Strong start and shutout goaltending leads Thunderbirds past Wildcats



Release Date: Monday, April 4, 2016

Strong start and shutout goaltending leads Thunderbirds past Wildcats

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds rode the strength of four first period goals and the shutout goaltending of Connor Ryckman to blank the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-0 in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division final Monday evening at Centennial Arena.

With the result the Thunderbirds now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading into Game 3 Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Essar Centre.

Sault Ste. Marie took control early getting the only marker they would need on this night as Drake Pilon notched his second of the playoffs before the contest was three minutes old.

Soo captain Brett Jeffries then made it 2-0 at 5:33 as the visitors went up by a pair.

The Thunderbirds tacked on two more before the session was complete as Matthew Busby and Darian Pilon got into the act with tallies five minutes apart.

The night’s final goal came with 61 seconds left in the middle frame as Michael Caruso picked up his third of the postseason.

He also had a couple of earlier assists to finish off a three-point night.

As for Ryckman, he handed all 32 attempts fired his way to record his league-leading fourth shutout of the playoffs.

Aaron Mackay started for Elliot Lake and suffered the loss allowing three against on 11 shots before giving way to Al Rogers in the first period.

Rogers stopped 29 of 31 in just over 48 minutes of relief.

NOJHL West Division final
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 2 Elliot Lake Wildcats
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-seven series 2-0
Game 1: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Elliot Lake 2 (OT)
Game 2: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Elliot Lake 0
Game 3: Wednesday, April 6 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (Essar)
Game 4: Friday, April 8 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 5*: Saturday, April 9 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar)
Game 6*: Monday, April 11 @ Elliot Lake 7 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 7*: T.B.A. @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (Essar)
*- if necessary