Thunderbirds push Wildcats to the brink of elimination with Game 3 triumph


Release Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thunderbirds push Wildcats to the brink of elimination with Game 3 triumph

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds rode the shutout goaltending of Brendon Gordon and got three points from captain Brett Jeffries in a 5-0 victory over the Elliot Lake Wildcats in Game 3 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division final Wednesday at Essar Centre.

With the result the Thunderbirds now lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 heading into Game 4 Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake in which the Wildcats must win if they wish to keep their season alive.

Special teams allowed Sault Ste. Marie to get on the board first as Jeffries struck shorthanded as he blazed down the right side and hammered one past Elliot Lake netminder Aaron Mackay from the top of the circle at 6:38.

Jeffries was at it again two and a half minutes later as he stuffed in a loose puck off a rebound that Mackay could not control off a point shot from Drake Pilon.

The T-Birds upped their cushion to three, midway through the contest, as Matthew Mitchell corralled a rebound off a flip shot from inside the blue line from Caleb Boman and tucked the puck past a sprawled Wildcats goaltender.

In the third Mitchell tacked on another as he connected during an early man advantage opportunity.

The Soo then put it away at 16:31 as Zach Senecal darted out of his own zone on a breakaway and snapped home his club’s second man-down marker of the night to round out the scoring.

Joey Miller aided the Thunderbirds cause with a pair of assists.

Soo starter Gordon, who was making his first appearance of the playoffs turned aside all 21 attempts he faced to register his first NOJHL postseason shutout as well as record the T-Birds fifth in their first seven playoff outings.

Mackay faced 35 shots in defeat for Elliot Lake, who were blanked for a second straight game in the series and have now gone 141 minutes and 15 seconds without scoring a goal against the T-Birds.

NOJHL West Division final
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 2 Elliot Lake Wildcats
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-seven series 3-0
Game 1: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Elliot Lake 2 (OT)
Game 2: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Elliot Lake 0
Game 3: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Elliot Lake 0
Game 4: Friday, April 8 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 5*: Saturday, April 9 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar)
Game 6*: Monday, April 11 @ Elliot Lake 7 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 12 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (Essar)
*- if necessary