Foster leads Thunderbirds to overtime win in game 2 against Eagles

By Matt Stefano

They may have let a 3-1 lead slip away in the third period, but the Soo Thunderbirds still got the job done in overtime!

On Wednesday night, the Soo Thunderbirds picked up a 4-3 overtime victory against the Soo Eagles in game 2 of the NOJHL West Division final series at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.

The win also gave the Thunderbirds a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I thought we played really well for forty minutes,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “It was probably the best forty minutes we’ve had so far in the playoffs, but in the third period, for whatever reason, I thought that we got outworked and you can tell they (Soo Eagles) were the more desperate team.”

The Thunderbirds, who were leading the Eagles 3-1 with under seven minutes to go in the third period, then gave up a pair of goals in a span of 4:32.

Jacob Swiatek’s second goal of the postseason from Hayden Daca at the 13:12 mark of the third period, cut the Thunderbirds lead to 3-2.

Then, at the 17:44 mark of the third period, it would be Eagles forward Brian Fiddes getting his first tally of the postseason from Jack Mortson and Zach Briskey, which at that time tied game up at three.

“The Eagles recognized the situation of not wanting to go down 2-0 in the series, so they pressed and they faught, and they were able to tie it up,” Jarrett said. “We’re still happy with the result and in the end I thought our boys did a great job of regrouping in overtime. It wasn’t pretty and it’s not always pretty, but we still brought our intensity level back up and showed that we were hard to play against.”

At the 14:42 mark of the first overtime period, it would be Thunderbirds rookie forward and Ottawa 67’s prospect Cooper Foster getting his first career overtime goal from Kelsey Ouellet and Kyle Trottier, which gave the Thunderbirds a 4-3 overtime victory.

Foster, who scored the overtime goal on Wednesday night, finished the night with a pair of goals and an assist, and was also named first star of the game.

“I was kinda shocked at first when I scored the overtime goal,” Foster said. “The intensity of this game was so high and you don’t really know what’s going through your head, but it felt great to get rewarded in overtime and we worked hard all game.”

Foster, who scored the overtime goal on Wednesday night, also became the first Thunderbird player to score an overtime goal in a playoff game since Tristan Cicchello did back on March 17, 2018.

“Achievements like that are always good, but i couldn’t have done that without my teammates out there,” Foster said. “The defence made a great breakout play and my linemate set me up, so I give credit to them.”

Wednesday night’s game also saw a great performance from Thunderbirds rookie forward Kelsey Ouellet, who finished the night with three assists.

Ouellet, who finished the night with three assists, also assisted on both of Cooper Foster’s tallies.

“My linemate Kelsey (Ouellet) has been great all season long,” Foster said. “Our chemistry has only grown throughout the season and I feel like we’re really in our strive right now.”

During Wednesday night’s game, the Thunderbirds also got a goal from their top scoring defenceman Kaden Dundas.

Dundas, who entered Wednesday night’s game with 1 goal and 4 assists, scored his second goal of the postseason at the 11:34 mark of the second period, which at that time gave the Thunderbirds a 2–1 lead.

Dundas’s goal, also gave him his sixth point of the postseason, which moved him into a three-way-tie with Jaden Raad (Hearst Lumberjacks) and Colin Handy (Soo Eagles) for first among all NOJHL blueliners in postseason scoring.

“I thought Dundas was fantastic tonight,” Jarrett said. “He even got the game puck after tonight’s game, because the boys have their thing after the game where they like to pick a player of the game, and tonight it was him (Dundas). I can’t even remember the last time Dundas didn’t have a great game and I thought he’s been great for a long time now, especially after coming back from the lockdown in January. He’s gotten better and better and he’s been a great teammate. His work ethic is there and it’s great to see him get rewarded.”

Michael Chaffay also had a goal for the Thunderbirds on Wednesday night while Andrew Gibson, Samuel Lake and Zane Burleigh all chipped in with one assist each.

Tyler Culleton had one goal for the Eagles on Wednesday night, which was the opening goal of the game at the 6:49 mark of the first period.

Eagles goaltender Gabe Rosek gave up 4 goals on 34 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Noah Metiver made 38 saves for the victory.

Metiver, who made 38 saves on Wednesday night, was also named second star of the game.

“Noah Metivier has been like lockdown all year,” Foster said. “He’s been solid for us all year and we know we can trust him. No matter what period he’s playing in, whether it’s the first period, second period, third period, or overtime, we know we can trust him. I also feel both of our goaltenders (Noah Metivier and Noah Zeppa) are able to make big saves for us and big saves are what won us the game tonight.”

The Thunderbirds will now be action for game 3 of the NOJHL West Division final series against the Eagles on Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Pullar Stadium.

(Photo of Thunderbirds celebrating their overtime goal credit to Matt Stefano)





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