Thunderbirds extend winning streak to a season-high five games

By Matt Stefano

Make it five wins in a row for the Soo Thunderbirds!

The Soo Thunderbirds extended their winning streak to a season-high five games on Sunday afternoon in Espanola as they defeated the Espanola Express by a score of 4-1 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.

The Thunderbirds, who were in action in Espanola on Sunday afternoon, also played their first road game of the year 2022.

“It was a nice way to cap off a great week,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “Going back to Wednesday against the Soo Eagles, I thought our group took a big step. Today wasn’t our prettiest effort, but we got the job done and secured the two points.”

Forward Russell Oldham led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon as he scored once and set up another, good for his second multi-point game of the season.

The 21-year-old forward, who picked up an assist one night ago (Saturday) against the Timmins Rock, also extended his point-scoring streak to two games.

“Russ made a crafty little play from below the goal line and backed it off their goalie,” Jarrett said. “It felt like one of those days where you just had to find a way to get one by their goalie and Russ came through.”

The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead after the first period, thanks to goals by Cole Delarosbil and Mason Chitaroni.

Delarosbil, who entered Sunday afternoon’s game with 2 goals, scored his 3rd goal of the season and second goal against his former team (Espanola) at the 6:56 mark of the first period from Ethan Novello and Samuel Lake, which gave the Soo a 1-0 lead.

“Having played in Espanola, I think these games are big for Cole (Delarosbil) and he always seems to find a way to stick it to his old team,” Jarrett said.

With under five minutes to go in the first period, it would then be defenceman Mason Chitaroni scoring his first goal in a Soo Thunderbirds uniform at the 15:42 mark of the first, which made the score 2-0 for the Soo.

Chitaroni’s first goal also turned out to be the game-winning goal.

“It felt great to get my first goal and I was very excited about the win,” Chitaroni said. “Getting another two points this afternoon was also a great way to finish a great weekend of hockey.”

Since being acquired in a trade from the OJHL’s Cobourg Cougars back in November, Chitter (Chitaroni) has now given himself 1 goal and 9 points in 15 games played with his hometown Soo Thunderbirds.

“This season for me has been coming along great,” Chitaroni said. “It’s also very nice to be playing in front of my hometown crowd.”

The Thunderbirds, who led 2-0 after twenty minutes of play, then got a goal from forward Russell Oldham (unassisted) at the 7:48 mark of the second, which put the Soo up 3-0 heading into the third.

The Express would then get on the board just 5:02 into the third, courtesy of Eric Barnard’s 5th goal of the season from Benjamin Lacroix, which cut the Thunderbirds lead to 3-1.

Barnard, who came over to the Express in a trade from the Timmins Rock back in December, also gave himself 6th point in just his 7th game played as a member of the Express.

The Soo would then respond with a goal of their own just 1:20 later, courtesy of Youssef Chaouachi’s 5th goal of the season from Russell Oldham and Dharan Cap, making the score 4-1 for the Thunderbirds.

Cap, who drew an assist on Chaouachi’s tally, also extended his point-scoring streak to four games.

Express goaltender Matthew Loney gave up 4 goals on 33 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Noah Zeppa made 21 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds, who have now extended their winning streak to a season-high five games, will look to keep it going on Friday night, when they visit Kirkland Lake to take on the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

Puck drop for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.

(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Cooper Foster credit to Bob Davies)

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