By Matt Stefano
Wednesday night hockey takes place tonight at the John Rhodes Community Centre as the Soo Thunderbirds will take on the Espanola Express at 7:00 p.m.
The Thunderbirds enter tonight’s game with a record of 21 wins, 13 losses, 2 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses, good for 47 points and third place in the NOJHL’s West Division.
The Express currently sit in fifth place in the NOJHL’s West Division with a record of 10 wins, 21 losses, 3 overtime losses and 1 shootout loss, good for only 24 points.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
The last time these two clubs met was back on Friday, January 3rd, when the Thunderbirds defeated the Express by a score of 5-4 in overtime at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex in Espanola.
Thunderbirds leading goal scorer Jake Kovacs scored the overtime goal and set up another while goaltender Dakota Meyer made 26 saves for the victory.
Express captain and NOJHL’s top scoring defenceman Mattias Salem a pair of goals that night, including one on the power play.
CAN’T KILL IT OFF
The Express enter tonight’s game with the worst penalty kill in the entire league, operating at 74.1%.
SAVY SETTING THEM UP
Thunderbirds rookie forward and Soo Greyhounds 2019 eleventh round pick Tyler Savard currently leads all NOJHL rookies in assists with 22.
ON THE BACK END
Entering tonight’s game, Express defenceman Mattias Salem leads all NOJHL blueliners in goals (13), points (45) and power play assists (14).
Salem, who has 70 career points, is currently the club’s all-time points leader.
SAMMY BETWEEN THE PIPES
After coming off his season best 43 save performance in Sunday afternoon’s 2-1 victory over the Timmins Rock, Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Evola has been named one of this week’s NOJHL Eastlink TV Three Stars of the Week.
Since signing with the Thunderbirds in early December, Evola has posted a 1.73 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.
In four games played with the Soo this season, the Rochester, Michigan native has a record of 3 wins and 1 loss along with 1 shutout.
After trading co-captain Nick Smith to the Leamington Flyers last Friday, the Thunderbirds have named defenceman Nolan Ford as the team’s head captain.
(This Thunderbirds game preview is sponsored by Giovanni’s Restaurant)
(Photo by Bob Davies)