ESPANOLA, Ont. – A four-goal second stanza helped make the difference as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to clip the Espanola Paper Kings 5-1 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League meeting Saturday at the Regional Recreation Complex.
A tightly-contested opening 20 minutes went scoreless thanks to the efforts of goalkeepers Landon Miller of Sault Ste. Marie and Espanola’s Jake Marois.
On the power play though to begin the middle frame, the Thunderbirds were quick to strike as Jackson Truchan sent a crisp cross-crease feed across to a waiting Daniel Beaupre who promptly whipped it in for his 14th of the season.
The Soo then came right back off the draw to take a 2-0 lead as Brodie McConnell-Barker started a rush into the Paper Kings zone then went on to jam in a loose puck off a Wyatt Marlow shot from between the circles that Marois could only get a piece of.
Countering in transition off the mid-period break and a save by Miller, the T-Birds came back up the ice and worked it to an open Samuel Lake, who made no mistake by picking the left hand corner from close range at 10:21.
Espanola cut into the deficit while the two teams were skating four aside as Lucas Signoretti buried his team-best 30th goal of the season with a sharp wrister from the slot at 14:38.
Getting that back, the T-Birds made it 4-1 after 40 minutes thanks to Marlow, who went top shelf from the left side on a mini two-on-one.
Putting the game away in the third, the Soo’s Alex Remenda won a shorthanded race to the puck against goalkeeper Creedon Dyck, who replaced Marois, after the fourth Thunderbirds marker and eventually tucked it into the open net.
The win for the Thunderbirds was their 30th of the season (30-11-3-2), which they have now reached every campaign since 2006-07, excluding the COVID-19 shortened campaign of 2020-21.
With the setback, Espanola dropped to 22-19-2-2.
The two teams are right back at it Sunday afternoon to finish off a weekend home-and-home set in a 2 p.m. start at John Rhodes Community Centre.