Foster and Chaffay lead Thunderbirds past Gold Miners

By Matt Stefano

After defeating the Espanola Express by a score of 4-1 back on Sunday afternoon in Espanola, the Soo Thunderbirds were back in action on Friday night for their second straight road game as they made a visit to Kirkland Lake to take on the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

The Thunderbirds, who entered Friday night’s game as the top team in the NOJHL’s West Division, took on a Gold Miners team that was sitting in fifth place in the East Division.

It was also the first time this season that the Thunderbirds played a team in the East Division on the road.

The Thunderbirds, who entered Friday night’s game with 25 wins, picked up their 26th victory of the season as they defeated the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners by a score of 3-1 at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake.

“It was a good game tonight,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “It was nice to get out on the road and start this trip off with a win.”

On Friday night, forwards Michael Chaffay and Cooper Foster led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with two points each.

Chaffay had a power play goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds while Foster chipped in with a pair of assists.

“Their (Chaffay and Foster) line was good right from the start,” Jarrett said. “They had a lot of O-zone play tonight and it really had an impact on the game.”

The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead  just 16 seconds into the first period, courtesy of Kelsey Ouellet’s 10th goal of the season from Cooper Foster and Michael Chaffay.

Ouellet, who opened the scoring with his 10th goal, also became the fifth player on the Soo Thunderbirds roster to the hit the 10-goal plateau this season.

The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes of play and outshot the Gold Miners 16-9 during the opening period.

The Gold Miners then tied things up at one just 3:53 into the second, courtesy of Jacob Hiltz’s 6th goal of the season from Ryan Evenhuis.

Hiltz, who scored his 6th goal of the season, also extended his goal-scoring streak to two games.

Then, with just 2:04 to go in the middle frame, it would be Thunderbirds rookie forward and Mississauga Steelheads prospect Kenny Belanger Jr. getting his 9th goal of the season from his cousin Ethan Novello, putting the Soo up by a score of 2-1 heading into the third period.

Belanger Jr’s 9th goal of the season from his cousin Ethan (Novello), also turned out to be the game-winner.

“The cousins (Belanger Jr. and Novello) connected for a big goal tonight,” Jarrett said. “The bench was excited for both of them and it was a huge goal for us.”

With the Thunderbirds leading by one goal heading into the third period, the Thunderbirds then got a two-goal cushion with just 4:37 to go in the third period, courtesy of a power play goal by Michael Chaffay, which made the score 3-1 for the Soo.

Cooper Foster and Andrew Gibson drew the assists on what would be Chaffay’s 17th goal of the season.

Gold Miners goaltender Keaton Lyons gave up 3 goals on 40 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Noah Metivier made 11 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds will now be right back in action on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., when they visit Powassan to take on the Powassan Voodoos at the Powassan Sportsplex.

“Quick turn around for us and I know the boys are excited for the challenge,” Jarrett said. “We will get some rest tonight and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow (Saturday).”

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin