By Matt Stefano
If you take penalties against the Soo Thunderbirds, chances are they are going to hurt you!
And that’s exactly what the Thunderbirds did to the Espanola Express on Friday night in Espanola.
On Friday night, the Soo Thunderbirds scored three power goals on eight power play opportunities as they went on to defeat the Espanola Express by a score of 3-0 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
Two of those power play goals also came off the stick of Thunderbirds second-year forward Tyson Doucette.
“It was important to get those power play goals tonight, because we were having a hard time getting the puck in the net while playing 5 on 5,” said Thunderbirds second-year forward Tyson Doucette. “Capitalizing on the power play gave us momentum and it helped us stay ahead on the scoreboard the whole game.”
Doucette, who scored two power play goals on Friday night, also added an assist, which gave him his third career three-point game.
Doucette, who now has 9 power play goals on the season, also moved into sole possession of first among all NOJHL players in power play goals, passing Hearst Lumberjacks forward Robbie Rutledge, who has 8.
“We have been moving the puck much better as a team, especially on the power play,” Doucette said. “We have been using all of our options which makes it difficult to defend against. I’ve been working harder to find seams and being quicker on my release.”
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds also got a three-point game from their captain Brock Santa Maria, who assisted on all three Thunderbird goals.
Santa Maria’s three-assist performance, also gave him his fourth career three-point game.
“Brock’s a smart player,” Doucette said. “He remained patient on the wall which led to the seams opening up and we ended up capitalizing on our opportunities.”
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds also got a power play goal from newly acquired forward Dharan Cap.
Cap, who entered Friday night’s game with 1 assist in his first three games played with the Thunderbirds, scored his first goal in a Thunderbirds uniform at the 12:02 mark of the second period, which at that time put the Soo up 2-0.
“Dharan has been a good fit for us,” Doucette said. “He works hard and he’s a big physical body which is what we need more from our team. He used his size tonight and that helped him get his first goal on the power play.”
Thunderbirds rookie forward Youssef Chaouachi also got on the scoresheet with a pair of assists while Alfred Rotiroti and Zane Burleigh chipped in with one assist each.
Chaouachi, who recoded two assists on Friday night, also game himself his second straight two-assist game.
Express netminder Patrick Boivin gave up 3 goals on 40 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds goaltender and Barrie Colts prospect Nolan Chartrand made 17 saves for the victory.
Chatrand, who turned aside all 17 shots fired his way, also picked up his first career NOJHL shutout.
“It’s nice to get the shutout, but more importantly the win,” said Chartrand. “I couldn’t have done it without the guys in front of me.”
Chartrand, who was picked up by the Thunderbirds as a free agent on November 8 after being released by the Elliot Lake Red Wings, has now given himself two wins in three games played in a Thunderbirds uniform.
“I certainly have become more comfortable playing with this team (Soo Thunderbirds),” Chartrand said. “I’m also excited to see what the rest of the season brings.”
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Saturday night (December 4)at 7:00 p.m., when they visit Soo Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles at Pullar Stadium.
The Thunderbirds were originally supposed to play against the Espanola Expeess on Saturday night (December 4) at the John Rhodes Community Centre, but that game has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)