Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A three-goal first period outburst sent the Soo Thunderbirds on their way to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Timmins Rock Sunday in the third game of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League final for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy, at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Sault Ste. Marie now leads the best-of-seven set 2-1 heading into Game 4 Monday night, back in the Soo, at 7 p.m.
A dream start for the Thunderbirds saw them take an early lead off a rush into the Rock zone as Kaden Dundas lofted one into the air that was swatted right back to him by a Timmins defender and saw him snap a quick shot past netminder Patrick Boivin at 1:41.
The home side then went up by two just over 14 minutes later when Wyatt Marlow darted around an opponent and cruised in on the left wing before firing one top shef.
Getting one back, the Rock converted on a power play at 18:48, with Justin Charette neatly tipped a Felix Cadieux-Fredette attempt from the top of the left circle, high over the glove of Soo starter Landon Miller.
However, the T-Birds answered that before the first intermission as they kept a play inside the Timmins blueline and worked over to Jackson Truchan, who went to the net, then deked to his left, and tucked in his eighth of the playoffs.
Play tightened up in a scoreless middle stanza and saw the Soo hold their two-tally cushion through 40 minutes.
Adding some insurance in the back half of the third, the Thunderbirds secured the home ice triumph at 12:36 as they countered in transition and saw Daniel Beaupre send a cross-ice feed over to Justin Mauro, who in turn lifted in a backhand from the right of the crease to help put the game out reach.
The Soo did have another opportunity to notch another before time ran out when Brock Santa Maria was awarded a penalty shot, only to be foiled by Boivin.
Awaiting the NOJHL champion will be a berth to the Centennial Cup, May 11-21, in Portage la Prairie, Man.
Timmins Rock vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Rock 4 Thunderbirds 0
Game 2: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 0
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 1
Game 4: Monday, April 24 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 30 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, May 2 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Soo leads best-of-seven series 2-1
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel