NPH CIS Team Previews: Algoma Thunderbirds

The Algoma Thunderbirds have moved on from being an expansion team to something less defined.

Algoma Thunderbirds

Head coach: Thomas Cory algoma

Record in 2014: 2-18 (Fifth in OUA West division)

Playoffs: No playoffs

Points scored per game: 62.6

Points allowed per game: 85.9

Key players: Sean Clendinning, Andre Barber, Brett Zufelt

Key losses: Jamal Mucket-Sobers

Schedule breakdown:

In their second year at the CIS level in 2014-15, the Algoma Thunderbirds had to wait until the 13th game of their season to taste victory. Head coach Thomas Cory knows it can’t happen this season, not again. “The competition is unbelievable. Level of play is really good, the coaching is really good. There are no cakewalks,” he says. “If you don’t match the level of competitiveness of the other team, you’re going to get beat up.” This season, the Thunderbirds have a balanced schedule, alternating nicely between home and away games—though the month of February offers no respite with eight games in 24 days. “If you can compete in (the OUA), you’re going to be able to compete with anyone in the country,” Cory says. “You’re going to have an opportunity to play against the best.”

Key games: at Nipissing Lakers, Nov. 27

                    VS Waterloo Warriors, Feb. 5 and 6


CBG’s take:

Entering their third season in the CIS, the Algoma Thunderbirds have moved on from being an expansion team to something less defined. “We still need a lot of resources, […] scholarship money and money to travel,” head coach Thomas Cory tells NPH. “We’re building from the bottom up and we’re okay with that.”

In 2015-16, Algoma isn’t entirely focused on results. “We’re so young as a program, so we have to build (Algoma) first before results,” he says. The results, Cory knows, will come. “We’re on the verge of being close to where we think we can maybe think the playoffs,” he says, parsing his every word. And when they do, Cory believes it’ll be with this current group. “We’re starting to build that culture a little bit,” he says, “to form a really close family.”

If the Thunderbirds are a family, Cory is the proud father. The head coach beams on the line in discussing three players: Sean Clendinning, the engine that makes Algoma tick, Brett Zufelt, who sacrifices his body for the team, and Andre Barber, “the pest on defense” and “a football player playing basketball.”

If the three lead the way, the other Thunderbirds follow suit. “The biggest thing would be getting our team to compete every single day and every single night,” Cory says. And winning consistently, though that comes later. “We’re building on a path. It’s a process and we understand that it’s not going to happen overnight.”

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