By Matt Stefano
After picking up back to back victories on home ice against the Espanola Express and outscoring them 13-3 overall, the Soo Thunderbirds hit the road to Espanola for a rare Saturday afternoon game against the Express at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
Saturday afternoon’s game was also the third straight meeting between these two clubs.
A late power play goal in the third period by Express forward Cameron Walker proved to be the game-winner as the Express went on to defeat the Soo Thunderbirds by a score of 4-3.
The Express took a 1-0 lead on the power play at the 12:54 mark of the first period, courtesy of Cameron Walker’s fourth goal of the season from Brad Brunet and Devon Savignac.
Just 2:32 after Walker’s goal, it would then be Colton Wiacek getting his first goal (unassisted) of the season, putting the Express up 2-0.
The Soo would then cut Espanola’s lead to 2-1 with just 32 ticks left to go in the opening period, courtesy of rookie forward Tyson Doucette’s second goal of the season from Cameron Dutkiewicz and Parker Morgan.
The Soo trailed Espanola 2-1 after twenty minutes of play.
The Thunderbirds also dominated on the shot clock in the first period for the third straight game, outshooting the Express 18-13.
The Express then outshot the Thunderbirds 13-12 in the second period, but neither team would find the back of the net.
With the Soo on a penalty kill at the start of the third period, it would be Thunderbirds forward Parker Morgan getting a shorthanded tally just 19 ticks into the third from Tyson Doucette, which tied the game up at two.
Morgan’s shorthanded tally also gave the Thunderbirds back to back shorthanded goals in back to back road games.
The Thunderbirds would then get a power play goal just 2:08 later as defenceman Cameron Dutkiewicz would notch his second goal of the season from Michael Chaffay and Connor Toms, giving the Soo a 3-2 lead.
Then, at the 11:48 mark of the third period, it would be Express forward and Kingston Frontenacs 2019 9th round pick Cameron Walker getting his second goal of the game and fifth goal of the season from Josh Boucher and Liam Serviss, tying the game up at three.
With the Thunderbirds down a man late in the third period, it would then be Express forward Cameron Walker getting his first career hat trick on the power play from James Eng, making the score 4-3.
Walker’s third goal of the game came with just 34 ticks to go in regulation time.
Thunderbirds goaltender Scott Young earned himself the third star of the game, making 39 saves in the loss.
Express rookie netminder Luke Beally made 42 saves for his first NOJHL win.
The Soo will now be back in action on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. for their fourth straight meeting against the Espanola Express at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
(Photo of Espanola Express forward Cameron Walker)