By Matt Stefano
On Friday night, the Soo Thunderbirds played their first game of a three-game weekend as they took on the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
This was also the first game of a home and home series against the Beavers.
Friday night’s game was a special night for a pair of Thunderbird players, including forward Nick Smith, who was playing in his 100th career game and goaltender Brandon Gordon, who suited up in his 89th career game, which set the new team record for most career games played by a goaltender, passing Ryan Dube (2005-2009), who held the previous record with 88.
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds picked up a big two points against the Beavers, defeating them by a score of 8-5 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The win also moved the Thunderbirds three points ahead of the Beavers in the West Division standings.
“One of our goals coming into this weekend was to beat this team,” said Thunderbirds rookie forward Camaryn Baber. “Getting the first win tonight was huge.”
The Thunderbirds scored five of their eight goals on the power play on Friday night.
“Our discipline and not taking any stupid penalties helped us tonight,” continued Baber. “We’ve been working on our power play a lot in practice and it definitely helped us out.”
Thunderbirds rookie forward Camaryn Baber, who entered Friday night’s contest second in team scoring, recorded his first career hat trick.
The 16 year old scored twice on the power play and had an empty net goal with just 35 seconds left in the third period.
“It was definitely another happy moment for me this year, but I’m definitely more happy for helping the team get the win,” concluded Baber.
Third year forward Mark Tassone led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with a pair of goals, including one power play tally along with setting up two others for this first career four point game.
Thunderbirds top scorer Nick Smith also had a big night offensively with a power play goal and two assists.
Smith, who scored his 8th power play goal at home this season, tied the team record for most power play goals scored at home in a single season, joining Fred Coccimiglio (2000-2001), Brett Perlini (2006-2007) and Nick Minardi (2008-2009).
Lucas Theriault had a goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds while Kaidan McDonald had a power play goal.
Rookie defenceman Steven Bellini chipped in with two assists for the Thunderbirds while Robert Calisti, Bradon Caruso, Alex Acosta, Tristan Cicchello and Ryan Lawrence all recorded one assist each.
Beavers forward Jack Sampson had three goals, including one goal on the power play along with setting up two others for a five point night while Owen Robinson also had a multi point game with a goal and an assist.
Defenceman Matthew Murray had a power play goal for the Beavers.
Max Khull set up two goals for the Beavers while Jacob Papesh and Anthony Bastianello recorded an assist each.
Beavers goaltender Garrett Boynoski gave up 7 goals on 36 shots in the loss while Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan product Brandon Gordon made 12 saves for the Thunderbirds victory.
The Thunderbirds will play their second game of a home and home series against the Beavers on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in Blind River.
Saturday night’s game will also be the final regular season meeting between these two teams.
(Photo of Camaryn Baber credit to Matt Stefano)