In their third straight games at the John Rhodes Centre, the second place Soo Thunderbirds hosted the seventh place Raydside Balfour Canadians in a February 28th Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match – up.
At 4:13 of the opening period, Thunderbird captain Matt Caruso fires the first goal of the game with Ryan Mulligan and Keegan Stevenson drawing the assists on Caruso’s 26th of the season. With the Soo shorthanded at the 8:24 mark of the second period, rookie Nick Smith sends a pass to Keenan Eddy to give the Thunderbirds a 2 – 0 lead with Eddy’s 13th of the season. Five seconds past the halfway mark of the period, Evan Krassey pulls the Canadians within one with Tristan Simm and Chad Denault adding the helpers on Krassey’s power play goal. Caruso sinks his second of the contest at 13:30 of the middle stanza with Greg Smith and Austin Kozluk to give the Soo a 3 – 1 lead. With 1:50 left in the period, defenseman Mike Winn scores his second of the season to send the Thunderbirds into the second intermission up 4 – 1 with Caruso and Zach Senecal registering the contributors.
At 6:05 of the third, Kozluk finds the back of Rayside Balfour’s net with his 26th on the season to bring the lead to 5 – 1 with helper coming from Alec Allen and Greg Smith. Andre Frappier and Bryce O’Brien set up the Canadian Matt Neault for the only other goal of the game at 14:08 of the period for Rayside Balfour. Stevenson gives the Soo a 6 – 2 lead with his 11th of the season with Senecal and Mulligan adding the assists on Stevenson’s power play marker. With his 29th of the season, Senecal gives the Thunderbirds a 7 – 2 win over Rayside Balfour in Sault Ste Marie with 44 seconds left in the game. Caruso and Mark Tassone notched the assists on Senecal’s goal. Thunderbird goaltender Doug Newhouse turned away 23 of 25 shots in the Soo’s win on Tuesday evening.
The Thunderbirds will head across the St. Mary’s River on March 3rd to face their cross border rivals the Soo Eagles in a 7:30 p.m puck drop at the Pullar Stadium.