Smith makes 30 saves as Red Wings blank Thunderbirds 1-0

By Matt Stefano

One goal.

That’s all it took for the Elliot Lake Red Wings to pick up their 8th win of the season on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, the Elliot Lake Red Wings improved their record to 8 wins and 8 losses on the season as they blanked the Soo Thunderbirds by a score of 1-0 at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.

The win also snapped the Thunderbirds five-game winning streak.

“I thought we started tonight’s game well,” said Elliot Lake Red Wings head coach Chris Keleher. “We had a good first period and I thought we carried most of the play. The Soo then came out in the second period and responded, which we figured they would do. In the third period we circled the wagons and shut things down. We also killed off a few big penalties.”

The Red Wings, who entered Wednesday night’s game as the top penalty killing team in the league, went a perfect 5-for-5 on their penalty kill against the Thunderbirds.

“The reason why we’re up there in penalty killing is because we have the most penalty minutes in the league, which is obviously something that we need to adjust,” Keleher said. “We don’t want to be in that position, but with that being said, our PK has been a big, big part of our season and I think we’re clicking. Our penalty kill was also a big part of our game here tonight.”

On Wednesday night, Red Wings goaltender and London Knights 2019 5th round pick Cameron Smith stopped all 30 shots fired his way, giving him his second shutout of the season.

Smith, who picked up his second shutout of the season, also moved into a tie with Charlie Burns (Blind River Beavers) for second among all NOJHL goaltenders in shutouts.

“It feels really to get my second shutout of the season, but it also feels good to get another two points,” said Smith, whose team has now won two games in a row. “Our division right now is really close and we’re trying to move up in the standings, so anytime we can squeeze out a win, it’s definitely a positive.”

“Smitty in net held us in the game tonight, especially in the final two periods,” added Keleher, whose team got outshot 22-10 in the final forty minutes of play.

With the game scoreless almost halfway through the opening period, the Red Wings then got a goal at the 9:42 mark as forward Thomas Dimoulas would notch his 4th goal of the season from Kaden Laverdiere, which made the score 1-0 for the Red Wings.

The Thunderbirds, who trailed the Red Wings 1-0 after the first period, also got outshot by the Red Wings 13-8 in that opening frame.

“I thought we had a pretty slow start tonight,” said Soo Thunderbirds captain Brock Santa Maria. “We started to pick things up near the end and we started to get a lot of O-zone time, but the Red Wings just really wanted to win tonight and they showed it by blocking shots, getting in lanes and winning battles.”

Despite finishing Wednesday night 0-for-5 on the man advantage against the top penalty killing team in the league, the Thunderbirds still finished a perfect 2-for-2 on their penalty kill.

“They (Elliot Lake) have a good penalty kill and they gave us a new look,” said Santa Maria, whose team entered Wednesday night’s game with the fourth most power play goals (14) in the entire league. “You don’t really see that look in the league quite often, but we’ll take a couple of days to regroup and go get them on the weekend.”

Thunderbirds goaltender Kolton Bourret gave up 1 goal on 23 shots in the loss.

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action for a rematch against the Red Wings on Friday night in Elliot Lake, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Centennial Arena.

“We’ll keep tonight’s game in mind, because it’s bitter when you lose a tight one 1-0,” Santa Maria said. “We’re going to use this as motivation heading into our rematch against Elliot Lake on Friday.”

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

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