By Matt Stefano
After clinching the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy one week ago in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and earning a berth into this year’s Centennial Cup tournament, the Soo Thunderbirds were in action for their first game of the Centennial Cup tournament on Thursday night as they took on the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers at Affinity Place in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
The Thunderbirds, who entered this year’s tournament as champions of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, took on a Bombers team that was eliminated in seven games to the Estevan Bruins in this year’s Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League final.
On Thursday night, in their opening game of the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament, presented by Tim Hortons, the Soo Thunderbirds fell to the Flin Flon Bombers by a score of 6-1.
With the game scoreless almost fourteen minutes into the opening period, it would then be the Bombers getting a pair of goals in a span of 2:28, which quickly turned a 0-0 game into a 2-0 lead.
At the 13:36 mark of the first period, it would be Bombers forward Jaxon Martens getting his first goal of the tournament from Gabriel Shipper, which made the score 1-0 for the Bombers.
Then, at the 16:04 mark of the first period, it would then be Bombers forward Drew Kuzma getting his first goal of the tournament from Jaeden Mercier and Zak Smith, which gave the Bombers a two-goal cushion after twenty minutes of play.
With the game still 2-0 almost twelve minutes into the second period, it would then be Bombers forward Jacob Vockler getting his first goal of the tournament on the power play at 11:58 from Zak Smith and Jaeden Mercier, which made the score 3-0 for the Bombers heading into the third.
The Thunderbirds would then finally get on the board just over four minutes into the third period, courtesy of Michael Chaffay’s first goal of the tournament at 4:20 from Cooper Foster and Kelsey Ouellet, which cut the Bombers lead to 3-1.
Chaffay, who scored his first goal of the tournament, was also the Thunderbirds leading scorer during the 2022 NOJHL playoffs.
With the Thunderbirds down a man shortly after Chaffay’s goal, it would then be Bombers defenceman Xavier LaPointe getting his first goal of the tournament on the power play at 6:30 from Jaeden Mercier and Zak Smith, which gave the Bombers a 4-1 lead.
LaPointe, who scored his first goal of the tournament, was also the top scoring defenceman in the SJHL during the regular season.
Then, at the 9:04 mark of the third period, it would then be Bombers forward Jaeden Mercier getting his first goal of the tournament, unassisted, which put the Bombers up by four goals.
Just 1:10 after Mecier’s goal, it would then be Bombers forward Brett Wieschorster getting his first goal of the tournament from Reece Richmond and Rylan Thiessen, which made the score 6-1 for the Bombers.
Thunderbirds goaltender Noah Metivier gave up 6 goals on 30 shots in the loss while Bombers netminder Cal Schell made 16 saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now play their second game of the Centennial Cup tournament on Friday night at 6:00 p.m., when they take on the MHL’s Summerside Western Capitals at Affinity Place in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
GIBBY AND SMITTY RECOGNIZED
At the end of Thursday night’s game, defenceman Andrew Gibson was named the player of the game for the Soo Thunderbirds while forward Zak Smith was named the player of the game for the Flin Flon Bombers.
(Photo of Thunderbirds forward Colby Arbour credit to Bob Davies)