In the fourth west division semi – final game in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan at the Pullar Stadium on March 24th, the Soo Eagles hit the ice leading the series 3 – 0 when they met their cross border rivals, the west division champions, the Soo Thunderbirds.
Wyatt Villalta sank the opening goal for the Thunderbirds at 18:05 of the first with forwards Keegan Stevenson and Austin Kozluk drawing the assists on Villalta’s first goal of the post – season. Chris Lutz evens the game for the Eagles at 19:18 of the period to send the game into the first intermission tied at 1 – 1. Nate Harris and Adam Ostrowski set up Lutz tying goal. 3:57 of the second, the Thunderbirds took a 2 – 1 lead with Alec Allen sinking his first of the play – offs with Kozluk and Stevenson adding the contributors on Allen’s goal.
Scoring his second of the contest 3:13 into the third was Eagle Jacob Palmerio finding the back of net for second time this post – season. Rhett Rampinelli and Gianni Vitali had the helpers on Palmerio’s goal. Chris Murphy cements the win with fourth goal for the Eagles at 6:36 of the third with Jake Saxton and Nick Trecroce adding the assists on Murphy’s shorthanded goal. Netminder Kade Phipps stopped 17 of 19 shots in the Eagles 4 – 2 win while Thunderbird goaltender Dougie Newhouse turned away 29 of 33 shots in the loss in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.
“It was probably the most evenly played 4 game sweep you could see. There was nothing easy about this series. We just seemed to find ways to win. Tonight we fall behind a couple times and had a good push back to stay in the game. Full credit to our penalty kill which was outstanding the entire series. We will take a couple well deserved days off and start preparing for our next opponent” said Eagle coach Jim Capy.
With eliminating the Thunderbirds, the Eagles will now wait for the winners of the west division semi – final between the Blind River Beavers and the Rayside Balfour Canadians that is even at 2 – 2.