Thunderbirds move into sole possession of first in the West

After picking up two out of a possible six points in their three-game road trip last weekend, the Soo Thunderbirds were back on John Rhodes ice on Saturday night for a matchup against the Rayside Balfour Canadians.

The Thunderbirds and Canadians entered Saturday night’s game tied for first in the NOJHL’s West Division with 28 points each.

Fans at the John Rhodes were treated to a shootout on Saturday night as the Thunderbirds defeated the Canadians 3-2.

“We had a good week of practice and the guys were fired up to play this game tonight,” said Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Colin Ahern. “They scored a late goal in the third to tie it, but at the end we got the shootout win.”

The Thunderbirds are now a perfect two for two this year in shootouts.

The only other time the Thunderbirds went to a shootout this year, was back on October 10th, when they defeated the Cochrane Crunch 4-3 in a shootout in Sudbury at the NOJHL Showcase.

Ahern was also in net for the that game.

“It’s always good to win and the guys played really well,” continued Ahern. “The guys in practice have fun a lot to build our confidence, but we all played well and I have to give credit to all my D in front of me and all the guys up front.”

Earlier in the week, Ahern and seven other members of the Soo Thunderbirds were also selected to take part in the Eastern Canada Cup-All-Star Chellenge, which will take place in Trenton, Ontario from November 19th-21st.

Ahern, along with Steven Bellini, Kobe Seguin, Nick Smith, Lucas Theriault, Kaidan McDonald, Noah Boman and associate coach Toots Kovacs will represent Team NOJHL West.

“It’s great, and all the other guys in the room have been working really hard,” concluded Ahern. “It’s a great opportunity for me and all the other guys on my team to showcase what we have and represent our league very well.”

After a scoreless first period, it would be the Thunderbirds getting on the board first as Nick Smith would score his eleventh goal of the season from Tyler Malpass and Nolan Ford at the 1:05 mark of the second, putting the Soo up 1-0.

The Canadians would then tie the game up on the power play at the 6:05 mark of the second, courtesy of Ethan Lavallee’s seventh goal of the season from Jett Leishman and Brady Maltais.

With the game tied at one heading into the third, it would be Noah Boman scoring his ninth goal of the season on the power play from Nick Smith and Lucas Theriault just ninety seconds into the third, giving the Soo a 2-1 lead.

Canadians rookie forward Joel Mongeon’s first NOJHL goal at the 14:37 mark of the third, tied the game up at two.

After a scoreless overtime period, the crowd at the John Rhodes got to witness a shootout for the first time on home ice.

Nick Smith had the shootout winner for the Thunderbirds while Tyler Malpass also found the back of the net.

Lucas Theriault, who had the shootout winner for the Thunderbirds back on October 10th against Cochrane, was the first shooter for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night, but did not score.

Kyle Liinamaa and Evan Krassey both shot for the Canaidans during the shootout, but did not score.

Canadians goaltender Sebastien Plamondon made fifty saves in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Colin Ahern stopped twenty six shots for the victory.

With the win, the Thunderbirds have now moved into sole possession of first place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 30 points.

The Thunderbirds, who are now one point ahead of the Canadians, still also have five games in hand.

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be Thursday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the Blind River Beavers at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/

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