ESPANOLA, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds broke open a tie game with a trio of tallies in the first half of the third period to help send them on their way to an eventual 6-3 triumph over the Espanola Express in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon at the Regional Recreation Complex.
First period play saw Sault Ste. Marie out shoot Espanola 14-8, but saw each team score once.
Nick Smith’s 22nd tally of the season put the Thunderbirds in front 48 seconds into the contest before Lukas Lyszyk connected on the power play for the Express at 4:13 as his 13th levelled the proceedings.
Moving on to the middle stanza, Espanola’s special teams clicked once more as they picked up their second man advantage effort of the day, at the same time as their first, with Bret McInall burying his team-leading 22nd to put the home side up by one.
Skating four aside, the Soo picked up the equalizer at 7:45 compliments of Gage Stephney’s ninth goal of the year to knot the affair once more to send the two teams to their respective dressing rooms for the second intermission knotted at 2-2.
In the third though, the Soo broke it open and put the game away as they struck three times in a five and a half minute span.
Steven Bellini gave the Thunderbirds the lead at 3:10 before Brady Caruso made it 4-2 only 44 seconds later.
The visitors kept coming and added another off the stick of Noah Boman at 8:58.
Battling back, the Express drew closer with seven minutes to go on a Diego Pasula effort as he picked up his ninth of the season.
However, Stephney added another in the late going to reach 10 in total on the year and secure the road win for the Thunderbirds.
Kaidan McDonald chipped in with two assists to aid the Soo offensive cause while McInall and Lyszyk had a pair of helpers each for Espanola.
Thunderbirds goalkeeper William Anderson finished with 24 stops to pick up the victory and Express starter Andrew Rocha faced 42 attempts in defeat.