By Matt Stefano
On Sunday afternoon, the Soo Thunderbirds were only one win away from tying the Cochrane Crunch for first in the NOJHL, but had to do it with a win over the Iroquois Falls Eskis, who came into the Essar Centre on a four game losing streak.
The opening period was a goal fest with a total with a total of five goals scored.
Just 51 seconds into the first, rookie forward Nick Smith got his 3rd of the season from Jake Behse to put the Soo up 1-0.
Newly acquired defenceman Jake Reed, who made his home debut on Sunday afternoon, notched his 1st in a T-Bird uniform at 4:18 on the power play from Gage Stephney and Aaron Wesley-Chisel to put the Soo ahead by two.
The Eskis would then get two goals just 11 seconds apart.
David Osborne’s 1st at 7:26 from Wade Auger would cut the T-Birds lead to 2-1, before Jack Speer’s goal at 7:37 from David Osborne tied things up at two.
Second year forward Mark Tassone would get his 7th of the season from Jake Behse to put the Soo in front 3-2 after one.
Phil Caron’s goal just 17 seconds into the middle frame from Wade Auger and David Osborne was the lone tally in that period to tie things up at three after two periods.
Keenan Eddy’s 4th on the power play from Matt Caruso put the T-Birds ahead 4-3 just 2:53 into the third.
Zach Senecal would then get his 8th goal of the season from newly acquired forward Austin Kozluk at 5:51 as the Soo went on to edge the Eskis 5-3 at the Essar Centre.
“It was a tough one today,” said T-Birds defenceman Jake Behse, who set up two goals. “Long weekend and a lot of work. Obviously us contending for the number one spot in the league, every team that we play or every team that we face is going to come at us with their best. So today not a lot of stuff was going our way, but when that stuff happens you just have to push through it and luckily we came out with the win.”
With the T-Birds victory on Sunday afternoon, they have now tied the Cochrane Crunch for first overall in the NOJHL standings.
“It’s always nice being in the top spot,” continued Behse. “But with that being said, there’s always teams gunning for you when you’re in the top spot and you can’t let it go to your head because you just have to keep working every day.”
To start Sunday afternoon’s game, Behse was paired up on the blue-line with newly acquired defenceman Jake Reed.
“It was good,” said Behse when he was asked about being paired up with Reed on the blue-line. “Just right from the first game we’ve seemed to link up pretty good. And yes we are both Jakes, but he’s doing well and he didn’t seem too flustered the first game, he seemed to fit right in. So it looks like he’s going to be doing well.”
The T-Birds will now close out the month of September on Friday the 30th against the Soo Eagles at 7:00 p.m. from the Essar Centre.
“Just like these games we have to battle. It’s going to be a battle against the Eagles and it’s always like that because they’re our rivals. But this weekend we just have to put our nose to the grindstone. We have to work everyday in practice and we can’t let anything go to our head here. We did lose to them last week, so that’s just going to be in the back of our heads to prepare us even more,” concluded Behse.
Artem Bortovskiy gave up 5 goals on 42 shots for the Eskis loss while Brandon Gordon made 16 saves for the T-Birds win.
(Photo of Jake Behse courtesy of James Egan’s Sports Photography)