Thunderbirds put up 7 against Rapids

By Matt Stefano

After defeating the Blind River Beavers by a score of 4-1 back on Wednesday night in the Soo, the Soo Thunderbirds were right back in action on Saturday afternoon for their fourth straight home game as they took on the French River Rapids, who made their first and only visit to the Soo this season.

The Thunderbirds, who were looking to extend their winning streak to two games on Saturday afternoon, were also up against a Rapids team that came in with five straight losses.

The Thunderbirds put up 7 goals on Saturday afternoon at the John Rhodes as they defeated the French River Rapids by a score of 7-4.

It was also the fourth time this season that the Thunderbirds scored 7 goals in a single game.

“I thought we could’ve had quite a few more goals this afternoon,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson. “We worked on a lot of things in practice heading into this afternoon’s game and it was great to see all the things we’ve been working on in practice really pay off.”

On Saturday afternoon, Thunderbirds rookie forward Kelsey Ouellet led the way offensively with a goal and three helpers, giving him his first career four-point game.

The 18-year-old forward also moved into third in team scoring with 29 points.

“Kelsey is still a young player, but he’s a guy that we depend on a lot in key situations,” said Henderson. “Obviously him and Kyle Trottier coming over from Kapuskasing were both well coached by Sheldon Reasbeck up there. I knew Kelsey and Kyle really well as players and we were super happy to have them at the start of this season. Kelsey’s line also played really well this afternoon and they were causing a lot of trouble for French River when they were on the ice.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Thunderbirds also saw a great performance from second-year forward Michael Chaffay.

Chaffay, who was coming off a two-goal game against the Blind River Beavers back on Wednesday night in the Soo, recorded his second straight two-goal game along with adding an assist on Saturday afternoon against the Rapids.

The Thunderbirds alternate captain notched his first goal of the game and 13th goal of the season at the 9:08 mark of the third period, which made the score 6-3 for the Soo.

Chaffay then scored his second goal of the game and 14th goal of the season into an empty net with 2:17 to go in regulation, which at that time made the score 7-4 for his hometown.

“Michael (Chaffay) looked really good this afternoon playing on a line with Cooper Foster and Kelsey Ouellet,” Henderson said. “That line really controlled the play. They also took care of their D-zone and had a lot of chances and they got rewarded for it this afternoon.”

Chaffay, who recorded his second straight multi-goal game on Saturday afternoon, also became the first Thunderbird to record back to back multi-goal games since Mark Tassone did back in the 2017-2018 season.

“To be honest, I got pretty lucky,” Chaffay said. “I was put in the right positions at the right time. My team really helped me out by giving me the puck and the confidence to score.”

During Saturday afternoon’s game, the Thunderbirds also saw a historic moment made by their rookie defenceman Andrew Gibson.

Gibson, who entered Saturday afternoon’s game with 14 goals, scored his 15th goal of the season on the power play at the 15:50 mark of the first period, which set the new Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals scored by a defenceman in a regular season, passing Caleb Boman (2015-2016), who held the previous record with 14.

The Soo Greyhounds prospect also added an assist for a two-point afternoon.

“We’ve been fortunate here in this organization to have a lot of great players and when Andrew’s career is done, I think he’ll definitely have the opportunity to be considered as one of the all-time great Thunderbirds,” Henderson said. “We’re happy to have him and we’re happy to see his development. When he’s on the ice and when he’s with us, he certainly makes us a much better team. We’re super thrilled for him and we’re excited to see what his future holds.”

Gibson, who set the franchise record for most goals by a defenceman in a regular season, will also be turning 17-years-old on February 13.

“It feels awesome to do that as a 16-year old, but I have to thank my teammates around me,” Gibson said. “They always set me up well with their passes and all those goals I scored weren’t just for me.”

Cooper Foster also had a big afternoon offensively for the Thunderbirds as he recorded a goal and two assists, giving him his second straight three-point game.

Alfred Rotiroti and Russell Oldham (power play) had the other goals for the Soo while Mason Chitaroni, Dharan Cap, Ethan Novello and Brock Santa Maria all set up a goal each.

Forward Chase Lefebvre had a pair of goals, including a power play marker for the Rapids while Griffin Simpson and Levi Siau also had multi-point games with two assists each.

Dominik Godin (power play) and Spencer Hughes had the other goals for the Rapids while Josh Russell and Jackson Doyle set up a goal each.

Rapids goaltender Justin Dilauro gave up 6 goals on 44 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Noah Metivier made 23 saves for the victory.

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be on Wednesday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)





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