Thunderbirds start strong then hold off Express

ESPANOLA, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds rode the strength of a four-goal first period to win their fourth straight Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League game Sunday afternoon as they eventually held on for a 5-3 victory over the Espanola Express at the Regional Recreation Complex.

It took the visitors just two and a half minutes to get on the board in this one as Camaryn Baber notched his sixth tally of the season.

Sault Ste. Marie kept coming and added another at 4:53 when Lucas Theriault collected his first marker of the season to put them up by a pair.

The Thunderbirds continued to press the pace and tacked on two more in the later stages of the stanza compliments of Mark Tassone and Ryan Lawrence.

Joel Grandbois got one back for Espanola 13 minutes into the second period as his fourth of the season put his side on the board.

However the Soo’s Tanner Mayne got that back a mere 34 seconds later as he too picked up his fourth tally of the campaign.

The Express pulled to within three again at 17:37 as Makenzie MacMillan brought the home side closer heading into to the third.

Continuing to battle, Espanola added another 3:20 into the final frame when Jace Pitawanakwat buried his first NOJHL goal to put his team right back in it.

However the Thunderbirds tightened up defensively from there and held on for the road triumph.

Nick Smith dished out three assists to aid in the decision in extending a point streak to seven outings.

The Soo outshot Espanola 31-29 in the contest with Eric Schuch picking up the win while Jacob Hutchings suffered the loss.