Thunderbirds draw first blood in West Division Finals

By Matt Stefano

After defeating the Soo Eagles in game 7 of the West Division semifinal series by a score of 3-2 back on Wednesday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre, the Soo Thunderbirds were back in action just a couple days later as they hit the road for game 1 of the West Division final series against the Rayside Balfour Canadians at Chelmsford Arena.

The last time the Thunderbirds had a game 1 on the road during the postseason, was back on April 12th, 2013 in game 1 of the NOJHL Finals against the North Bay Trappers in North Bay, Ontario.

Two goals in the first period was enough for the Soo Thunderbirds on Friday night as they blanked the Rayside Balfour Canadians 2-0 in game 1 of the NOJHL’s West Division semifinal series at Chelmsford Arena.

Rookie forward Lucas Theriault opened the scoring on the power play with his first career playoff goal at the 10:20 mark of the first period to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.

Steven Bellini and Nick Smith had the assists on what would be Theriault’s first career playoff goal.

Rookie defenceman Bradon Caruso would then get his first career playoff goal at the 14:02 mark of the first period, giving the Thunderbirds a 2-0 lead.

Mark Tassone and Nick Smith picked the assists on Caruso’s goal, which proved to be the insurance marker.

Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith, who picked up two assists on Friday night against the Canadians, gave himself his second straight multi point game.

Canadians goaltender Brayden Lachance gave up 2 goals on 32 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Eric Schuch made 32 saves for his second shutout of the postseason.

Game 2 of the NOJHL’s West Division final series between the Thunderbirds and Canadians will be on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Chelmsford Arena.

(Photo of Eric Schuch credit to Jim Egan)

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