SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Soo Eagles rode the shutout goaltending of Carter McPhail and picked up a goal and two assists off the stick of Austin Rowe to propel them to a 3-0 shutout of the Soo Thunderbirds Wednesday evening in Game 3 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at Pullar Stadium.
The win now gives the Eagles a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven match-up heading into Game 4, which goes Friday at 7:30 p.m. back at Pullar Stadium.
The Eagles got off to the start they wanted as they opened the scoring 2:25 into the contest as Gianni Vitalli stuffed in his second of the series from the side as he finished off the rebound of a Kellen Tharaldson point shot.
It stayed that way until 8:31 of the middle session when the Eagles extended their cushion when Brendan Blair let one go from the right point that found its way through the legs of Brandon Gordon in the Thunderbirds net.
Rowe then added some insurance midway through the final frame when a Thunderbirds’ defender lost his footing, which allowed the Eagles’ forward to skate in alone on Gordon and score to cap off the night’s scoring.
McPhail finished with 30 saves to record the win.
Gordon faced 27 shots in defeat while Eric Schuch handled both attempts he saw in relief.
West Division semifinal
No. 2 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 3 Soo Eagles
Eagles leads best-of-seven series 2-1
Game 1: Thunderbirds 4 Eagles 3 (OT)
Game 2: Eagles 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 3: Eagles 3 Thunderbirds 0
Game 4: Friday, March 23 @ Eagles 7:30 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 5: Saturday, March 24 @ Thunderbirds 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 6*: Monday, March 26 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game7*: Wednesday, March 28 @ Thunderbirds 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
*- if necessary