Thunderbirds hold on to edge Wildcats

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – Mark Tassone tallied twice while Nick Smith scored once and doled out two assists as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to edge the Elliot Lake Wildcats 4-3 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Friday at Centennial Arena.

It took Sault Ste. Marie just 10 seconds after the opening face-off to go in front as Tassone connected early for his 13th goal of the campaign.

Jacob Kelly got that back for Elliot Lake though at 4:04 as his 26th marker helped him extend a point streak to 10 consecutive contests.

Andrew Maltby’s first NOJHL tally then put the Wildcats in front a few shifts later, but the Thunderbirds responded with another by Tassone to knot the affair at 2-2 after one period of play.

The Soo came out flying to begin the middle frame as they scored twice before the session was two minutes old on a man advantage effort courtesy of Smith 37 seconds in and Spencer Van Tiem’s first NOJHL goal at 1:31.

It stayed 4-2 Thunderbirds until nearly seven minutes into the third as Kelly connected again for the for the Wildcats with his second of the night and team-leading 27th overall to pull the home team to within one.

However it went scoreless the rest of the way as the visitors held on for the victory.

Camaryn Baber had a pair of helpers for the Soo on the night while William Bucsis assisted on all three Elliot Lake goals.

Eric Schuch made 33 saves to post the win for the Thunderbirds while Logan Sawka saw 39 shots fired his way in defeat for the Wildcats.

Photo credit: Joane Grise