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Thunderbirds vs Express game preview

By Matt Stefano

Today is officially the second half of the Soo Thunderbirds 2017-2018 regular season!

It’s been a great first half of the 2017-2018 regular season for the Soo Thunderbirds and with the halfway point of the regular season officially behind us, the Thunderbirds will play their 29th game of their 56 game schedule this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. against the Espanola Express at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

The Thunderbirds are heading into this afternoon’s game sitting in first place in the NOJHL’s West Division, with a record of 19 wins, 7 losses, and 2 overtime losses, while the Express are currently sitting in last place in the entire NOJHL, with a record of 1 win, 26 losses and 1 overtime loss.

The last time these two clubs met was back on November 26th when the Thunderbirds defeated the Express 5-3 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.

Despite not having a power play that game, the Thunderbirds went a perfect three for three on the penalty kill.

Thunderbirds top scorer Nick Smith led the way offensively that game for the Soo, setting up three goals.

Express forward Joel Grandbois led the way offensively for his club, scoring once and adding an assist.

Rookie goaltender Eric Shuch made 26 saves for the Thunderbirds win while Jacob Hutchings gave up 5 goals on 31 shots in the Express loss.

BIRTHDAYS

Chatsworth, Ontario native Noah Solinger is just one of four Thunderbirds who have a birthday in December.

Solinger, who turns 18 years old today, enters this afternoon’s game with 6 goals and 23 points through 27 games, and sits tied for second in team points with Kaidan McDonald.

His 23 points this season are a career best for him.

During the 2016-2017 regular season, Solinger finished off with 8 goals and 22 points through 48 games.

LEAGUE LEADERS

Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith currently leads the NOJHL in game winning goals (5) and also sits tied for first in opening goals of a game (5) with Nick Techel (Soo Eagles) and Caleb Serre (Blind River Beavers).

Thunderbirds goaltender Brandon Gordon currently has the lowest goals against average (1.87) in the entire NOJHL.

MILESTONE FOR GORDO

In last night’s 3-1 victory in Blind River, Thunderbirds goaltender Brandon Gordon made 35 saves to pick up his 50th career win.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan product became just the second Soo Thunderbird goaltender to reach 50 career wins, joining Ryan Dube (2005-2009).

(Photo credit to Jim Egan)

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