By Matt Stefano
After being blanked by the Blind River Beavers 1-0 on Saturday and having their six game winning streak snapped, the Soo Thunderbirds welcomed the Rayside Balfour Canadians to the Essar Centre on Wednesday for the first time this season. It also marked the midway point of the regular season for the T-Birds as it was game No. 27 of a 54 game schedule.
Mike Caruso and Mark Tassone combined for four points (1 goal & 1 assist each) to lead the T-Birds to a 4-1 victory over Rayside.
“It feels good and we are getting back in our rhythm,” said T-Birds defenceman Mike Caruso. “We’ve been kind of in a slump right now, but we’re just trying to battle out of it and it feels alot better now that we got that win.”
When asked if he ever thought he’d be back in a Soo Thunderbirds uniform one day, Mike Caruso, who is the older brother of T-Birds forward Matt Caruso answered, “No, not really, but it definitely feels nice to be back.”
After watching his younger brother Matt win the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy last season at home with the T-Birds during the NOJHL finals back on April 19th, 2015, that also marked Mike’s 20th birthday.
“Hopefully we can repeat what they did last year and it would be nice to do it with my brother as well,” continued Caruso.
“I feel like it’s come a long way since I was here in my first year of junior,” concluded Caruso, who came over in a trade with the Yarmouth Mariners during November. “I feel like I’m working on things that I need to and it’s going my way right now.”
Matt Mitchell and Izaak Del Mastro got on the board with a goal each for the T-Birds, while single assists went to Matt Caruso, Nathan Hebert and Drake Pilon.
Mackenzie MacMillan had the lone goal for the Canadians with assists going to Brett Whitehead and Otis Goldman.
T-Birds goalie Mario Culina made 19 saves for the victory while MacKenzie Savard gave up 4 goals on 46 shots.
The T-Birds next game is Saturday, December 12th at 7:30 p.m. vs the Powassan Voodoos at the Essar Centre.
NOTE: This week’s Canadian Junior Hockey League top 20 rankings had the T-Birds sitting at No. 3, the Powassan Voodoos at No. 8 and the Cochrane Crunch coming in at No. 14 to round out teams in the NOJHL.