By Matt Stefano
They finished tied for first in league points during the regular season, and on Saturday night in the opening game of the West Division Final, they finished tied for the most points during the evening.
Lucas Theriault and Noah Boman led the way offensively with three points each for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night as they went on to defeat the Rayside Balfour Canadians by a score of 4-1 in game 1 of the West Division Final series at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds, who eliminated the Blind River Beavers in six games in West Division Semifinal series back on Tuesday night, also met the Rayside Balfour Canadians in the West Division Final for the second consecutive year.
Niagara IceDogs prospect Lucas Theriault, who entered Saturday night’s contest with five points in six postseason games, opened the scoring at the 8:54 mark of the first with his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs from Brendan Miller and Noah Boman, which put the Soo up 1-0 after one.
The Thunderbirds would then go up by a score of 2-0 at the 12:47 mark of the second, courtesy of Spencer Van Tiem’s shorthanded tally from Kaidan McDonald and Brady Caruso.
The shorthanded goal by Van Tiem, also gave the Thunderbirds their league-leading third shorthanded goal of the playoffs.
With the Soo leading 2-0 after twenty minutes of play, the next goal would then come on the power play in the third period.
Thunderbirds forward Noah Boman would notch his first goal of the postseason on the power play at the 6:48 mark of the third from Lucas Theriault and Nolan Ford, which gave the Soo a three-goal cushion.
The power play goals continued to come in during the third period as Canadians forward Carson McMillan would notch his second goal of the postseason on the power play from Kyle Liinamaa and Matthew Dokis-Dupuis at 12:56, which cut the Thunderbirds lead to 3-1.
Then, with just 2:26 left to go in regulation time, it would be Niagara IceDogs prospect Lucas Theriault getting his second goal of the game and third point of the night to give the Thunderbirds a 4-1 lead.
Noah Boman and Nolan Ford would draw the assists on what would be Theriault’s team-leading seventh goal of the postseason.
Boman’s assist on Theriault’s second goal of the game, gave him his third point of the night.
Canadians netminder David Bowen gave up four goals on forty shots in the loss while Thunderbirds goaltender Colin Ahern made twenty stops for the victory.
Game 2 of the West Division Final series against the Canadians will be played on Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre.