By Matt Stefano
After doubling up the Blind River Beavers by a score of 4-2 in their final home game of the regular season on Friday night at the John Rhodes, the Soo Thunderbirds were right back in action just 24 hours later as they made a trip across the St. Mary’s River to take on the Soo Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Saturday night’s game also marked the final game of the Thunderbirds 2019-2020 regular season.
The red lights were busy in the opening 3:15 of the first period as a total of three goals were scored.
St. Ignace, Michigan product Chase Tallaire would put the Eagles up 1-0 with his 4th goal of the season just 1:49 into the first from Joel Brandinger and Brice French.
Then just eighteen ticks later, it would be Thunderbirds forward Colton Hayes getting his 14th goal of the season, which tied the game up at one.
The Eagles would then take a 2-1 lead just 1:08 later, courtesy of Dominic Skrelja’s 27th goal of the season from Jake Lamberty and Bobby Price.
After a busy opening 3:15, the Eagles would then take a 3-1 lead at the 8:27 mark of the first, courtesy of Praveen Dhaliwal’s 2nd goal of the season from Ryan Dacks and Tucker Harris.
The Eagles took a 3-1 lead after twenty minutes of play.
The opening first half of the second period was not as busy as the opening half of the first period, but the Thunderbirds would then make things interesting with under four minutes to go.
Defenceman Jordan Broome notched his 4th goal of the season on the power play from Tyler Savard and Jake Kovacs at the 16:38 mark of the second period, which cut the Eagles lead to 3-2.
Then just thirty five seconds later, it would be Thunderbirds forward Mackenzie Walkington getting his 15th goal of the season on a power play from Jake Kovacs and Tyler Savard, which tied the game at three heading into the third period.
At the 10:47 mark of the third, it would be Eagles forward Dominic Skrelja scoring his second goal of the game on the power play and team-leading 28th goal of the season from Joel Brandinger and Eric Vanderhoff, giving the Eagles the lead.
Skrelja’s power play goal in the third period would prove to be the game winner though, as the Eagles would hang on to defeat the Thunderbirds by a score of 4-3 at the Pullar Stadium.
Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Evola gave up four goals on thirty six shots in the loss.
Eagles netminder Shane Brancato gave up one goal on nine shots before being replaced in net by Gabe Gosek, who then made nineteen saves on twenty one shots the rest of the way.
The Thunderbirds have now concluded their 2019-2020 regular season with a record of 30 wins, 19 losses, 3 overtime losses and 4 shootout losses, good for 67 points.
They have also finished in third place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)