Smith’s hat trick helps Thunderbirds come back to edge Canadians

CHELMSFORD, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds picked up three goals from Nick Smith to help them pull out a 5-3 come from behind victory over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to register their seventh straight Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League victory Thursday night at Chelmsford Arena.

A late man advantage opportunity helped Rayside-Balfour notch the night’s opening tally as James White connected on the power play at 17:59 as he collected his 11th goal of the season.

Up a skater to begin the second period, Sault Ste. Marie was quick to strike with the equalizer thanks to Smith’s 21st tally of the year just 12 seconds into the frame.

The third special teams’ goal of the night allowed the Canadians to regain the lead just past the midway point of the contest as Noah Serre’s effort eluded Thunderbirds starter Brandon Gordon at 10:49.

Heading into the final frame, Smith upped his goal total to 22 as he tied it once more three and a half minutes into the third.

Noah Solinger then gave the Soo their first lead of the night at 13:12 before teammate Kaidan McDonald had the eventual game-winner with 1:57 remaining in regulation.

A third power play marker helped the home side pull closer as Serre added one more with 19 seconds to play, but Smith iced it moments later to finish off his big night while also raising his team-leading goal total to 23 to wrap-up the scoring.

Camaryn Baber had two assists for the Soo while Ryan O’Bonsawin had a couple of helpers in defeat for the Canadians.

Shots on goal in the contest favoured the Thunderbirds by a 44-34 margin with Gordon recording the win while Brayden Lachance suffered the loss.

With the victory, the West Division-leading Thunderbirds improved to 21-7-2-0 and Rayside-Balfour slipped to 18-9-1-1.

Photos courtesy of Rob and Caleigh Fera: