By Matt Stefano
After defeating the Blind River Beavers 4-3 in a shootout last Saturday in Blind River, the Soo Thunderbirds were back on John Rhodes ice on Thursday night as they took on the last place Espanola Express.
On Thursday, the Thunderbirds were also up against a familiar face in forward Jamie Damignani, who was traded to the Espanola Express prior to the game.
The Thunderbirds extended their winning streak to four games on Thursday night at the John Rhodes, as they defeated the Express by a score of 7-3.
“It was a good game and I thought the boys moved the puck well,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “Espanola works really hard and they skate well, so there’s never going to be an easy game against anybody in our league.”
The Thunderbirds took a 2-1 lead after twenty minutes of play, thanks to a pair of power play goals by Lucas Theriault.
Lucas Theriault, Nick Smith and Steven Bellini combined for six points in the first period.
“They have been playing together now for quite a while and they know where everybody is,” continued Parco. “They move the puck around well and they have some skill. They have fun on the power play and it’s fun to watch some nights.”
Lukas Lyszyk had a goal for Espanola at the 17:00 mark of the first period from Bret McInall.
Nick Smith’s twelfth goal of the season from Gage Stephney at the 2:15 mark of the second, put the Soo up 3-1.
Express forward Bret McInall would then cut the Thunderbirds lead to 3-2, with his tenth goal of the season from Matais Salem and Lukas Lyszyk at the 5:09 mark of the second.
With the Thunderbirds leading 3-2 after forty minutes of play, a pair of players made history at the start of the third period.
Kaidan McDonald’s goal at the 46 second mark of the third period, followed by Nick Smith’s goal just six seconds later, gave the Thunderbirds a three-goal cushion.
McDonald and Smith, who scored six seconds apart, set the new team record for the second fastest two goals scored by Thunderbird players, passing Matt West and Joey Coccimiglio, who held the previous record (7 seconds) back in the 2002-2003 season.
“Kaidan and Nick are both good players and compliments to them for making history,” concluded Parco.
The Express would then cut the Thunderbirds lead to 5-3 at the 3:20 mark of the third, courtesy of Matais Salem’s power play goal from Nick Belisle.
Thunderbirds defenceman Tristan Cicchello extended his point streak to three games, scoring his second goal of the season from Noah Boman at the 6:52 mark of the third, giving the Soo a 6-3 lead.
Gage Stephney would then extend his goal streak to two games, scoring his second goal of the season on the power play with 1:26 to go in the third, putting the Thunderbirds up by four.
Express goaltender Joel Rainville gave up seven goals on twenty six shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder William Anderson made twenty one saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now get set for matinee action at the John Rhodes this Sunday at 2:00 p.m., when they take on their International Bridge rivals, the Soo Eagles.
(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/www.ssmphotos.com)