SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Jacob Doucette tallied twice and helped set-up the game-winner as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to defeat the Espanola Express 5-2 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Thursday night at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Sault Ste. Marie started strong, skating out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play.
Doucette put the Thunderbirds in flight 2:45 into the match-up as he whipped a shot towards the net from the left point that clipped off an Espanola defender and in past Express starter Owen Willis.
It was more from the Soo just past the 13-minute mark of the frame as Ty Zachary banged in a rebound from in close for his initial tally of the campaign.
Picking up one of the assists on the play was Cooper Smyl, who in turn extended a point streak to five in succession.
Action in the second stanza saw the home side add to their cushion early after picking off the puck in the neutral zone, they flew into the zone on a partial two-man break where Caleb Wood fed a cross-ice pass right to Avery Rebek, who converted from the top of the crease.
The Express regrouped by striking twice a couple of shifts apart to get right back in it.
Bradley’s Brunet’s fifth put the visitors on the board at 5:01 after moving out of their own territory on a two-on-one where he calmly waited and snapped a shot from the left circle that beat Soo netminder Alex Bugeja.
Then Cameron Walker corralled a bouncing puck and fired a chance from the right side that found its way in.
The Thunderbirds answered that though as midway through the game Doucette collected his second of the evening while using a teammate as a screen snapped one from inside the blueline to put the hosts up by a pair after 40 minutes.
It was tightly contested deep into the third period before a pass back to the point by an Espanola forward in the Soo zone, with their goalie out for an extra attacker, inadvertently rolled the length of the ice into the empty net with the Thunderbirds’ Dylan Parsons being credited for the night’s final tally.
Bugeja finished with 20 stops to collect the win while Willis faced 54 attempts against in defeat.
Game Photos: Bob Davies