman Dylan Connolly from the Soo Thunderbirds in exchange for future considerations.

    The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has participated in the RBC Cup and three Dudley Hewitt Cups. Connolly will be entering his fifth year of junior hockey. In 180 games Connolly recorded 10 goals and 43 assists and 261 minutes in penalties. The Soo Thunderbirds participated in the semi final at the RBC Cup.

    “Dylan adds experience to our blue line, we’ve added another player to our roster that has won a championship and has played at the RBC Cup. Dylan is very sound in the defensive zone and we will depend on him to bring a calmness to our defense core. We watched Dylan play in the RBC Cup and we liked him, we’re very excited to have Dylan in Woodstock next season,” commented Head Coach Jason Tatarnic.

    Connolly will be entering his fifth year of junior hockey and he is looking forward to the move to the east coast and to the Woodstock Slammers organization. “I’m excited to be joining the Woodstock Slammers after seeing them compete in the RBC Cup and the championship game. I look forward to helping the Slammers in the quest to win a national championship” commented Dylan Connolly.

    The Slammers are adding the pieces to be a competitive team and more announcements are expected shortly.
    http://youtu.be/VKn7cJHz1zA

    © 2006-2012 Woodstock Slammers

  19. bayinfo

    PRESS RELEASE

    NORTH BAY TRAPPERS Jr. ‘A’ HOCKEY CLUB

    JUNE 13th, 2012

    NORTH BAY, ONTARIO … A Stanley Cup championship is big news for the state of California and the city of Los Angeles and Trappers Shattuck St. Mary’s deman Carter Horwitz …. …

    But Horwitz admits he was torn on whom to cheer for …………..

    The North Bay Jr. Trappers defenceman who lives 45 minutes south of LA was excited when the Kings finished off the Devils 6-1 in game 6 on Monday night, but he felt for the Devils who have a significant connection to Shattuck St. Mary’s; the prep school that Horwitz played for last season. The high profile hockey academy based in Minnesota, USA, has a New Jersey connection. Devils captain Zach Parise is a graduate of Shattuck, while Devils hall of fame goaltender Martin Brodeurs’ son’s Jeremy, William and Anthony all play hockey at the Minnesota Prep School.

    “I wanted a Shattuck alum to win the cup but at the same time LA winning the Stanley Cup is great,” said the puck moving deman, who committed to the Trappers at their April spring training camp at Memorial Gardens. “Gretzky came here and hockey boomed. Now let’s see how much hockey grows due to the Kings winning Lord Stanley. I would have also liked to see Parise to win the cup. “

    Horwitz is excited to join the Jr. Trappers for the upcoming season; although his journey to junior hockey is a very unique one as his first ice hockey experience took place in Hawaii. “I learned to ice skate in Hawaii when I was 12 but I fell in love with the game of hockey while playing street hockey,” said Horwitz. At that time, it was only a dream of his but once he started playing the game and his love for the game took off. Former NHLer Murray Eaves only coached Carter for one season at Shattuck St Mary’s but that was more than long enough for him to recognize his strong work ethic. “The first thing that sticks out with Carter is his skating and he sees the ice pretty well,” noted Eaves. “He hasn’t played organized hockey that long and the steps to where he is now is because of his hard work. He will go to the extreme to improve and his dream really is to play in the NHL. That may not happen but it’s a goal that he’s set and he will work on that until it happens. He’s a go-getter. He will be leaving our program but he’s still developing and who knows where next year will take him.”

    Jr. Trappers Head Coach Tom McCarthy is excited to work with a player with dedicated a drive to get better. “Carter’s footwork is very good and his attitude for the game is outstanding,” said coach McCarthy. He brings the right character. That’s the whole thing about the attitude; his attitude is inviting to us and Carter is just as goal driven as the Trappers organization. I really like his dreams, his drive and his aspirations and what he wants to accomplish. Carter Horwitz fits in with the goals that our Trappers family already has. “

  20. Trapperfan

    Can’t wait for pre camp in August to see the caliber of young men that has been recuited to jockey for a position on the team. When the dust settles I predict that the fans will be in for a real treat this season.

    Long live Trapper Hockey!!!!!

