By Matt Stefano
On Wednesday night, two Soos from two different countries came together to square off in game 7 of the NOJHL West Division semifinal series at the John Rhodes.
And at the end of the night, one side of the border survived, but the other one didn’t.
On Wednesday night, the Soo Thunderbirds defeated their cross-border rivals, the Soo Eagles by a score of 3-2 at the John Rhodes Community Centre and have eliminated the Eagles 4-3 in the best of seven semifinal series.
The Thunderbirds, who trailed 3-1 in the series, also came back with three straight wins.
“We just came back with a lot of character,” said Thunderbirds head coach John Parco. “This group is determined and they wanted to keep playing hockey. Working hard to play hockey this year was just too early to stop.”
Wednesday night also marked the first time ever that the Thunderbirds got to have a game 7 on home ice.
“It was a really, really good feeling,” continued Parco. “I’m more happy for the fans. They got to see a good hockey game. Our boys really gave everything they had.”
The Thunderbirds will now move on to the NOJHL’s West Division final series against the Rayside Balfour Canadians, who finished three points ahead of them in the West Division standings.
“We don’t have a lot of time, we go there Friday,” concluded Parco. “We’ve played them enough times all year and we know what kind of team they are. We’ll meet on Thursday to talk about Rayside and come up with some strategies.”
Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith was named the Subway first star of the game, scoring once and setting up another in Wednesday night’s victory.
“It was crazy,” said Smith. “The guys showed so much character in the room. It was phenomenal to win this game after being down 3-1 in the series.”
Smith’s goal at the 12:41 mark of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie, and also gave the Thunderbirds their first lead of the game.
“It was unreal” concluded Smith. “It felt great. I tried that shot a couple times in this series, but today it went in.”
Thunderbirds defenceman Robert Calisti, who scored the game winning goal in game 6 back on Monday night at the Pullar Stadium, had a big night offensively in game 7 on Wednesday night, scoring once and setting up another.
Mark Tassone also had a multi point game for the Thunderbirds on Wedesnday night, setting up a pair of goals for the win.
Spencer Van Tiem had a power play goal for the Thunderbirds while Bradon Caruso and Kaidan McDonald had an assist each.
Jacob Palmerio and Hayden Clark had a power play goal each for the Eagles while assists went to Austin Rowe and William Casey.
Carter McPhail gave up 3 goals on 22 shots in his third straight loss in net for the Eagles while Thunderbirds rookie netminder Eric Schuch made 31 saves for his third consecutive victory.
Game 1 of the West Division final series between the Soo Thunderbirds and Rayside Balfour Canadians will begin this Friday at 7:00 p.m. from the Chelmsford Arena.
First, to the blue and white!
The Sudbury Wolves did not make the Ontario Hockey League postseason this year, but one former Soo Thunderbird got some recognition.
On March 12th, the Sudbury Wolves held their annual year end team awards banquet for the 2017-2018 regular season, and one former Thunderbird took home two awards.
Drake Pilon was the named the Wolves Most Valuable Player and had the top plus minus on the team.
And now to our red and white!
Former Soo Thunderbirds forward Boris Katchouk recorded his first career Ontario Hockey League playoff hat trick on Wednesday night to lead the Soo Greyhounds to a 5-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit in game 4 of the West Division quarterfinal series.
The Hounds have swept the Spirit in four straight!
(Photo credit to Riley Smith)