By Matt Stefano
After beginning the 2020-2021 regular season with a record of 0 wins, 2 losses and 1 shootout loss, the Soo Thunderbirds were hoping to grab their first victory on Sunday afternoon as they were in Blind River for their fourth straight meeting against the Beavers.
And the good news is, the Thunderbirds did pick up their first win of the season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Thunderbirds defeated the Blind River Beavers by a score of 5-3 at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River
Thunderbirds captain Avery Rebek opened the scoring with his first goal of the season just 3:33 into the first period from Caleb Wood and Alex Bugeja, giving the Soo a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes of play.
The Beavers would then tie the game at one at the 11:46 mark of the second period, courtesy of Jacob Kelly’s third goal of the season on the power play from Lucas Adams and Devin Mauro.
Kelly’s third goal of the season also gave him his 100th career NOJHL regular season point.
The Thunderbirds would then get a goal less than five minutes later from rookie forward Michael Chaffay.
Chaffay, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game with 2 goals, scored his team-leading third goal of the season at 16:39 from Cooper Smyl and Cameron Dutkiewicz, giving the Soo a 2-1 lead.
Then, with just 1:16 left to go in the second, it would be Beavers forward Jared Dupuis scoring his career-high third goal of the season from Noah Minns and Jacob Kelly, tying the game up at two after two periods of play.
The Beavers would then get their first lead of the hockey game just forty seconds into the third period, courtesy of Noah Minns first goal of the season on the power play from Lucas Adams and Jacob Kelly, giving the home side a 3-2 lead.
The Soo would then get a power play goal at the 6:53 mark of the third period, courtesy of Cooper Smyl’s second goal of the season from Connor Toms, which tied the game up at three.
Smyl’s power play tally, also turned out to be his team-leading second power play goal.
With the Soo on a penalty kill late in the third period, it would then be Thunderbirds rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds 2020 3rd round pick Connor Toms scoring his second goal of the season at 15:52 from Brock Santa Maria and Caleb Wood, giving the Soo a 4-3 lead.
Toms, who also scored his first career shorthanded tally, became the first Thunderbird blueliner to score a shorthanded goal since Robert Calisti did back on December 3rd, 2017.
The Thunderbirds would then get an empty net goal with just 1:03 left to go in the third period, courtesy of Caleb Wood’s first goal of the season from Cooper Smyl, making the score 5-3 for the Soo.
Beavers netminder Wyatt Courchaine gave up 4 goals on 28 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds goaltender Alex Bugeja made 28 saves for his first NOJHL victory.
(Photo of Connor Toms credit to Bob Davies)