By Matt Stefano
After becoming the first team to win three straight NOJHL regular season titles since the North Bay Skyhawks (2003-2005) on Wednesday night in a 5-2 win over Rayside Balfour at the Essar Centre, the Soo Thunderbirds were across the border in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Friday night to take on the Soo Eagles.
Matt Pinder’s career high 20th goal of the season on the power play from Drake Pilon and Matt Caruso gave the T-Birds a 1-0 lead just 5:25 into the first. Brandon Grandinetti’s 3rd of the season from Joey Miller at 14:35 put the T-Birds up 2-0 after one.
Joey Miller’s assist on Grandinetti’s goal, marked the overage forward’s 86th career assist which tied him with Jeff Rainville (2001-2003) for 8th on the Soo Thunderbirds all time assists list.
Aiden Salerno’s 4th of the season from Joey Miller and Matt Mitchell at 19:38 made it 3-0 T-Birds after two.
Joey Miller’s second assist of the night on Salerno’s 4th of the season, moved the overage forward into sole possession of 8th overall on the T-Birds all time assists list with 87. Miller also tied Tyler Gendron (2004-2008) for 8th on the T-Birds all time points list with 144.
Ryan Mulligan’s 6th of the season from Caleb Boman and Drake Pilon at 2:08 into the third was enough as the T-Birds grabbed their 44th win of the season in a 4-0 shutout over the Soo Eagles.
T-Birds rookie netminder and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan product Brandon Gordon made 18 saves for his 3rd shutout of the season.
Eagles goalie Cam Bruggrabe gave up 4 goals on 50 shots.
The T-Birds return to Essar Centre ice on Saturday, March 5th at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch against their cross border rivals (Soo Eagles).
All players in Sault Minor Hockey can enter Saturday night’s game for free just be wearing their team jackets.
Also, T-Birds banquet tickets will be on sale during Saturday night’s game at the Essar Centre behind section 101.
Fans are asked to be in their seats early before 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Essar Centre as the T-Birds will have a pregame ceremony to honour their 9 overage players including; Joey Miller, Matt Mitchell, Aiden Salerno, Izaak Del Mastro, Matt Pinder, Mike Caruso, Nathan Hebert, Khadyn Butterfly and Captain Brett Jeffries.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)