End of an Era

In 1969 the Niagara Warriors Lacrosse club started playing in the Ontario Junior B lacrosse league.  Historic Warriors lacrosse names such as Conradi, Ignatczyk, Engemann, Hope, Skubel, McCready (Coach), Bissell, Henry and French, to name only a few, led the warriors in 1973 & 1981 to two Canadian Championships for Junior B lacrosse, The Founders Cups.

In 1984, due to reduced player population the Warriors were turned over to the St. Catharines Spartans Lacrosse club to be rebranded the Niagara Spartan Warriors and playing out of the NOTL Centennial Arena.  The Spartans moved back to St. Catharines and won a Founders in 1996 leaving no Jr. B in NOTL until 2003.

It was at this time that Mike Jones and numerous other volunteers brought lacrosse back to NOTL and rebranded it as the NOTL Thunderhawks.  The team was made up of players from the NOTL Minor lacrosse system, including players from both NOTL and Tuscarora Indian Reserve located 10 minutes from Queenston-Lewiston bridge in New York state. 

The Thunderhawks weren’t immediately competitive but did develop a culture of respect for the game, their opponents and especially their teammates.  Their persistence, unfortunately, didn’t lead to any Founder’s Cups, but it did develop players which were recognized by teams at the Jr. A and professional levels as future stars.

This new core of Thunderhawks like Devin Sartor, Corey Fowler, Bryan Neufeld moved to the professional level in the CLAX (Canadian Lacrosse League) while their teammate Jay Thorimbert moved on to the NLL (National Lacrosse League) achieving success as a prominent faceoff specialist till this day.  More recent success saw the Wagner brothers (Ryan & John) achieving success while in the recent NLL drafts, Chris Weier (2020-Toronto), Hunter Lemieux(2021-Philadelphia) and Aidan Buis (2021-San Diego) all achieve a lifelong goal of playing in the NLL.   

The years of success couldn’t hold back the hands of time.  The Thunderhawks executive recognized, after the 2018 season, NOTL’s growth in the demographic of lacrosse players had reduced and the number of kids graduating to Jr. B was limited.  Knowing this scenario, a onetime leave of absence from the league was requested to hopefully build the numbers during the 2019 season. However, limited players and the two year Covid-19 shutdown of sports eliminated the opportunity for players to participate causing a detrimental effect on all aspects of the Jr. B Thunderhawks.

During Covid, most of the members of the team executives have stepped down, core players have aged out of Jr., players lost developmental year for their opportunities to move to Jr. A, minor players lost exposure to Jr. B and a general movement to opportunities outside of lacrosse due to the lockdowns has brought the team to a unfortunate situation.

Sadly, after several pushes to promote and bolster a roster, the number and commitment of players is just not enough to run a team in NOTL.  Opportunity for players who wish to continue is still available if they travel to St. Catharines, but the family like atmosphere, the opportunity to play with their school friends and teammates throughout minor lacrosse and finally being part of a local legacy has been lost. 

We would like to thank all the sponsors, fans, volunteers, parents and especially players for the years of experiences and memories which helped build a community and connection between lacrosse enthusiasts which will last a lifetime.

Another NLL Signing….Lemieux 15th overall

During the 2021 NLL Entry draft the Philadelphia Wings selected Thunderhawks Alumnus Hunter Lemieux 15th overall. Hunter was always a dominant offensive player for the Thunderhawks, leading his teams to multiple provincial championships in both Field and Box lacrosse during his Minor Lacrosse campaign’s. During his short Jr. B career, he helped propel the team to a number of spectacular playoff wins before being selected to play for the Burlington Chiefs Jr. A team.

Lemieux, a Business Management and Social Entrepreneurship & Marketing major at Roberts Wesleyan College, was a 4 year starter and helped lead the Redhawks to their most successful season in program history, the East Coast Conference championship game in 2021.

We wish Hunter all the best in his future NLL endeavours. You’re doing us proud!

