By Matt Stefano
No lead is safe!
That’s exactly what the Soo Thunderbirds proved to the Soo Eagles on Friday night in Sault, Ontario.
After trailing the Eagles 3-1 with under seven minutes to go in the third, the Thunderbirds came back to score three times as they went on to defeat the Eagles by a score of 4-3 in overtime.
It was also the second time this season that the Thunderbirds came back to beat an opposing team when trailing 3-1.
“We just put our work boots on in the third period. That was the message we gave to them after the second and the guys came out and that last half we killed off a big penalty halfway through the third period. Then we had a good chat during the TV timeout and then some of our skill took over. We ultimately just worked really hard in the third and they were well deserving,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson.
Friday night’s game was also a night of firsts for a pair of Thunderbird blueliners as Kyle Trottier and Soo Greyhounds 2021 fourth round pick Andrew Gibson each got their first career NOJHL goals.
“In a long season you need contributions from different players, so obviously Kyle had a big goal for us early on and then Gibson really showed why he’s a highly touted prospect. You need contributions throughout your lineup and we’re a deep team and we’re really happy for boys. They deserved the outcome and they really worked for it,” Henderson said.
Thunderbirds second-year defenceman Kaden Dundas ended up being the hero in overtime on Friday night, as he notched his first career overtime goal on the power play just 2:12 into the extra frame.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native finished the night with a goal and an assist.
“I just thought it was all for the boys,” Dundas said. “The boys moved the puck very well and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time and I have to thank my teammates for finding me there.”
Dundas, who notched his first career overtime goal, became the first Thunderbird blueliner to score an overtime goal in a regular season game since Steven Bellini did back on March 1, 2019 (Against the Soo Eagles).
“It feels really special,” Dundas said. “That’s a good stat to know and I’m just thankful the boys found me tonight.”
Forward Michael Chaffay led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds with a goal and two assists while Samuel Lake, Kelsey Ouellet, Tyson Doucette, Colby Arbour and Creo Solomon all recorded one assist each.
Solomon, who recoded one assist on Friday night, also gave himself his sixth point of the season, which moved him into first among NOJHL rookie blueliners in scoring.
Jack Morrison (power play), Chase Tallaire and Zachary Briskey had the goals for the Eagles while Jacob Swiatek, Marc LaFrance, Seth Ferguson and Brian Fiddes all got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Defenceman Trevor Davis led the way offensively for the Eagles on Friday night as he set up two goals.
Eagles goaltender Gabe Rosek gave up 4 goals on 28 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Noah Zeppa made 22 saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Saturday night, when they visit Elliot Lake for their first ever meeting against the newly named Elliot Red Wings.
Puck drop for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. at Centennial Arena.
NOT BEHIND THE BENCH
The Soo Thunderbirds were without head coach Cole Jarrett during Friday night’s game against the Soo Eagles.
Jarrett was serving game one of a six-game suspension he received following Sunday afternoon’s 5-4 loss in a shootout to the Blind River Beavers.
The Thunderbirds bench boss is eligible to return on October 24, when the Thunderbirds visit Greater Sudbury.
TOMS IN THE RED & WHITE
While the Thunderbirds were in action at the John Rhodes Community Centre on Friday night, one of their past graduates had a memorable night in his OHL debut, which took place in downtown Sault Ste. Marie.
Former Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Connor Toms recorded his first career OHL point, picking up an assist for the Soo Greyhounds in their 4-1 victory in their season opener against the North Bay Battalion at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Toms, who is in his rookie season with the Greyhounds, was named the Thunderbirds Rookie of the Year for the 2020-2021 season.
(Photo credit to Matt Stefano)