By Matt Stefano
The Soo Thunderbirds know what it’s like to be facing elimination in the NOJHL final.
And in the end, they also know what it’s like to come back and be crowned NOJHL champions!
Last season, the Soo Thunderbirds came all the way back to eliminate the Hearst Lumberjacks in seven games in the 2022 NOJHL final, after falling behind three-games-to-none in the series.
And right now in this year’s NOJHL final, the Thunderbirds are currently down three-games-to-two against the Timmins Rock, with the series shifting back to the John Rhodes Community Centre tomorrow night.
If the T-Birds end up defeating the Rock tomorrow night in game 6, the seventh and deciding game of the NOJHL final will take place on Tuesday night in Timmins.
“We know that we have to leave it all out there every shift for the remainder of this series, and we’re focusing on playing fast and physical,” said Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Kaden Dundas, who knows what’s it’s like to come back and win the NOJHL title, as he helped the T-Birds do it last year against Hearst.”
“It would mean everything to get this to a game 7 on Tuesday and have a chance of becoming back-to-back champions,” added Soo Thunderbirds rookie forward Jackson Truchan, who will be looking to win an NOJHL title here in his first season.
When it comes to playing in game 6 of the NOJHL final, the Thunderbirds have an overall record four wins and three losses.
And out of those four game 6 wins, the Soo Thunderbirds have only went on to win the Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy once, which was last year against Hearst.
“I still remember how it felt last year in the finals when we played when our season was on the line,” Dundas said. “We believe that if we play smart and outwork our opponent, we will be able to come back and win this series.”
The other times the Soo Thunderbirds went to a game 6 of the NOJHL final was in 2001 (Ended up losing in 7 games to Rayside), 2002 (Lost in 6 games to Rayside), 2010 (Ended up losing in 7 games to Abitibi), 2013 (Ended up losing in 7 games to North Bay) and in 2019 (Ended up losing in 7 games to Hearst).
“I think in critical games, you have to throw those stats out the window and just focus on what you have to do in order to help your team win,” Dundas said.
Heading into tomorrow night’s game, T-Birds rookie forward Jackson Truchan is currenlty leading the NOJHL in postseason scoring with 8 goals and 20 points in 12 games.
Truchan, who is entering tomorrow night’s game with 20 points, is also leading the T-Birds in scoring in this series (NOJHL final) with 5 points, including 2 goals and 3 assists.
“It’s going to have to be a team effort tomorrow night from the goal line out,” Truchan said. “We can’t take anything for granted because our lives are on the line and we have to execute and do anything and everything we can to find a way to win.”
Game 6 of the NOJHL final takes place tomorrow night at the John Rhodes Community Centre, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
RECORD SETTING ASSIST
In the Rock’s 3-2 victory in game 5 against the T-Birds back on Wednesday night in Timmins, Rock defenceman Felix Cadieux-Fredette recorded one assist, which gave him his 18th career playoff assist.
His 18th career playoff assist also set the Rock record for most career playoff assists by a Rock player, passing Derek Seguin (2017-2020), who held the previous record with 17.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)