Photos: Justin Cairns
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Soo Eagles answered back from an early three-goal deficit before eventually rallying past the Soo Thunderbirds 5-4 in overtime Saturday evening in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at Pullar Stadium.
The rivalry between the two cross-border clubs saw the visiting Thunderbirds strike quickly after Daniel Beaupre chipped a play out of his zone, then darted down the right wing before sending a passing over to Samuel Lake, who went to the net and fired a high short side shot over the shoulder of Eagles’ starter Anthony Zolezzi, just 22 seconds into the contest.
A fortuitous break then gave the T-Birds a 2-0 lead at 5:11 when an Eagles defender tried to send the puck around the boards, but saw it take a funny hop off the end boards and had it come out and clip off the skate of Zolezzi and bounce in, with Beaupre being the last T-Birds player to touch it.
It was more from Lake midway through the frame as he finished off a solid forecheck from Beaupre and James Legler and converted from in close.
A goal-filled middle frame saw four markers provided in under a 10-minute span, including three by the home side.
Getting one back during a man advantage, five minutes into the second stanza, Benjamin Pouliot fired a low attempt towards the target from the point that was steered in by Jack Ohlund, who was stationed to the left of Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Connor Hatfield.
They then made it 3-2 at 11:05 thanks to Lucas Caulfield’s initial league tally as he knocked down a pass attempt then dashed down the ice on a breakaway and pumped one over the blocker of Hatfield.
Answering right back though, Legler connected after a close play at the blueline and eventually saw him fire a shot by Zolezzi.
Pulling back to within one, Caulfield connected again before the intermission while falling and eventually jamming in his second of the period.
Moving to the third, the score remained 4-3 until late in regulation, when the Eagles pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker and were rewarded with an equalizer off some hard work along the end boards.
There, Paweski worked the play in front where Nolan Hendry whipped in the tying tally upstairs with 59 seconds to go with an attempt from the left side.
Heading to overtime, the hosts completed the comeback deep into the extra session as Paweski drove hard down the left wing then moved to the middle and fired a shot that was partially deflected off a Thunderbirds’ stick and sailed into the top left hand corner to end it.
The win sees the Eagles win for the fourth time in five outings, while getting a point in the other, and improving to 4-2-0-1 overall.
In defeat, the Thunderbirds fell to 3-3-2-1.