By Matt Stefano
After blanking the Timmins Rock 5-0 at the John Rhodes Community Centre last Thursday and extending their unbeaten streak to four games, the Soo Thunderbirds made the trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Friday night for the first game of a home and home series against the Soo Eagles.
Defenceman Braden King, who came over in a trade from the Cochrane Crunch back on January 10th, made his debut in a Soo Thunderbird uniform on Friday night.
The Thunderbirds, who led 1-0 through forty minutes of play, scored three more times in the third period to go on to a 4-1 victory over the Soo Eagles on Friday night at the Pullar Stadium.
Nick Smith’s 29th goal of the season with 1:44 to go in the first period, put the Thunderbirds up 1-0.
Defencemen Ryan Lawrence and Tristan Cicchello had the assists on Smith’s goal.
Jacob Palmerio’s 18th goal of the season from Kobe Keller and Jake Lamberty at the 10:05 mark of the third period, tied the game up at one.
Captain Noah Solinger notched his 10th goal of the season at 12:30 from Bradon Caruso and Nolan Ford to put the Thunderbirds ahead 2-1.
Rookie forward Camaryn Baber, who entered Friday night’s game riding a six game point streak, scored his 10th goal of the season at 16:12 from Tristan Cicchello and Nick Smith, putting the Thunderbirds up by two goals.
Then, with just 39 seconds to go in the third period, it would be newly acquired defenceman Braden King scoring his first goal of the season into an empty net from Mark Tassone, making the score 4-1 in favour of the Thunderbirds.
King also became the first defenceman to score a goal in his first game played with the Thunderbirds since Mike MacIntyre did back on November 25th, 2009.
Thunderbirds goaltender Brandon Gordon made 37 stops for the win while Shane Brancato gave up 3 goals on 27 shots in the Eagles loss.
The Thunderbirds will be back on John Rhodes ice on Saturday night for a rematch against the Soo Eagles at 7:30 p.m.
First, some news just down Highway 17!
It was announced last week that former Soo Thunderbirds forward Drake Pilon has been named assistant captain for the Sudbury Wolves (Home games).
Now to some news between the pipes!
This past Wednesday at the Meridian Centre in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, former Soo Thunderbirds goaltender and current Kitchener Ranger Mario Culina recorded his first Ontario Hockey League shutout, making 34 saves in a 6-0 win against the Niagara IceDogs.
Then, on Friday night in a home game at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Culina made 36 saves for his second straight shutout in a 3-0 win against the Erie Otters.
Culina became the first Kitchener Ranger goaltender to record back to back shutouts in a regular season since Josh Unice did back in 2007-2008.