By Matt Stefano
After grabbing their 40th win of the season Tuesday night, defeating the Rayside Balfour Canadians 7-2 at the John Rhodes, the Soo Thunderbirds played their final road game of the regular season Friday night as they were in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles.
Friday night also marked the 100th career game for T-Birds forward Mark Tassone.
After a scoreless first period, it would be the Eagles getting on the board first, as Nate Harris notched his 14th goal of the season at 2:06 from Chris Murphy and William Nichol.
Brendan Schulz 18th goal of the season with 10:01 to go in the second, put the Eagles ahead by two.
Carmen Scarfone and Chris Lutz would draw the assists on the second Soo Eagles goal.
With just 2:36 left to go in the middle frame, it would be T-Birds forward Zach Senecal getting his 30th goal of the season from Matt Caruso and Austin Kozluk, which cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the third.
Caruso, who drew an assist on Senecal’s 30th goal, gave the T-Birds captain his 40th assist of the season, which made him the first T-Bird to record 40 assists in a single season since Darcy Haines (2013-2014).
Senecal would tie the game just 1:52 into the third on the power play, notching his second of the night and 31st of the season from Sean Emmerson and Keegan Stevenson.
Kaidan McDonald, who was named one of the NOJHL’s three stars of the week, put the Soo up 3-2 with his 4th goal of the season at 2:31 from Greg Smith and Keenan Eddy.
For McDonald, it marked his first goal in twenty three games.
The Eagles would tie things up at three just 1:28 later, courtesy of Roman Gaudet’s 5th from Brent Jones and Kyle Hofelich.
Defenceman Alec Allen would get his 3rd goal of the season on the power play at 13:27 from Austin Kozluk and Greg Smith, which put the T-Birds ahead 4-3.
For Greg Smith, it marked his second straight two assist game.
T-Birds captain Matt Caruso would score his 28th goal of the season into an empty net with 27 seconds to go in regulation, as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to defeat the Soo Eagles 5-3 at Pullar Stadium.
Ryan Mulligan and Wyatt Villalta would draw the assists on Caruso’s 28th goal.
Caruso, who now has 164 career points, puts him one point ahead of Jeff Rainville (2001-2003) for sixth on the Soo Thunderbirds all-time points list.
Dougie Newhouse made 34 stops for the T-Birds tenth straight victory while Jack Deines gave up 4 goals on 43 shots in the Eagles loss.
The T-Birds will look to make it eleven wins in a row for the first time this season on Saturday, March 4th, when they host the Soo Eagles at 7:00 p.m. from the Essar Centre.
(Photo of Zach Senecal credit to Jim Egan)