By Matt Stefano
After snapping their two-game losing streak on Saturday night with a 5-2 victory over the Rayside Balfour Canadians at the John Rhodes Community Centre, the Soo Thunderbirds concluded their three-game home stand on Sunday night against the Elliot Lake Wildcats.
All it took was a pair of power play goals for the Thunderbirds on Sunday night as they blanked the Elliot Lake Wildcats 2-0 at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
It was also the second time this season the Thunderbirds shutout the Wildcats.
“It was just an overall team effort,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “Everybody worked hard and we got back to playing the way we want to play the last two nights. Everybody has bought in the last two days and worked hard. We outworked the other teams and that’s how we won the games.”
Thunderbirds goaltender Brandon Gordon made 25 saves for his second shutout of the season and his 48th career win.
Gordon’s 48th career win, now ties him with Joel Horodziejczyk (2012-2014) for second on the Soo Thunderbirds all-time wins list.
“Gordo has been phenomenal all year,” continued Parco. “He’s having a great season. He’s a hard worker and a great kid. We are really happy for him.”
Thunderbirds top scorer Nick Smith led the way offensively with a power play goal and an assist.
Smith, who notched his 20th goal of the season on Sunday night, became just the second player in the league to hit the 20 goal plateau this season, joining Gregory Trudeau-Paquet (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners).
“Smitty is another guy who has been solid for us all year,” concluded Parco. “Not only his goal scoring, but his defensive play and penalty killing has really helped us out.”
Mark Tassone scored his second goal of the season on the power play, which proved to be the game winner.
Since being reacquired in a trade with the Powassan Voodoos this month, Tassone now has 6 points in 4 games this season with the Thunderbirds.
“I’m just happy to be home right now and the guys are really working hard,” said Thunderbirds forward Mark Tassone. “We had a good week of practice and we came home for a three-game home stand and I thought we battled hard in all three games.”
Tassone, who finished fourth in team scoring last season, was traded to the Dudley Hewitt Cup champion Trenton Golden Hawks during the offseason.
“I’m not going to lie, it was tough leaving the Soo during the offseason,” continued Tassone. “But I went down to Trenton and I have nothing but good things to say about them. But it feels great to be back here and I’m excited to be playing for my hometown.”
Tassone, who is now back playing for his hometown Thunderbirds, has also been reunited with a few of his teammates he played with one season ago, including Nick Smith, Kaidan McDonald, Noah Solinger, Ryan Mulligan, Brandon Gordon, Lucas Theriault, Bradon Caruso and Camaryn Baber.
“The guys I’ve played with last year are a good core and I’m excited to be with them again,” concluded Tassone. “Even the new guys are fitting in and we’re all good buddies. It’s a good bond and it’s carrying on out on the ice. The coaching staff we have is great and it’s pretty exciting.”
Thunderbirds defenceman Steven Bellini also got on the scoresheet with one assist, giving him 10 assists on the season.
Wildcats goaltender Logan Sawka gave up 2 goals on 38 shots in the loss.
The Thunderbirds will now hit the road this Thursday night, when they visit Chelmford Arena to take on the Rayside Balfour Canadians.
(Photo by Jim Egan)