SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A Cooper Smyl goal on a wrap around late in overtime lifted the Soo Thunderbirds to a dramatic 2-1 triumph over the French River Rapids in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Saturday night at John Rhodes Community Centre.
It was the visiting Rapids that provided the lone marker in the first frame as Jack Tos connected quickly, notching his seventh of the season at 1:31.
The second stanza was also tightly-contested as neither side would convert offensively as French River carried their one-goal cushion into the third.
It stayed 1-0 right into the final moments of regulation when Sault Ste. Marie finally solved Rapids netminder Ben Montgomery with 16 seconds to go when Rylan Clemons collected the equalizer for the home side to help force extra time.
In the OT, it was free-wheeling with the Soo having the majority of chances, but Thunderbirds netminder Sam Evola did stymie French River’s Tos on a breakaway with a glove slave.
Then when time winding down and a shootout looming, Smyl scooped up the puck behind the net then cut in front and slid the decider underneath Montgomery on the Soo’s 50th and final shot of the night.
Evola faced 31 attempts in picking up the win for the Thunderbirds while Montgomery’s impressive 48-save effort helped French River pick up a point in defeat.