By Matt Stefano
After having their home game against the Espanola Express postponed back on January 18th due to inclement weather, the Soo Thunderbirds played their makeup game against them on Tuesday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
Tuesday night’s game also marked the 100th career regular season game for Thunderbirds forward Avery Rebek.
After trailing 1-0 after twenty minutes of action, the Thunderbirds came back to score two unanswered goals, including one in the second and one in the third, as they went on to defeat the Espanola Express by a score of 2-1.
“I thought we played a good game,” said Thunderbirds rookie forward Jake Kovacs. “We started off a little slow and we weren’t really playing our game. But in the last ten minutes of the first period, we started picking it up and we just got pucks deep and forced their defence and turned the puck over.”
Express captain and NOJHL’s top scoring defenceman Mattias Salem opened the scoring with his team leading 16th goal of the season at the 6:56 mark of the first period from Lukas Lyszyk and A.J. Favot, which put his club up 1-0 after the first period.
After being named first star of the game in his last two contests, Thunderbirds rookie forward Tyler Savard tied things up at one with his 14th goal of the season from Mackenzie Walkington and Avery Rebek at the 16:57 mark of the second period.
Thunderbirds forward Rylan Clemons would then score his 12th goal of the season just 4:48 into the third period from Jake Kovacs and Warner Young, giving the Soo a 2-1 lead.
Kovacs, who had an assist on the goal by Clemons, gave himself his 40th point of the season.
The 16 year old also became the first Thunderbird rookie to record 40 points in a regular season since Camaryn Baber did back in 2017-2018.
“It feels amazing,” said Kovacs. “I worked really hard all season to get to this point and I’m just going to keep working hard the rest of the season.”
Express goaltender Joel Rainville gave up 2 goals on 41 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Dakota Meyer made 32 saves for the victory.
Meyer was also named the Subway First Star of the Game.
“Dakota played an unreal game,” said Kovacs. “He was really good tracking the puck and making those saves.”
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the last place Elliot Lake Wildcats at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
“We are just going to carry the game that we played tonight (Tuesday) over to Wednesday,” concluded Kovacs. “We are just going to get pucks deep, work hard and force their defence. We just have to pressure them and hopefully we’ll get the win.”
(Photo by Bob Davies)