By Matt Stefano
Saturday night marked the final game before the Christmas break and the New Year for the Soo Thunderbirds as they took on the French River Rapids at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds, who entered Saturday night’s contest as the top team in the West Divison, took on a Rapids team who came in sitting in last place in the East Division.
Heading into the final frame tied 3-3, the Thunderbirds scored four times in the third period to go on to defeat the Rapids 7-4.
“We had a slow start, but going into the third we started to rally back. We got our energy back up and we were lucky to find a couple quick ones,” said Thunderbirds defenceman Robert Calisti, who had his first career three point game, scoring a power play goal and adding two assists.
Saturday night’s game also saw Robert Calisti play against his older brother Stephen, who plays defence for the French River Rapids.
“It was a great experience for me, him and my family. It brings back memories playing in the driveway and it was really cool for both of us,” continued Calisti.
Calisti, who is also a Soo Greyhounds prospect, now has 4 goals and 12 points in 17 games with the Thunderbirds and sits second in points among team defencemen.
“We have a great group of guys. We are all really determined here. We want to win it all this year and I’m going to work hard when I come back after the break and we’ll see what happens,” concluded Calisti.
Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith scored a pair of goals, including one on the power play on Saturday night, giving him 26 goals on the season.
Smith, who now has 26 goals, moved into a tie with Cochrane Crunch forward Austin Stauffer for first in league goals.
Alex Acosta, Lucas Theriault, Brendan Miller and Kaidan McDonald had a goal and an assist each while Steven Bellini, Braden Robbins and Camaryn Baber set up a pair of goals each.
Nolan Ford and Noah Solinger had an assist each for the Thunderbirds.
Jacob Romano had a goal and an assist for the Rapids while Christian Gaudreau also had a two point night, setting up a pair of goals.
Alex Paul (power play), Adam Kusior and Levi Siau had a goal each while single assists went to Will Frustaglio, Stephen Calisti, Max Lightfoot, Connor Loft and Adrian Nicholas.
Rapids goaltender Andrew Rocha gave up 7 goals 25 shots in the loss while Eric Schuch made 27 stops for the Thunderbirds win.
The Thunderbirds will now head into the Christmas break and the New Year sitting in first place in the NOJHL’s West Division, with 24 wins, 8 losses and 2 overtime losses, good for 50 points.
The Soo will be back in action on Friday, January 5th in a road game against the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)