By Matt Stefano
On Friday night, the Soo Thunderbirds played their second game of a home and home series against the Rayside Balfour Canadians at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
After defeating the Canadians 5-3 at Chelmsford Arena on Thursday night, the Thunderbirds returned home on Friday night looking to sweep the home and home series.
Braden Robbins scored on the team’s first shot on goal at the 4:09 mark of the first period and added an assist to lead the Thunderbirds to a 3-2 victory over the Rayside Balfour Canadians on Friday night at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
“It feels great,” said Robbins. “We’re glad to get back to back wins against Rayside under our belt to give us some distance. We just played a really simple team game and it just came easy for me.”
Rookie forwards Lucas Theriault and Brendan Miller had the other goals for the Thunderbirds while Bradon Caruso, Nick Smith and Mark Tassone all chipped in with one assist each.
“It was a real character win for our guys tonight and we didn’t get home until about 2:30 a.m. last night,” said Thunderbirds associate coach Toots Kovacs. “We played a tough one today and the boys should be really proud with the way they played. They played against a bigger, stronger and rougher team, but our skill came through.”
Friday night saw a lot of the special teams go to work as the Thunderbirds went 0 for 9 on the man advantage while going 5 for 7 on the penalty kill.
“I think when we play Rayside it’s always a battle,” continued Kovacs. “No matter if Sault Ste. Marie plays them in Bocce, lawn darts or hockey, it’s just that kind of game.”
With the win, the Thunderbirds have now extending their winning streak to 8 games and are also the first team in the NOJHL to reach 8 consecutive victories.
“The boys have bought in to JP’s (John Parco) system,” said Kovacs. “They play the game very hard , they play very smart and it’s a real pleasure to be able to coach this group of kids. I haven’t enjoyed coming to the rink this much in years.”
Following Brandon Gordon’s 31 save performance on Thursday night against Rayside Balfour at Chelmsford Arena, the Thunderbirds decided to give rookie goaltender Eric Schuch the start in goal on Friday night for the second game of the home and home series.
Schuch made 31 saves of his own on Friday night in the Thunderbirds 3-2 victory over the Canadians.
“The boys have confidence in Schucher (Eric Schuch),” concluded Kovacs. “We have a really good tandem and we can go with any one of those guys in any game and any situation.”
Noah Serre and James White had a power play goal each for the Canadians while Jordan Spadafore, Ethan Lavallee, Jacob Patridge and Ryan O’Bonsawin had an assist each.
Canadians goaltender Brayden Lachance gave up 3 goals on 33 shots in the loss.
The Thunderbirds will be back in action on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. against their International Bridge rivals, the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
THUNDERBIRDS TO HONOUR DOAN
For Saturday night’s game against the Soo Eagles, fans are asked to be in their seats before 7:30 p.m. as the team will retire the late Michael Doan’s number.
Doan, a former goaltender, played one season with the Soo Thunderbirds in 2010-2011 and lost his life in a single vehicle accident this past summer in Rochester, Minnesota.