Soo Thunderbirds crowned NOJHL champions



Release Date: Sunday, April 19, 2015

Soo Thunderbirds crowned NOJHL champions

SAULT STE. MARIE – An Andrew Barbeau goal early in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Soo Thunderbirds defeated the Cochrane Crunch 5-3 Sunday in Game 5 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League championship series for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy at Essar Centre.

With the victory the Thunderbirds take the league crown in five hard-fought games and will now advance to represent the NOJHL at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship April 28 through May 2 in Fort Frances, Ont.

Kept  off the score sheet the previous three games, Cochrane’s Dustin Cordeiro, helped the Crunch get on the board first in this one as he jumped around a Thunderbirds defender, only to have his attempt stopped, but see Henry Berger stuff in the rebound past a sprawled Mario Culina.

On the power play a minute and half later, Sault Ste. Marie pulled even as Matt Pinder one-timed a shot beating Cochrane netminder Brett Young.

Earning assists on the marker were Owen Headrick and Matt Caruso, with Headrick running a consecutive game point streak to 10 straight in the process.

The goals kept coming as the visitors countered right off the face-off following Pinder’s effort with Alex Goulet firing one home a mere nine seconds later.

Then less than a minute after that the T-Birds tied it again with Nicolas Tassone notching the equalizer at 12:21.

With no shortage of offensive production in the opening stanza Cochrane captain Max Glashauser put the Crunch back in front as his blast from the left point found its way into the back of the net at 17:01.

Headrick continued his impressive postseason play as his attempt from a sharp angle eluded Young with 100 seconds to go in the frame to finish off the high-scoring session.

The Thunderbirds tacked on 1:27 into the second as defenceman Barbeau snapped one in from the right side to give them their first lead of the night.

Both clubs tightened up defensively after that with the rest of the period going scoreless.

The Crunch had a good chance to knot the affair eight minutes into the third as the NOJHL’s leading goal scorer, in Cody Gratton, was sent in alone on a breakaway only to be denied by the pad of Culina.

The next few minutes both netminders exchange superb stops as Culina and Young were stellar to keep the contest a one-goal affair.

Pulling Young in the late going in favour of an extra attacker in an effort to force overtime, it was the Thunderbirds who countered by clinching the title with an empty netter by Brett Jeffries with 31 seconds to go to wrap things up.

Final shots on goal favoured the Soo 37-27 with Culina picking up the win and Young the defeat.

Soo Thunderbirds vs. Cochrane Crunch
Thunderbirds win best-of-seven series 4-1
Game 1: Cochrane 6 Soo 2
Game 2: Soo 8 Cochrane 0
Game 3: Soo 4 Cochrane 2
Game 4: Soo 2 Cochrane 0
Game 5: Soo 5 Cochrane 3