SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Getting goals from eight different players, the Soo Eagles went on to eventually cruise past the French River Rapids 9-4 Tuesday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at Pullar Stadium.
Sault Ste. Marie started well after picking up the night’s initial power play when Hunter Friesen went to the net and lifted a backhand over French River starter Ben Gustafson 2:18 into the contest.
Adding another just under six minutes later, the Eagles converted at even strength with Teig Driessen finishing off a cross-crease feed from Jack Mortson.
The Soo clicked again with the man advantage, early in the middle session, when Alex Freund took a drop pass from Chase Tallaire then put one upstairs off a sharp angle to the left of Gustafson.
Continuing to apply pressure, the home side went up by four at 5:48 thanks to Jack Paweski, who scored for a third straight outing, as he was allowed to skate in unchallenged before sliding his chance into the open side.
It was more from the Eagles a minute and a half later as Mortson drove to the net from the left wing, then made a little head fake, prior to tucking in his team-leading 31st tally of the campaign.
This also resulted in the visitors making a goaltending change as Brady Dyer came in and went the rest of the way.
French River eventually solved Soo goalkeeper Logan Raffaele later in the period with Josh Russell and Matthew Campanella both finding the back of the net less than a minute apart.
Russell’s marker came as he tapped in a loose puck that could not be controlled off a Connor Picard shot while Campanella’s goal saw him bury a pass across from teammate Abram Snider.
Countering, the Eagles notched two of their own in rapid succession with Tallaire moving in and neatly picking the right-hand corner and Michael Starzomski replying with a shot from inside the blueline.
In the final frame, the hosts picked up an eighth on the night when Gavin Rozema finished off a Coby Fox set-up from between the circles.
Mortson then added to romp with his second of the evening as a Tallaire set-up sent him in front where he notched his 32nd overall with a close-range connection.
The Rapids then saw a shot hit the skate of Campanella and elude Raffaele while on the power play before French River’s Nolan Masson picked up his first NOJHL goal in the final moments by striking on a late odd-man rush to cap off the scoring.
Looking to finish their season strong, the Eagles won their fourth straight game, improving to 25-26-4-1 on the campaign.
With the loss, the Rapids dropped to 8-46-2-1 overall.