By Matt Stefano
This season, the Soo Thunderbirds have been in a quite a few of games where they came back to win when trailing in the third period, and on Sunday afternoon against the Soo Eagles, they were hoping to make that happen again.
Unfortunately the Thunderbirds didn’t come back to get a win this time, but they still battled back to pick up a point.
After trailing Eagles 6-1 after two periods of play, the Thunderbirds came back to score five unanswered goals in the third period, but ended up falling to the Eagles by a score of 7-6 in a shootout at the John Rhodes.
“The first two periods we came out kind of slow,” said Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson. “I thought in the third period we had a great showing and all the guys came out and showed up and it was still great to come out with the point.”
The Thunderbirds, who were in action on Sunday afternoon against the Eagles, were also coming off a 5-4 overtime victory against the Blind River Beavers on Saturday night in Blind River.
Prior to that, the Thunderbirds were in action at the John Rhodes back on Friday night, where they picked up a 4-1 win over the Elliot Lake Red Wings.
“Obviously three games in a weekend is sometimes tough, but the guys still came to play today and we ended up finishing better than we started,” Gibson said.
On Sunday afternoon, the Thunderbirds also dominated on the shot clock ad they outshot the Eagles 41-24 overall.
Nineteen of those shots by the Thunderbirds also came in the third period.
“Obviously it was a very eventful and exciting game,” said Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “We are happy coming away with a point after how things looked going into the third. We had great energy on the bench in the third period and the boys kept believing they could come back.”
Thunderbirds rookie defencemen Andrew Gibson, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game with 7 goals, scored a pair of power play tallies and set up another, giving him his second straight game multi-point game.
Gibson, who scored his 9th goal of the season at the 4:45 mark of the third period, also tied the Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals by a rookie defenceman in a regular season, joining Caleb Boman (2015).
“It feels great and I have great teammates behind me,” Gibson said. “They feed me the puck when they need to and I’m just glad I’m contributing to the team and it’s just a great feeling.”
With the Thunderbirds trailing 6-5 late in the third period, the Thunderbirds then got a goal from defenceman Kaden Dundas with just one second to go in the third period, which sent the game into overtime.
“Once I scored, I thought of how hard our team worked to claw back into the game and how much of a relief it was to tie the game,” Dundas said.
Dundas, who scored the the tying goal for the Thunderbirds, finished the afternoon with a goal and an assist.
“In the third period we took advantage of having a lot of power play time and we controlled how the game was being played, which overall helped us come back,” Dundas said.
Thunderbirds rookie forward Kelsey Ouellet also had a big afternoon offensively as he set up three goals, giving him his second career three-point game.
Samuel Lake, Cooper Foster (power play) and Zane Burleigh (power play) had a goal each for the Thunderbirds while Lincoln Moore and Michael Chaffay also got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Brian Fiddes and Jacob Swiatek led the way offensively for the Eagles with two goals and two assists each while Marc LaFrance also had a big afternoon offensively with a power play goal and an assist.
Alan Evtimov had the other goal (power play) for the Eagles while Isaiah Gagerman, Sam Holy, Tanner Balsitis, Jack Mortson, Charlie Salem, Dylan Bachalo and Trevor Davis all picked up one assist each.
Despite outshooting the Eagles 4-2 in overtime, neither team would end up scoring, so we were then headed to a shootout.
During the shootout, Eagles forwards Chase Tallaire (shootout winner) and Seth Ferguson were the only players that found the back of the net.
Thunderbirds rookie netminder Noah Metiver made 17 saves in the loss while Eagles goaltender Gabe Rosek stopped 35 shots for the victory.
The Thunderbirds, who managed to pick up a point against the Soo Eagles on Sunday afternoon, have now moved into a tie with the Powassan Voodoos for first place in the NOJHL, with 27 points.
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., when they host the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
THAT’S MOORE LIKE IT
On Sunday afternoon, current Soo Jr. Greyhounds forward Lincoln Moore suited for his fourth game with the Soo Thunderbirds as an affiliate player.
Moore, who picked up an assist in Sunday afternoon’s loss against the Eagles, has now given himself 2 assists in 4 games played this season with the Soo Thunderbirds.
GREAT DAY FOR BURLEIGH
Sunday afternoon’s game against the Soo Eagles turned out to be a milestone day for Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Zane Burleigh.
Burleigh, who entered Sunday’s afternoon’s game with 3 assists in 15 games, notched his first NOJHL goal on the power play at the 11:51 mark of the third period, which at that time cut the Eagles lead to 6-3.
THE STREAK STOPS HERE
Despite scoring a goal in the shootout on Sunday afternoon against the Thunderbirds, Soo Eagles top scorer Chase Tallaire did not register a point during regulation time.
Tallaire, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game on an 11-game point scoring streak, officially had his 11-game point scoring streak snapped against the Soo Thunderbirds.
(Photo of Thunderbirds defenceman Kaden Dundas credit to Bob Davies)