By Matt Stefano
After skating scoreless through the opening twenty minutes of play, the Soo Thunderbirds went on to score five goals in the final forty minutes, including four in the second period as they went on to defeat the Soo Eagles by a score of 5-1 at the Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Friday night.
The Thunderbirds, who defeated the Soo Eagles 5-1 on Friday night across the river, have also extended their winning streak to three games.
“In the first period we didn’t come out with our best start and it’s always tough playing in the Pullar, but our goalie Landon Miller stood on his head to keep us in the game,” said Soo Thunderbirds rookie forward Jackson Truchan, whose team had 14 shots on net in the first period while also having 14 shots against. “After the first period, we knew had to come out strong in the second (Period) and just stick to our game plan, and we did that by getting a nice shorthanded goal at the start of the second period.”
With the Thunderbirds down a man early in the second period, it would be forward Anton Petrovskiy getting a shorthanded tally just 53 seconds in, unassisted, which put the Thunderbirds up 1-0.
Petrovskiy, who scored a shorthanded tally on Friday night, also extended his goal-scoring streak to two games for the first time this season.
“Petro (Anton Petrovskiy) getting that shorthanded goal at the start of the second period was huge for us,” Truchan said. “That shorthanded tally gave us momentum and we ended up taking over the game from there.”
With the Thunderbirds leading the Eagles 1-0 just under halfway though the second, the Thunderbirds then ended up getting two goals just 32 seconds apart, which quickly turned a 1-0 Thunderbirds lead into a 3-0 Thunderbirds lead.
At the 10:44 mark of the second period, it would be rookie forward Jackson Truchan getting his 24th goal of the season from Dharan Cap, which put the Thunderbirds up by two.
The Thunderbirds would then take a three-goal-lead at the 11:16 mark of the second, courtesy of Daniel Beaupre’s 16th goal of the season from Samuel Lake and Anton Petrovskiy.
“The goals 32 seconds apart by Truchan and I were two big goals and they (The goals) definitely gave us the momentum for the rest of the game,” said Soo Thunderbirds forward Daniel Beaupre, who scored the insurance goal of the game. “After Truchan and I scored those quick goals, the Eagles seemed to be more focused on injuring us than winning the game.”
With the Thunderbirds leading the Eagles 3-0 with just over three minutes left to go in the second, it would then be Thunderbirds leading scorer Dharan Cap getting his 25th goal of the season from Jackson Truchan at 16:48, which put the Thunderbirds up by four.
The Eagles would then cut the Thunderbirds lead to 4-1 with just forty seconds to go in the second, courtesy of Jack Paweski’s 8th goal of the season from Colin Handy.
With the Thunderbirds leading the Eagles 4-1 just over five minutes into the third period, it would then be forward Justin Mauro getting his 12th goal of the season from Kaden Dundas and Jackson Truchan, which made the score 5-1 for the Thunderbirds.
Kameron Ragon, who got the start in net for the Eagles on Friday night, gave up 4 goals on 31 shots, before being replaced in net by Logan Raffaele, who then gave up 1 goal on 11 shots the rest of the way.
Thunderbirds goaltender Landon Miller made 32 saves for the victory.
With the 5-1 victory over the Soo Eagles on Friday night, the Thunderbirds have now improved their record to 33-12-3-2, good for 71 points and remain third place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.
The Thunderbirds, who finished Friday night’s game with five goals, have now scored 37 goals in their last five games.
“It’s definitely crazy having 37 goals in our last five games, but it’s all been a team effort as we are sticking to our game plan,” Truchan said. “We are making simple plays and the chemistry is coming along game by game. We’ve also been getting better and better each day during our practices.”
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Saturday, February 25, when they visit Espanola to take on the Espanola Paper Kings at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game will also be the first time these two clubs will meet since the Paper Kings defeated the Thunderbirds by a score of 7-6 at the John Rhodes Community Centre back on Sunday, February 12.
“We know we didn’t play our best the last time we played against Espanola, but we know if we stick to our game plan and control the game and make the simple plays, we’ll definitely have a stronger outing against them,” Truchan said.
GOING TO THE POSTSEASON
Thanks to the Blind River Beavers 6-3 victory over the Soo Eagles back on Monday, February 20, the Soo Thunderbirds have now clinched a playoff spot.
The Thunderbirds are the third team in the NOJHL’s West Division to clinch a playoff spot, joining the Greater Sudbury Cubs and the Blind River Beavers.
(Photo credit to Justin Cairns)