  21. Mike

    I agree that the Trappers will be very strong and are on the right track. Half of Sudbury’s lineup needs to be replaced and it’s a continuous gong show here – lying Bryan can bang a gong as good as anyone. Blind River’s rebuilding. EL will be pretty bad based on what I saw. The Sault should be strong but also in very well publicized turmoil, KL is KL, Abitibi will somehow manage to compete. Trappers vs Thunderbirds – early June prediction!!!

  22. fanman

    After reading Randy’s column on juniorhockey.com…I’m just wondering if we’ll see Tim Clayden Part Deaux in North Bay this year.

  23. Randy Russon Post author

    The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League wrapped up its summer general meeting on Saturday with the league moving forward with a number of changes for the upcoming 2012-2013 season.

    One of the hot topics was the status of the Sudbury Cubs franchise. On Saturday the league approved the sale of the franchise to Sudbury businessman Mike Mooney who purchased the club from Bill Scott recently.

    Mooney, who played in the NOJHL in the mid-80′s with the Rayside-Balfour Canadiens, will re-name the club the Sudbury Nickel Barons and has hired Oscar Clouthier as the club’s general manager.

    “Michael Mooney has purchased the Sudbury franchise from Bill Scott and he will be operating in Sudbury out of the McClelland arena in Copper Cliff,” said NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca.

    “It’s been a long process as its gone on for a few months and it’s over. As for Bill Scott we thank him for his contribution to junior hockey in Sudbury and we wish Mike Mooney and Oscar Clouthier all the best of luck in the future.”

    The league also is moving forward with a balanced 48-game schedule for the upcoming season. The league will now play in a single conference and the playoff format includes the first place team getting a first round playoff bye.

    The shootout has been taken out as a tiebreaker and will be replaced by a one 4 on 4 5 minute period and another 5 minute period of 3 on 3. If a winner is not determined, the game will finish as a tie.

    “You talk to the people in Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie and you were seeing each team, including the Soo Eagles at the time play each other 12 to 14 times so it’s really not what the fans want to see and what the players want and I think this is a more balanced approach,” said Mazzuca.

    “It’s more costly for our teams due to the travel but we figured it was more balanced for the league and for the fans.”

    The league is also looking at some other innovative changes that they hope will be approved by the NOHA.

    “We are trying to be innovative, we are trying to make it more exciting for the fans and its more entertaining for the fans,” said Mazzuca about some of the new ideas on the table.

    “We are looking at ways to improve the game on the ice, we are looking at ways to improve the game off the ice with the anti-doping and the concussion programs last season and we are now trying to put a schedule together to get all the league trainers certified for first responders sports medicine course; the same level of training that OHL and CHL teams have.”

    The NOJHL also has approved a leave of absence for the Soo Eagles franchise which moved over to the NAHL in the off-season.

    Commissioner Mazzuca is hoping that franchise will be re-located to another community in Northern Michigan for the start of play in the fall of 2013.

  24. Mike

    Is Trevor Blanchard the new coach of the Nickel Barons? I heard it through the grapevine. New blood, new ideas, new attitude… can’t be worse the circus that Lying Bryan and Stressed Roddy ran last year.

  25. Randy Russon Post author

    Sources say this will be the staff for the new Sudbury Nickel Barons:
    Oscar Clouthier, GM
    Dave Clancy, Head Coach
    Miguel Beaudry, Asst Coach
    Trevor Blanchard, Asst Coach

  26. Armand5

    Randy, did I not read somewhere that the league was investigating the feasibility of some interlocking games with the SIJHL? I thought it was being discussed during the DHC.

  27. john

    mike- not sure what you mean by kl is kl, but it sounds negative. KL has done a great job in the few months that the current group has been running the franchise. they have assembled a very well respected and capable coaching staff that is totally committed to building a team over the next few years, they also have strong backing in the community for this team. they are striving to be a module franchise for this league and all indications are that they are well on their way down the right path.

  28. Frood

    Interesting how Verrault was supposed to coach Blind River and now Sudbury and he did not get neither job.

  29. Peachy

    PEACHY BLOG

    No News on new Coach for Thunderturds they cant find Coach in Zoo who wont drink on Bus ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  30. Randy Russon Post author

    Armand5,

    Yes, interlocking with SIJHL was discussed but there will be none for 2012-13 season, that is for sure.

