By Matt Stefano
It wasn’t the usual start as any other year, but hockey fans in the Soo were treated to some hockey once again!
On Friday, November 6th, the Soo Thunderbirds took to the ice for their first preseason game of the year 2020 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds welcomed the Blind River Beavers, who were the last team they played on home ice back on February 28th before the pandemic.
Friday night’s game also saw four new faces behind the Thunderbirds bench, including newly named head coach and assistant general manager Denny Lambert, associate coach Jeremy Stevenson and assistant coaches Gary Roach and Micky Sartoretto.
It may have also been the first game without body contact, but the Thunderbirds showed a ton of skill and offence on Friday night at the John Rhodes as they defeated the Beavers by a score of 6-1.
Despite outshooting the Beavers 12-11 after twenty minutes of play, the teams were scoreless heading into the second.
The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead at the 4:06 mark of the second, courtesy of second year forward Will Josephson’s first goal of the preseason from rookie defenceman Kaden Dundas.
Josephson, who comes from Phoenix, Arizona, was also coming off a 6-goal and 28 point season from one season ago.
The Beavers would then tie the game at one at the 14:44 mark of the second, courtesy of Sam Davies first goal of the preseason from Andrew Malek and Milos Todorovic.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Kurtis Rogers would then put his hometown up 2-1 at the 15:57 mark of the second from Parker Morgan.
Morgan, who assisted on Rogers tally, was also a member of the Sault College Cougars hockey club for the past two seasons.
Then, just 15 ticks later, it would be newly acquired forward Caleb Wood getting his first goal of the postseason from Tyson Doucette and Russell Oldham, which put the Soo up 3-1 after forty minutes of action.
Wood, who came over to the Thunderbirds from the Soo Eagles in a trade this past offseason, finished third in team goals last season with the Eagles with 20.
With the Thunderbirds outscoring the Beavers 3-1 in the middle frame, they also dominated on the shot clock, outshooting their opponent 19-5 in that one period.
Three more goals were then scored in the final 3:31 of the third period.
Phoenix, Arizona native Will Josephson notched his second goal of the game at the 3:31 mark of the third from Dylan Parsons and Ryan Williams, putting the Soo up by three.
Newly signed forward Ty Zachary would then notch his first goal of the preseason at the 2:20 mark of the third from Ryan Williams and Caleb Wood, which gave the Soo a 5-1 lead.
Then, just 59 ticks later, it would be newly signed forward Michael Chaffay getting his first goal of the postseason from Cooper Smyl and Kaden Dundas, which made the score 6-1.
Zachary and Chaffay, who scored less than a minute apart, were also teammates on the GNML’s Soo Jr. Greyhoynds one season ago, and both signed with the Thunderbirds back on June 6th.
The Thunderbirds, who outscored the Beavers 3-0 in the final frame, also outshot their opponent 21-6 in the final twenty minutes of action.
Beavers netminder Wyatt Courchaine gave up six goals on 52 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds newly signed goaltender Scott Young made 21 saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds, who are off to a 1-0 start this preseason, will now travel to Blind River tomorrow for their second exhibition game in a rematch against Beavers.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Blind River Community Centre.
(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)