By Matt Stefano
It’s still early in the season, but Riley Klugerman is turning into a goal-scoring machine in this league (NOJHL).
On Friday night, Hearst Lumberjacks forward Riley Klugerman scored twice, including once on the power play while setting up another, to help lead the Hearst Lumberjacks to a 7-3 win over the Soo Thunderbirds at Claude Larose Recreation Complex in Hearst, Ontario.
The win also improved the Lumberjacks record to 4-2 on the season.
“Obviously it feels great to score goals but it feels even better to win, especially against this club (Soo Thunderbirds) who beat us last season in the NOJHL final,” Klugerman said.
Klugerman, who scored twice on Friday night against the Soo Thunderbirds, also gave himself his third straight multi-goal game.
The 2002-birth-year forward also became just the second player in Lumberjacks history to record three straight multi-goal games, joining Ryan Glazer (2021-2022).
“It feels great to join an ex-teammate in that category and I’m hoping to keep this streak going as the season continues,” Klugerman said.
Klugerman, who scored his 7th and 8th goals of the season on Friday night, has now moved into sole possession of first among all NOJHL players in goals this season, moving two goals ahead of Zachary Demers (Hearst Lumberjacks) and Atley Gringorten (Espanola Express).
In his first season with the Lumberjacks last season, Klugerman only found the back of the net 12 times in 44 regular season games.
“I feel that my game has improved a lot since last season, and playing with an unbelievable player like Zachary Demers on my team is just making my job way easier,” Klugerman said.
On Friday night, Lumberjacks forward Zachary Demers also had a big night offensively as he scored two goals and set up another, good for his third-straight multi point game.
The Thunderbirds opened the scoring for the third straight game on Friday night as forward Dharan Cap notched his 5th goal of the season from Youssef Chaouachi at the 6:50 mark of the first period, which put the Thunderbirds up by a score of 1-0.
After Cap’s goal, the Lumberjacks then ended up scoring 6 straight goals, including two in the first, three in the second and one in the third.
“Tonight (Friday) we had too many defensive breakdowns that led to grade-A chances for Hearst,” said Soo Thunderbirds forward Dharan Cap.
With the Thunderbirds trailing 6-1 almost nine minutes into the third period, the Birds then ended up scoring back-to-back power play goals just 59 seconds apart, which quickly turned a 6-1 Lumberjacks lead into a 6-3 Lumberjacks lead.
At the 8:55 mark of the third, it would be Thunderbirds forward Ethan Raduy getting his 3rd goal of the season on the power play from Brock Santa Maria, which cut the Lumberjacks lead to 6-2.
Then, at the 9:54 mark of the third, it would then be Thunderbirds blueliner Kolby Fellinger getting his first goal of the season on the power play from Austin Fellinger and Youssef Chaouachi, which then cut the Lumberjacks lead to 6-3.
The Thunderbirds, who scored twice on the power play in the third period, finished the night going 2-for-5 on the man advantage.
“Our power play is clicking more and more every game,” Cap said. “We also want that to continue throughout the season.”
Tyler Patterson had a power play goal and two assists for the Lumberjacks on Friday night while Mason Bazaluk also had a multi-point game of his own, with a goal and a helper.
Patterson’s power play goal, came at the 11:29 mark of the third period, which at that time made the score 7-3 for the Lumberjacks.
Adam Shillinglaw set up two goals for the Lumberjacks victory while Cody Walker, Brayden Palfi and Ethan Kistch all set up a goal each.
Brandan Tronchin also got on the scoresheet for the Lumberjacks on Friday night, with his first career NOJHL tally.
Lumberjacks goaltender Matteo Gennaro, who faced the Thunderbirds for the first time since game 7 of the NOJHL back on May 12, made 31 saves for his first victory of the season.
Gennaro, who made 31 saves on Friday night, was also named third star of the game.
“We put up a great amount of shots on net tonight (Friday), but they weren’t great scoring chances,” Cap said. “Gennaro also did a great job of tracking the puck.”
Thunderbirds goaltender Kolton Bourret gave up 5 goals on 22 shots, before being replaced in net by Zachary Reddy, who then gave up 2 goals on 17 shots the rest of the way.
The Thunderbirds, who now have now lost their second straight game and their third straight game on the road, will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday night, when they visit Cochrane to take on the Cochrane Crunch.
Puck drop for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Tim Horton Events Centre.
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds road record fell to 0 wins and 3 losses, which tied their franchise record for their longest road losing streak to start a season.
The last time the Thunderbirds lost their first three road games, was back in the 2004-2005 season.
(Photo credit to Marc Johnson/Gary Rosevear)