Thunderbirds rebound with a win over Blind River in game five of the COVID Cup

By Matt Stefano

Just because you give up eight goals in the previous game, doesn’t mean you won’t score eight goals the next game.

And that’s what the Soo Thunderbirds proved to the Blind River Beavers on Thursday night.

The Thunderbirds, who were coming off an 8-3 loss to the Beavers on Sunday afternoon in Blind River, rebounded on Thursday night with an 8-1 victory against the Beavers in game 5 of the COVID Cup series at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.

“When we got back from BR (Blind River), our coach challenged us in practice and said we didn’t work hard. He let us know that expects more out of us and tonight we came out and showed everyone what we’ve been working on in practice,” said Thunderbirds defenceman Warner Young.

Thursday night’s game was also quite the night for Thunderbirds defenceman Warner Young.

The Newberry, Michigan native scored three times, including a power play tally and an empty netter, along with adding an assist.

“It feels nice. I started off the season a little slow and I’ve been suspended a couple times, so it was nice to get that under my belt and now we’re going to try to win the next two games to win this series, said Young.

Young also became the first Thunderbird defenceman to score three goals in a regular season game since Drew Otto did back on October 8, 2008.

“It was nice to get three goals tonight and it’s an honour to be up there with Otto,” said Young.

Thursday night’s game also saw a great performance from Thunderbirds forward Brock Santa Maria.

Santa Maria finished the night with a goal and two assists, good for his first career three-point game.

“Santa played well tonight and he plays well most nights. He’s always working hard. When he’s hot, you want the puck on his stick because he’s a big part of our team. He’s a skilled guy that knows how to put the puck in the net and make good plays,” said Young.

Rookie forward Michael Chaffay also had a multi point game for the Thunderbirds with a goal and an assist while second year forward Cooper Smyl, who returned to the Thunderbirds lineup after serving a two-game suspension, set up two goals.

On Thursday night, the Thunderbirds also got a goal from forward Russell Oldham.

Oldham, who signed with the Thunderbirds this past offseason, scored his first goal in a Thunderbirds uniform at the 3:57 mark of the third period, which at that time gave the Soo a 6-1 lead.

“That was huge. The boys love Russ and he works hard everyday. He’s had a lot of opportunities to get a goal this season and as you can tell by the bench when he scored, everyone loved it,” said Young.

Noah Boman and Parker Morgan had the other goals for the Soo while Tyson Doucette, Dylan Parsons, Kurtis Rogers, Andrew Malek and Caleb Wood all chipped in with one assist each.

Matt Cato had the lone goal for the Beavers on power play with assists going to Justin Mauro and Spencer Kennedy.

Beavers goaltender Wyatt Courchaine gave up 4 goals on 22 shots before being replaced in net by Gavin Disano, who then gave up 3 goals on 25 shots the rest of the way.

Thunderbirds goaltender Alex Bugeja made 34 saves for the win, along with picking up an assist on Warner Young’s third goal of the game.

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Saturday night in Blind River for game 6 of the COVID Cup series, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Blind River Community Centre.

“We’re going to have a practice tomorrow (Friday) to try to keep our heads cool and do our thing. But the biggest thing is everybody needs to be all in. BR (Blind River) has a tough rink to play in and the fans are loud, so if we stick to our game plan I’ll think we’ll be fine,” said Young.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)





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