By Matt Stefano
A 5-3 win here. A 5-4 win there.
Those are the results the Soo Thunderbirds have had in their first two games of the new year.
After defeating the Espanola Paper Kings by a score of 5-3 on Friday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Soo Ontario, the Soo Thunderbirds then went in to Soo Michigan on Saturday night and ended up defeating the Soo Eagles by a score of 5-4 in overtime at the Pullar Stadium.
The win also extended the Thunderbirds winning streak to nine games.
On Saturday night, Thunderbirds forward Youssef Chaouachi scored twice, including the overtime winner, and was also named first star of the game.
Chaouachi’s overtime goal, came just 2:44 into overtime, with Brodie McConnell-Barker picking up the only assist.
McConnell-Barker, who picked up the only assist on Chaouachi’s overtime tally, finished the night with two assists, good for his sixth career multi-point game.
Chaouachi, who scored the overtime winner, also scored a power play goal at the 12:00 mark of the third period, which at that time put the Thunderbirds ahead 4-3.
On Saturday night, the Thunderbirds also got another multi-point performance from newly signed defenceman Ranon Joseph, as he finished the night with a power play goal and an assist, good for his second straight multi-point game.
Joseph, who recorded a power play goal and an assist on Saturday night in Soo Michigan, was coming off a three-assist performance in his NOJHL debut with the Thunderbirds back on Friday night against Espanola.
Joseph also became the first Thunderbird player to record back-to-back multi-point games in his first two NOJHL games played since Rylan Clemons did back in the 2019-2020 season.
Forward Daniel Beaupre also had a goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night while Jackson Truchan also got on the scoresheet with one goal.
Thunderbirds forwards Samuel Lake and Ethan Novello also both got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Former Soo Thunderbirds forward Kenny Belanger Jr. had a pair of goals for the Soo Eagles on Saturday night, including one on the power play while Chase Tallaire and Lane Jensen set up a pair of goals each.
Colin Handy (power play) and Alex Freund also got on the scoresheet for the Eagles with a goal each.
Eagles goaltender Reid Ramsay gave up 5 goals on 35 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds goaltender Kolton Bourret made 30 saves for the victory.
With the win, the Thunderbirds have now improved their record to 23-9-2-1, good for 49 points.
The Birds have now also hopped over the Blind River Beavers for second place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.
Next action for the Thunderbirds will be on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., when they will visit Blind River to take on the Blind River Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre.
Tuesday night’s game will also be the first game of a home-and-home series against the Beavers.
(Photo credit to Soo Eagles)