In Chelmsford, Ontario on November 23rd, the second place (16-7-2) Soo Thunderbirds hit the ice to face the third place (16-7-0-1) Rayside Balfour Canadians in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action. The Thunderbirds sat one point ahead on the Canadians in the west division with the Canadians having one game in hand. In their last meeting back on November 18th in Sault Ste Marie, the Canadians fell to the Thunderbirds in a 5 – 2 loss.
Andre Frappier fired the opening goal behind Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon 1:41 into the first period to give Rayside Balfour a 1 – 0 lead. Jacob Partridge and Taylor Woolcott adding the assists on Frappier’s goal. Veteran forward Mark Tassone evens the game 1 – 1 at 5:09 of the period with his third of the season. Nick Smith and defenseman Austin Heinrich drew the helpers on Tassone’s goal. Camaryn Baber and Steven Bellini set up Tassone’s go – ahead power play goal at 7:37 of the first to give the Soo a 2 – 1 lead.
James White scores the tying goal for Rayside Balfour at 15:51 of the first with Evan Krassey and Matthew Neault registering the contributors on White’s goal. Scoring his second of the season and giving the Thunderbirds a 3 – 2 win with Tristan Cicchello finding the back of Canadian netminder Mackenize Savard’s net at 3:05 of the middle stanza. Brendan Miller and Nolan Ford notched the assists on Cicchello’s goal. Brandon Gordon turned away 16 of 18 shots in the Soo’s 3 – 2 win. With the win, the Soo moves into first place in the west with a one point lead over the Blind River Beavers.
Thunderbird coach John Parco told Saultsports.com that “tonight’s game was a great team win. We played a solid defensive game in our win over the Canadians along with goaltender Brandon Gordon having a solid game as usual.”
The first place (17-7-0-1) Thunderbirds will now head to Espanola on November 26th to meet the twelfth place (1-24) Express in a 2:00 p.m NOJHL afternoon matinee.