By Matt Stefano
The final week of the regular season officially kicked off for the Soo Thunderbirds on Tuesday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre as they took on the Rayside Balfour Canadians in a battle for first place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
The Thunderbirds, who had two games remaining on their regular season schedule, needed a win in regulation time to clinch first place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
Tuesday night was also a milestone game for Thunderbirds captain Noah Solinger, who was playing in his 100th career game.
Despite outshooting the Canadians 45-18, the Thunderbirds dropped a 3-1 decision to the Canadians at the John Rhodes Community Centre and will finish in second place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
“We battled hard,” said Thunderbirds forward Alex Acosta, who opened the scoring at the 10:11 mark of the first period from Bradon Caruso. “The bounces weren’t really going our way and we couldn’t really capitalize on our power plays. It’s tough and that’s the way it goes sometimes, but we have to come back on Wednesday.”
Canadians goaltender Brayden Lachance, who made 44 stops on Tuesday night, was named first star of the game.
In his last three starts against the Soo this season, Lachance was named first star of the game in every one.
“He (Lachance) looks like he’s been playing well lately,” continued Acosta. “We just couldn’t seem to solve him. He’s been getting our rebounds, but we just need to find a way to solve him.”
Acosta, who is one of two graduating players on the Soo Thunderbirds this season, will play in his final regular season game on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. against the Soo Eagles.
The other graduating player on the Thunderbirds this season is goaltender Brandon Gordon, who made 15 stops against the Canadians on Tuesday night.
“It’s kind of big how it’s going to be the last game of my junior career,” concluded Acosta. “Time does fly, but after we get through Wednesday’s game, we’ll look towards the playoffs and the first round and it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Noah Serre had a shorthanded goal and an assist for the Canadians while Baldino Aeillo and captain Matthew Neault had a goal each.
Christian Gaudreau and Ryan O’Bonsawin had an assist each for the Canadians.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)