Thunderbirds double up Red Wings in the Soo

By Matt Stefano

After dropping their season opener against the Soo Eagles on Friday night in Sault, Ontario, the Soo Thunderbirds were right back in action just 24 hours later for the second game of their regular season as they welcomed the Elliot Lake Red Wings to the John Rhodes Community Centre on Saturday.

Saturday’s game was also game one of a home-and-home series against the Red Wings.

On Saturday night, the Soo Thunderbirds improved their record to 1 win and 1 loss on the season as they doubled up the Elliot Lake Red Wings by a score of 4-2 at the John Rhodes.

“It was only the second game of the regular season tonight (Saturday), but more in our eyes it was like an exhibition game,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach Jeremy Rebek, who ran the bench after head coach Cole Jarrett was ejected from the game during the second period. “We know it’s early in the regular season and we want all the points that we can grab at this time of year. Tonight (Saturday) and last night (Friday) weren’t our best games, but I thought yesterday’s (Friday) game we had a better performance. Tonight’s (Saturday) game I’d say was more of a hangover type of game. The boys might’ve felt a little stiff after Friday’s game against the Soo Eagles, but they are just getting to know each other now, especially with the new kids that are in the room.”

The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead after the first period, thanks to Ethan Raduy’s first goal of the season on the power play at 2:28 from Kaden Dundas and Dharan Cap.

Raduy, who was acquired by the Thunderbirds in a trade from the Winnipeg Freeze back on August 4, also scored his first goal in a Soo Thunderbirds uniform.

“It was amazing to see Raduy get his first goal as a Thunderbird,” Rebek said. “He’s a great forward, he’s got a great shot and especially on that goal he scored tonight, he went to the net and good things happen when you go to the net. He got better following Friday’s game and he’s heading in the right direction.”

With the Thunderbirds leading the Red Wings 1-0 just over eleven minutes into the middle frame, it would then be Red Wings captain Kaden Laverdiere getting his first goal of the season and his first career shorthanded goal at 11:20 from Alex Antoine, which tied the game up at one.

Laverdiere, who scored his first goal of the season, also gave himself his 14th career NOJHL tally.

“Kaden played well tonight,” said Elliot Lake Red Wings head coach Chris Keleher. “He’s wearing the ‘C’ for a reason and he was probably our best player out there tonight.”

As a member of the Elliot Lake Red Wings last season, Laverdiere scored 13 goals in 32 games, and three of his 13 goals last season also came against the Soo Thunderbirds (All on John Rhodes ice).

“It’s one of those things that are funny in sports when a guy just has a team’s number, but again, Kaden was probably our best player out there to tonight and it’s great to see him getting points here early on in the season,” Keleher said.

“For me there’s just something about playing at the John Rhodes Community Centre that gets me excited,” Laverdiere added. “I like playing in this building (John Rhodes) and we want to come in here and win next time.”

After scoring his first goal of the season at the 11:20 mark of the second period, Laverdiere would then get his second point of the night with an assist on a goal by forward Brodie Kearns at the 17:17 mark of the second, which put the Red Wings up by a score of 2-1.

Laverdiere, who picked up his second point of the night with that assist, also gave himself his fifth career multi-point game.

With the Thunderbirds trailing the Red Wings 2-1 almost two minutes into the third period, it would then be Thunderbirds forward Dharan Cap scoring his first goal of the season at 1:58 from Ryan Blackburn, which tied things up at two.

Cap would then get his second goal of the game and second goal of the season just 1:55 later from Michael Chaffay, which at that time gave the Thunderbirds a 3-2 lead.

Cap, who scored a pair of goals for the Thunderbirds early in the third period, finished the night with two goals and one assist, and was also named first star of the game.

“It felt great to lead the way offensively tonight, but credit to my teammates who were feeding me in the slot,” Cap said. “Chaff (Michael Chaffay) also made a nice play to set me up on my second goal.”

On Saturday night, Thunderbirds rookie netminder Kolton Bourret was named second star of the game as he made 34 saves for his first career NOJHL victory.

Bourret, who got his second straight start in net on Saturday, was also coming off a loss in his NOJHL debut back on Friday night against the Soo Eagles.

“During practice, Kolton has been looking solid and CJ (Cole Jarrett) wanted to go back with him in net tonight and we agreed to that,” Rebek said. “Kolton looked great on Friday night against the Soo Eagles and he was also poised in the net tonight against the Red Wings and he also makes the game look easy.”

Kaden Dundas had an empty net goal for the Thunderbirds with just 9.9 seconds to go in the third period, which at that time made the score 4-2 for the Thunderbirds.

Red Wings goaltender Cam Smith gave up 3 goals on 41 shots in the loss.

The Thunderbirds will now be in action for game two of a home-and-home series against the Red Wings on Tuesday night in Elliot Lake, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Centennial Arena.

(Photo of Thunderbirds defenceman Kaden Dundas credit to Bob Davies)

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