By Matt Stefano
After dropping a 4-2 decision to the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks in the first game of the Dudley Hewitt Cup tournament on Tuesday afternoon and going 2 for 10 on the power play, the Soo Thunderbirds played their second game of the Central Canada Junior A championship on Wednesday afternoon against the SIJHL’s Fort Frances Lakers.
This was the first time these two clubs met since May 2nd, 2015, when the T-Birds slipped past the Fort Frances Lakers 3-2 in the championship game, giving the club their second Dudley Hewitt Cup title in franchise history.
Wednesday was a high scoring affair with a total of eleven goals scored, as the T-Birds defeated the Fort Frances Lakers 6-5.
Rookie forward Zach Senecal, who led the way with three goals was named the T-Birds player of the game.
“Our team got away from the game a bit, but we refocused after the second and got back to play the way we play,” said Senecal.
Senecal, a 2014 seventh round pick of the Oshawa Generals, also became the first player in T-Birds history to record a hat trick at the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
“The three goals I scored were nice plays by my teammates to give me a chance to score,” continued Senecal.
The T-Birds, who headed into Wednesday afternoon’s game with a record of 0-1, took on the Fort Frances Lakers, who fell to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 8-5 on Tuesday night.
“We knew the Lakers were going to come out hard and we knew we had to stay focused and stick to our game plan,” continued Senecal.
T-Birds defenceman Caleb Boman also had a big afternoon offensively with a pair of power play goals.
Boman also became the first T-Bird defenceman to score two goals in a single game at the Dudley Hewitt Cup since James Delayer did back on April 17th, 2012.
Khadyn Butterfly had one goal for the Soo, which was the opening goal of the game just 1:56 into the first.
Mike Caruso, Matt Busby and Matt Mitchell had two assists each while Jaren Bellini, Matt Caruso and captain Brett Jeffries all had an assist each.
Defenceman Nick Minerva was named the Lakers player of the game with a goal (power play) and two assists while forward Dylan Robertson also had a three point afternoon with a trio of assists.
Dylan Kooner had a goal (penalty shot) and an assist on the afternoon.
Kooner, who scored on a penalty shot with just 2:16 remaining in regulation, cut the T-Birds lead to 6-5.
Christian Ripley, Nolan Ross (power play) and AJ Rupert (power play) had the other goals for Fort Frances while defenceman Davis Ross got on the scoresheet with one assist.
Lakers goalie Pierce Dushenko, who gave up four goals on twenty two shots was replaced by Brandon Bodnar, who then gave up two goals on sixteen shots the rest of the way.
T-Birds goalie Connor Ryckman thirty four saves for the win.
The Soo will now get set to take on the host team Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, the team they swept in four straight in the NOJHL finals, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. from the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
“We’re going to prepare the same way we did for our last two games and continue to stay focused to our game plan and style of play,” concluded Senecal.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)