CHELMSFORD, Ont. – A goal from Brendan Miller 12:42 into the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to edge the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 3-2 Monday evening in Game 6 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division Final at Chelmsford Arena.
With the victory, the Thunderbirds take the best-of-seven series 4-2 and will now meet the Hearst Lumberjacks in the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy NOJHL championship series beginning later this week.
Special teams saw both clubs capitalize before the first frame was five minutes old on consecutive man advantage markers.
Sault Ste. Marie started it with a power play effort at 3:21 as Matthew Bazarin with left with a tap in following some crisp passing from Noah Boman and Lucas Theriault.
Answering back while up a skater 55 seconds later, it was the Canadians’ Evan Krassey who snapped a shot through a screen to knot the affair at one with help from Ethan Lavallee and Joel Mongeon.
Rayside-Balfour then took the lead at 15:22 as Noah Serre snagged a Soo clearing attempt, spun, skated into the left faceoff circle and first a shot that eluded Thunderbirds goaltender Colin Ahern.
The Thunderbirds drew level nearly nine minutes into the middle stanza with another man advantage effort with Nolan Ford setting up Spencer Van Tiem who fired one from the slot that beat Canadians netminder David Bowen.
It was more from the visitors before the session was complete as they broke into the home side’s zone which resulted in Theriault putting one on the tape of Miller, who promptly blasted one past Bowen, in what turned out to be the decider.
Neither side would add another offensively the rest of the way as the Soo secured the series triumph.
Shots on goal in the contest favoured the Thunderbirds by a 35-29 count with Ahern picking up the win while Bowen suffered the season-ending setback.
NOJHL West Division Final
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Rayside-Balfour Canadians
Thunderbirds win best-of-seven series 4-2
Game 1: Soo 4 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 4 Soo 3 (OT)
Game 3: Soo 6 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 4: Soo 3 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 5: Rayside-Balfour 5 Soo 3
Game 6: Soo 3 Rayside-Balfour 2