Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A fortuitous bounce off a rebound from a Austin Fellinger shot hit off a defender and trickled into the net, 1:59 into overtime, to give the Soo Thunderbirds a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Greater Sudbury Cubs Tuesday in Game 4 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division final at John Rhodes Community Centre.
This now gives the Thunderbirds a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven affair heading into Game 5 Thursday, which goes at 7:05 p.m. at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, and on HockeyTV.com.
Greater Sudbury did get off to a solid start by staking themselves to a 2-0 lead before the match-up was 10 minutes in.
Nolan Newton’s first of the playoffs got the Cubs going at 6:12 as he tucked one past Sault Ste. Marie netminder Landon Miller.
Adding another a few shifts later, the guests won a draw and put the play to the net where Cameron Walker jammed one in.
Getting one back before the initial intermission, Thunderbirds defenceman Ranon Joseph made a crafty move at the blueline, then drove hard to the left circle where his crisp wrist shot beat goalkeeper Noah Metivier.
The Soo then drew level 16:12 into the second stanza, when Tyler Boudreau dashed down the left wing and fired a shot by Metivier.
Getting that back and regaining the lead with two minutes left in the frame, the Cubs’ Kyloe Ellis provided a solid forecheck and worked the play in front where a waiting Cole Crowder lifted it by a sprawled Miller.
Late in the third, the T-Birds got goalie out for an extra attacker and were rewarded with a tying tally off the stick of Youssef Chauachi as he banged in the equalizer with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
Heading to OT, the Soo got the break to win when Fellinger moved in from the right point and put a shot on target that was stopped by Metivier, but the bouncing puck fell into the crease and went in off the Greater Sudbury player to end it.
NOJHL West Division Final
Game 1: Thunderbirds 5 Cubs 2
Game 2: Thunderbirds 5 Cubs 2
Game 3: Cubs 5 Thunderbirds 2
Game 4: Thunderbirds 4 Cubs 3 (OT)
Game 5: Thursday, April 13 @ Sudbury 7:05 p.m. (Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex)
Game 6*: Saturday, April 15 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 18 @ Sudbury 7:05 p.m. (Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex)
Soo leads best-of-seven series 3-1