Buis makes the Show!

After playing for the Thunderhawks family for his whole career, he played with the St. Catharines Jr. A’s for the OJLL 2021 modified season. The schedule was short, the games were tough, but the A’s came out the victors versus the Brampton Excelsiors to win the Iroquois Trophy (Top Ontario Jr. A Lacrosse team).

If winning the Trophy wasn’t enough for Buis, in his last eligible year of Jr lacrosse, on August 9th he signed with the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League with a 2 yr. contract. Buis will be playing along side of NLL veterans such as Brodie Merrill, Casey Jackson, Wes Berg & Austen Staats to name a few. The whole Thunderhawks family couldn’t be prouder, Good Luck Aiden.

Buis is just the most recent Thunderhawks to sign in the NLL. Chris Weier inked his deal with the Toronto Rock on July 19th. NLL veteran Thunderahawks, John Wagner signed with Rochester Knighthawks, Ryan Wagner signed with Philadelphia Wings, Jay Thorimbert signed with the New York Riptide.

Big come from behind win for T-Hawks alumni.

With the JR B 2021 season cancelled, some of our alumni, Aiden Buis, Reid Lowe, Mike Wilson and Connor Watson, participated for the St Catharines Athletics during the modified JR A 2021 season.

After making the August 8th semi finals, the A’s trailed the strong Mimico Mountaineers team into the third period. However, The A’s defense was able to shut down the high powered Mimico offense, with the help of our T-Hawks players, to pull off a 7-6 win to make the finals.

Our alumni will be hoping to defeat the Brampton Excelsior’s to take the Iroquois Trophy for the best JR A team in Ontario.

Good luck boys, we will be watching and supporting you virtually.

Thunderhawk play Jr. A

The Thunderhawks family want to congratulate all the players who have graduated to playing Jr. A this season. With Covid-19 cancelling the Jr. B season, some of our T-Hawks family were successful in making some Jr. A teams during their modified tournament style season.

Chris Weier, who had a Minto Cup win with the Orangeville Northmen during the last full season in 2019, is player with the Oakville Buzz. Weier was also drafted to the Six Nations Chiefs in the Major Series of Lacrosse and has contributed to their defensive core during the start of the MSL modified season.

Connor Watson, Mike Wilson, Reid Lowe and Aiden Buis have all cracked the lineup of the St. Catharines A’s. All players are defensive specialists and have made a huge impact on the success of the A’s so far during the tournament.

The T-hawks family wish them all the best during the rest of the season and will be watching…..

Find all Jr. A & MSL games on Youtube>JVI Sports Network.

Covid-19 Update

As of the new year, the 2021 season is in question. The Ontario Junior B League has said there will be a season, but only a couple of the teams have indicated they will participate, the Thunderhawks are no different. Other issues, such as Covid-19’s effect on facility access, travelling restrictions, health regulations are all unknowns the association will have to deal with.

In 2020, the Thunderhawks had to take a leave of absence from the league due to lack of players to put together a team, this season may be a similar situation. As an association, we have committed to planning for the upcoming season, but we are asking all potential players/supporters/volunteers to complete the form below to indicate your intentions for the 2021 season.

We are hoping, as a community we can come together to continue the Thunderhawks tradition, but it starts with commitment by you.

Go T-Hawks!


Thunderhawk duo win top Jr A prize.

Congratulations to Zach Belter and Chris Weier for winning the coveted 2019 Minto Cup with the Orangeville Northmen.

Minto Cup

The Minto Cup is one of the hardest prizes to win in the Junior A level of lacrosse in Canada. The cup was created in 1901 as the prize for the best lacrosse team of all Canada, but in 1937 it was dedicated to the best team at the Junior A level.

Belter, in his first year as a call up, and Weier in his 3rd, were both part of this years run towards the Minto Cup for the Northmen. Both players are top defensemen, with Weier also being one of our top scorers in the transition game for the Thunderhawks.

