By Matt Stefano
After dropping a 7-1 decision to the Rayside Balfour Canadians in the Soo on Saturday night, the Soo Thunderbirds were looking to get back on the winning track less than twenty four hours later as they made a visit to Blind River on Sunday afternoon for an 2:00 p.m. matchup against the Blind River Beavers.
Sunday afternoon’s game also marked the 100th career regular season game for Thunderbirds forward Cam Findlay.
The Soo opened the scoring at the 15:41 mark of the first period, as Kurtis Rogers would notch his 9th goal of the season from Ty Zachary and Brock Santa Maria.
Rookie forward Jake Kovacs would then notch his team leading 26th goal of the season on the power play from Rylan Clemons and Nolan Ford with just seven seconds to go, putting the Soo up 2-0 after twenty minutes of play.
Kovacs 26th goal also gave him his 49th point of the season.
The Thunderbirds took a 3-0 lead just 39 ticks into the second period, courtesy of Cooper Smyl’s 16th goal of the season from Jake Kovacs and Nolan Ford.
Kovacs’s assist on Smyl’s goal, also gave him 50 points on the season.
The 16 year old forward also became the first Thunderbird rookie to hit 50 points in a regular season since Nic Sicoly did back in 2014-2015.
The Thunderbirds would then take a 4-0 lead at the 14:11 mark of the second period, courtesy of Tyler Savard’s 18th goal of the season on the power play from Nolan Ford and Jake Kovacs.
Kovacs assist on Savard’s power play goal, also gave him his team leading 51st point.
Ford’s third assist of the afternoon, also turned out to be his first career three-point game.
Things would then got a little more interesting with just under two minutes to go in the second period.
Beavers captain and NOJHL’s top scorer Caleb Serre scored his 46th goal of the season on a penalty shot at the 18:44 mark of the second period, which cut the Thunderbirds lead to 4-1.
Then just 1:11 after Serre’s goal, it would be Beavers forward Kyle Quinn getting his 16th goal of the season from Jaren DeBolt and Noah Minns, which cut the Thunderbirds lead to 4-2 after forty minutes of action.
Beavers forward Andrew Malek would then notch his 15th goal of the season from Devon Savignac and Lucas Adams just 1:35 into the third to cut the Thunderbirds lead to one.
The Thunderbirds did manage to hang on the rest of the way though, as they would go on to defeat the Beavers by a score of 4-3 at the Blind River Community Centre.
Beavers goaltender Jackson Hjelle gave up 4 goals on 48 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Dakota Meyer made 31 stops for the victory.
The Thunderbirds, who now have 29 wins on the season, will look for their 30th win this Wednesday night when they visit Elliot Lake to take on the Wildcats.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Arena.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)