By Matt Stefano
The first game of season twenty-five is a win!
On Friday night, the Soo Thunderbirds opened up their 25th season in the NOJHL with a victory, as they doubled up their cross-border rivals the Soo Eagles by a score of 4-2 at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
After skating scoreless through the opening twenty minutes of play, the Thunderbirds then scored three times in the second period to take a 3-2 lead after two.
“After the first period, I thought we just came out in the second period with a different pace,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant captain Jackson Truchan. “We knew we had to crack down and start hitting the seams, and we did that and started burying some goals”
With the Thunderbirds on a four-minute power play at the start of the second period, the Thunderbirds then got back-to-back power play goals just 1:37 apart, thanks to power play tallies from Kelsey Ouellet and newcomer Grayson Ebrahim.
Just 27 seconds into the second period, Thunderbirds assistant captain Kelsey Ouellet notched his first goal of the season on the power play from Jackson Truchan, which gave the T-Birds a 1-0 lead.
With the Thunderbirds still on the man advantage following Ouellet’s power play tally, it would then be Thunderbirds newcomer Grayson Ebrahim getting his first goal of the season on the power play just 1:37 later from Jacob Smith and Jackson Truchan, which put the T-Birds up by a score of 2-0.
The Thunderbirds, who opened up the second period with back-to-back power play tallies, finished the game going 2-for-9 on their power play.
“We knew what we had to do on our power play in the second period, because we failed to score on our power play chances in the first, but that lengthy four-minute power play early in the second period helped us get a couple (Goals),” Truchan said.
With the Eagles on a man advantage almost seven and a half minutes into the second, it would then be Eagles forward Nolan Hendry scoring his first goal of the season on the power play at 7:26 from Jack Paweski, which cut the T-Birds lead to 2-1.
The Thunderbirds would then go back up by two goals just 2:12 later, as Thunderbirds assistant captain Jackson Truchan would then notch his first goal of the season from Candon O’Neill, which put the T-Birds up by a score of 3-1.
Truchan’s goal, also turned out to be his third point of the night and his third point of the second period.
“It’s always great coming out here and getting off to a great start in front of the home crowd,” Truchan said. “My linemates were also all in it tonight and they were feeding me in the right spots.”
Truchan, who recorded three points on Friday night (All coming in the second period), also talked about how he decided to come back to the Thunderbirds for one more season after wanting to try out for a team in the NAHL.
“After recovering from a big injury during the offseason, I was thinking about going to the NAHL to try out for the Maine Nordiques. But then Hendo (Jamie Henderson) kept reaching out to me and kept talking to me, so then I decided I should just come back to the Thunderbirds for one more season,” Truchan said.
With the Thunderbirds leading the Eagles 3-1 late in the second period, it would then be Eagles rookie forward Drew Dellies getting his first career NOJHL goal at the 16:25 mark of the second from Sutton Majeske, which cut the T-Birds lead to 3-2 heading into the third.
With Eagles goaltender Marino Ramirez on the bench late in the third period for an extra attacker, it would then be Thunderbirds forward Daniel Beaupre getting his first goal of the season into an empty net from Samuel Lake with just five seconds left to go in regulation, making the final score 4-2 for the Soo Ontario Birds.
Eagles goaltender Marino Ramirez gave up 3 goals on 29 shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder Kolton Bourret made 22 saves for the victory.
Bourret’s win on Friday night, also turned out to be his 20th career victory between the pipes.
“I thought Kolton did a great job tonight, especially in the third period,” said Truchan, whose team got out shot by the Eagles 8-5 in the final frame. “Kolton really just took over that third period all by himself and he also stayed calm in the net.”
The Thunderbirds, who opened up their regular season with a victory on Friday night, will now travel to Espanola on Saturday for a Saturday night matchup against the Espanola Paper Kings.
Puck drop for that game is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
(Photo credit to Bob Davies)