By Matt Stefano
After opening up their two-game road trip with a 4-2 victory over the fifth best team in Canada, the Powassan Voodoos on Saturday night at the Powassan Sportsplex, the Soo Thunderbirds were right back in action less than twenty four hours later on Sunday night as they were in Chelmsford for a 6:30 p.m. matchup against the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
Sunday night’s game also marked the debut of newly signed goaltender Ethan Racz, who got his first start in net for the Thunderbirds.
The Canadians would get on the board first at the 9:19 mark of the opening period, as Brady Maltais would get his seventh goal of the season from Matthew Dokis-Dupuis, which put the home side up 1-0 after twenty minutes of play.
Thunderbirds leading scorer Nick Smith would then tie things up with his seventeenth goal of the season and his ninetieth career tally at the 17:45 mark of the second from Tyler Dunbar and Coltan Hayes.
Smith, who scored his ninetieth career goal, became just the second player in Soo Thunderbirds history to score ninety career goals, joining Nick Minardi (2004-2009), who had ninety two career goals.
The teams were then headed into the third period tied at one.
The Canadians would go up 2-1 just 2:47 into the third, courtesy of Giordano Biondi’s third goal of the season from Zacharie Giroux and Zachary Snow.
Thunderbirds second year forward Cam Findlay would then tie things up at the 6:28 mark of the third, with his second goal of the season from Will Josephson and Cooper Smyl.
Then, with just 3:20 left to go in the third period, it would be Canadians leading goal scorer Matthew Belanger getting his sixteenth goal of the season from Avery Chisholm, which put the home side ahead for the third time of the night.
Belanger’s goal would prove to be the game winner though, as the Canadians went on to defeat the Thunderbirds by a score of 3-2 at Chelmsford Arena.
Thunderbirds goaltender Ethan Racz gave up three goals on thirty five shots in his first NOJHL game while Canadians netminder Cameron Lamour made twenty two stops for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will be back on John Rhodes ice this Saturday at 7:00 p.m., when they take on their cross-border rivals, the Soo Eagles.
(Photo of Nick Smith credit to Bob Davies)