2022-2023 Record: 10-8, 3rd place in the East Division, lost to Toronto in the East semifinals
New Faces: Cole Kirst, Craig Wende, Cody Radziewicz, Jordan Trottier, Andrew Suitor (Defensive Coordinator)
Key Losses: Chris Boushy
You would think that losing a key player like Chris Boushy would hurt, but not this 2023-2024 Halifax team. They must bolster one of the deepest rosters in the league. And it is something that they need. The one downfall of this team in the past has been injuries. As long as they can stay healthy, Halifax will be battling for the top spot in the league.
There is one intangible to take into consideration. Being on the East coast and with no more East-West divisions, the Thunderbirds will be doing more traveling out west to Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatchewan, which could take a toll. It’s a boat that all teams could be in and it’ll be interesting to see how it shapes out.
Last year, Halifax was only second to San Diego with 238 goals-for and you can likely expect them to continue that trend in 2023-2024.
Even without Boushy, the Thunderbirds still have Randy Staats, Clarke Petterson, Austin Shanks, and throw in Skye Sunday, Max Waldbaum, or Aaron Woods and you are looking pretty solid on the right side.
On the left side, you have Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch, Eric Fannell, Wake:Riat Bowhunter, Dawson Theede, and 2022 draft pick Cole Kirst to add to the mix.
Not a whole lot has changed for Halifax’s defense. Maybe one of the biggest changes was bringing Andrew Suitor on board as the defensive coordinator. A great lacrosse mind, Suitor will bring a lot to the table in 2023-2024.
Still, Halifax has one of the best defenders in the world in Graeme Hossack along with Ryan Terefenko, Colton Armstrong, Trevor Smyth, and Tyson Bell to name a few. They also made signings to bring in Cody Radziewicz and Jordan Trottier.
Once again, faceoffs won’t be an issue as Jake Withers will give Halifax those extra possession more times than not. Being a rookie firefighter, however, Withers could miss games similar to how Shanks missed game last year.
In goal, there is no doubt that Warren Hill is the number one guy. He played 903 minutes last year with a goals-against average of 11.03 and a save percentage of 77.3
What will be interesting is the battle for the backup spot. You have an up-and-comer in Drew Hutchinson, who saw just over 180 minutes last year with the Thunderbirds with a GAA of 13.61 and a 70.9 save percentage. However, they made the free agent signing to bring in veteran Craig Wende. Wende started last year as the starter for Georgia but struggled with a 13.76 GAA and 73.8 save percentage before Brett Dobson took over the starter’s role. It will be interesting to see how Halifax juggles the backup goaltender situation.