By Matt Stefano
Friday night was a battle of two third place teams at the John Rhodes Community Centre as the West Division Soo Thunderbirds took on the East Division Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, who made their first and only visit to the Soo.
Earlier in the day, the Gold Miners added some offence to their club by acquiring the NOJHL’s top goal scorer Gregory Trudeau-Paquet from the French River Rapids.
The line of Gregory Trudeau-Paquet (0g 3a), Marshall Nikitin (2g 1a) and Tyler Fyfe (1g 2a) combined for 9 points on Friday night as the Gold Miners defeated the Thunderbirds by a score of 3-2.
“I just think we didn’t make our passes as much as we could’ve,” said Thunderbirds rookie Camaryn Baber. “We lost our battles as many times as we could and we just weren’t ready to come out in the third.”
Baber, who played in his first game back with the Thunderbirds after playing five games this month with the Saginaw Spirit, scored his fourth goal of the season just 27 seconds into the third to cut the Gold Miners lead to 3-2.
“It’s really teaching me a lot to come back here and play the right way and play the coach’s way,” continued Baber. “Playing with older guys and smarter guys is definitely teaching me a lot and I’m learning a lot.”
Forwards Lucas Theriault and Mark Tassone, who both came over in trades last weekend, suited up for their first home game with the Thunderbirds on Friday night.
“Two of my good buddies have come home and everybody is happy to see them,” said Baber. “They are two good additions to this squad.”
Braden Robbins had the other goal for the Thunderbirds while Nick Smith, Robert Calisti and Alex Acosta all chipped in with one assist each.
Thunderbirds goaltender Eric Schuch gave up 3 goals on 25 shots in the loss while Ryan Winter made 23 saves for the Gold Miners.
The Thunderbirds will be back in action on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the John Rhodes as they will take on the Rayside Balfour Canadians, who are currently the top team in the West Division.
“We have to start our period stronger than we have been lately,” concluded Baber. “We definitely have to keep our periods in intervals. Five minute intervals in every game will help us out a lot.”
(Photo credit to Jim Egan)