Thunderbirds are staying alive

By Matt Stefano

The Soo Thunderbirds are staying alive!

After dropping a 5-3 decision to the Hearst Lumberjacks back on Thursday night in Hearst and falling behind three games to one in the NOJHL Final series, the Soo Thunderbirds were hoping to keep their Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy hopes alive on Saturday night as they were in action for game 5 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

The Thunderbirds picked up a much needed win on Saturday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre, as they doubled up the Hearst Lumberjacks by a score of 4-2.

The Thunderbirds, who trailed 2-1 after the second period, came back to score three unanswered goals in the third period.

“We squared down our D-zone and just buried our chances that we had and it worked out well for us tonight,” said Thunderbirds forward Brendan Miller.

The line of Brendan Miller (1g 2a), Lucas Theriault (1g 1a) and Tyler Malpass (0g 2a) combined for seven points on Saturday night.

“We moved the puck well with each other and just got pucks towards the net,” continued Miller.

Lucas Theriault, who played on the same line as Miller on Saturday night, scored the game winning goal for the Thunderbirds at the 10:11 mark of the third period.

Theriault’s game winning goal, also gave him his third game winning goal of the postseason, which moved him into a tie with teammate Brendan Miller for the league lead in game winning goals this postseason.

“Theriault just went to the net and buried it and it was huge for the team,” continued Miller.

Thunderbirds netminder William Anderson also had a big night on Saturday at the John Rhodes, making twenty nine saves for his first career playoff victory.

“I thought Anderson played solid and it’s huge for him to get his first career playoff win under his belt,” continued Miller.

Birmingham, Michigan native Spencer Van Tiem had a goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night while defenceman and Sooite Brady Caruso also got on the scoresheet with a power play goal.

Nolan Ford and Tyler Dunbar had an assist each for the Thunderbirds.

Dunbar, who was drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds in the 3rd round (44th overall) two weeks ago, also picked up his first NOJHL playoff point.

Bradley Golant and Max Griffioen had the goals for the Lumberjacks while Cameron Clark, Max Johnson and Jake Desando all had one assist each.

Lumberjacks goaltender Nicholas Tallarico gave up four goals on thirty one shots in the loss.

The Thunderbirds, who now trail the NOJHL Final series three games to two, will now look to tie up the series this Monday night in game 6 back in Hearst, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Claude Larose Arena.

When you look back to last year’s playoffs, the Thunderbirds trailed the Soo Eagles three games to one in NOJHL’s West Division Semifinal series, and ended up coming back to beat them in seven games.

“We just have to go up there and get the win in Hearst, because we know we can handle them here,” concluded Miller.

Game 7 of the NOJHL Final is necessary, will be played on Wednesday, April 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/

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