By Matt Stefano
Good defence and good goaltending win hockey games!
Just ask the Soo Thunderbirds.
After opening up their three-game East Division road trip with a 3–1 win in Kirkland Lake on Friday, followed by a 3-1 win in Powassan on Saturday, the Soo Thunderbirds concluded their three-game East Division road trip with a 6-0 win over the French River Rapids at the Noelville Community Centre on Sunday afternoon in Noelville.
The Thunderbirds, who blanked the Rapids 6-0 on Sunday afternoon, also extended their winning streak to eight games.
“Today’s game was fast paced and was closer than the score indicated,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett, whose team led 2-0 through forty minutes of play, before scoring four more goals in the third period. “We got another solid performance from our goaltending. Metivier came up big when the game was still in reach.”
During this three-game East Division road trip, the Thunderbirds recorded a total of 102 shots on net while only giving up 55 shots against.
On Friday night in Kirkland Lake, the Thunderbirds allowed a season-low 12 shots against, in their 3-1 win against the Gold Miners.
Then, on Saturday night in Powassan, the Thunderbirds only surrendered 16 shots against in their 3-1 victory over the Voodoos.
And on Sunday afternoon in Noelville, the Thunderbirds faced a total 27 shots and blanked the French River Rapids 6-0.
So in this weekend’s three-game road trip, the Thunderbirds have only surrendered a total of 2 goals.
“Like I said last night, as a group we have committed to being hard to play against when we don’t have the puck,” Jarrett said. “That has gone a long way to keeping our goals against low.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Thunderbirds got multi-point performances from four different players, including Dharan Cap, Youssef Chaouachi, Andrew Gibson and Cole Delarosbil.
Cap scored a pair of goals, including one on the power play.
Chaouachi and Gibson had a goal and an assist each while Delarosbil chipped in with two assists.
“Credit to those guys for having multi-point efforts, but today was just an all around good team effort,” Jarrett said. “The boys were tired mentally and physically at the end of this three-game road trip, but they found a way to get the job done and it took everyone.”
Delarosbil’s two assist performance on Sunday afternoon, also turned out to be his first career two-assist game.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game with 9 points, also gave himself his 10th and 11th points of the season.
“It felt really good to contribute to today’s win,” Delarosbil said. “The guys have been playing solid and working together lately. Getting the weekend sweep kept the team morale high and we are looking to keep the streak going.”
Michael Chaffay and Kenny Belanger Jr. had a goal each for the Thunderbirds while Mason Chitaroni, Cooper Foster, Kyle Trottier, Ethan Novello and Brock Santa Maria all chipped in with one assist each.
Rapids goaltender Cole Sheffield gave up 6 goals on 39 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Noah Metiver made 27 saves for his 3rd shutout of the season.
Metiver, who recorded his 3rd shutout of the season, also moved into a tie with Greater Sudbury Cubs goaltender Joel Rainville for the league-lead in shutouts.
“It feels unreal to be a rookie goaltender in this league with 3 shutouts, but I couldn’t have done it this afternoon without my team,” Metiver said. “They fought hard for me and we got the job done together.”
The Thunderbirds, who have now picked up 6 of a possible 6 points this weekend on the road, will now be back on John Rhodes ice this Wednesday, March 2, when they take on the Blind River Beavers, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Beginning this Wednesday, the crowd will also be allowed to return to 100% capacity.
“Quick turn around with BR coming in this Wednesday. They are playing good hockey right now, so we’ll have to be up for the challenge,” Jarrett said.
On Sunday, February 27, the Soo Thunderbirds shutout the French River Rapids by a score of 6-0 at the Noelville Community Centre in Noelville.
DID YOU KNOW?
The last time the Rapids lost by a shutout on home ice was back on November 25, 2018, when they got blanked by the Cochrane Crunch 2-0.
(Photo of Thunderbirds goaltender Noah Metiver credit to Bob Davies)