Chaffay’s first career hat trick leads Thunderbirds to fourth straight win

By Matt Stefano

Make it four wins in a row for the Soo Thunderbirds!

On Sunday night, the Soo Thunderbirds extended their winning streak to four games for the first time this season as they hammered the Espanola Express by a score of 7-2 at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake.

The win also improved the Thunderbirds record to 18 wins, 4 losses, 1 overtime loss and 3 shootout losses, good for 40 points.

“Earlier in the season we had a tough time getting off to quick starts, but it seems like for the last few weeks we’ve been starting games on time,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “Getting the jump on your opponent sets the tone for the whole game and tonight wasn’t any different because we started quick and sustained all the way through.”

The Thunderbirds, who have not seen action in over a week, played their home game against the Express on Sunday night in Elliot Lake, due to the fact that they cannot play any of their home games in the Soo right now because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We were happy to knock off a make-up game before the holiday break so we can have a manageable schedule in the new year,” Jarrett said.

On Sunday night, Thunderbirds forward Michael Chaffay led the way offensively with three goals and one assist.

Chaffay, who had three goals, including one on the power play, also gave himself his first career NOJHL hat trick.

“It felt great to get the hat trick,” Chaffay said. “It’s kind of a relief feeling. Everyone was playing well tonight and I was happy to contribute to the big win.”

On Sunday night, the Thunderbirds also welcomed back rookie forward Cooper Foster, who was assigned back to the Thunderbirds after playing 6 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.

During his 6 games played with the 67’s, Foster recorded 1 assist and 2 shots on goal.

“Coop had a great experience playing in 6 games with the Ottawa 67’s and he was able to step back in without missing a beat tonight,” Jarrett said.

Foster, who returned to the Thunderbirds lineup on Sunday night, opened the scoring just 37 seconds into the first period with his 6th goal of the season, which gave the Soo an early 1-0 lead.

“Coop was good in his first game back tonight,” Jarrett said. “For me, Cooper’s game is effective at any level. He has the ability to control the pace of the game and he makes players around him better because of that.”

On Sunday night, the Thunderbirds also saw a great performance from rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson, who finished the night with a goal and an assist.

Gibson, who entered Sunday night’s game with 12 goals, scored his 13th goal of the season at the 3:40 mark of the third period, which gave the Soo a 6-2 lead.

Gibson’s 13th goal of the season, also moved him into a tie with Bronson Kovacs (2010) for second on the Soo Thunderbirds all-time goals list by a defenceman in one season.

“It seems like everything is going in for Gibby in the first part of the season and it’s impressive to know how well it stacks up historically,” Jarrett said. “There have been some really good defencemen that have come through this team and Gibby is another one to add to that growing list.”

Thunderbirds forward Tyson Doucette also had a multi-point game of his own on Sunday night as he scored once (shorthanded) and set up another.

Doucette, who entered Sunday night’s game with 13 goals on the season, scored his team-leading 14th goal at the 4:27 mark of the third period, which gave the Soo a 7-2 lead.

Thunderbirds captain Brock Santa Maria also had a big night offensively with a pair of assists.

Kenny Belanger Jr. had a goal for the Thunderbirds while Kyle Trottier, Russell Oldham and Michael Beltrano all chipped in with one assist each.

Express forward Atley Gringorten had a power play goal and an assist while defenceman Josh Rumolo also had a multi-point game of his own with a pair of helpers.

Eric Barnard also got on the scoresheet for the Express with one goal.

Goaltender Patrick Boivin, who got the start in goal for the Express on Sunday night, gave up 4 goals on 48 shots.

Colby Ramsdale, who also saw action in net for the Express on Sunday, gave up 3 goals on 10 shots.

Thunderbirds goaltender Nolan Chartrand made 38 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. for a home game against the Soo Eagles, which will take place at the Pullar Stadium in Soo Michigan.


On Sunday, December 5, former Soo Thunderbird and current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Boris Katchouk scored his first National Hockey League goal in Tampa Bay’s 7-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia.

Katchouk’s first National Hockey League goal came at the 6:47 mark of the second period, which at that time gave Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead.

(Photo of Michael Chaffay credit to Bob Davies)


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