With the 2016 defending champions, the Soo Thunderbirds down 0 – 2 heading into game three of a west division semi – final against the Soo Eagles at the Pullar Stadium on March 22nd in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action.
At 4:20 of the opening period, Chris Lutz gives the Eagles a 1 – 0 lead with a goal behind Thunderbird goaltender Brandon Gordon. Gianni Vitali and William Nichol had the helpers on Lutz’s second of the post – season. Jake Behse finds Thunderbird forward Zach Senecal at 16:38 of the first to even the game 1 – 1. Ten seconds past the halfway mark of the middle stanza, Chris Murphy gives the hosts a 2 – 1 lead with his first of the 2017 play – offs. Jake Cimarusti and Jake Saxton added the assists on Murphy’s goal – ahead goal. Sean Emmerson fires the Thunderbirds tying goal the 15:27 mark of the second with Austin Kozluk and Ryan Mulligan drawing the contributors.
Bradley Hofelich brings the Eagles lead to 3 – 2 at 7:18 of the third on his second of the post – season with Nick Trecroce and Jacob Palmerio setting up Hofelich’s goal. Eagle netminder Kae Phipps turned away 46 of 48 shots while Thunderbird goaltender Gordon stopped 39 of 42 in the Thunderbirds 3 – 2 loss in game three.
“We need to be more desperate and find a way to win the game. Just need to win one” said Thunderbird coach Jordan Smith.
Coach Jim Capy of the Soo Eagles told Saultsports.com that “we had the start we were looking for. We knew they would come out hard! A couple missed assignments cost us a couple goals but overall I was pleased with our compete. We are finding ways to win close games and that’s what good teams need to do. Game four will be the toughest game of the series. I’m sure the two time defending champions will not go down without a fight so we must be prepared!”
The Thunderbirds will return across the St Mary’s River to face the Eagles in a 7:30 p.m puck drop in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan at the Pullar Stadium for a game four match – up.