Chitaroni scores OT winner to give Thunderbirds 15th straight victory

By Matt Stefano

Make it 15 big ones!

On Sunday afternoon, the Soo Thunderbirds picked up their 15th straight victory as they defeated the Blind River Beavers by a score of 4-3 in overtime at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River.

The Thunderbirds, who picked up their 15th straight victory on Sunday afternoon, were also coming off a 2-0 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners back on Friday night in the Soo.

“It was nice to get another win this afternoon,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “I thought we were solid all game aside from a 6-minute stretch.”

After leading the Beavers 3-0 through forty minutes of play, the Beavers then came back to score three unanswered goals in the third period, which sent the game into overtime.

All three of the Beavers goals in the third period came in a span of 5:17.

“We have to do a better job of playing a complete game as we head into the playoffs, or it will bite us,” Jarrett said.

At the 3:05 mark of the overtime period, it would be Thunderbirds defenceman Mason Chitaroni getting his second goal of the season, which gave his club a 4-3 overtime victory.

Chitaroni, who scored his second goal of the season in overtime, also gave himself his first career overtime tally.

“It felt amazing to get my first career overtime goal, but it felt even better to get our 15th straight victory,” Chitaroni said. “All the guys have been buying into our systems and they’re pushing the pace every single game.”

During Sunday afternoon’s game, the Thunderbirds had multi-point efforts from two different players, including Brock Santa Maria and rookie forward Cooper Foster.

Santa Maria set up two goals for his second straight multi-point game while Foster also had a two-point game with a goal and an assist.

Foster, who finished the afternoon with a goal and an assist, has now given himself 18 goals and 40 assists on the season.

“It feels awesome,” Foster said. “Everyone is working hard and they’re coming to every practice and every game ready to battle.”

Foster, who recorded his 40th assist on Sunday afternoon, also became the first Thunderbird rookie to record 40 assists in a regular season since Brian Nanne did back in 2010-2011.

“It’s an honour to be the first Thunderbird rookie to do that in over a decade and I can’t thank this team enough,” Foster said. “We truly are a team and we come everyday to work and we’ve shown that throughout the season.”

Russell Oldham (power play) and Kyle Trottier had the other goals for the Thunderbirds while Kelsey Ouellet also got on the scoresheet with one assist.

Jake Kovacs (power play), Dylan Hendrick and Kyle Caron had the goals for the Beavers while Ethan Pegg, Meguire Naughton, James Ingram, Hayden Webster and Evan Fraccaro all chipped in with one assist each.

Beavers goaltender Patrick Boivin gave up 4 goals on 36 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Noah Zeppa made 28 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds will now play their final road game for the month of March on Saturday, March 26, when they visit Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles.

Puck drop for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. at Pullar Stadium.


During Sunday afternoon’s game in Blind River, the Thunderbirds were minus their assistant coach Jamie Henderson, who was in Kapuskasing with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds for the Great North Under-18 Hockey League championship game.

Henderson, who serves as head coach of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds, helped the Jr. Greyhounds win the Great North Under-18 Hockey League championship on Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Sudbury U-18 Nickel Capitals by a score of 4-3 in Kapuskasing.

“We’ve been waiting three years for this opportunity,” Henderson said. “With COVID we haven’t been able to compete for a championship and this young group really worked and are well deserving.”

During Sunday afternoon’s championship game in Kapuskasing, Jr. Greyhounds forward Lincoln Moore led the way offensively with a goal and an assist while goaltender Charlie Burns was in goal for the victory.

So far this season, both Moore and Burns also suited up as affiliate players with the Soo Thunderbirds.

“It was great to see some of our Thunderbird affiliate players make huge contributions today and it certainly bodes well for our program moving forward and for these young men,” Henderson said.

Henderson and the Jr. Greyhounds will now advance to the 2022 OHF Under-18 Championship, which is held this year in Toronto from April 4 – April 10.

(Photo of Thunderbirds defenceman Mason Chitaroni credit to Bob Davies)

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