Photos: Rob Horn
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A red-hot Soo Thunderbirds side skated to their 11 win in a row Tuesday evening as they defeated the rival Soo Eagles 5-2 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at Pullar Stadium.
After a splendid save by Thunderbirds’ netminder Noah Zeppa midway through the first period, his teammates countered just over a minute later as Alfred Rotiroti fired an attempt from a sharp angle along the right side that found its way through Eagles’ starter Gabe Rosek.
Countering with the equalizer at 14:22, the home side converted on a power play by keeping the play in the visitor’s zone and saw Zachary Briskey slide a feed over to Dylan Bachalo, who tucked in his second of the campaign.
Regaining the lead in the second stanza, Samuel Lake broke down the left wing on an odd-man rush and snapped one, on the short side, the beat Rosek at 8:16 in collecting his 10th tally of the campaign.
Adding to the their edge late in the session, Michael Chaffay converted with a wrist shot from the slot to put the guests up by a pair.
Picking up the primary assist on the Chaffay marker, which was his 20th of the season, was Cooper Foster who extended a consecutive game point streak to six in succession.
Pulling back to within one early in the third, Charlie Salem was the beneficiary of a nifty drop-pass from Brian Fiddes as he slammed in his third for the Eagles to make it a 3-2 game.
However, the Thunderbirds came right back on the next shift to restore their cushion when Kenny Belanger Jr. put a back hand on target that bounced off a couple of bodies, including Rotiroti, and bounced into the net.
Kelsey Ouellet then wrapped up the road victory by providing a mid-ice empty netter to round out the night’s scoring.
The win for Zeppa was his seventh in a row for the surging Thunderbirds who improved to 31-5-2-3.
In defeat, the Eagles fell to 24-9-2-1 overall.