By Matt Stefano
They haven’t played a game since December 20, 2020, but on Wednesday night, Soo Thunderbirds returned to action for their first game of the year 2021 as they took on the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
On Wednesday night, the Soo Thunderbirds also welcomed two new additions to their club, including forward Andrew Malek, who was picked up as a free agent from the Blind River Beavers and forward Noah Boman, who came over in a trade from the Cobourg Cougars on the day of the game.
The Thunderbirds, who entered the new year with a record of 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 shootout loss, picked up their fifth victory of the season on Wednesday night as they defeated the Blind River Beavers by a score of 5-2.
Despite outshooting the Beavers 22-8 in the opening period, the Thunderbirds trailed 1-0.
The Soo then scored three times on 9 shots in the middle period, which gave them a 3-2 lead after two periods of play.
“Honestly, we just started playing more of our game in the second period and we started moving our feet more and winning our battles. We just needed to keep getting more pucks on net and we did what we had to do to score some goals,” said Thunderbirds newly acquired forward Noah Boman.
With the game tied 2-2 late in the second period, Boman notched his first goal at the 17:55 mark of the second period, which proved to be the game-winner.
Boman then ended up getting his second goal of the game at the 9:48 mark of the third period, which at that time made the score 5-2 for the Soo.
“Honestly, I’m very excited that I scored. I was looking for one all night and I had plenty of chances in front of the net,” said Boman.
Boman, who came over in a trade from the Cobourg Cougars on Wednesday, was also a member of the Soo Thunderbirds 2018-2019 team, which was the year they were last crowded regular season champions.
“Coming back to the Thunderbirds was not what I expected this season, but I’m just glad to be back on the ice and I’m trying to stay safe through all this COVID and honestly I’m just grateful to be here,” said Boman.
Back in the 2018-2019 season with the Thunderbirds, Boman also finished tied for first in league scoring with his former teammate Lucas Theriault.
“My good buddy Lucas Theriault was my favourite teammate to play with when I was with the Thunderbirds back in 2018-2019. Steven Bellini was also a great defenceman for us that season and I loved playing with him as well,” said Boman.
On Wednesday night, Thunderbirds defenceman Warner Young also had a two-point night, scoring once and setting up another while Caleb Wood also had big night offensively with two assists.
Dylan Parsons and Cooper Smyl had the other goals for the Soo while Connor Toms, Kurtis Rogers, Michael Chaffay, Brock Santa Maria and Parker Morgan all chipped in with one assist each.
Beavers forward Jacob Kelly, who entered Wednesday night’s game with a team-leading eight goals, scored once and set up another for a two-point night.
Kelly’s two-point game also gave him nineteen points on the season, which moved him into first in league scoring, ahead of Timmins Rock forward Derek Seguin.
Defenceman Ethan Pegg had the other goal for the Beavers while the Mauro brothers (Justin and Devin) had one assist each.
Beavers netminder Wyatt Courchaine gave up 5 goals on 47 shots in the loss.
Thunderbirds goaltender Alex Bugeja, who just turned 20 years old back on Tuesday, made 28 saves for the victory.
The Soo will now be back in action on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. for their second straight meeting against the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)