In west division action, the (6 – 2 – 1) Soo Thunderbirds hit the road for a mid – week matchup on Wednesday October 5th in Chelmsford, Ontario to face the (5 – 3) Rayside Balfour Canadians in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 4 – 2 win over their cross border rivals, the Soo Eagles on September 30th in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
Jordan Spadafore and Andre Frappier had the assists on the opening goal at 17:41of the first on James White’s goal to give the Canadians a 1 – 0 lead. Darcy Winkler finds the back of Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon’s net 58 seconds past the halfway mark of the middle stanza with Brandon Atkins and Jett Leishman adding the helpers on Winkler’s goal. Sinking his second of the season, Braden Robbins pulls the Soo within one at the 12:38 mark of the period with Alex Acosta and Austin Heinrich drawing the contributors. With 2:10 left in the period, Tyler Malpass scores his first of the season to send the visitors into the second intermission even at 2 – 2. Rookie Camaryn Baber registered the lone assist on Malpass’ goal.
2:12 into the final period, Leishman finds Winkler to give Rayside Balfour a 3 – 2 lead for the Canadians. Winkler notches his third point of the game with the 17 year old forward adding the helper at 13:46 of the period to bring the Canadians lead to 4 – 2. Kaidan MacDonald and Noah Solinger had the contributors on Nick Smith’s fifth of the season at 18:29 of the third. Brandon Gordon stopped 31 of 35 shots in the Thunderbirds 4 – 3 loss.
After the loss to the Canadians, captain Ryan Mulligan told Saultsports that “we have to come ready to play right from the puck drop. We have to play a full 60 minutes hard and not take any shifts off. We also just need to capitalize on a couple more chances when we face the Wildcats on Saturday evening on home ice.”
The Thunderbirds will host the Elliot Lake Wildcats on October 7th at the John Rhodes Centre in a 7:30 p.m puck drop.