By Matt Stefano
They are both rookies, they are both teammates, they are both linemates, and when one scores a goal, the other one usually gets an assist.
That’s the kind of season twin brothers Darian and Drake Pilon have been having for the Soo Thunderbirds thus far and on Friday night in Espanola they combined for five points to lead the Soo to a 5-1 win over the Express.
Heading into Friday’s game on a three game winning streak, the Soo Thunderbirds took on an Espanola Express team that was looking to avoid being shutout for a third consecutive game after dropping a 4-0 decision to the T-Birds back on January 24th followed by a 6-0 loss to the Powassan Voodoos on January 29th.
At the 16:49 mark of the first period, Darian Pilon got his twelfth goal of the season from Brandon Grandinetti and Drake Pilon to put the top team in Canada up 1-0 after one.
With just over fourteen minutes into the middle frame, it would then be twin brother Drake getting his twelfth goal of the season on the power play from Matt Busby to give the Soo a 2-0 lead. The Pilon brothers wouldn’t slow down though as Darian would then get second of the night and thirteenth of the season at 19:07 with Drake picking up the only assist to give the T-Birds a 3-0 lead through two.
Nathan Hebert’s ninth put the Soo up by four almost six minutes into the third period with assists going to defencemen Aiden Salerno and Khadyn Butterfly. Defenceman Brandon Grandinetti would get his second of the season on the power play with Jake Behse and Matt Caruso picking up the assists. With the Express just sixteen seconds away from being shutout for the third straight game, it would be former Soo T-Bird Midget Jason Bednarski putting the Express on the board unassisted to make it a final score of 5-1.
The victory also marked the T-Birds 38th win of the season which tied their win totals from a season ago when they finished off with a record of 38-7-6-1 which was good for first overall in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League standings.
Connor Ryckman made nineteen saves for the T-Birds victory while Kevin Labelle gave up five goals on fifty shots.
The Soo will now return home on Monday, February 8th at 7:00 p.m. for a rematch against the Espanola Express at the Essar Centre.
The Soo Thunderbirds will begin their 2016 Spring Tryout Camp from May 13th-15th at the John Rhodes Community Centre. This year’s camp is open to players born in 2000, 1999 and 1998. Cost is $150 and the deadline to register is May 9th. Players interested must contact Soo Thunderbirds general manager Jamie Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)