Oldham and Chaffay score two goals each to help Thunderbirds to 10th straight win

By Matt Stefano

The streak has hit double digits!

The Soo Thunderbirds picked up their 10th straight victory on Friday night as they defeated the Cochrane Crunch by a score of 6-1 in front of 988 spectators at the GFL Memorial Gardens in downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

The win also gave the Thunderbirds their 30th victory of the season.

“It’s a 6-1 hockey game, but they’re not always pretty,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett, whose team took on the last place Cochrane Crunch. “I thought for the most part we stuck with it, but then we got away from our game plan a little bit. It was still nice to get our 10th win in a row and the boys dialled in and made sure we got it done. Tonight’s win was very well deserved, especially after the last stretch of hockey that we’ve been playing.”

The Thunderbirds, who picked up their 30th win of the season on Friday night, also hit the 30-win-plateau for the 19th time in their 23-year history.

“We’ve got a great group of guys this season and I think when you talk about those kind of numbers over that period of time, it just goes to show you the great quality of hockey we have in this city,” Jarrett said. “There always seems to be a good local player on the club and this year has been no different. For us this year, it’s just been up and down in terms of stops and starts with COVID and having to worry about that stuff, but credit goes to the boys for buying in for what we’re selling and obviously the results speak for themselves with our record.”

On Friday night, the Thunderbirds had two-goal efforts from two different players, including Russell Oldham and Michael Chaffay.

Oldham, who scored two goals for the Thunderbirds on Friday night, also gave himself his first two-goal game in a Thunderbirds uniform.

“Russ was good tonight and I thought his line was also good all night as well,” Jarrett said. “Russ’s line was probably the most consistent from start to finish with Ethan Novello on the right and Cole Delarosbil in the middle.”

Oldham’s first goal of the game came at the 7:00 mark of the first period from Cole Delarosbil, which put the Thunderbirds up 1-0.

The 21-year-old forward then got his second goal of the night on the power play at the 19:04 mark of the first from Youssef Chaouachi and Dharan Cap, which gave the Thunderbirds a 3-0 lead after twenty minutes of play.

“It felt a little different playing our game tonight on the GFL Memorial Gardens ice, but we got the job done and I was able to score a couple,” Oldham said. “I was in the right place at the right time for my teammates and it was nice to get on the scoresheet.”

Chaffay, who also scored two goals for the Thunderbirds on Friday night, also gave himself 5th-career multi-goal game.

“Tonight I just got pretty lucky with the shots, because I was set up well by my teammates,” Chaffay said. “It felt great to get the two goals and I was happy to contribute to our 10th straight victory.”

Chaffay’s first goal of the game came at the 9:10 mark of the first period, which made the score 2-0 for the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds alternate captain would then get his second goal of the night and 19th goal of the season at the 5:48 mark of the third period, which at that time made the score 5-1.

Chaffay, who scored his 19th goal of the season at the 5:48 mark of the third, also passed Thunderbirds defenceman Andrew Gibson for the team-lead in goals.

“Chaff is a good player,” Jarrett said. “He has the ability to play with good players and he capitalizes on opportunities when he gets them. The thing I like about Chaff is that it’s not just about perimeter goals with him, because he doesn’t mind going to get the dirty ones as well.”

On Friday night, the Thunderbirds also got multi point efforts from two other players, including Kelsey Ouellet and Dharan Cap.

Ouellet, who finished the night with a goal (power play) and an assist, gave himself his second straight two-point game.

Cap, who also finished the night with a goal and an assist of his own, has now given himself 8 goals and 9 assists in 20 games since joining the Thunderbirds.

Mason Chitaroni, Kolby Fellinger, Kyle Trottier, Andrew Gibson, Kenny Belanger Jr. and Brock Santa Maria also all got on the scoresheet for the Thunderbirds on Friday night with one assist each.

Defenceman Ryan Matthews had the lone goal for the Crunch on Friday night with an assist going to their captain Ethan Ingram.

Matthews goal came at the 15:59 mark of the second period, which at that time cut the Thunderbirds lead to 4-1.

The Thunderbirds also did a great job staying out of the sin bin on Friday night as they finished off the game without taking a single penalty.

The last time the Thunderbirds finished a game without taking a single penalty, was back on November 30, 2019 in a 4-2 victory over the Powassan Voodoos in Powassan.

“Tonight we did a great job defending when we didn’t have the puck,” Jarrett said. “A lot of that had to do with the mobility we have on our backend and upfront as well. When you’re able to play like that, you shouldn’t be taking penalties and we did a good job of staying out of the stuff after the whistles. Taking no penalties tonight also made our job a lot easier on our goaltender and on our penalty kill.”

Crunch goaltender Michael Nickolau gave up 6 goals on 45 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Noah Metiver made 10 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Tuesday, March 8, when they visit Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles.

Puck drop for that game is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pullar Stadium.

(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)



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