The Soo Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles were back in action on March 18th heading into game two of the west division quarter final at the John Rhodes Centre with the Eagles leading the best of seven series 1 – 0 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League post season match – up.
2:23 into the opening period, Eagle Jake Saxton found the back of Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon’s net to give the visitors a 1 – 0 lead with Jake Cimarusti and Chris Murphy adding the assists on Saxton’s third of the post season. Zach Senecal evens the game 1 – 1 for the Thunderbirds at 14:41 of the first with Austin Kozluk and Alec Allen drawing the contributors on Senecal’s third of the playoffs. Scoring his first of the post season at 16:01 of the first, Jacob Palmerio finds the back of the net to sink the go – ahead goal for the Eagles with Bradley Hofelich and William Casey setting up Palmerio’s goal.
On a power play 43 seconds past the halfway mark of the middle stanza, Hofelich brings the lead to 3 – 1 for the Eagles with forward Chris Murphy and defenseman Nick Trecroce adding the helpers. With two minutes left in the period, Thunderbird rookie Keegan Stevenson finds the back of Eagle netminder Kade Phipps’ net for his first junior ‘A’ career post season goal to pull the hosts within one and send the game into the second intermission 3 – 2. Mark Tassone and Mike Winn notching the contributors. Stevenson registers his second point of the contest 5:45 into the third on a Greg Smith goal for the Thunderbirds. At 13:13 of the final period, Eagle Cimarusti finds the back of the Thunderbirds net to give the visitors a 4 – 3 win. Murphy and Saxton had the helpers on Cimarusti’s game winner. Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon had 28 saves while Eagle netminder Kade Phipps made 37 saves in game two of the quarter – final.
After their second straight loss, Thunderbird coach Jordan Smith told Saultsports.com that “we need to elevate our play in all areas if we hope to win. Man to a man we need to be better and I have all the confidence in my team that we will do just that”.
“Just a great effort from a team that’s had a grueling week and a half of hockey. Thought we got a little tired in the third but found a way to get the winner. Some guys that normally don’t see lots of ice made big contributions tonight. Billy Nichol and Rhett Rampinelli were really good and Jake Cimarusti got the winner. We will enjoy a couple days off, get healthy and get ready for another battle. It is important for us to remember that it takes 4 games to win a series and we are only half way there” said Eagle coach Jim Capy.
The Eagles will take their 2 – 0 series lead back over the St. Mary’s River into game three on March 22nd at the Pullar Stadium in a 7:00 p.m start.
Check out game two Soo Thundebirds vs Soo Eagles photo gallery (coming soon).