Watching Chris play during the Ontario Championships, you could tell he belonged at the A level. Weier was a regular on the Northmen’s defensive door, while also being part of their man down defence.

While sending him a congratulations text, his response was a typical Weier response “It a very special feeling.” …..Short and to the point.

Both players join a line of other NOTLers who have worked their way through the ranks and earn the Minto. Players such as Rich, Darris and Travis Kilgour, Jeff Bridgeman, Andy Boldt, Joe Fagiani, Vernon Jacobs, Greg & Jamie Floris, Tim Hamm, Tony Printup.

The Thunderhawks often see some of their best leave to chase their dream at the Junior A level, recently player such as Saul VanderZalm (St. Catharines), Hunter Lemieux (Burlington Chiefs) & Reid Lowe (Bramptom). All players go through the hard decision of leaving the Thunderhawks family to chase their dreams. Just like proud parents, the Thunderhawk family have a hard time seeing them leave, but when one of our own are able to reach that level it special, but to achieve the ultimate prize….ITS PRICELESS!

Congratulation boys, we hope to see you at the rink!

Alumnus reaches MLL!

Johnny Wagner, alumnus (2014-2016, 2018), has excelled at all levels he has played. Starting in the Thunderhawks Minor Lacrosse system, Wagner was recruited to Michigan’s Cranbrook-Kingswood High School, where he become one of the dominant players for the USA prep school.

From there, he was recruited to Marquette D1 Lacrosse and become captain for the 2018 & 2019 seasons as well as many other honours. See all his accomplishments at Marquette at this link…..https://gomarquette.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4272

During the 2016 season, Wagner was also named to the U19 World Lacrosse Championships with Team Canada where he earned a silver metal versus team USA (13-12).

Johnny’s experiences has lead to him to signing with the Chesopeake Bayhawks of the Major Lacrosse League July 2019. In his debut he earned 2 assists, while playing with greats such as Lyle Thompson, Steel Stanwick and many more. His box career has also taken off, he is now playing with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club of the Major Lacrosse League and reunites with his brother, Ryan, after a number of years who also is with Brooklin.

We look forward to seeing what else Wags can achieve from his humble beginnings as a Thunderhawk!

Thunderhawks make their mark.

After a season ending first round knockout, the Thunderhawks were proud to see three of our players extend their season as they moved up to St. Catharines and Orangeville Jr. A for the rest of their seasons.

Ryan Kydd, in his final season playing Jr. was called up to St. Catharines Athletic’s where he played 5 games versus Burlington. He joined alumnus Saul VanderZalm who played the who 2019 season with the A’s. Although the A’s fell to the Chiefs in their series, Ryan & Saul played well and gained some experience for their next step of playing Senior lacrosse.

Zach Belter and Chris Weier both continue to play for Orangeville Jr. A Northmen. Zach in his first year playing up, played 3 regular season games and has played 4 playoff games so far.

Chris Weier, however, is in his 2nd season of playing up for the Northmen and has played 6 regular season games and is in his 10th game in the 2019 playoffs. Weier, a defensive specialist, made his mark by scoring the first goal for the Northmen in the series opener versus the Burlington Chiefs for the Ontario Championships of the Ontario Junior A league.

Although already hard enough to play in the Championships, both Belter and Weier are playing against another Thunderhawk alumnus, Hunter Lemieux. Lemieux is in his second year with the chiefs after being a dominant offensive player for the Thunderhawks for two seasons before being called up.

Although bitter sweet watching these games, cheering for just one team is difficult. The Thunderhawk family wish all players good luck in the rest of their series and it makes all of us proud of our players making their mark at the next level.

Playoff Warm Up

Saturday saw the Thunderhawks play a depleted Wallaceburg Red Devils in a 17-2 win. The Thunderhawks used this opportunity to refine their team play as they head to the Hamilton Bengals Monday night for their last game of the regular season. Christian Watts & Brett Beetow lead the Thunderhawks with 4 goals each, while Devin Napoleon tallied 3, Kelen Pulera scored 2 and Zac Belter, Matt Mines, Nolan Fehr & Brandon Sveda had singles.

