By Matt Stefano
After losing on home ice for the first time in 35 straight regular season home games back on Sunday afternoon, the Soo Thunderbirds were hoping to get back on the winning track on Wednesday night, despite being minus six players, who were all getting set to return from the Eastern Canada Jr. A Challenge, which was held in Cornwall, Ontario.
On Wednesday night, the T-Birds had some help from a few added players to their lineup as they went on to beat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 6-2 at the Essar Centre.
Forward Caleb Wood, who played in his first NOJHL game for the T-Birds on Wednesday night, was named first star of the game, scoring a goal and adding two assists.
“I was a little bit nervous going into the game,” said Wood. “But the guys brought me in pretty good and they treated me like I was on the team and we all worked together to get the win.”
After a scoreless opening period, Wood opened the scoring with his first career NOJHL goal at 4:02 into the second from Gage Stephney and Keenan Eddy to put his hometown T-Birds up 1-0.
“To be honest I was pretty shocked,” continued the 2000 birth year forward. “But it was a nice setup from the boys and we all worked hard to get those.”
Wood, who was added to the T-Birds lineup for tonight’s game against Elliot Lake, plays for the Great North Midget League’s Soo Greyhounds and currently sits fourth in league scoring with 34 points.
“Junior A is a lot faster hockey,” concluded Wood. “A lot harder hitting, but I think I like it a lot.”
Following Wood’s opening goal at 4:02 into the second period, the T-Birds then got goals from Ryan Waterhouse, Nick Smith and Austin Kozluk, which gave the Soo a 4-0 lead after two.
Wildcats goaltender Justin Richer, who gave up 4 goals on 15 shots would then be replaced in net by Matt Kostiw.
Elliot Lake would get on the board just 3:29 into the third, courtesy of Mack Caruana’s goal from Quinn Robelle and David Elford to cut the T-Birds lead to 4-1.
Austin Kozluk would notch his second of the game on power play at 8:08 to make it a 5-1 T-Birds lead.
Mack Caruana would then get his second goal of the game from Carson Andreoli and Tyler Akeeagok at 13:31 to once again cut the lead to three.
Lucas Theriault, who played in just his third game with the T-Birds this season, scored his first career NOJHL goal at 17:33 from Keegan Stevenson and Caleb Wood to make it a 6-2 game.
Kaidan McDonald had a big night offensively for the T-Birds with two assists while Jake Reed, Ryan Mulligan and Noah Solinger also set up a goal each.
Matt Kostiw gave up 2 goals on 8 shots the rest of the way for the Wildcats while T-Birds goaltender Brandon Gordon made 27 saves for his 25th career win.
The T-Birds will now take on the Cochrane Crunch on Sunday, November 20th at 2:00 p.m. from the Essar Centre.
Sunday afternoon’s game vs Cochrane will also mark the third home game for Fan Appreciation Month sponsored by The Tech.
Seniors & Students: $5.00
Kids 5 years old and under get in for free
Season ticket holders will receive a free program
Sault Minor and Sault Peewee hockey players get in for free if they wear their team jersey
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)