On September 15th at the John Rhodes Centre in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in Northern Ontario Ontario Junior Hockey League action, the (2 – 1) Soo Thunderbirds hit the ice for their first home game of the 2017 – 2018 NOJHL season against the (2 – 0) Blind River Beavers.
Blind River veteran Caleb Serre found the back of Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon’s net at 3:17 of the opening period to give the Beavers a 1 – 0 lead with Max Khull and Ryan Nielson adding the assists on Serre’s power play marker. Veteran Thunderbird forward Nick Smith evens the game 1 – 1 at the 6:11 mark of the period with a pass from rookie Bradon Caruso. With 1:45 left in the period, Beaver Owen Robinson sends Blind River into the first intermission up 2 – 1. Jacob Papesh had the helper on Robinson’s goal.
Ryan Cullen increases the visitors lead to 3 – 1 at 5:38 of the middle stanza to bring the game to 3 – 1. Steven Khull and Nielson notched the contributors on Cullens goal. The Soo’s Noah Solinger pulls the hosts within one at 7:45 of the third on a Thunderbird power play with a pair of veterans Kaidan McDonald and Nick Smith drawing the assists on Solinger’s goal. With a scramble in front Beaver rookie netminder Garret Boyonski, Alex Acosta finds the back of Blind River’s net to tie the game 3 – 3. Nicolas Case had the lone helper on Acosta’s goal at 17:32 of the final period.
With the Beavers on a power play in the first overtime, veteran forward Steven Khull registers the game winner for Beavers with cousin Max Khull and Nick Richards setting up Khull’s goal 2:28 into overtime. Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon turns away 28 of 32 shots in the Soo’s 4 – 3 overtime loss while Boyonski stopped 32 of 35 shots in his second win in a Blind River jersey.
Beaver coach Kyle Brick told Saultsports that “we definitely got the result we were looking for, not overly happy with our compete level tonight, but we got the two points and that’s all that matters. The Thunderbirds are a good hockey team and when you give them chances they capitalize. Like them we’re also short handed right now, I think this is going to be a great series down the stretch.”
The (2 – 2) Thunderbirds will now host the (3 – 0) Powassan Voodoos on September 16th at the John Rhodes Centre on September 16th in a 7:30 p.m puck drop.