After a 3 – 1 win on the road in Blind River, Ontario on December 2nd over the Beavers, the (19-7-2) first place Soo Thunderbirds returned to west division action in an afternoon matinee on December 3th in Sault Ste Marie against the (1-26-1) sixth place Espanola Express in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action.
At 17:02 of the first and on a Thunderbird power play, veteran forward Mark Tassone sinks the Soo’s first of the game with Nick Smith and Steven Bellini drawing the contributors on Tassone’s sixth of the 2017 – 2018 season. 1:54 into the middle stanza, Brendan Miller sinks the Soo’s second of the game with his fourth of the season with Noah Solinger and Kaidan McDonald adding the assists on the Thunderbirds rookie’s goal. 19 seconds before the halfway mark of the second, Makenize MacMillan fires a pass to Joel Grandbois to pull the Express within one at the 9:41 mark of the period for Espanola.
With the Soo shorthanded at 15:12 of the period, Noah Solinger sinks his seventh of the season with a Thunderbird unassisted goal to bring the lead to 3 – 1. With 1:11 remaining in the period, Robert Calisti sends the visitors into the second intermission up 4 – 1 with defenseman Steven Bellini notching the assist on Calisti’s second of the season. Rookie Tanner Mayne scores the Soo’s fifth of the game 3:28 into the final period with Lucas Theriault and Alex Acosta setting up Mayne’s fifth of the season on a Soo power play. Matthew Reynolds pulls the Express within three at the 8:34 mark of the third. Logan Fennema and Tristan Poissant drew the contributors on Espanola’s second of the contest. At 14:06 of the Thunderbirds shorthanded, Calisti scores his second of the game with a pass from Camaryn Baber to bring the lead to 6 – 2. Baber and Tassone set up Tristan Cicchello’s third of the season with 2:39 remaining in the game to give the Thunderbirds a 7 – 2 win over the Express. The Soo’s Eric Schuch made 19 saves in Thunderbirds 20th win of the 2017 – 2018 season.
“The boys played hard, and we got the win. It is important not to overlook the opponent and I thought we did a good job of that. Now we are moving on and focusing on the weekend coming up” said Thunderbird captain Ryan Mulligan.
The Thunderbirds will now head back out of the road on December 7th for a Thursday evening match – up in Chelmsford against the Rayside Balfour Canadians in a 7:00 p.m start.