By Matt Stefano
Sunday night marked the final road game before the Christmas break and the new year for the Soo Thunderbirds as they were at Chelmsford Arena to take on the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
Following a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Powassan at the Essar Centre on Saturday night and a 4-1 win back at home against Rayside last Wednesday, the Soo Thunderbirds were looking to make it three straight wins on Sunday.
T-Birds forward Matt Caruso, who scored twice including the overtime winner against Powassan on Saturday, opened up the scoring with his 11th of the season from Caleb Boman and Nathan Hebert on the power play at 12:44 to give the Soo a 1-0 lead. Caleb Boman’s 8th on the power play at 17:18 from Nathan Hebert and Ryan Mulligan put the Soo up 2-0 after twenty minutes.
Rayside would cut the lead to one, courtesy of Tristan Simm’s 5th of the season from Matt Nealt and Kyle Fransen at 16:34 into the second. Jaren Bellini’s 12th from Nathan Hebert and Matt Caruso put the Soo back up by two goals. Then, with just 47 seconds to go in the middle frame, Joel Lemay’s 6th from Danny Lepage and Kyle Fransen would cut the T-Birds lead to 3-2 after two periods.
With the Soo leading by one with just under three minutes to go in regulation, it would be Long Beach, New York native Aiden Salerno getting his 2nd of the year from Jaren Bellini and Brett Jeffries to give the Soo some insurance. Jaren Bellini would then notch his second of the night and 13th of the season into the empty net (unassisted) at 18:49, as the T-Birds went on to a 5-2 victory over the Rayside Balfour Canadisns on Sunday night.
T-Birds goaltender Mario Culina turned aside 17 shots for the victory while MacKenzie Savard gave up 4 goals on 47 shots.
The Soo will return to action at home for the final three games before the Christmas break and the new year, beginning on Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m. against the Blind River Beavers from the Essar Centre.