The Bengals are ending their season in 3rd place and the Thunderhawks will be 5th, irrelevant of the outcome Monday night. The Thunderhawks will use this last season game as a playoff warmup for the Windsor Clippers (4th).

Starting June 22nd the Thunderhawks take a road trip to Windsor, returning home on the 23rd for a 4pm matchup, before returning to Windsor on June 29th for hopefully the last game of the series. If, however, they aren’t successful in wrapping up the Clippers in three games, they return home on the 30th and back to Windsor on July 2nd, as needed.

The Thunderhawks encourage all alumni, friends and family to make it to the MCU arena to cheer on the Thunderhawks as they depart on their road towards the Founder’s Cup.

Big Win

Wednesday night saw the Thunderhawks host the 13-3-1 Hamilton Bengals. The game saw the Bengals start the scoring four minutes into the first period. However, the Thunderhawks scored two minutes later on a transition breakaway goals by Joseph Laforme and then another by Ryan Kydd a few minutes later. The period ended with goals from Devin Napolean & Christian Watts and a score of 4-2.

The season has seen the Thunderhawks struggle in the second period and this game had this same feeling, as the Bengals scored in their first possession. The feeling was quickly shattered as Christian Watts scored 60 seconds later to keep the Thunderhawks emotions positive. The rest of the period saw each team trade goals, until Zach Belter scored a beauty transition goal to round out the scoring and make it a 7-5 game for the Thunderhawks going into the third period.

Again, the third period saw the Bengals score within the first minute. Both teams continued to share goals, however, the Thunderhawks doubled up their efforts resulting in a 12-8 win. Scoring for the game came from Watts (3g), Laforme (2g), Napolean (2g), Joe Conti, Chris Weier, Zach Belter, Ryan Kydd and Matt Mines picked up singles.

Saturday, June 15th, sees the Thunderhawks hosting the Wallaceburg Red Devils. Although the last outing resulting in a tie versus the Devils in their third game of the season, The Thunderhawks have evolved their game and look forward to gaining retribution.

The Thunderhawks look forward to seeing all our supporters coming out to our last home regular season game.

Weekend Ends “not as planned”

The Thunderhawks traveled to the Six Nations Rebels on Friday and showed some spark with a Chris Weier transition goal early in the first to start the scoring. Kent Baker-Printup, Nate Maloney & Kelen Pulera added one each to end the first period with a 4-3 lead. However, the Rebels stepped up in the second scoring 7 unanswered goals to end the second 10-4.

The Third saw the Thunderhawks trade goals with the Rebels before allowing 5 additional unanswered goals and losing the game 17-6. Although the score doesn’t indicate it, the Thunderhawks had a good game fighting not only a tough Rebels team, but questionable officiating.

Coach Chrysler came away from the game with a positive outlook, telling the players they experienced a playoff scenario and they gained the necessary insight into the level of competition they will experience moving forward towards the Founder’s Cup.

Saturday saw the Thunderhawks start slow versus London, tied 1-1 at the end of the first period and taking turns scoring in the second. The Thunderhawks took control in the third and finished the game up 13-7. Goals came from Christian Watts, Matt Mines, Joseph Laforme, Kent Baker-Printup, Ryan Kydd. While Devin Napolean, Kelen Pulera, Mike Wilson and Chris Weier each netted 2. Weier however, while fighting off two defenders, picked up a bouncing loose ball with one hand and performed a ‘hockey like’ back hand shot scoring the highlight goal of the evening.

After less than a twenty four hour turnaround, the Thunderhawks hosted the Owen Sound North Stars on Sunday. The game saw the Thunderhawks down 4-3 after the first with goals from Connor Watson, Christian Watts and Joseph Laforme. In the second, the Thunderhawks outscored the Stars 2-1, ending the period 5-5, with goals from Kelen Pulera and Watson.

