SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds spotted the visiting Elliot Lake Wildcats an early two-goal lead before regrouping and skating to an eventual 5-4 victory in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Tuesday evening at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Elliot Lake came out quickly, snagging a 2-0 cushion by the midway mark of the first period on goals from Noah Minns at even strength and Connor Taylor, via the power play.
Picking up one of three assists on the night on the initial Wildcats markers was Eric Conley, who in turn extended a consecutive game point streak to seven in the process.
Sault Ste. Marie got one back at 13:14 of the frame off the stick of Brendan Miller then they drew level just 22 seconds later compliments of Camden Findlay.
The Thunderbirds then went in front half way through the middle stanza on another by Findlay as he collected his fourth overall on the campaign.
Nick Smith then notched his 23rd of the season and 69th of his NOJHL career to put the home side up by two after 40 minutes.
Action in the final period saw the Wildcats claw their way back into it as Minns added another at 5:33 to pull the guests back to within one.
However, the Soo came right back on the next shift to regain their cushion as Brady Caruso finished off a Kaidan McDonald feed for the eventual game-winner.
Minns then added another for Elliot Lake with 10:13 remaining to finish off his first NOJHL hat trick.
However, the league-leading Thunderbirds tightened up defensively from there to keep the rest of the game scoreless as they skated off with win No. 32 on the season.
Soo goaltender Colin Ahern was called upon to make 23 saves in picking up the victory while Wildcats netminder Dominic Boily faced 41 attempts in defeat.
Game Photos courtesy of Rod Aubertin – SSM Photos