T-Birds edge Red Wings in Black Friday thriller

By Matt Stefano

Fans in the stands were treated to a Black Friday thriller on Friday night at the John Rhodes.

After trailing the Elliot Lake Red Wings 2-0 after the first period and 4-2 early in the third, the Soo Thunderbirds came back to score three unanswered goals in the third period as they went on to defeat the Elliot Lake Red Wings by a score of 5-4 on Friday night.

It was also the second straight game that the Thunderbirds came back to score three goals in a third period, and win the game when trailing after the second.

“The boys battled back and we responded very well tonight when we were down,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach Joey Miller. “The puck started going in when we had our chances.”

With the game tied 4-4 late in the third period, the T-Birds then took the lead on a five-minute power play as local forward Justin Mauro notched his 3rd goal of the season at 17:49, which turned out to be the game-winner.

Mauro, who scored the game-winning goal for the T-Birds on Friday night, finished the night with a goal and an assist, good for his second straight multi-point game.

“We didn’t get the start we wanted tonight, but good teams always find a way to win,” said Soo Thunderbirds forward Justin Mauro.

Since coming over to the T-Birds in a trade from the Navan Grads back on November 17, Mauro has now given himself 3 goals and 2 assists in 4 games played with his hometown team.

“It definitely feels good to play in front of friends and family,” Mauro said. “I want to help these guys get wins anyway I can.”

“Juice (Justin Mauro) has been really good for us ever since he came over in a trade from Navan,” Miller added. “He’s a good room-guy, he brings energy, he’s also putting the puck in the net and getting some assists, and that all comes from work ethic. I know Juice is going to drive this team to good things.”

The Red Wings opened the scoring at the 9:34 mark of the first period, courtesy of Thomas Dimoulas’s 9th goal of the season from Alex Antoine, which put the Red Wings up by a 1-0 score.

With the Red Wings on a power play late in the first period, it would then be Red Wings captain Kaden Laverdiere getting his 6th goal of the season from Calum McGill at 17:47, which put the Red Wings up 2-0 heading into the second.

Despite trailing the Red Wings 2-0 after the first period, the T-Birds outshot the Red Wings 16-6 in that opening frame.

“In games like these, you just need to execute and bear down, and we didn’t do any of that in the first period,” Mauro said. “But we didn’t give up and we just kept going and it worked in our favour.”

With the Red Wings leading the T-Birds 2-0 with under four minutes to go in the second period, the T-Birds then ended up scoring two goals just 29 seconds apart, which quickly turned a 2-0 Red Wings lead into a 2-2 tie.

First, at the 16:30 mark of the second, it would be local defenceman and Soo Greyhounds 2021 eleventh round pick Austin Fellinger getting his 2nd goal of the season, which cut the Red Wings lead to 2-1.

Then, at the 16:59 mark of the second, it would be forward Youssef Chaouachi getting his 7th tally of the season from Kolby Fellinger and Dharan Cap, which tied things up at two.

The tie wouldn’t last long though, as the Red Wings would the regain the lead at the 19:15 mark of the second, courtesy of Zachary Vickerman’s 8th goal of the season, which put the Red Wings up 3-2 heading into the third.

The Red Wings would then go back up by two goals for the second time of the evening, as Evan Dantas would notch his 6th goal of the season on the power play from Teegan Dumont and Calum McGill just 32 seconds into the third period, which made the score 4-2 for the Red Wings.

T-Birds forward Wyatt Marlow then cut the Red Wings lead to 4-3 with his 8th goal of the season at 5:46, before T-Birds leading scorer Dharan Cap would then notch his 16th goal of the season on the power play at 8:58, which tied things up at four.

T-Birds captain Brock Santa Maria finished the night with two assists while Michael Chaffay and Brodie McConnell-Barker both set up a goal each.

Red Wings goaltender Sean Guerin gave up 5 goals on 48 shots in the loss while T-Birds netminder Kolton Bourret made 19 saves for the victory.

Next action for the T-Birds will be on Wednesday, November 30 at 7:00 p.m., when they will take on the newly named Espanola Paper Kings at the John Rhodes.


On Friday night, Soo Thunderbirds rookie defenceman and Soo Greyhounds 2022 third round pick Brodie McConnell-Barker recorded one assist, which gave him his 20th point of the season.

McConnell-Barker, who picked up his 20th point of the season on Friday night, became just the fourth defenceman in the NOJHL to hit the 20-point plateau this season, joining Kenyon Nyman (Timmins Rock), Kyloe Ellis (Greater Sudbury Cubs) and Alex Little (Powassan Voodoos).

But Nyman, Ellis and Little have all played over 20 games this season while McConnell-Barker has only played in 17.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

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