By Matt Stefano
The Espanola Paper Kings are off to a 2-0 start for the first time in franchise history.
And it’s all because of a win on Saturday night against the Soo Thunderbirds.
On Saturday night, the Espanola Paper Kings improved their record to two wins and no losses for the first time in the franchise’s nine-year history as they defeated the Soo Thunderbirds by a score of 5-2 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex in Espanola.
The Thunderbirds, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Paper Kings on Saturday night in Espanola, were also coming off a 4-2 victory in their home opening game against the Soo Eagles one night ago (Friday) at the John Rhodes.
With the game scoreless almost six and a half minutes into the first period, it would be Edmonton, Alberta native Jack Lynes getting his second goal of the season from Blake Peters-Davey and Spencer Horgan at 6:28, which gave the Paper Kings a 1-0 lead.
The lead wouldn’t last long though, as the Thunderbirds would then tie the game just 55 seconds later, courtesy of Jacob Smith’s first goal of the season from Kelsey Ouellet and Declan Gallivan, which tied the game at one.
Smith, who scored his first goal of the season, was also drafted by the Ottawa 67’s in the 1st round (20th overall) in this year’s Ontario Hockey League Under-18 Priority Selection.
Less than two minutes after Smith’s tying goal,it would then be Macomb, Michigan native Dario Sacino getting his second goal of the season from defenceman Spencer Horgan at 9:26, which gave the Paper Kings a 2-1 lead heading into the second.
Horgan’s assist on Sacino’s goal, also turned out to be his 52nd career NOJHL point.
With the Paper Kings leading the Thunderbirds 2-1 over six minutes into the second period, it would then be the Paper Kings taking a 3-1 lead on the power play, courtesy of Owen Fergusson’s first career power play tally from Lucas Signoretti and Graydon Guthrie at the 6:30 mark of the second, which put the home-side up by two heading into the third.
Signoretti, who drew an assist on Fergusson’s goal, also gave himself his 80th career point.
Signoretti also became just the third player in franchise history to record 80 career points, joining Mattais Salem (2018-2020) and Lukas Lyszyk (2018-2020).
With the Thunderbirds on a man advantage at the start of the third period, it would then be Thunderbirds rookie defenceman Declan Gallivan getting his first goal of the season just 43 seconds in from Jacob Smith, which cut the Paper Kings lead to 3-2.
Gallivan, who scored his first goal of the season, was also drafted by the North Bay Battalion in the 7th round (141st overall) in this year’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
With the Paper Kings leading the Thunderbirds 3-2 late in the third period, it would then be Brooklin, Ontario native Blake Peters-Davey getting his first goal of the season at 15:57 from Grant Booth and Jack Lynes, which gave the Paper Kings a 4-2 lead.
The Paper Kings would then get an empty net goal by Atley Gringoten with just 34 seconds to go in regulation time from Owen Fergusson, which made it a 5-2 final.
Paper Kings goaltender Andrew Gaulton made 34 saves for the victory while Thunderbirds netminder Kolton Bourret gave up 4 goals on 34 shots in the loss.
Next action for the Thunderbirds will be on Friday, September 15, when they make their first and only visit of the regular season to Iroquois Falls to take on the newest NOJHL team, the Iroquois Falls storm.
Puck drop for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Jus Jordan Arena.
FERGIE ON FRIDAY
On Friday, September 8, Espanola Paper Kings forward Owen Fergusson put on a huge performance in the Paper Kings season opening win against the Hearst Lumberjacks.
On Friday, September 8, Fergusson recorded six points, including a goal and five helpers to lead the Paper Kings to an 8-6 victory against the Hearst Lumberjacks at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex in Espanola.
Fergusson, who recorded six points in the Paper Kings season opener, also became the first player in the NOJHL to record six points in a season opening game since Nick Esposto (Sudbury Cubs) and Jordan Carroll (Sudbury Cubs) both did back on September 7, 2011.
He (Fergusson) also became the first player in the NOJHL to record five assists in a season opening game since Matthew Minichiello (Cochrane Crunch) did back on September 5, 2019.
(Photo of Soo Thunderbirds captain Kolby Fellinger credit to Bob Davies)