By Matt Stefano
After heading into the holiday break with a record of 29-3 and sitting second in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings, the Soo Thunderbirds returned to action on Saturday night for the first time in 2016, as they took on the Soo Eagles at the Essar Centre.
The T-Birds skated to their 30th victory as they edged the Soo Eagles 3-1.
“It feels pretty good to come back after the new year here and come out with the victory,” said T-Birds forward Matt Pinder, who led the way offensively with a goal and an assist.
The win also extended the T-Birds perfect home record to 16-0.
“We just try to make it hard for teams to come in and play here,” continued Pinder, who returned to the T-Birds lineup on Saturday after missing eight games. “It felt pretty good to get my feet wet again, my linemates were able to find me and I was lucky enough to put the puck at the back of the net.”
“We’re just going to take it a game at a time and get better and better as we go,” concluded Pinder.
Mark Tassone and Ryan Mulligan (power play) had the other goals for the T-Birds while single assists went to Brandon Grandinetti, Matt Mitchell and Brett Jeffries.
A shorthanded goal by Nate Harris was the lone goal for the Eagles with Chris Skinner and Alex DiBacco drawing the assists.
T-Birds goalie Brandon Gordon made 28 stops for the victory while Cam Bruggrabe gave up 3 goals on 42 shots in net for the Eagles.
The T-Birds next game is Friday, January 8th at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to French River to take on the Rapids from the Noelville Arena.
NOTE: On Saturday night, the T-Birds were without goaltender Mario Culina, who was recalled by the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires. Culina recorded his first career Ontario Hockey League win in his first career Ontario Hockey League start, making 16 saves in a 6-2 win over the Flint Firebirds.