Photos: Matt Stefano
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds skated out to an early lead and never trailed as they went on to hold off the Soo Eagles 3-2 Saturday in a cross-border Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Thunderbirds were all business from the onset, jumping out to the quick cushion on their rivals before the match-up was five minutes old.
Alex Remenda started things off for the hosts, as he beat Eagles’ Logan Raffaele at 2:04 with a wrist shot from the left circle, off a feed from Daniel Beaupre.
It was more T-Birds a couple of shifts later and saw Jackson Truchan finish off a two-on-one with Dharan Cap as he deposited his 20th tally of the season.
Cutting into the deficit near the midway point of the proceedings, the Eagles broke out with speed on an odd-man rush where Chase Tallaire dashed down the wing and opted to shoot and fired an attempt by Thunderbirds’ goaltender Kolton Bourret from the left circle.
Getting their multi-marker lead back at 16:25, the Thunderbirds’ Brock Santa Maria carried the play over the blueline, then dropped it back to Ranon Joseph, who used him as a screen and finished off a shot from the slot.
That tally now gives Joseph at least one point in each of his initial seven games played with the club.
Action in the final frame saw the Eagles move closer once again, compliments of a man advantage marker off the stick of Kenny Belanger Jr., as he neatly redirected a wrist shot from the point by Isaiah Gagerman.
The goal was Belanger’s 19th of the season and 11th in his past 10 outings.
Looking to tie it and send it to overtime, the visitors pulled their goalkeeper in the late going for an extra attacker, but the Thunderbirds held firm defensively to earn the win.
That sees them improve to 27-10-2-1 overall while the Eagles fell to 17-17-3-1.