By Matt Stefano
The rivalry between the twin Soos has always been one of the biggest in the NOJHL. And on Friday night, fans at the Essar Centre were treated to some high scoring end to end action.
Prior to the game, the T-Birds have also named forward Matt Caruso their team captain for the 2016-2017 season.
“It feels great,” said Caruso. “Especially knowing the captains we’ve had in previous years like Anthony Miller and Brett Jeffries, who both taught me a lot and I’m going to bring what they brought to the team a couple of years ago and we’ll hopefully do good.”
The T-Birds, who entered Friday’s game ranked 13th in the country, defeated the Soo Eagles 8-5 at the Essar Centre.
T-Birds defensemen Jake Reed and Aaron Wesley-Chisel combined for eight points as they recorded four assists each while third year forward Matt Caruso had a pair of goals and a helper.
“To be honest, I thought it was a little sloppy on our part and on their part,” said Caruso. “But the boys stuck with it and we put together a win.”
This marked the first time these two clubs met since the T-Birds fell 4-3 to the Eagles back on September 17th, 2016 at the Pullar Stadium.
“Last game their goalie played outstanding even though we put up 51 shots,” continued the T-Birds captain. “So I thought we did a better job getting in front of him and taking away his vision.”
Caruso was named first star of the game with two power play goals and an assist, which also marked his second three point game in just three games.
“I think it was a good effort all around by our team. But on the power plays I had some good feeds from Mark Tassone and my teammates really helped me out on the ice and I was fortunate enough to put it in the back of the net for them,” continued Caruso.
The T-Birds, who split the home and home series against the Eagles a couple weeks ago, will look to go two for two this time as they will be in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. for another rematch at the Pullar Stadium.
“It’s definitely an intimidating barn,” concluded Caruso. “They have good fans and it’s a smaller rink, so they’re more used to it other than us because we’re used to our bigger ice surface. But I think if we put together what we did today, we can get the win.”
The game opened up with a four goal first period.
First, the teams traded goals just 1:10 apart.
Jake Saxton’s goal from Brad Hofelich and Chris Murphy put the Eagles up 1-0 just 3:35 into the first, before Kaidan McDonald’s first career NOJHL goal at 4:45 tied things up at one.
With the teams tied 1-1, the twin Soos then traded goals just seven seconds apart.
Rhett Rampinelli put the Eagles up 2-1 at 14:08 from Jacob Palmerio and William Casey, before Ryan Waterhouse’s first goal as a T-Bird at 14:15 from Keegan Stevenson and Aaron Wesley-Chisel tied things at two after twenty minutes.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Jacob Palmerio would put the Eagles up 3-2 just 1:08 into the second from Rhett Rampinelli and Tait Aptakin.
T-Birds assistant captain Jake Behse would notch his second of the season at 4:00 from Matt Caruso and Jake Reed to tie things up at three.
Second year forward Mark Tassone would extend his point streak to eight games by notching his eighth goal of the season on the power play just 1:34 later from Keenan Eddy and Aaron Wesley-Chisel to make it a 4-3 T-Birds lead.
The Eagles would then tie things up at four, courtesy of Rhett Rampinelli’s second of the game at 6:25 from Matt Passino and William Casey.
T-Birds captain Matt Caruso put his club back in front with a power play goal at 8:37 from Jake Reed and Mark Tassone.
Mono, Ontario native Austin Kozluk would get his first goal as a T-Bird at 10:20 from Jake Reed and Kaidan McDonald to give his club the first two goal lead of the night.
Eagles goalie Sean Angle was replaced by Justyn Gillis after giving up 6 goals on 14 shots.
The T-Birds took a 6-4 lead into the third.
Matt Caruso’s second goal of the night on the power play at 1:32 from Aaron Wesley-Chisel and Jake Reed gave the Soo a three goal cushion.
Tait Aptakin’s goal at 17:54 from Chris Lutz and Brendan Schultz cut the T-Birds lead to 7-5.
Then, with just 8 ticks to go in the third, it would be Austin Kozluk getting his first career multi goal game with his second into an empty net as the T-Birds went on to defeat the Soo Eagles 8-5.
Nick Smith and Aaron Wesley-Chisel would draw the assists on the T-Birds eighth goal.
Hounds 2015 12th round pick Doug Newhouse made 29 saves for his first NOJHL victory.
Justyn Gillis gave up 1 goal on 11 shots the rest of the way for the Eagles.
Sticking with goals, former T-Birds forward Drake Pilon notched his first career OHL tally on Friday night against the Barrie Colts along with adding his first career assist.
The Sudbury Wolves edged the Barrie Colts 5-4 in overtime at the Sudbury Arena.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)