By Matt Stefano
After picking up a big two points one night ago in Blind River and moving into top spot in the NOJHL’s West Division, the Soo Thunderbirds returned home to the John Rhodes Community Centre on Sunday afternoon to take on the last place Espanola Express.
The Thunderbirds picked up their 20th win of the season on Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Espanola Express 7-2.
“I thought we played really well,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “These are hard games to play sometimes, but they worked their hardest and had a great game.”
The Thunderbirds also became just the second team in the NOJHL to hit 20 wins this season.
“I think we’ve been very successful so far,” continued Parco. “Our team is really buying in to a team first attitude. The guys are playing hard and it seems like they’re having a lot of fun coming to the rink and that’s really important for me right now.”
Soo Greyhounds prospect Robert Calisti scored twice, including a shorthanded goal for the Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon.
“It was a great experience for me,” said Calisti. “We’ve got a couple big games coming up here and we just have to hopefully pull out and get a couple wins.”
Since joining the Thunderbirds back on October 21st, Calisti has found the back of the net 3 times and has added 5 assists through 12 games.
“It’s been amazing so far,” concluded the Thunderbird defenceman. “We have a really good group of guys on the team. They make me feel welcome and we’re just trying to do the best we can to stay on top of our division.”
Calisti was just one of two Thunderbird players to score a shortanded goal on Sunday afternoon, joining birthday boy Noah Solinger, who had a shorthanded goal and an assist.
Calisti and Solinger became the first two Thunderbirds to score a shorthanded goal each in a regular season game since Nick Tassone and Matt Caruso did back on November 5th, 2014 in a 6-5 double overtime loss to the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
Mark Tassone had a power play goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds while Brendan Miller also had a two point night with a goal and an assist of his own.
Steven Bellini and Camaryn Baber had a pair of assists each for the Thunderbirds while Alex Acosta, Lucas Theriault, Nick Smith and Kaidan McDonald all chipped in with one helper each.
Tanner Mayne (power play) and Tristan Cicchello had the other goals for the Soo.
Joel Grandbois and Matthew Reynolds had a goal each for the Express while Mackenzie MacMillan, Tristan Poissant and Logan Fennema all got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Eric Schuch made 19 saves for the Thunderbirds victory while Adam Scott gave up 7 goals on 37 shots in Espanola’s loss.
The Thunderbirds will now get set for the first game of a home and home series on Thursday night as they will visit Chelmsford Arena to take on the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
(Photo credit to Jim Egan)