By Matt Stefano
After completing round robin action on Thursday night with a 3-2 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, the two time defending NOJHL champion Soo Thunderbirds were in semifinal action on Friday night at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex against the same team they beat in the previous night.
The T-Birds have clinched a berth into the Dudley Hewitt Cup final for the second straight year on Friday night, as they defeated the host team Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-1.
“We finally had a full sixty minute effort tonight and it was nice to get back to T-Bird hockey,” said T-Birds overage forward Nathan Hebert. “We stayed disciplined within our system and once we get going, we are a scary team to play against.”
Rookie forward Darian Pilon was named the T-Birds player of the game, leading the way offensively with an empty net goal and a pair of helpers.
“It felt pretty good being able to contribute to the team in such a positive way,” said Pilon.
Ryan Mulligan also had a multi point night with a goal and an assist.
Matt Caruso and Nathan Hebert had the other goals for the Soo while Mike Caruso, Matt Pinder and Jaren Bellini all recorded an assist each.
“We had a full team effort which was nice to see,” added Hebert.
Logan Fredericks tournament leading fifth goal, was the only goal scored for the Gold Miners.
Gold Miners goalie Joe Marcoullier gave up three goals on forty five shots for the loss while T-Birds net-minder Connor Ryckman made thirty four saves for the win.
The T-Birds, who will take on the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks in the Central Canada Junior A championship game on Saturday, will also look to become the first team to win back to back Dudley Hewitt Cups since the QPJHL’s Chateauguay Elites did in 1993 and 1994.
“We’re just going to approach it like another game and another team in the way of our ultimate goal,” said Pilon.
(Photo of Nathan Hebert credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)