NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
NOJHL NETWORK MEDIA UPDATE
Release Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017
Meininger supplies double OT winner as Eagles upend Thunderbirds
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Soo Eagles captain Matt Meininger’s goal 1:25 into the second overtime allowed his side to surprise the Soo Thunderbirds 4-3 Thursday in the opening game of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Still riding high after their West quarter-final triumph over Elliot Lake, the Eagles built on that momentum by striking twice in to grab a 2-0 lead after one period of play in Thursday’s contest on markers from Adam Ostrowski and Brent Jones.
The Thunderbirds regrouped in the first intermission and came out quickly to begin the middle stanza by getting on the board on a Zach Senecal effort at 2:24.
After successfully killing off three straight penalties later in the frame, the home side drew level in the final minute thanks to Keenan Eddy’s first of the postseason with 54 seconds left in the session.
Taking advantage of a power play opportunity midway through the third, the T-Birds took their first lead of the night as team captain Matt Caruso saucered a pass to Senecal in the slot who in turn snapped a quick shot towards the goal that ricocheted off an Eagles’ defender and in.
Up a man in the latter stages of regulation, the Eagles notched the equalizer after moving the puck around nicely before firing it in front of the goal where Jake Saxton was credited with the tying tally at 18:06.
A free-wheeling first OT saw both clubs trade quality chances only to be denied by netminders Brandon Gordon of the Thunderbirds and the Eagles’ Kade Phipps.
The visiting Eagles then pulled out the win early in the second OT as Meininger pinched in from his defensive position at the point and took a feed into the middle of the face-off circles and proceeded bury the game-winner that Gordon could only get a piece of before in entered the net to end it.
Roman Gaudet assisted on the final two tallies of the night for the Michigan Soo.
Phipps finished with 33 saves in the Eagles’ third overtime contest in succession, early in the NOJHL playoffs.
Gordan faced 41 shots in defeat for the Thunderbirds, who suffered their first setback in their past 17 outings.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven goes Saturday at 7 p.m. back at John Rhodes.
West Division semifinal (Series E)
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 4 Soo Eagles
Eagles lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Eagles 4 Thunderbirds 3 (2OT)
Game 2: Saturday, March 18 @ Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 3: Wednesday, March 22 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 4: Friday, March 24 @ Eagles 7:30 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 25 @ Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 6*: Monday, March 27 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 29 @ Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
*- if necessary
Photos by James Egan’s Sports Photography