By Matt Stefano
Shorthanded goals sure paid off for Soo Thunderbirds on Tuesday night.
After hammering the Blind River Beavers by a score of 7-2 back on Sunday afternoon in Blind River, the Soo scored five times, including a pair of shorthanded tallies on Tuesday night, helping them to a 5-3 win over the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
Tuesday night’s game also saw another great performance from Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Connor Toms.
Toms, who had a goal and an assist in Sunday afternoon’s game in Blind River, led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds on Tuesday night, scoring a shorthanded goal and adding an assist, giving him his second straight two-point game.
“We had a pretty short bench near the end of the game. But I thought we played well and we should also give credit to Blind River, because they had a good game too,” said Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Connor Toms.
Toms, who entered Tuesday night’s game with one shorthanded goal on the season, scored his second shorthanded tally of the season at the 13:40 mark of the second period, which at that time put the Thunderbirds up by a score of 2-1.
The sixteen-year old also became the first defenceman in the NOJHL to score two shorthanded goals in a regular season since Eric Mondoux (Powassan Voodoos) and Kellen Tharaldson (Soo Eagles) both did back in 2017-2018.
“It’s pretty cool to accomplish that,” said Toms. “Things really worked out for me on that goal and I jumped in at the right time.”
On Tuesday night, the Thunderbirds also got a shorthanded tally from their leading goal-scorer Cooper Smyl.
Smyl’s shorthanded goal, came at the 14:03 mark of the third period, which at that time made the score 5-3 for the Soo.
Toms and Smyl also became the first two Thunderbirds to score a shorthanded goal each in the same game since Noah Solinger and Robert Calisti both did back on December 3, 2017.
“It was pretty cool,” said Toms. “I guess Smyl and I both just got lucky tonight and we were in the right places at the right times.”
Toms, who had two points on Tuesday night, has now moved into a tie with Carson Cox (Hearst Lumberjacks) for first among NOJHL defencemen in scoring.
“I think I’ve been improving everyday,” said Toms. “The Thunderbirds are a great program and I love the guys here and everything is good.”
Michael Chaffay, Kurtis Rogers (power play) and newcomer Andrew Malek had the other goals for the Soo while Ethan Novello, Kaden Dundas, Russell Oldham, Noah Boman, Caleb Wood and Brock Santa Maria all chipped in with one assist each.
Malek, who was playing in his fourth game with the Thunderbirds since being picked up as a free agent from the Beavers, scored his first goal in a Thunderbird uniform at the 14:39 mark of the second period, which at that time gave the Soo a 3-1 lead.
Malek’s first goal as a Thunderbird also came against his former team, the Blind River Beavers.
Jacob Kelly and Thomas Michaud had a power play goal and an assist each for the Beavers while newcomer Matt Cato also got on the scoresheet with a goal of his own.
Cato, who entered Tuesday night’s game with 3 goals in 3 games, gave himself his 4th goal in just his fourth game played with the Beavers.
Mason Chitaroni, Ethan Pegg and Justin Mauro also got on the scoresheet for the Beavers with one assist each.
Beavers goaltender Gavin Disano gave up 5 goals on 37 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Scott Young made 40 saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now be in Blind River on Saturday afternoon for a 2:00 p.m. against the Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)