By Matt Stefano
After doubling up the French River Rapids by a score of 4-2 back on Sunday night in French River, the Soo Thunderbirds were back on home ice for their first home game of 2019 as they took on the Espanola Express.
The Thunderbirds, who usually play their home games at the John Rhodes Community Centre, played their first home game of the new year at the newly named GFL Memorial Gardens on Thursday night and defeated the Espanola Express by a score of 4-1.
“It’s a cool experience to play here (GFL Memorial Gardens) with so much history with the Greyhounds,” said Thunderbirds forward Spencer Van Tiem. “The guys were really excited to come into this rink and play in front of a few more fans and we got the job done.”
Van Tiem had a pair of goals for the Thunderbirds on Thursday night, including one on the power play.
“It seemed like a long time coming, because I’ve had a rough patch with hitting the posts,” continued Van Tiem. “The bounces finally came my way tonight and I was in the right spot and was lucky to get a few.”
Since being reacquired in a trade from the CCHL’s Kanata Lancers back on December 9th, Van Tiem has scored three times and set up one other in nine games played with the Thunderbirds this season.
In twenty games played last season with the Thunderbirds, the Birmingham, Michigan product scored six times and set up five others.
“It’s been unbelievable,” continued Van Tiem. “It’s much like last year when I came here to the Soo and J. P. (John Parco) has given me all the opportunity in the world to continue to develop and get ready for the next level. I think with him having the confidence in me has allowed my game to take off a lot. It’s been a real treat to be here and I’m looking forward to the run we’re going to make with this team.”
Thunderbirds forward Noah Boman, who entered Thursday night’s game second in league scoring with 18 goals and 49 points, also had a two point night for the Soo, scoring a power play goal and setting up another.
“Boman is super consistent night in and night out,” continued Van Tiem. “He’s one of our top players and it seems like he always finds his way to get on the scoresheet and he’s a guy you can definitely learn a lot from.”
Matthew Bazarin had a power play goal for the Thunderbirds on Thursday night while Gage Stephney and Brady Caruso also got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Diego Pasula had a shorthanded marker for the Express with Mitchell Lee picking up the lone assist.
Express goaltender Andrew Rocha gave up four goals on thirty four shots in the loss while Thunderbirds netminder William Anderson made sixteen saves for the victory.
The Thunderbirds will now get set to take on the Powassan Voodoos, who will make their first and only visit to the Soo this season, on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
“We know what Powassan brings,” concluded Van Tiem. “We played against them last weekend and we were able to match up against them well. As long as we come and play our game, I’m confident this team can win night in and night out.”
All people under eighteen years old can see Friday night’s game for free at the GFL Memorial Gardens!
(Photo credit to Rod Aubertin/www.ssmphotos.com)