GALLERY: Early surge sends Thunderbirds over Wildcats

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A five-goal first period barrage was more than enough as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to top the Elliot Lake Wildcats 9-1 Wednesday night in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division encounter at John Rhodes Community Centre.

The hometown set the tone quickly on the night as they skated out to a 2-0 lead before the contest was six minutes old.

Camden Findlay’s first of the season put the Thunderbirds in flight at 2:10 before teammate Colton Hayes collected his fifth of the campaign a few shifts later with help from Avery Rebek and Warner Young.

Matthew Bazarin then extended the Sault Ste. Marie cushion at 15:05 as he notched his 13th on the year.

Soo’s special teams then clicked twice late in the frame as Nick Smith and Hayes again both converted on the power play.

Another quick effort early in the middle stanza helped the hosts add to their lead when Hayes fed Rebek at 1:52.

Adding to the onslaught, the Thunderbirds picked up another man advantage effort before the second period came to a close with Bazarin depositing his second goal of the night.

Elliot Lake did get on the board late in the session that saw Jake Rhoades tally in back-to-back games for the Wildcats.

A fourth extra-man effort gave the Soo another a couple minutes into the third off the stick of Mackenzie Walkington.

Not done there, the Thunderbirds added a fifth power play goal with Nolan Ford picking that up at 5:29 to round out the scoring.

In the victory, Smith racked up his fourth straight multi-point performance for the Thunderbirds and did so for the seventh time in his past eight outings.

Hayes and Rebek meanwhile both produced four-point performances.

Elliot Lake’s Connor Taylor saw an impressive 15-game point streak come to an end in the loss.

Shots on goal on the night favoured the Soo by a 56-26 count.

Dakota Meyer started for the Thunderbirds and picked up the win making 18 saves on 19 chances in two periods of work while back-up Gavin Disano saw his initial NOJHL action while handling three of three in playing the third.

Elliot Lake goalkeeper Jonathan Lemaire suffered the defeat.

MAKE-UP GAME: Also, of note involving Wildcats, a make-up date has been finalized for their Sept. 27 contest vs. the Blind River Beavers that was postponed back on that day.

The two sides will now play that game on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake.

Start time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Game Photos courtesy of Bob Davies