By Matt Stefano
After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Rayside Balfour Canadians last Saturday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre, the Soo Thunderbirds were looking to get back on the winning track on Friday night as they were in Espanola to take on the Express.
Friday night’s game also marked the Thunderbirds final game before the Christmas Break and the New Year.
The Thunderbirds concluded the year 2018 with a win on Friday night as they defeated the Express by a score of 4-1 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
Rookie defenceman Nate Medaglia, who entered Friday night’s contest with one goal and five assists, opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds with his second goal of the season just 1:22 into the first, putting the Soo up 1-0.
Spencer Van Tiem and Max Techel would draw the assists on Medaglia’s tally.
Thunderbirds leading scorer Lucas Theriault scored his twenty third goal of the season on the power play just over two minutes later from Noah Boman and Steven Bellini, putting the Thunderbirds up 2-0 after twenty minutes of action.
The Thunderbirds would go up 3-0 at the 8:38 mark of the second, courtesy of Noah Boman’s thirteenth goal of the season.
Defenceman Tristan Cicchello and goaltender William Anderson would draw the assists on Boman’s tally.
Express defenceman Jace Pitawanakwat would then get his club on the board with his first goal of the season from Bret McInall and Nelson Manguereka, cutting the Thunderbirds lead to 3-1 after forty minutes of play.
The only goal in the third period came off the stick of Thunderbirds forward Lucas Theriault, who notched his second goal of the game and twenty fourth goal of the season from Kobe Seguin and Tanner Mayne at 6:45, giving the Soo a three-goal cushion.
The Thunderbirds went one for four on the power play on Friday night while going a perfect six for six on the penalty kill.
Express goaltender Andrew Rocha gave up four goals on thirty one shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder William Anderson made twenty nine stops for the victory.
With the win, the Thunderbirds have the year 2018 with a record of 25 wins, 7 losses and 1 shootout loss, good for 51 points and first overall in the NOJHL standings.
They will also enter the New Year with the least goals against (89) in the entire NOJHL.
Next action for the Thunderbirds will be Friday, January 4th, when they visit Elliot Lake to take on the Wildcats.
(Photo of Lucas Theriault credit to Rod Aubertin/www.ssmphotos.com)