Thunderbirds move into third place in the West

By Matt Stefano

Saturday night marked a battle for third place in the West Division between the Soo Thunderbirds and the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

The Thunderbirds, who entered Saturday night’s game with 36 points on the season, were just one point behind the Eagles for third place in the NOJHL’s West Division.

The Thunderbirds got four goals from four different players on Saturday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre as they defeated the Eagles by a score of 4-1.

The win also moved the Thunderbirds into sole possession of third place in the NOJHL’s West Division.

“It feels great,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “The guys have been playing really well and we played a solid sixty minute effort tonight.”

The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes of play, thanks to Warner Young’s first NOJHL tally.

Young, who notched his first NOJHL goal at the 5:29 mark of the first period, also entered Saturday night’s game leading all NOJHL rookie defensemen in assists with 19.

“Warner has been getting better and better,” continued Parco. “He’s a really good kid who works hard and we know what we’re going to get every night from him.”

The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead just 3:38 into the second period, courtesy of Brock Santa Maria’s third goal of the season, which proved to be his first career game winning goal.

The rookie forward also gave himself his second goal in his last four games.

“Brock has had an up and down season,” continued the Thunderbirds bench boss. “He was sick with mono for a little bit and he had some injuries, but now he’s staring to play like the Brock that we know.”

A goal by Eagles forward Dominic Skrelja at the 5:17 mark of the second, cut the Thunderbirds lead to 2-1.

Hayden Clark and Jake Lamberty drew the assists on what would be Skrelja’s fifteenth goal of the season.

The Thunderbirds would then get a two-goal lead back just 1:11 later, courtesy of Tyler Savard’s sixth goal of the season, which gave his club a 3-1 lead after two periods of play.

A goal by second year forward Avery Rebek at the 5:59 mark of the third period, gave the Thunderbirds a three-goal cushion.

Rebek, who was the overtime hero in a 4-3 overtime victory over Rayside Balfour this past Wednesday night, also gave extended his goal scoring streak to two games.

Newly acquired forward Rylan Clemons led the way offensively for the Thunderbirds for the second straight game, setting up two goals.

Clemons, who was coming off an impressive two goal and one assist performance in his debut with the club back on Wednesday night against Rayside Balfour, was also named the Subway first star of the game for the second consecutive game on Saturday night.

The Franklin, Michigan now has five points in his first two games with the Thunderbirds.

Tyler Dunbar, Colton Hayes, Jake Kovacs, Cooper Smyl, Mackenzie Walkington and Nolan Ford all got on the scoresheet for the Thunderbirds with one assist each.

Eagles goaltender Shane Brancato gave up four goals on thirty eight shots in the loss while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Dakota Meyer made thirty three saves for the victory.

Meyer was also named the Subway second star of the game.

“Dakota played solid,” continued Parco. “He’s had a chance to play a lot of games lately and it’s boosting his confidence.”

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. to take on the last place Elliot Lake Wildcats at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

“We just need to take it one night at a time,” concluded the Thunderbirds third year bench boss. “We’ll let the guys enjoy this win for a couple hours before we get back at it on Sunday.”

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

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