SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A Matthew Bazarin marker 16:55 into the second period proved to be the game-winner as the visiting Soo Thunderbirds went on to pull out a hard-fought 3-2 decision over the rival Soo Eagles in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Saturday evening at Pullar Stadium.
The contest was scoreless well into the latter stages of the first frame when the Thunderbirds connected twice on markers 67 seconds apart from Cooper Smyl and Will Josephson to give the guests a two-tally cushion after one.
Skating in their home opener, the Eagles got on the board midway through the middle session when Dominic Skrelja notched his first of the campaign with help from Hayden Clark and netminer Shane Brancato, who drew assists on the play.
Bazarin though picked up the eventual difference maker to make it 3-1.
Caleb Wood did bring the Michigan Soo back to within one just seconds after that, but that would prove to be the end of the evening`s scoring.
With their goaltender out in the late going of regulation for an extra attacker, the Eagles pressured the Thunderbirds hard for the equalizer to try and force overtime, but goalkeeper Colin Ahern stood tall making a number of point-blank stops to help his side secure the road win.
Ahern finished with 33 saves in a winning cause while Brancato had 30 stops in defeat.
The same two teams will meet again Sunday night at 7 p.m. as they cap off a weekend home-and-home set at John Rhodes Community Centre.