By Matt Stefano
Heading into Saturday night’s action on an eight game winning streak, the Soo Thunderbirds were hoping to get their forty third victory of the season across the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan against the Soo Eagles.
Saturday night’s game also marked a milestone night for T-Bird defenceman and Shanty Bay, Ontario native Matt Busby, as he was playing in his one hundredth career game in a Soo Thunderbirds uniform.
Just thirty seven ticks into the first period, it would be Gord Helmuth’s fourteenth from Roman Gaudet and Chris Murphy giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. The T-Birds would then get back to back unassisted tallies at 2:56 and 5:13. Nathan Hebert’s shorthanded goal and tenth of the season at 2:56 tied things up at one before Matt Caruso’s twenty fifth at 5:13 made it a 2-1 game for the T-Birds. Gord Helmuth’s second of the night and fifteenth of the season at 17:30 from Chris Murphy and Roman Gaudet made it a 2-2 game after one.
Sam Rappaport’s seventh from Jacob Palmerio and Reed Gregory at 6:54 into the second made it 3-2 Eagles after two.
Roman Gaudet’s fifteenth from Gord Helmuth and Chris Murphy gave the Eagles a 4-2 lead at 5:38 into the third. Caleb Boman’s power play goal and fourteenth of the season at 14:04 from Matt Busby and Jaren Bellini cut the Eagles lead to 4-3. Boman’s fourteenth goal of the season also set the new Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals in a single season by a T-Bird defenceman, passing Bronson Kovacs (2010), who had the previous record with thirteen.
Chris Murphy’s third of the season from Levi Rowan and Alex DiBacco with into the empty net with twelve seconds left to go in regulation put it away for the Soo Eagles as they went on to defeat the Soo Thunderbirds 5-3 at the Pullar Stadium.
T-Birds goalie and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan native Brandon Gordon made thirty one saves for the loss, while Jack Deines made thirty nine saves for the Eagles to earn first star of the game.
Eagles goalie Jack Hickey was replaced by Jack Deines at 5:13 into the first, after giving up two goals on six shots.
The T-Birds next game will be in Elliot Lake on Friday, February 26th at 7:30 p.m. to take on the Wildcats at Centennial Arena.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)