By Matt Stefano
They trailed 3-1 and 4-2 during the game, but the Soo Thunderbirds didn’t quit on Sunday night as they came back to beat the Rayside Balfour Canadians 5-4 at Chelmsford Arena, thanks to a couple of third period power play goals.
Coming off a 4-2 victory over the Espanola Express at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex one week ago, tonight marked the T-Birds final road game for the month of January.
Keenan Eddy, who hasn’t scored in his last 21 games, opened the scoring with 9th goal of the season at 6:41 of the first, putting the T-Birds up 1-0.
Defencemen Mike Winn and Alec Allen would pick up the assists on Eddy’s goal.
The Canadians would respond with three unanswered goals in the first, beginning at 13:59, when Kyle Liinamaa’s 8th from Danny Lepage and Cayse Ton, would tie the game up at one.
Andre Frappier’s 2nd from Ronson Odjig and Kyle Liinamaa, put the Canadians ahead 2-1 with 1:05 to go in the first.
Then, with just 35 ticks to go in the opening frame, it would be Tristan Simm’s 17th from Matt Neault and Karson Massey, putting Rayside up 3-1 after the first.
Matt Caruso’s 24th goal of the season from Zach Senecal and Keegan Stevenson at 9:51 of the second period, was the only goal in scored in the middle frame, which made the T-Birds only trail by one goal heading into the third.
Caruso’s 24th goal of the season, also marked goal number 67 of his career, tying him with Jaren Bellini for 6th on the Soo Thunderbirds all time goals list.
The Canadians would get some breathing room at 6:24 into the third, courtesy of Chad Deneault’s 15th from Kyle Liinamaa, which gave the home side a 4-2 lead.
Their second two goal lead of the game wouldn’t last long though, as it would be T-Birds overage defenceman Mike Winn notching his 1st goal of the season just 1:21 later, cutting the Canadians lead to 4-3.
Second year forwards Mark Tassone and Zach Senecal picked up assists on Winn’s first goal in a T-Bird uniform.
T-Birds overage forward Austin Kozluk extended his goal scoring streak to five games at 13:09, courtesy of his 18th on the power play from Matt Caruso, which tied the game at four.
The T-Birds would then take their second lead of the game as overage forward Sean Emmerson notched his 1st NOJHL goal on the power play from Gage Stephney with just 2:12 to go in regulation, proving to be the game winner as the Soo came out on top with a 5-4 victory.
Brandon Gordon made 33 saves for the T-Birds 30th win of the season while Cameron Lamour gave up 5 goals on 36 shots in the loss.
The T-Birds will now return to the Essar Centre on Wednesday, January 25th, when they take on the Espanola Express at 7:00 p.m.
All Sault Minor hockey players get into the game for free if they wear their team jersey or jacket.
It was a milestone weekend for a couple of former T-Birds who are now playing in the Ontario Hockey League.
After leaving the Lake State Lakers hockey club to commit to the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, former T-Birds defenceman Owen Headrick scored his first career Ontario Hockey League goal in just his first game played, as the Otters beat the Sarnia Sting 8-2 on Friday night at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ontario.
Then, on Sunday afternoon, former T-Birds defenceman Nolan Makkonen scored his first career Ontario Hockey League goal in just his sixth game played with the Guelph Storm, helping them to a 4-2 victory over the Windsor Spitfires at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario.
(Photo of Mike Winn credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)