BLIND RIVER, Ont. – Soo Thunderbirds standout forward Lucas Theriault supplied a natural hat trick in the second period and added a fourth goal in the third to help propel his side to a 5-2 triumph over the Blind River Beavers in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at the Blind River Community Centre.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the second stanza was the Theriault show as he collected markers number 37, 38 and 39 on the season to put Sault Ste. Marie in control.
Heading to the final frame, Nolan Ford and Steven Bellini combined to set-up Avery Rebek for his 11th at 2:43 as the visitors went up by four.
Theriault then tacked on his fourth of the evening and 40th overall just 36 seconds later to extend the cushion.
His tally total on the year is the most by a member of the Thunderbirds since the 2013-14 campaign when Gavin Burbach scored 48 times for the Soo.
Blind River would eventually dash William Anderson’s shutout bid with 2:47 remaining in regulation time as Jack McLeod finished off a Ryan Nielsen feed for his fifth of 2018-19.
The Beavers then added another in the final minute as Andrew Warhoftig added one on the power play to round out the evening’s scoring.
Bellini, Noah Boman and Matthew Bazarin each chipped in with two assists in the triumph for the Soo.
Anderson finished with 29 stops to earn the triumph.
Blind River starter Garret Boyonoski suffered the loss allowing five on 33 attempts while Patrick Boivin handled all six shots he saw in eight and a half minutes of relief.
The Thunderbirds wrapped up their regular season with a league-best 89 points on a 44-11-0-1 record while the Beavers were 25-24-5-2.
As the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs, they’ll take on either Blind River or Elliot Lake in a West Division semifinal.
The Beavers and Wildcats commence their best-of-three play-in series Friday, with Game 1 at 7 p.m. back at the Community Centre.
Game Photos courtesy of Crystal Serré