By Matt Stefano
Twenty four hours after defeating the Espanola Express 5-2 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex, the Soo Thunderbirds returned home to the John Rhodes Community Centre on Sunday night to take on the Elliot Lake Wildcats.
The Thunderbirds, who entered Sunday night’s contest on a two-game winning streak, took on a Wildcats team who were winners of four straight.
Despite recording 37 shots on goal, the Thunderbirds had their two-game winning streak snapped on Sunday night, losing by a score of 3-1 to the Elliot Lake Wildcats at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
“I thought we worked pretty hard tonight,” said Thunderbirds forward Spencer Van Tiem. “Unfortunately we didn’t convert on our chances and we hit two crossbars and a post and that just seems to be how it’s going right now. We can’t score goals like we did earlier in the season, but we just have to keep working hard and the chances will come.”
Van Tiem scored his 5th goal of the season with just one second left on the Thunderbirds power play at the 1:13 mark of the third period to tie the game at one.
Since signing with the Thunderbirds back on January 10th, Van Tiem has put up 5 goals and 8 points through 13 games.
“It’s been a great transition,” continued Van Tiem. “I think coach JP has really given me the opportunity to excel with some ice time and he’s been putting me on with some really good linemates to help me succeed on this team and I’m really enjoying my time here so far.”
Thunderbirds goaltender Brandon Gordon, who played in his 88th career game on Sunday night, tied the team record for most career games played by a goaltender, joining Ryan Dube (2005-2009).
Gordon made 26 saves in the Thunderbirds loss to Elliot Lake.
“Gordo is unbelievable,” continued Van Tiem. “Everyday in practice he works as hard as he can and he’s one of our hardest workers. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had this season, so credit to him in his 88th career game and we really need him down the stretch.”
The Thunderbirds, who are currently in second place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 67 points, will now get set to take on the Blind River Beavers, who sit only one point behind them.
That game will be the first game of a home and home series this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
“It’s just hard work for us right now,” concluded Van Tiem. “The last few weeks things have not been going they way we’ve wanted them too, but if we continue to work hard and get some goals the wins will come.”
Alex Acosta and Tristan Cicchello had an assist each for the Thunderbirds.
Clark Allair led the way offensively for the Wildcats with an empty net goal and an assist while Cole Burton and William Bucsis (power play) had a goal each.
Brett Crook, David Dedo and Jacob Kelly all set up a goal each for the Wildcats.
Goaltender Logan Sawka made 36 saves for the Wildcats fifth consecutive victory.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)