By Matt Stefano
After defeating the Rayside Balfour Canadians 3-2 in a shootout last Saturday at the John Rhodes Community Centre and moving into sole possession of first place in the NOJHL’s West Division, the Soo Thunderbirds were back in action on Thursday night at the John Rhodes for the first game of a home and home series against the Blind River Beavers.
Fans in the stands got to witness extra time for the second straight game at the John Rhodes on Thursday night, as the Thunderbirds defeated the Beavers 5-4 in overtime.
With the game tied 1-1 after forty minutes of play, the third period saw a total of six goals scored, including three from the Beavers and three from the Thunderbirds.
“We started off pretty slow,” said Thunderbirds defenceman Tristan Cicchello. “It was a tough game, but we grinded through it and picked it up near the end.”
With the game tied 4-4 after sixty minutes of play, Cicchello scored his second goal of the season at the 1:40 mark of overtime, giving his club it’s sixteenth victory of the season.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native finished the night with a goal and an assist.
“It felt really good,” continued Cicchello. “I felt a lot of relief to get the win against these guys and we did a good job.”
The Thunderbirds went two for seven on the power play on Thursday night while going a perfect three for three on the penalty kill.
“It was really good tonight,” continued Cicchello. “Our first power play line really took control.”
Cicchello, who is in his second season with the Thunderbirds, caught the attention of a pair of Ontario Hockey League teams heading into this season, as he attended the Hamilton Bulldogs Rookie Camp last spring, before attending Sudbury Wolves Main Camp this past summer.
“At those camps, I learned that I need to move the puck faster and just play at a higher tempo,” continued Cicchello.
Thunderbirds leading scorer Lucas Theriault led the way offensively with four assists.
Captain Kaidan McDonald also had a big night offensively for the Thunderbirds, scoring twice and adding an assist while assistant captain Nick Smith set up three goals.
Forward Noah Boman had a power play goal and an assist while defenceman Steven Bellini scored once on the power play.
Riley Nadeau led the way offensively for the Beavers with a goal and two assists while Nash Hatcher and Ryan Peck had a goal and an assist each.
Brendan Young had a goal for the Beavers while Nick Richards, Nathan Balkwill, Lucas Adams and Tyler Nott all had one assist each.
Beavers goaltender Garrett Boyonoski gave up five goals on thirty five shots in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Colin Ahern made eighteen saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now play their second game of a home and home series against the Beavers this Saturday in Blind River.
“We are really excited,” concluded Cicchello. “We are going to get our rest and come out even stronger next game.”
Former Soo Thunderbirds forward Keegan Stevenson, who is currently in his second season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm, has been listed among the NHL Central Scouting’s November Players to Watch list for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Full list can be found right here: http://ontariohockeyleague.com/article/47-ohl-players-to-watch-for-2019-nhl-draft
(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/www.ssmphotos.com)