By Matt Stefano
After opening up their three-game homestand with a 7-3 victory over the Espanola Express last Thursday night at the John Rhodes, the Soo Thunderbirds played their final afternoon home game of the regular season on Sunday as they took on the Soo Eagles.
The Thunderbirds, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game on a four game winning streak, also had a 2-0 record against the Soo Eagles this season.
Five different goal scorers chipped in for the Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon at the John Rhodes, as the Thunderbirds defeated the Eagles by a score of 5-1.
“It’s always good to beat a team like that,” said Thunderbirds rookie forward Cam Findlay. “We have a little rivalry going and we did a lot of the little things right.”
The Thunderbirds took a 3-0 lead after the first period, getting goals from Nick Smith, Cam Findlay and Lucas Theriault.
Findlay, who scored his first NOJHL goal at the 9:28 mark of the first period, gave the Thunderbirds a 2-0 lead.
His first goal of his NOJHL career, also turned out to be the game winner.
“It’s been a while and maybe a little bit too long, but I just stay positive and my linemates made a great play and I was able to bury it,” continued Findlay.
If the name Findlay sounds familiar to hockey fans in the Soo, Cam is also the cousin of former Soo Greyhounds forward Brett Findlay.
Brett, who played two seasons with the Greyhounds from 2010-2012, is now playing with HC Bolzano in the EBEL.
“My cousin Brett gives me some pointers and it’s nice to have a family member like that who plays high level hockey,” continued Findlay. “I’ve seen many games when Brett was playing for the Greyhounds. I try to look up to him and model my game after him.”
On Sunday afternoon, Gage Stephney led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with a power play goal and two helpers.
Since coming over to the Thunderbirds in a trade with the St. Catherines Falcons back on October 30th, Stephney has put up six points in six games.
“He’s a big building block,” continued Findlay. “He was a big piece to get and he’s been playing great.”
Defenceman Ryan Lawrence had a power play goal goal for the Thunderbirds at the 16:53 mark of the second, giving him his third goal of the season.
His third goal of the season, also surpassed his goal total (2) from last season.
Richards Landing native Nolan Ford had a big game offensively for the Thunderbirds, setting up two goals while Tristan Cicchello, Avery Rebek, Noah Boman and Kaidan McDonald all chipped in with one assist each.
Charley Hanewall had a power play goal for the Eagles at the 5:21 mark of the second, cutting the Thunderbirds lead to 3-1.
Kyle Quinn and Caleb Wood drew the assists on what would be Hanewall’s third tally of the season.
Eagles goaltender Shane Brancato gave up five goals on thirty two shots in the loss.
Thunderbirds rookie netminder Colin Ahern was named second star of the game, making thirty one stops for the victory.
“He played unbelievable again,” continued Findlay. “It seems like he keeps us in it every game and it’s so nice to have a goaltender back there that plays well.”
With the victory, the Thunderbirds have now improved their record to 19 wins and 5 losses, good for 38 points.
They have also hopped over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners for sole possession of first place in the NOJHL standings.
The Thunderbirds will now conclude their three-game homestand this Friday at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes.
“We have to keep doing the same things,” concluded Findlay. “We got two big wins against them over a week ago, and if we do the same thing we should be good.”
(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/www.ssmphotos.com)