Road warriors: Thunderbirds take 2-0 series lead over Cubs in the West Division final

By Matt Stefano

If you want to win games in the playoffs, you need to know how to win games on the road!

And so far during this postseason, winning games on the road has been a joy for the Soo Thunderbirds.

On Friday night, the Soo Thunderbirds improved their road record to 5-0 on the postseason, as they defeated the Greater Sudbury Cubs by a score of 5-2 in game 2 of the NOJHL West Division final at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury.

The last time the Thunderbirds started a postseason with a 5-0 road record, was back in 2013.

“We have had a next shift mentality throughout the playoffs this year, and when you do that, you believe you will have success no matter where you are playing,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett.

During Friday night’s game, the Thunderbirds got multi-point efforts for three different players, including Daniel Beaupre, Youssef Chaouachi and Kaden Dundas.

Beaupre, Chaouachi and Dundas all finished the night with a goal and two assists each.

The goals by Chaouachi and Dundas were both scored on the man advantage.

Declan Gallivan (game-winner) and Dharan Cap (empty net) had the other goals for the Thunderbirds on Friday night while Samuel Lake, Justin Mauro and Brodie McConnell-Barker all set up a goal each.

With Cubs goaltender Noah Metiver on the bench for an extra attacker late in the third period, Thunderbirds assistant captain Dharan Cap extended his goal-scoring streak to seven games with an empty net goal at the 19:50 mark of the third, which gave the Thunderbirds a 5-2 lead.

It was also the second consecutive game that Cap scored a goal into an empty net.

“Capper was in the right place at the right time for that empty net goal, and we made an unselfish play which led to him asking for the puck to put it in,” Jarrett said.

“It always feels great to seal the deal, but it (The empty net goal) could’ve easily been anyone else tonight,” Cap added. “I give all the credit to my linemate Daniel Beaupre for his unselfishness as he passed the puck to me to put in.”

Cap, who extended his goal-scoring streak to seven games, also became the first T-Bird player to have a 7-game goal-scoring streak during a postseason since Aaron Anderson did back in 2004.

“It always feels great to contribute on the scoresheeet, especially in the playoffs where it matters the most,” Cap said.

During Friday night’s game, Cubs forward Samuel Assinewai led the way offensively for his club with two goals, including one on the power play while Christopher Innes and Cole Crowder both set up a goal each.

Cubs goaltender Noah Metiver gave up 4 goals on 26 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Landon Miller made 24 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds, who defeated the Cubs 5-2 on Friday night, have now taken a 2-0 series lead over the Cubs in the NOJHL West Division final, with the series shifting back to the Soo for game 3 on Monday night at the John Rhodes (7:00 p.m. start).

Game 4 of the series will be on Tuesday night at the Rhodes, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

“We have to bring the same energy and attention to detail that we had in the first two games of this series. If we do that, we will give ourselves a chance to win wrap up the series on home ice,” Jarrett said.

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