Thunderbirds edge Express to pick up 41st win

By Matt Stefano

After picking up their 40th victory of the season on Tuesday night, thanks to a 2-1 win over the Blind River Beavers, the Soo Thunderbirds were right back in action just twenty four hours later as they took on the last place Espanola Express at the John Rhodes.

Despite missing seven regulars, including Nick Smith (Injury), Tristan Cicchello (Suspension), Brendan Miller, Kaidan McDonald, Steven Bellini, Avery Rebek and Gage Stephney, the Thunderbirds picked up their 41st victory of the season as they defeated the Express by a score of 5-3.

The Thunderbirds also had four players dressed from the Great North Midget League’s Soo Rivercity Motorsports Major Midget Thunderbirds club, including Tyler Dunbar, Kurtis Rogers, Michael Chaffay and Kurtis Rogers.

“It looked like they had some fun,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “We tried a couple of different lines and we brought up quite a few young players, so it was more experimental than anything. But they ended up getting the job done.”

Kurtis Rogers, who was one of four added players to the Thunderbirds lineup on Wednesday night, scored his first goal in a Thunderbirds uniform at the 2:55 mark of the first period, which gave the Soo an early 1-0 lead.

Michael Chaffay and Jonathan Mackin drew the assists on Rogers goal.

“I thought the trio of Mackin, Chaffay and Rogers played really well,” continued Parco.

Added player Brock Santa Maria, who was playing in his seventh game with the Thunderbirds on Wednesday night, scored once and set up another.

Santa Maria’s two point performance on Wednesday night, gave him four points in seven games played with the Thunderbirds this season.

“Brock has played great in the seven games played with us this year,” continued Parco. “He’s got a real knack for the net and can move the puck well.”

Rookie forward Cam Findlay led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds on Wednesday night, setting up three goals.

Findlay’s three assist performance, gave him his first career three point game.

“Cam is one of those guys that works as hard as he can every night,” concluded Parco. “It’s good for him to get rewarded.”

Noah Boman, Spencer Van Tiem (game winner) and Nolan Ford (empty net) had the other goals for the Thunderbirds while Tyler Dunbar and Tyler Malpass also got on the scoresheet with one assist each.

Chase Lammi led the way offensively for the Express with a goal and an assist while Lukas Lyszyk (power play) and Connor Tessier had a goal each.

Hunter Halcrow, Josh Ernst, Zachary Matyasik, Matais Salem and Colin McGuire all chipped in with one assist each for the Express.

Express goaltender Joel Rainville gave up four goals on thirty nine shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder William Anderson made twenty six saves for the victory.

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be this Friday at 7:30 p.m., when they visit Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles at the Pullar Stadium.

(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/

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