A goal, from a Matt Mines snipe, within the first 3 minutes of the third, showed a spark that the Thunderhawks needed to rally. However, the Stars scored 4 minutes later to tie it 6-6. The Thunderhawks pulled their goalie in the last seconds to have a 6 on 5, but were unsuccessful and the game went into overtime.

In the remaining 10 minutes of overtime, the Thunderhawks came out flat and allowed the Stars to net 2 without answering, resulting in a final score of 8-6. With this loss, the Thunderhawks are now relying on the last three games of their regular season to help them reach a favourable playoff position.

Wednesday, June 12th, sees the Thunderhawks host the Hamilton Bengals in a must win game. The Bengals are top in the Mid West division with a 13-3-1 record and in the midst of a four game winning streak. Preparation, focus and effort are characteristics the Thunderhawks need to harness to ensure their season goals for this season.

Wednesdays game has a starting time of 8pm and the Thunderhawks look forward to seeing all our supporters at the rink cheering them to reach their season goal.

3 game weekend

We have a few old, but new faces on the roster.  Players such as Brandon Rickard & Liam Anderson, who played their minor with NOTL have returned to bolster the goaltending and defence, respectively. 

Chris Weier (#14) has been a dominant transition player for the Thunderhawks (25pts) and has been notice again this season by Orangeville Jr. A.  Chris has been AP’d to the Northmen for the last two playoff seasons and for a number of games this season (so far).  Likewise, Mike Wilson (#13) was just called up to St. Catharines A’s to play in his first Jr. A game yesterday.  

Saul Vandersalm, Thunderhawks 2018 team captain, has been playing for the A’s this season and been a steady pillar of defence and we wish him all the best for the rest of the season.  Similarily, Reid Lowe was picked up by Brampton Jr. A and has played 5 games for the Excelsiors after starting with the Thunderhawks for the 2019 season.  

This weekend sees the Thunderhawks attempt to extend their 6 game winning streak as they head to Six Nations on Friday.  It will be a good test for the boys as they meet the 16-1 Rebels, before returning home to continue their game filled weekend versus London on Saturday at 7pm and Owen Sound Sunday at 4pm. We encourage you to come and cheer on the boys as they take on this weekends challenge head on. 

Streak Continues

The Thunderhawks travelled to London to be hosted by the Blue Devils. Niagara start out strong going up 3-0 after the first 6 minutes. However, the Blue Devils didn’t sit back and notched a goal with 30 seconds left in the first.

In the second, the Blue Devils continued by scoring two in the starting 10 minutes and waking up the Thunderhawks, who’s transition team members Chris Weier and Connor Watson sparked a four goal run.

The third saw the Thunderhawks continue the goal streak, scoring 4 before the Blue Devils answered with one at the end of the period.

Connor Watson also continues a streak of 6 games with at least one goal , scoring 2 goals in the 11-4 win. Chris Weier also scored 2 goals as did Devin Napolean and Kent Baker-Printup. Brandon Sveda and Keenan Ninham added singles, Ninham scoring his first as a Thunderhawk.

This win puts the Thunderhawks winning streak at 5, with hopes to continue it versus the St. Catharines Spartans June 4th at home at 7:30pm.

Alumni Shares Expertise

A few of the Thunderhawks, and future Thunderhawks, received a rare opportunity to learn from the best. Alumnus Jay Thorimbert, who has played in the NLL for 10 years, shared his time and expertise on taking draws with some of the Thunderhawks last night.

Jay with current Thunderhawks, Nate Maloney, Aiden Buis, Devin Napolean

Jay provided insight into his strategies, techniques and tricks to help our Thunderhawks become better draw men. The Thunderhawks look forward to working with Jay again and hope to arrange others similar sessions with other alumni in the future.

Check out Jay’s stats at https://www.nll.com/players/player/?id=8222318 .