By Matt Stefano
The Soo Thunderbirds battled back, but they still couldn’t get the victory.
After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 4-2 after the second period, the Soo Thunderbirds battled back to tie the game at four with just 1:35 left to go in regulation, but ended up falling to the Hearst Lumberjacks by a score of 5-4 in overtime on Thursday night in game 3 of the NOJHL final at the Claude Larose Arena in Hearst.
With the loss, the Soo Thunderbirds now trail the Lumberjacks three-games-none in the best-of-seven series.
After trailing the Lumberjacks 3-0 after the first period of play, the Thunderbirds then got a pair of goals from forward Michael Chaffay in the second period, which cut the Lumberjacks lead to 3-2.
With the Thunderbirds on the power play early the second period, Chaffay scored his first goal of the game and 11th goal of the postseason just 1:28 in from Brock Santa Maria and Cooper Foster, cutting the Lumberjacks lead to two.
The Thunderbirds alternate captain would then notch his second of the game and 12th goal of the postseason at 10:12 from Cooper Foster and Kaden Dundas, which at that time cut the Lumberjacks lead to one.
With the Thunderbirds only trailing by one goal late in the second period, it would then be Lumberjacks forward Mathieu Comeau getting his third goal of the game from Ryan Glazer at 14:15, which gave the Lumberjacks a 4-2 lead.
Comeau, who scored his third goal of the game at the 14:15 mark of the second period, also gave himself his first career playoff hat trick.
With the Lumberjacks leading 4-2 just under halfway through the third period, it would then be Thunderbirds rookie forward Kelsey Ouellet getting his 5th goal of the playoffs at 10:10 from Michael Chaffay, which once again cut the Lumberjacks lead to one.
Ouellet, who scored his 5th goal of the playoffs, also extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.
With Thunderbirds netminder Noah Metivier on the bench for an extra attacker late in the game, it would then be Thunderbirds rookie forward and Ottawa 67’s prospect Cooper Foster getting his 8th goal of the playoffs from Kaden Dundas and Brock Santa Maria, which tied the game at four heading into overtime.
Foster, who scored his 8th goal of the playoffs, also extended his point-scoring streak to 7 games.
At the 16:23 mark of the first overtime period, it would be Lumberjacks forward Maxander Pelletier getting his second goal of the playoffs from Jaden Raad, which gave his club a 5-4 overtime victory.
Pelletier’s goal at the 16:23 mark of the first overtime period, also turned out to be his first career overtime tally.
Tyler Patterson also had a goal for the Lumberjacks on Thursday night as he found the back of the net at the 12:37 mark of the first period, which at that time made the score 3-0 for the Lumberjacks.
Ryan Glazer and Jaxon Holmes had the assists on what would be Patterson’s 6th goal of the playoffs.
Dylan Ford, Mason Bazaluk, Robbie Rutledge and Liam McDonald also all got on the scoresheet for the Lumberjacks with one assist each.
Thunderbirds goaltender Noah Metivier gave up 5 goals on 36 shots in the loss while Lumberjacks netminder Liam Oxner made 37 saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now hope to keep their Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy hopes alive on Friday night as they will be back in Hearst for game 4 of the NOJHL final.
Puck drop for game 4 is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Claude Larose Arena.
If the Thunderbirds do win on Friday night in Hearst, game 5 of the series will take place on Sunday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
HERE ARE THE NOMINEES
The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced this week that two Soo Thunderbird players are nominated this year for national awards.
Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Noah Metivier is nominated for the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Goaltender Award and Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson is nominated for the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Defenceman Award.
(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Cooper Foster credit to Bob Davies)