By Matt Stefano
After finishing off the month of September with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses, and 1 overtime loss, the Soo Thunderbirds hit the road for their first game of the month of October as they took on the Rayside Balfour Canadians at Chelmsford Arena.
The Thunderbirds, who entered Thursday night’s contest as the hottest team in the NOJHL, with four straight wins, took on a Rayside Balfour team who were riding a two-game winning streak.
James White, who was selected by the Flint Firebirds in the 1st round (9th overall) during the 2017 OHL U18 Priority Selection, put the Canadians up 1-0 with 2:19 to go in the first from Jordan Spadafore and Andre Frappier.
The Canadians would take a 2-0 lead with 9:01 left to go in the second, courtesy of Darcy Winkler’s third of the season from Brandon Atkins and Jett Leishman.
Just 2:20 later, the Thunderbirds would then cut the lead to 2-1 as St. Augustine, Florida native Braden Robbins notched his second goal of the season from Alex Acosta and Austin Heinrich.
Forward Tyler Malpass, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the SIJHL’s Fort Frances Lakers, scored his first goal in a Thunderbird uniform with 2:10 to go in the second, which tied the game up at two.
Saginaw Spirit prospect Camaryn Baber had the only assist on the Malpass tally.
Darcy Winkler’s second goal of the game just 2:12 into the third, put the Canadians ahead 3-2.
Jett Leishman would get his second assist of the night on Winkler’s second tally.
Brady Maltais would give the Canadians their second two-goal lead of the night with 6:15 to go in the third, with Darcy Winkler picking up the lone assist.
Winkler’s assist on the Maltais tally, also gave him his third point of the night.
Then, with just over a minute and a half left to go in regulation, it would be Thunderbirds top goal scorer Nick Smith getting his fifth goal of the season from Kaidan McDonald and Noah Solinger, cutting the Canadians lead to one, but the Soo would fall short to the Rayside Balfour Canadians on Thursday night, losing by a score of 4-3 at Chelmsford Arena.
Brandon Gordon gave up 4 goals on 35 shots in the Thunderbirds loss while Mackenzie Savard made 33 saves for the Canadians win.
The Thunderbirds will be back on John Rhodes ice on Saturday, October 7th, when they take on the Elliot Lake Wildcats at 7:30 p.m.
For all home games during the month of October, the Thunderbirds are asking all spectators to bring at least one canned good to the game to help support the Soup Kitchen Community Centre.
Donations will also be collected by game night staff.
Former Soo Thunderbirds head coach Jordan Smith picked up his first win as an OHL assistant coach on Thursday night as the Sudbury Wolves defeated the Niagara IceDogs 5-2 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.
(Photo of Tyler Malpass credit to Jim Egan)