NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Sunday, Sept. 1, 201
Soo Thunderbirds win inaugural Cottage Cup
ELLIOT LAKE – The Soo Thunderbirds capped off an unbeaten weekend Sunday evening by defeating the Blind River Beavers 7-3 in the championship game of the Cottage Cup – Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League preseason tournament in Elliot Lake.
Both the T-Birds and Beavers pulled out hard-fought semifinal victories earlier Sunday to advance to the final with Sault Ste. Marie finishing up with a perfect 5-0 record and the Beavers ending up 3-2 overall.
Joey Miller was the offensive catalyst for the T-Birds as he notched a hat-trick in the title game while Gavin Burbach chipped in with a pair of markers and an assist.
Derek Battagin and Owen Headrick added solo efforts for the Soo.
Samual Wilbur, Brett McKinnon and Dallas Miller accounted for the Blind River goals.
Devin Tappenden made 29 saves to pick-up the victory in net for the Thunderbirds.
Braedon Turco faced 11 attempts while allowing four to get past him in suffering the defeat with Matt Young stopping 22 of 25 in playing nearly half the contest.
The following is a rundown of Sunday’s two semifinal contests that saw the two clubs earn their place in the Cottage Cup final.
SEMIFINAL NO. 1
SOO THUNDERBIRDS 5 ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS 2 – The Thunderbirds were the first squad to punch their ticket to the title game by breaking open a 2-2 game in the third period with three unanswered tallies en route to the triumph over the hometown Bobcats.
Elliot Lake snagged the lead after 20 minutes with Andrew Plushaj beating Soo starter Brian Kment at 17:59.
It stayed that way until the late stages of the middle session as the two clubs combined for three goals in a span of a minute and 50 seconds to level proceedings heading into the final stanza.
Power play markers by Nick Tassone and Brandon Grandinetti tied it and put the Thunderbirds on top before Josh Pashe equalized at 18:14.
In that third period the Soo roster got efforts from veterans Gavin Burbach and Anthony Butorac to go up a pair while Nate Fitzpatrick iced in the final moments with an empty netter to round out the scoring.
Derek Battagin chipped in with a pair of assists to aid the offensive cause of the winners.
Kment turned aside 29 of 31 shots he faced to register the victory while Etienne Roy saw 32 pucks fired his way in defeat.
SEMIFINAL NO. 2
BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 6 NORTH BAY TRAPPERS 4 – Tyson MacLeod tallied three times, including scoring the game-winner with 6:11 remaining to help propel Blind River to the title game of the Cottage Cup vs. Sault Ste. Marie.
Ryan Demyen gave North Bay the early lead in this one before the Beavers responded with markers from Liam Finn and Vinny Barra to go up 2-1 after one period of play.
The Trappers stormed in the middle session with three quick strikes to go up 4-2 courtesy of goals from Eric Champagne, Zach Turner and Kyle Baril.
Battling back Blind River responded once again to knot the score at 4-4 after 40 minutes thanks to efforts from MacLeod and Leo Lightning.
That set the stage for MacLeod to bury the game-winner at 13:49 of the third as he connected while his club was on the power play.
He then finished off his hat-trick by scoring shorthanded into an empty net with six seconds to go.
Matt Young picked up the win in net turning aside every attempt he faced in relief of Dylan Knox who allowed four goals on 33 shots.
Dustin Hummel faced 42 shots in a losing cause for the Trappers.