By Matt Stefano
The first shot on net of the overtime period turned out to be huge for the Soo Thunderbirds on Saturday night!
Colby Arbour’s goal 3:04 into overtime turned out to be his first career game-winning goal as the Soo Thunderbirds defeated the Timmins Rock by a score of 3-2 in overtime at the John Rhodes.
The Thunderbirds, who got outshot by the Rock 40-24 overall on Saturday night, outshot the Rock just 1-0 in the extra frame.
“I thought it was a pretty good game tonight, but I didn’t think we had our best stuff in terms of what we’ve been working on in our offensive zone play and how we want to play in the neutral zone,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “But tonight was a big game and the guys were excited about it, and sometimes when you get in games like that, you lose yourself a little bit, you get lost in the motion and get caught up in it. But for the most part, I think both clubs (Thunderbirds & Rock) were feeling that way tonight and we both knew it was a big game and we found a way to win.”
The Thunderbirds got the first goal of the game on the power play at the 17:25 mark of the first period, courtesy of Dharan Cap’s 5th goal of the season from Russell Oldham, which put the Thunderbirds up 1-0 after twenty minutes of play.
Cap, who opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds on the power play, also extended his goal-scoring streak to two games.
“Capper was great again for us tonight,” Jarrett said. “I feel like a broken record every time I talk about Capper. He’s just a really solid, reliable centre-man. As a coach, l feel very comfortable about putting him out there. On the defensive side of the puck, he’s added that offensive element and for us that’s just a bonus. What he does on the defensive side of the puck is what’s impressive to me.”
With the Thunderbirds leading 1-0 heading into the middle frame, it would then be former Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Cameron Dutkiewicz tying things up for the Rock with his 13th goal of the season at 5:42 from Tyler Schwindt, which made the score 1-1 heading into the third period.
Dutkiewicz, who scored his 13th goal of the season, also scored his first goal against his former team (The Soo Thunderbirds).
“I wanted to come in here and win against these guys (Soo Thunderbirds) and play a hard game,” Dutkiewicz said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost tonight, but we’ll be ready for next time.”
Dutkiewicz, who finished the night with a goal and an assist, was also back in the Soo for the first time since being traded by the Thunderbirds to the Rock last June.
“I’ve made a lot of great memories when I was here last season playing for the Thunderbirds,” Dutkiewicz said. “It was great to see all the guys I played with last season, but tonight it was also fun to play against them. When we’re on the ice, we ain’t friends because we want to win.”
With the teams tied 1-1 through forty minutes of play, it would then be the Thunderbirds taking the lead just 1:12 into the third period, as defenceman Andrew Gibson notched his team-leading 17th goal of the season from Michael Chaffay.
Gibson’s 17th goal of the season also came on the Thunderbirds first shot on net of the third period.
“Gibby was good for the most part,” Jarrett said. “There are a few plays he made tonight that I know he would like to have back and that’s all part of the learning curve for him. He’s a young player playing in a league full of grown men, so it’s always something new for him and the thing I love about him is that he challenges himself to get better everyday.”
Gibson, who scored his 17th goal of the season, also extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.
“Whether Gibson was happy with this effort out here tonight or not, he’s going to give us even more tomorrow (Sunday) in Espanola,” Jarrett said. “He’s solid and he’s always making an impact on the game, and the next step for him is just being more consistent in doing that.”
With Timmins Rock netminder Gavin McCarthy on the bench for an extra attacker late in the game, it would then be Rock leading scorer Tyler Schwindt getting his team-leading 23rd goal of the season from Cameron Dutkiewicz and Bode Dunford, which tied the game up at two heading into overtime.
Schwindt, who scored his 23rd goal of the season, also extended his goal-scoring streak to two games.
With the game tied 2-2 heading into overtime, it would then be Thunderbirds forward Colby Arbour scoring his 5th goal of the season from Kaden Dundas at the 3:04 mark of the overtime period, giving his club a 3-2 overtime victory.
“I seen the Timmins defenceman go off and I skated towards their net and got a great pass from Kaden Dundas,” Arbour said. “He (Dundas) slid the puck over to me and I went backhand and prayed for the best.”
Arbour, who scored his first career overtime-goal on Saturday night, was also coming off a four-assist performance back on Wednesday night against the Soo Eagles.
“It was a surreal feeling to get that overtime goal tonight and give my team the victory,” Arbour said. “That goal is definitely one of my highlight career goals for me.”
On Saturday night, the Thunderbirds also got some solid goaltending from rookie netminder Noah Metivier.
Metiver, who got the start in net for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night against the Rock, made a season-high 38 saves and was also named first star of the game.
Rock netminder Gavin McCarthy, who entered Saturday night’s game with a 5-1 record between the pipes, gave up 3 goals on 24 shots in his second loss of the season.
With the win, the Thunderbirds have now improved their record to 24 wins, 5 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 53 points and first place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.
The Thunderbirds, who entered Saturday night’s game on a three-game winning streak, also extended their winning streak to four games for the second time this season.
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. when they visit Espanola to take on the Espanola Express at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)