Smith a natural in Thunderbirds win over Express

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – An impressive natural hat trick four and a half minutes apart by Nick Smith was part of a five-goal night for him as he helped send the soaring Soo Thunderbirds to their seventh straight victory, a one-sided 12-1 triumph over the Espanola Express, at John Rhodes Community Centre in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Wednesday.

Smith started his offensive outburst at 11:58 of the first period then promptly added another 34 seconds later.

He then finished off his feat at 16:30 to send the home side to the dressing room up by three after one.

It was more Thunderbirds in the middle stanza as Kaidan McDonald scored on the power play at 9:25 while Tyler Malpass connected at even strength a couple shifts later.

Another Soo man advantage that carried over into the third saw the Thunderbirds tack on another with Noah Solinger doing the damage as he also picked up his fourth point of the night adding on to three earlier assists.

The home side then proceeded to blow it open from there tacking on six more markers, including two by Smith to reach five on the night.

Also scoring for the Thunderbirds was Ryan Lawrence, Tristan Cicchello, Nicolas Case and Braden Robbins.

Espanola would dash Eric Schuch’s shutout bid with 3:18 to go as Connor Tessier connected on a power play for his fourth goal of the season to wrap up the scoring.

McDonald joined Solinger with a tally and three helpers in the romp.

Schuch finished with 14 stops to pick up the win.

Jacob Hutchings started for the Express and suffered the loss seeing 42 shots while Adam Scott saw nine attempts after entering following the eighth Soo goal.