    Regards,

    RR

  31. Linda Lamorie

    Just a reminder about the Beavers tryout camp this weekend,
    June 23&24th at Countryside Arena in Sudbury.
    Go to blindriverbeavers.com for info and forms.
    Still room for a few more players.

  32. Randy Russon Post author

    NORTH BAY TRAPPERS PRESS RELEASE

    JUNE 20th, 2012

    The North Bay Jr. Trappers bolstered their junior hockey organization today with the appointment of Tim Clayden, acting in a dual role as the team Director of Operations and as the Club Chairman of the Board, overseeing the organization both on and off the ice, including player acquisitions, OHL Affiliation Agreements, NOJHL league matters, City Contract negotiations and the position will also be responsible for improving the Trappers relationships with North Bay’s minor hockey association’s and the University Men’s ice
    hockey team.

    The former OJHL 1st Vice Chairman & OJHL Executive Member for the past 7 years has decades of Junior ‘A’ Hockey experience that include working with the North Bay Skyhawks for the first 3 years of their existence as a silent Founding Member while helping the club capture 3 consecutive NOJHL championships.

    “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you can continue to work in the great game of junior hockey and get home for dinner every night,” stated Clayden. “It is also very exciting to once again be a part of the NOJHL and North Bay junior hockey family. It’s a great game with so many great people associated with it. The Trappers have assembled a fantastic team off the ice in President Chris Dawson, VP Dean Pauli, CFO Billy Hummel and Assistant GM Randy Blake, all faces that have been good friends of mine for many years already and there’s not a better Head Coach in the game today or one that puts his players and their dreams first and ahead of all others than Head Coach Tom McCarthy. We have lot’s of work to do and I look forward to getting started with so many good people already on board”

    “Timing is everything and the timing is very exciting as the NOJHL has quality leadership with Commissioner Mazzuca and Mr. Sequin at the helm. The NOJHL has never been positioned better. I very much look forward to working with Commissioner Robert Mazzuca and each league partner with a “league first mindset’ and in doing our part to provide what we hope is truly only a positive junior hockey experience of a lifetime, one that we trust our players will always cherish, and our fans enjoy.” added the Trappers newly appointed Chairman of the Board / Director of Operations.

    President/GM Chris Dawson believes Clayden will also bring more stability to the franchise. “He is a longtime friend and mentor of mine and it’s truly an Honor to finally work hand in hand with Tim,” said Dawson, who will remain as President/GM of the hockey club.

    “Tim helped (VP) Dean Pauli and I when we re-established the Trappers junior hockey program 2 years ago and his experience will truly be an asset when it comes to player recruitment and his off ice knowledge in the world of junior hockey make Tim an immediate asset to our team.”

    Trappers Vice President Dean Pauli is very familiar with Clayden as the two worked together with the North Bay Skyhawks, Port Hope Predators and Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL. “I have worked together with Tim over the course of ten seasons of junior hockey and I am excited that he has finally come home to rejoin the Trappers,” said Pauli. “Tim is very knowledgeable, respected and connected within the (CJHL) Canadian Junior Hockey League. He brings passion and dedication to the Trappers and wants to win, which no doubt will carry over to the staff and our players alike, we are all very excited to get re-started.”

    Junior Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy was recommended to the Trappers by Clayden as the two are good hockey friends that had also worked together 2 years ago with the OJHL Trenton Golden Hawks.

    “We ‘The Trappers Family’ are very fortunate to have Tim’s experience and hockey knowledge returning to North Bay,” said McCarthy. “Tim wears his passion for junior hockey and his hockey team up front and second to none and at a professional level, putting the interest of his team and our good character kids and their dreams first. The key to working with Tim is that he gives each player a commitment to work just as hard off the ice as our players do on, in helping our kids get to the next level. I look forward to working with Tim again as our relations are old reaching as we aspire to mutual goals, with the best interest of our players first. What a pleasure for a Head Coach it is to know that another in our organization is working for his team just as hard as his player’s do each day’. I’m very excited and grateful to share the same approach to the game with another true hockey man, there is no doubt the Trappers fans have some very exciting seasons ahead!”

  33. Bob Bellerose

    They are not the first no the last. If it was watched and under control then it is not the end of the world. We all did worst in our youth or at least the majority of us.
    Hope the boys enjoyed the moment.:-)

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