By Matt Stefano
On Wednesday night, the Soo Thunderbirds concluded their 2017-2018 regular season as they took on the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds, who had already clinched second place in the NOJHL’s West Division, decided to sit out four veterans for Wednesday night’s game, including Nick Smith, Kaidan McDonald, Mark Tassone and captain Noah Solinger.
On Wednesday night, the Thunderbirds dropped the final game of their 2017-2018 regular season, losing by a score of 4-3 in overtime to the Soo Eagles.
The Thunderbirds concluded the regular season with a record of 36 wins, 16 losses, 3 overtime losses and 1 tie, and have also surrendered the least goals against in the NOJHL this year, only giving up 134 goals against.
“I’m pleased with the results this year,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “We were a really young team and didn’t know what to expect coming in. We battled for first place right into Tuesday night’s game. I’m happy with the way the season went and how the boys played.”
Despite the loss, Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Eric Schuch was a standout on Wednesday night, making 52 saves.
“He’s been great all year,” continued Parco. “Compliments to Schuker, he’s always playing well.”
Spencer Van Tiem (shorthanded) opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds on their first shot on net at the 9:22 mark of the first period from Lucas Theriault and Robert Calisti.
Van Tiem also added an assist for his second multi point game of the season.
Rookie defenceman Robert Calisti also had a power play goal at the 13:11 mark of the third period, giving him a two point night.
Calisti, who is a Soo Greynounds prospect, finished the regular season leading all Thunderbird defencemen in goals with 6.
“Robert has been working really hard at his game,” continued Parco. “He comes to play every night and it’s a pleasure working with him.”
Thunderbirds head coach John Parco, who spent most of his playing and coaching years with Asiago HC in Italy, also talked about how coming back to the Soo and coaching in the NOJHL has been for him.
“It’s been exciting being back home,” continued Parco. “I enjoy it here. The coaching has been different that’s for sure. I wasn’t used to coaching kids before because I was coaching adults in the professional league, but this year has been exciting.”
The Thunderbirds will now face the Soo Eagles in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
“We will prepare to the best of our abilities,” concluded Parco. We’re a good team and they’re a good team and we will see what happens.”
Rookie forward Brendan Miller had a power play goal for the Thunderbirds while Nolan Ford, Tristan Cicchello and Tyler Malpass all recorded an assist each.
Nick Techel (overtime goal), Matt Capisciolto, William Casey and Jake Saxton had the goals for the Eagles while Alec Schwab, Jacob Palmerio, CJ Banser, Austin Rowe, Thomas Dyball, Hayden Clark and Christian Bardarson all set up a goal each.
Eagles goaltender Carter McPhail made 16 saves for the win.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)